New Irish League digital archive records 35,000 results since 1881
and live on Freeview channel 276
Haydn Milligan, a retired Information Technology expert who had extensive experience in forensic data work, created the free-to-access Irish League Archive (ILA)- the most comprehensive website the local game has ever seen.
The 72-year-old amassed 35,000 results with 121,000 goals in games between 500 teams at 400 venues in no fewer than 41 competitions dating back to 1881 when football was played by clubs from across the island of Ireland.
Supporters of current Irish Premiership champions Larne will be able to find out facts including the two occasions the east Antrim side scored nine goals at home, the other trophy they won in addition to the Irish League and County Antrim Shield, how close they came to winning the Irish League in
1926, how they got on in their first Irish League season in 1923/1924 .
Fans of Larne’s east Antrim neighbours Carrick Rangers will see statistics including when they had their best away win, scoring six goals in 2011, all the results from their Irish Cup-winning season of 1975/1976, Why they were at ‘The Dell the following season and the other trophy they have won in addition to the Irish Cup. The archive also details the results from the 19th and 20th Centuries of Carrick-based Barn United.
The online archive also details the senior results of Lisburn Distillery and the original Belfast-based Distillery.
Visitors to the online database will learn two occasions when Lisburn Distillery scored nine goals, both in the League Cup, all the results leading to their League Cup success in 2010/2011, details of their best Irish League performance in 2003/2004 and all the data for the original Distillery club including their six Irish League wins, 12 Irish Cup triumphs and 14 County Antrim Shield wins.
Coleraine FC’s senior results are also documented in the ILA. Fans will be able to find out facts including when the Bannsiders scored nine goals away from home, their first Footballer of the Year, the final table from their Irish League-winning season, which trophy they have won more than any other club, the teams they beat en route to their six Irish Cup wins and where they went for their first foray into Europe.
Supporters of Co Armagh rivals Portadown and Loughgall will also be able to avail of the free online service.
Users will be able to find out the head-to-head results between the two clubs, the teams against which Portadown scored 11 goals in a game, their first recipient of the Footballer of the Year award, the final tables from their four League title-winning seasons, the route to their three Irish Cup successes.
Loughgall supporters can see who they scored five away goals against in 2004, the results from their previous three seasons in the top flight and the route to their two Irish Cup semi-finals, plus much more.
Glenavon fans will be able find out facts including when the Mourneview Park side scored a record 10 goals away from home, all the results from their
three title-winning seasons in the 1950s, why the 1954/1955 season was very special for Maurice McVeigh and where and when they won a trophy outside of Northern Ireland.
Detailing his inspiration behind the archive, Haydn said: “It all started after I tried to locate some old results from Irish League encounters from years back and I wondered why, when it was easy to get the scores from the likes of Manchester United and Liverpool games, it was so hard to track down similar information about matches here.
“That got me thinking about trying to round up all the scores from the past.”
The fact that the idea for his ILA had been born during the Covid-19 pandemic meant that the work proved to be a welcome pastime at home for Haydn during lockdown, though the scale of the job surprised even the author.
Haydn, a former pupil at Regent House School in Newtownards, who returned to live in Northern Ireland several years ago after four decades working in England where he supported Portsmouth, explained: “I was lucky that I was able to access newspaper archives online because libraries were shut during the pandemic. A couple of books were good starting points too, but they didn’t have all the results which was what I wanted to include in my project along with the dates of the games and the stages of the various competitions."
Mr Milligan, a supporter of the Irish League setup, stated: “My first love, like that of my father and grandfather before me, has always been Linfield and I followed their results every week and saw them each time I was back in Northern Ireland on visits. I rarely miss any of their matches home or away now.
"The ILA is free because I never even contemplated making it pay-for-view because it was a hobby for me, and only cost me a comparatively small amount of money, though I wouldn’t say no to sponsorship, or perhaps PayPal assistance down the line to meet the running costs.
“The website is quite simple to use and I think it has definitely settled a few arguments about games from yesteryear.
“Once supporters dip a toe in the archive, I think they will keep coming back to it. It’s fairly addictive.
“Standards are rising all the time in the league and crowds are going up. I think the emergence of full-time professionalism has been a real boost.
“Some of my sources might not have been accurate, but if anyone spots any mistakes, I’m hoping they will get in touch via the website with proof of the right information.
"Since launching the website last year quite a few people have contacted me. All have been very generous with their compliments.”
To view the archive, visit www.irishleaguearchive.org