July 1991 - Branch secretary John White places an advert in the South Belfast Post. The first meeting was held at Maysfield Leisure Centre and committee elected. John White Branch Secretary, Alex Lattimer Chairman, Ken Lowry Treasurer.
15th August 1991 - Official Status as a supporters club granted by Manchester United club membership secretary Barry Moorhouse. Thirty tickets allocated for the game against Norwich City in September. My phone rang in early September and this was about to change our lives for the next 20 odd years.
John White introduced himself to me through a mutual acquaintance and our love affair with Carryduff MUSC started. The first game was against Norwich City. Most of the tickets were in the North Stand lower where we proudly hold 5 of our season ticket seats since 1995. Our journey began at 5pm. We left from the Grand Opera House in Belfast, took the usual Ferry across 3 hours and more via P&O Larne Cairnryan, using Gordon McBurney coaches.
By comparison to todays coaches it was noisey and there was a lot of condensation running down the window. If we wanted a tv we had to block off 4 seats at the front to put the wood on it to act as a shelf. And, as is still teh case now, the floor is the best place to sleep on any coach. For the first trip we stayed in the Belmore, all 23 of us. It was good craic, and we arrived at 3.30am on the Saturday morning, got a few hours kip and then it was up for breakfast and away to the ground. Nobody really cared for luxuries, Our trip cost £69, including our match ticket
The downside of those early days was that there was no toilet on board the coach so it meant stopping from time to time. It didn't bother us too much. We also got caught out by the last home game of the season where we had bought 50 tickets for the Spurs game in May 1992 and people just did not want to go to the game as Leeds had already won the league. This was a worrying time for us. JW and I had to go cap in hand to the bank and guarantee the large deficit in our bank account as we could only sell a handful of tickets. We learnt a valuable lesson from this, hence the reason for billing the last hoem game as the end of season bash when Chalkie successfully negotiates a few free beers for us all.
On our return, we were all buzzing from the 1st trip and the second trip was planned for the Arsenal game in October 1991. I couldn't make it but there was over 40 odd people who could. Our problem at that time was that United often didn't advbise us of a ticket allocation until a week or 2 before the game. Due to the numbers we had to use 2 hotels, the Belmore an its sister hotel whose name I cannot recollect. Anyway as luck would have it, one hotel was better than the other. Complaints started and there were a few people along the way who wanted to seek compenation immediately out of the committee. One or two saw opportunities for making some money and tried to oust the old committee to run their own trips.
I (john Dempsey) was rallied by Chalkie (John White) as was big Mark McKeown, Stevie Blair and Ken Lowry amongst others. The vote went unanimously in favour of asking the chair to step down, I was proposed as the new chairman and before I knew it everyone was away and I was in charge, but what of I wondered. It wasn't long before we got into our stride. Ken Lowry was the fearsome treasurer who marked up every single penny and was meticulous about his accounting. Chalkie was possibly a little more timid in those day, not liek he is now. He was lieable then lol.
Our intention was to attend 5 or 6 games a season, keep the price down and keep the member numbers up. P&O and Stenaline changed all that. Deals followed in the Irish News and Belfast Telegraph encouraging people to travel to England by car for £50. Well I got 5 of us into mine so that was a tenner each. The match ticket for the paddock was about £7.50 and the petrol was a tenner a head. This meant we could drive down on Saturday morning be at Old Trafford for 2pm, go to the game, then I would sleep and the other 4 got the drink in until it was time to leave at midnight. Usually we would be home by 8am Sunday morning. 'The good old days'.
We pretty much ticked over on that basis for a year or so. Then as United decided to pull down the old Stretford End and increase ticket prices, season tickets / LMTBs became available. It was October/Nove 1993 when Chalkie asked me and Wilson for £20 each. 16/1 were the odds we got on United to win the double. The winnings were enough to buy 5 LMTB's for the paddock, before we were moved to the seats we have now in West Stand Lower. The club also purchased 5 season tickets in the North Stand Lower and we still hold those same seats today.
When we saw the advantage and convenience of having our own season tickets the late Wilson Steele started a cottage industry on the ferry to stick vouchers into sheets, such was the only way to qualify for buying more season tickets. Our tally grew from 5 to 10 and now it is up to 72 season tickets plus those that are acquired from time to time from other members.
Meetings were held at various venues, including Maysfield Leisure Centre, Skegoniel Avenue, The Royal Ascot, Lough Moss Leisure Centre, The Belfast Boat Club we are currently at the Ivanhoe Hotel Carryduff and have been since August 2010. The meetings are held almost every week with the odd exception during the summer for a short break and the odd holidays such as Easter and Christmas. It is on a Tuesday and starts at 7.30pm unless United are playing, in which case we start at 7.00pm.
It was about 1994 when we invited our first United guest to come and see us. His name, Tommy Docherty. This was something new we had to get our teeth into. We didn't raise money for charity at that time, we just wanted a 'name' to come and see us. There were a few people who didn't want to see him because of his history but the Royal Asot was filled to the gills. Eamonn Holmes came along for good measure and did an interveiw on stage with the Doc. I think a good night was had by all.
