Drogheda United FC

Drogheda United

A History of the Club

Founded in 1919, the original Drogheda United was a non-league club for all of the early years of its existence, but in 1963 another Drogheda Club, Drogheda FC (founded in 1962) was elected to the League of Ireland when the league was expanded to include twelve teams rather than ten. In its first season, the club finished tenth and in each of the next three seasons it also finished in the bottom three. In the 1967-68 season Drogheda FC achieved a respectable fifth place finish and the following season finished in sixth place. When the league expanded to include fourteen teams, the club dropped down the table again, finishing in the bottom five in each of the next six seasons. It did, however, get to FAI Cup Final that season where it was beaten 3-0 by Limerick FC.

In 1975 Drogheda FC amalgamated with Drogheda United to form Drogheda United FC and the 1975-76 season saw an improvement in fortunes on the field as the club finished sixth in the league and also reached the FAI Cup Final for the second time, this time losing 1-0 to Bohemians.

The 1984-85 season saw the introduction of the FAI First Division to begin the following season with Drogheda United among the four clubs that were relegated from the Premier Division, but this season, Drogheda United also entered European Competition for the first time where the club came up against English giants Tottenham Hotspur in the UEFA Cup First Round. The eventual champions went on to beat Drogheda United 14-0 on aggregate.

In the early 1990s the club were very much a yo-yo club, swapping divisions every season between the 1993-94 and 2000-01 seasons. In 2000-01 the club reached an all-time low, finishing a disappointing ninth in the ten-team First Division. The following season it achieved promotion back to the Premier Division and has remained there ever since.

In recent years, success has become the norm, with the FAI Cup of 2005 becoming the club’s first major trophy win in decades. On top of this, the club went on to win the Setanta Sports Cup (becoming the first League of Ireland side to do so) just a few months later. The 2006/2007 UEFA Cup marked the cub’s return to European competition and beating HJK Helsinki 4-2 on aggregate was Drogheda United’s first ever win in the competition. Unfortunately, the club went out to IK Start of Norway in the next round.

The 2007 Setanta Sports Cup was the next major trophy to be picked up by The Drogs, beating Linfield in their home, Windsor Park. UEFA Cup football continued on Boyneside in 2007, with a win over AC Libertas of San Marino, followed by another narrow loss to Scandinavian opposition, this time to Helsingborgs of Sweden.

Despite the disappointment of being knocked out of the UEFA Cup, 'the Drogs' held their nerve, and their lead at the top of the eircom League of Ireland Premier Division table, to take the first ever Premier Division title in the club’s history. As reigning champions, United took their place in the UEFA Champions League for the first time ever in 2008.

The club drew an unknown team hailing from Estonia and going by the name of FC Levadia. It was a glorious start to the Champions League campaign with a 0-1 victory in Estonia. With the tie in favour of the Paul Doolins’ men, United again won out as 2-1 victors at Dalymount Park. United won the two legged affair clinically (agg. 3-1). Progressing to the next round to face the infamous Dynamo Kiev, whilst daunting was nonetheless an exciting prospect. Drawing 1-1 at home in the first leg, the mighty Drogs went to the Ukraine full of hope and belief. They were unlucky to lose out in the second match between the sides; with Kiev winning by a 2-1 margin and the mantra "we lost by the width of a goalpost" in now common parlance in any Drog-related conversation. While devastated at such a loss, there was an overwhelming feeling of pride and passion for the claret and blue.

After the heroics in Europe it was back to the bread and butter of the League and things were not going according to plan. With off the field matters to the forefront of everyone’s minds, on the field form inevitably suffered. We finished sixth in the table for the 2008 season. Examinership dominated the season's end, and indeed the Christmas period. Fans rowed together in order to raise much needed funds to “save the Drogs.” After months of uncertainty, justice prevailed and Drogheda United rose phoenix-like from the ashes under the stewardship of Alan Mathews. The former Cork City manager had a matter of weeks to assemble a team and shepherd it through the season. He did so with aplomb.

The cynics predicted relegation in 2009 but Drogheda United defied the odds and survived a relegation play-off against Bray Wanderers.

In a town hit particularly hard by recession, Drogheda United struggled financially in the close season of 2009 but weathered the storm and was back in fighting spirits to embrace the 2010 season.

The 2010 season started badly for the Drogs and manager, Alan Mathews, finally handed in his resignation following a 6-0 defeat away to Sligo Rovers on the 15th May. Sitting just above Bray Wanderers at the foot of the league table, Drogs appointed local Darius Kierans as caretaker manager and Director of Football. Darius brought with him great credentials. He along with Rory Kerr built up Drogheda United's youth set-up into one of the most respected in the country over the last number of years. Indeed, upon taking over as Director of Football, Darius showcased some of his younger charges on the 1st team. Having started his tenure off in style with several home wins and with the character of the team transformed, things started looking more positive on the Boyneside.

Unfortunately, things took another turn for the worse when it was confirmed by the FAI that Darius was unable to remain as Manager of the First team due to not having yet finished the mandatory UEFA A Licence. Darius was replaced by Paul Lumsden who took just one game before resigning. Brian Donnelly was then appointed as the second Interim Manager of the season but he handed in his resignation in September. Darius Kierans stepped back into the breech for the final time in a 4-0 home defeat to Sporting Fingal before the club appointed former player Bobby Browne as manager. Despite finishing bottom of the table in 2010 and being automatically relegated, Drogheda United were given a late reprieve just weeks before the new season when Sporting Fingal were wound up. Finding themselves back in the Premier Division, Bobby Browne was replaced by Monaghan United manager Mick Cooke on the 27th February 2011, a week ahead of the first game of the 2011 season.

Despite inheriting an amateur squad just a week before the beginning of the season and with the lowest playing budget in the league, Mick Cooke galvanised matters on the pitch and the Drogheda United fans were rewarded with some great football as the season played out. The Drogs ended the 2011 season in 9th position and Mick Cooke accomplished the task he was set by avoiding relegation.

Off the pitch, a new board of management had been appointed to run the club for the 2011 season with Jim Agnew taking over as Chairman of the club. Towards the end of the season, it was announced that a new company would be formed to take over the club for 2012. This company comprised a group of supporters who had committed one thousand euro each at the beginning of 2011 to save the club. This effectively meant that Drogheda United became a members-owned club.