Cobh Ramblers Football Club

History

Cobh Ramblers FC was founded in 1922. The club was originally set up by British soldiers who were located in the town. They competed with members of the locality. However, when the soldiers left Ireland, the locals themselves formed the club that we know today. The colours of claret and blue were the result of a donation of an Aston Villa strip from a Cobh man playing for the Birmingham club at the time. A first Munster Senior Cup win came in 1925 and it wasn’t long before Ramblers were one of the biggest names in Cork football. They claimed Munster Senior League titles in 1926, 1935, 1936, 1944, 1957, 1976 – 1978 and 1980 – 1985. Additionally Cobh finished as runners-up in the campaigns of 1925, 1929, 1930, 32, 37, 38, 39, 48, 51, 54, 59, 64, 66, and 1969. Further Munster Senior Cup titles followed in 1944, 1979 and 1983. Whilst still a non-league club, Cobh made a name for themselves on a national scale. The club reached the 1976 League Cup semi-finals. Ramblers picked up FAI Intermediate Cup titles in 1980 and 1983, the pinnacle of Irish football outside of the League of Ireland. This made up for finishing as losing finalists in 1946 and 1948.

Also in 1983, The Rams competed in one of the most epic FAI cup ties of all time, against heavyweights Sligo Rovers. Over four games, more than 50,000 watched continuously as the harbour club could not be separated from the Connacht side. Eventually Sligo progressed at the fourth time of asking but it was Cobh who captured the hearts of the nation. Local heroes Frank O’Neill, Eddie O’Halloran and more put this Munster Senior League side firmly on the Irish footballing map. This success was one of the key factors that lead to the club being elected to the League of Ireland in 1985. Ramblers had won nine of the ten previous Munster Senior League campaigns and moving up to the elite seemed the natural step. This was a major step forward for the club and put it on a higher platform.

At this stage Cobh’s status as a national league club was attracting many players to the club. One of these was a young midfielder named Roy Keane. Keane had signed from Rockmount to get a place on a FÁS football course that LOI clubs had access to. He quickly made a name for himself both at Youths and at Senior level. It wasn’t long before a Nottingham Forest scout spotted the youngster in a cup tie against Belvedere. The rest as they say is history.

By 1989, Ramblers had reached the Premier Division, Ireland’s top tier. It was a short stay however and they were back in the First Division a season later. Cobh’s only other seasons in the top flight that millennium were the 1992/93 and 93/94 editions. A goalkeeper from Dublin by the name of Nicky Byrne had a spell at St Colman’s Park soon after. Yet it was off the pitch where his talents lied most, as he eventually joined the hugely successful boyband ‘Westlife’. During this period, Ramblers’ reserve side continued to compete in the Munster Senior League, finishing as First Division runners up in 1989 and 1997. Glamorous pre-season friendlies against Manchester City, Celtic, Southampton, Nottingham Forest, Millwall and Birmingham took place on an almost annual basis during the 80’s and 90’s.

The last decade of the millennium also saw the formation of the club’s schoolboy setup, which would see players such as Stephen Ireland came through the underage ranks. The schoolboy section was ultimately amalgamated with fellow local team Springfield in the early 2000’s, becoming Springfield Ramblers. Future Irish internationals Stephen O’Halloran and David Meyler were progressing through the club’s underage sides during this positive time for The Rams. 2007 was the next pivotal year for Cobh Ramblers as a young manager by the name of Stephen Henderson guided the club to a first ever league title and automatic promotion. They broke all records that season, collecting 77 points and scoring 57 goals in the process.

The 2008 season back in the top tier was a tough one both on and off the pitch. The following seasons saw Cobh compete at A level and in the underage leagues before a return to League of Ireland proper in 2013. This began a new age for the club. Ramblers’ u19 side secured the Enda McGuill Cup in 2014, the u19 equivalent of the FAI Cup. In 2016 the club won their first Munster Cup since 1983, their fifth in total. Andy O’Connell scored the winner on that occasion and the striker has since signed for Scottish Championship side Ayr United. The 2016 season also saw Cobh reach the FAI Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 2001 while they reached the First Division play-off with Drogheda United. The club’s u17 side won the first ever Mark Farren Memorial Shield in what was the club’s most successful year in some time.