Today we pay our respects to those players and associates of Distillery FC who lost their lives in The Great War 1914-18.
William Brolly was a left-winger who joined Distillery in February 1913 from Derry Celtic. The Dungiven born player played a vital part in winning the Gold Cup, beating Shelbourne in the Final on
6 th May 1914. On 14th August 1914 he enlisted in the 1st Battalion of the Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers as a Private and on 21st August 1915 he lost his life at Gallipoli. William Brolly’s body was never found and he was officially ‘presumed dead’.
Samuel Long was a reserve defender who made several appearances for the Distillery senior team during 1897/98 and 1898/99. He was also a very good boxer. He joined the Ulster Imperial Yeomanryand went off to South Africa to take part in the Boer War. After the war was over he stayed behind and joined the Transvaal Police. At the outbreak of the Great War he enlisted in the South African Infantry who were dispatched to German East Africa. He was ‘killed in action’ in Tanzania on 20th June 1916 and is buried in the Dar Es Salaam Cemetery.
David Drennan was a goalkeeper who joined Distillery from Cliftonville Olympic in 1898/99 and made 11 League appearances that season. In August 1899 he joined Cliftonville and later moved on to Linfield. He enlisted in the 8th /9 th Battalion of the Royal Irish Rifles as a Rifleman and was sent to France on 5th October 1915. He was ‘killed in action’ in Flanders, Belgium on 1st September 1916 aged 37 and is buried in the Ration Farm (La Plus Douve) Annexe Cemetery.
Donald Sloan was a goalkeeper who joined Distillery in August 1903 from Scottish junior side Traboch Thistle. He was the regular goalkeeper over three seasons, making 90 appearances and helping the team win four trophies: — Irish Cup 1904/05, City Cup 1904/05, County Antrim Shield 1904/05 and Irish League 1905/06. In August 1906 he was signed by Everton for the 1906/07 season and then joined Liverpool for 1907/08. At the start of the 1909/10 season he returned to Distillery as player-coach and made a further 34 appearances, helping the team to win the Irish Cup once more.
Later, back home in Scotland, he enlisted in the Royal Highlanders (Black Watch) (Private s/9311) and was sent to France on 2nd October 1915. He was ‘killed in action’ at Arras, France on 1st January 1917 and is buried in the Faubourg D’Amiens Cemetery at Arras. Donald Sloan had three brothers, William, Robert and Thomas and they also were ‘killed in action’ during the Great War.
John Spencer Dunville was the grandson of Robert Grimshaw Dunville, the founder of Dunville’s Distillery from which Distillery Football Club was founded in 1880. John Dunville was born in London in 1896. By 1917 he was a Second Lieutenant in the 1st
Royal Dragoons serving in France. On 26th June 1917, aged 21, he died of wounds sustained in action the previous day at Epehy, France. He is buried in the Villers-Faucon Communal Cemetery, Somme, France. He was awarded the Victoria Cross
Private George Gill was a right-winger, who had joined Distillery from junior side Ormiston in December 1914. He played several games for Distillery in the 1914-15 season and helped the club
win the County Antrim Shield when they beat Glentoran 1-0 in the Final at Windsor Park on 20th March 1915. He enlisted in the North Irish Horse and in March 1918 and due to the appalling loss of
horses in action, the regiment was dismounted as cyclists. He was killed in action at the 2nd Battle of the Somme on 26th August 1918 aged 24. He is buried at Flatiron Copse Cemetary, Mametz, Somme.
L/Cpl John ‘Jack’ Johnston was a half-back who played several games for Distillery at the end of 1897/98, before going on to play for junior side Oldpark Corinthians for many years. He enlisted as a
sapper in 150th Field Company of the Royal Engineers and fought in France and Flanders. Jack was killed in action on 1st July 1916 aged 35.
Private James White was the regular Distillery Seconds goalkeeper in the Junior League in 1912-13. He had previously played for junior side Balmoral in the Belfast Combination League. He enlisted in the 2nd Royal Inniskilling Fusiliers and was the regimental keeper. He was wounded at the Battle of the Marne in September 1914. He recovered but on 16th May 1915 he was reported missing at the Battle of Festubert in France.
We also remember those who served and survived.
Andy Jardine (Club Secretary), Jim Anderson, Davy Longridge, George Kay (who later played for West Ham and managed Liverpool) and Harry Chambers (who later played for Liverpool and England), who were wounded. Also Harry ‘Henry’ Wilson, James Murdough, Private Atkins, Andy Hunter, Robert McCracken (who later played for Crystal Palace), Jack Magill and Billy Laird who survived.