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There's A Fantastic Documentary On Derry City And Their LOI Journey This Week

There's A Fantastic Documentary On Derry City And Their LOI Journey This Week
By Jonathan Byrne

The documentary covers Derry City's story of footballing exile to League of Ireland status.

RTÉ One will be showing 'Different League: The Derry City Story' on Wednesday at 10:35pm. It was aired in April on BBC One NI.

It's a must watch for those unfamiliar with the story of Derry City F.C. and the huge struggle they had to endure due to the Troubles.

Back in 1929, Derry City played in the Irish League, now known as the NIFL Premiership. That was the start of their longstanding tenure at the Brandywell.

There were many highlights for Derry City domestically in the decades after. One of the highlights elsewhere came in the European Cup in 1965 when they beat FK Lyn of Norway.

The Brandywell was deemed unsuitable for the next round of the competition, even after hosting FK Lyn in a previous tie, and thus began their struggles for recognition.

Troubling interrelations with a protestant dominant Irish FA led to their relationship deteriorating in the late 1960s. Derry mainly had a catholic following which was deemed an issue for the IFA.


From the 1969 Civil Rights campaign onwards - the years that followed would see more hardship placed on Derry City and their footballing status.

The Brandywell descended into violence in 1971 at the Irish Cup Final against Lisburn Distillery. Republican supporters clashed with unionist fans.

Many unionist supported clubs were reluctant to play there after the game, with the RUC placing a stranglehold on the Brandywell deeming it unsafe to hold fixtures.


Almost a year would go by where Derry had to play matches in the unionist town of Coleraine at the Showgrounds, 3o miles away. The journey and the political situation at the time made it difficult for fans to travel.

Security forces at the time carried out a new assessment in 1972 and the Brandywell was deemed safe again for games, only for the IFA to vote against lifting the ban.

It forced Derry City into footballing exile, were they continued playing in junior leagues. Thirteen years would go by where they would continue to be refused admission to the Irish League.


In 1985, they applied to join the new League of Ireland. The work of four men; Tony O’Doherty, Terry Harkin, Eamonn McLaughlin and Eddie Mahon, was instrumental in their application.

They self stewarded their own games given the contentious profile of the RUC in the city. The Brandywell remained their home.

The years thereafter saw great domestic success for Derry City F.C, gaining promotion to the Premier Division in 1987 and winning the treble in 1989.


The documentary will be shown in full on RTÉ One on Wednesday night at 10:35pm.

See Also: Watch: 90s FA Cup Battle Between Roy Keane & Vinnie Jones Was Intense

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