Following on from this event, a few years later we invited Paddy Crerand. He brought the house down, with his quick wit and banter and anecdotes from yesteryear. I am proud to sya that we see Paddy as a good friend who always stops to say hello when he comes to Belfast. Wilf Magennis was next. There wasn't too many around during the summer of 1996 to come along to that party but Wilf vowed to return and he indeed did that in 1997 when the now, Sir Alex Ferguson, climbed onto a plane for a whistle stop tour of Carryduff.
This time it was to help us raise money for a wheelchair for Davy Gillen one of our members. Sir Alex attended a businessman's lunch at the Europa Hotel, took a break and then he went to the Royal Ascot for a signing sessiona and a dinner with Branch members including several who had come over from Manchester to be with us. Big Stesch, Addy, Peter Bishop and Nigel Barrett who sadly is no longer with us since October 2012. It was around 1998 that JW and I got involved with the Elizabeth Hardie Ferguson Charitable Trust Fund (NI). Thias charitable trust was formed to raise money and spend it on less frotunate kisds in Northern Ireland. The Trust Fund Committee in England allowed us to authorise up to £500 to good causes. As a result of this the boss continues to come and see us from time to time.
Sir Alex came back for other visits, bringing with him, Rio Ferdinand. Other former players including David May, Denis Irwin, Sunbed himself, Clayton Blackmore, Norman Whiteside. The biggest surprise was a phone call from a local Charity Fundraiser who asked us to look after Denis Law for a day and take him from Portadown to Larne. We did, but not without diverting to the Royal Ascot where he was met by lots of Carryduff members.
Word soon got around and before long our functions were also being attended by local celebrities who either lived about town or had come to town on business. Sharon Corr, now a local resident came along with her husband Gavin to help raise money for the Elizabeth Hardie Ferguson Charitable Trust Fund Henry McGlone has been an excellent benefactor to our causes as has Ed Vernon OBE.
In 1998, to mark the 40th anniversary of the Munich disaster, BBC Northern Ireland commissioned a documentary which featured Harry Gregg as an unsung hero. This very exciting project called the Glory Glory days also featured the fanatisism of United fans in Northern Ireland and followed the Carryduff Manchester United Supporters Club through its activities and to a game at Old Trafford.
In 2000 United kindly allowed us temporary ownership of the 3 trophies following their heroic acheivements in the 1998/99 season. The Royal Ascot was packed as people poured in to have their photo taken. One person of note who turned up that day were two little boys called Corrie and Johnny Evans. Johnny recalled in a later interview how he tortured his dad to bring him along.
The year 2005 was a sad time for the world of football as George Best passed away in November. We at Carryduff were approached to do a small fundraiser for the George Best Foundation. This we did at Belfast City Hall when we put on an event that would see the launch of the George Best Foundation. The fFoundation benefitted to the tune of £46,000. We commissioned a Faberge Egg with the help of the late Jimmy Johnstones friend Jeff Healey. Manchester United also send representatives to sell their Opus book at the event. The future First Minister of our country also came along for support with George Jones, David Gill, Paddy Crerand, Chris Eubank, Pat Jennings and Martin O'Neill. John Linehan and Dickie Best,
In 2006 John White asked if Manchester United will play a game in honour of Harry Gregg by way of a Testimopnial. Sir Alex said yes and he brought his strongest team ever to Windsor Park to play a Irish League select team with guests from the League of Ireland. The home side was managed by Martin O'Neill and Linfield manager David Jeffrey. This has to be our proudest moment ever as Chalkie accompanied Harry to the centre of the pitch to shake hands with the likes of Evra, Rooney, Berbatov, Nani. A subtstantial amount of money was raised and could not have been done without the help of Ticketmaster, Johnny Hero and U105, Radio Ulster, Barry Turley, MUTv, David Gill, The Irish FA, The FAI many of our club members and in particular the 14 plus thousand people who attended the game. What a night that was to remember.
Despite all the myths of the violent 70's, football support is a family support. Our branch encourages people to come to games. We at the club very much encourage a family branch. Many children in the branch are the reason parents join us as do many couples who are impressed by our very professional approach when organising trips to Manchester. Our trips are organised for almost every home game, several months in advance. If a trip is not organised, then members can avail of the season tickets to make their own way.
Our president is one of the biggest ambassador's for the Manchester United name, Eamonn Holmes, tv personality and United fanatic. There is a mix of people from various cultures and to be honest we don't really know what the split is religion wise. All we know is our club membership doesn't require someone who is orange or green, all we want is someone who's a RED . (Eamonn Holmes 1992)
This is very much a brief history of our club to date. I will continue to update this history as I go through my library of topics and news clippings. I will be able to tell you about our Branch Secretary who is a prolific author who compiles sports books on various sports from American Football to Snooker.