By Philip O’Rourke (@effect_phil)
This club has to be the most difficult one that I have written about in these ‘Forgotten Clubs’ pieces. There are many reasons for this, the fact it went out of existence back in the 1920’s, the lack of fans that are still alive today (If any) and the lack of information about the club itself, even on the internet. Even Wikipedia gave very little into the life of this club.
After a few weeks of research, I found myself walking into dead ends and at one point I thought that the club never even existed. Even their old home ground, were they played their League of Ireland football, doesn’t exist anymore. Unless I was going to find a 100-year-old fan of this club on Twitter, I was going to have to do this piece a little bit differently.
And so, I had to go a little bit further to try and get an insight to this mysterious club, by visiting the very place they used to play and were they were founded, even if it did look a lot different than it was back in the 1920’s and even if I did find it hard to get some of the locals to speak to me, (they were a suspicious bunch) I was determined to know more about the forgotten club that was Brooklyn FC.
Brooklyn FC were founded back in 1921, where they played their football in the Leinster Senior League alongside other clubs like Shamrock Rovers, Bohemians B, St James’s Gate B, Bray Unknowns, Shelbourne United, Pioneers, Midland Athletic, Merrion, Glasnevin, CYMS and Richmond. (Most of which will feature later in the series). The club Brooklyn FC was based in Merchants Quay and got its name after the area there, Brooklyn Terrace, playing their home games in Charlgrove Terrace, which is no longer there. The area is now known as Dolphin’s Barn.
The club was elected into the League of Ireland in 1923-24, with the League only having ten clubs competing, winning only four of their 18 games that season. Three of their wins came away from home and they only had the one solitary home win, a 1-0 win against the club that finished bottom of the table, Midland Athletic. They did produce one of the biggest away wins that season of any club in the league against Pioneers, winning 6-0. Brooklyn managed to finish 8th out of the ten clubs with the League being won by Bohemians FC.
The following season produced the same result, again finishing 8th and only picking up four victories all season. This time Brooklyn were on the receiving end of the biggest loss of the season, an 8-0 away loss to Shelbourne. The eventual winners of the league that year, Shamrock Rovers had put 12 goals past Brooklyn that season as well in their two encounters,(6-2 and 6-1) The gulf in class proved to be too much and this was to be their last season in the League of Ireland when they failed to get re-elected into the league for the 1925-26 season. (Re-election or failure to get elected is a common reason for some of these older clubs disappearing from the League of Ireland.)
They were replaced by another Dublin club, Brideville and so that was the short history of Brooklyn FC in the League of Ireland. The club also competed in the FAI Cup, losing to Bray Unknowns 2-1 in the first round of the 1923-24 season. They did progress to the second round of the cup in the 1924-25 season, beating Jacobs 6-2. But their cup run was cut short in the second round when they were beaten away by Shelbourne 4-0.
Despite its short existence at this level, Brooklyn did have three Irish Internationals put on their shirt. Jimmy Bermingham, Tony Huntson and Joe Kendrick all played for, what was then known as the Irish Free State. Bermingham made one appearance but would be better known for his contribution to Bohemians when he won every domestic trophy with them in 1928. Hendrick made a few more appearances for the Irish Free State, five in total. He started off his career as an amateur with Brooklyn FC, and while playing for them he represented the Irish Free State at the 1924 Olympic games. He played at club level with Everton and later with Dolphins in League of Ireland, helping them win the League of Ireland title in 1935. (I won’t go too much into that as they are a team that will feature later)
Even though I’m from Dublin, born here, lived here (except for a brief spell when I lived in Tipperary) I’m still not considered a proper Dubliner by most. I’m from outside the city centre, where the people who live there see me as an outsider, or dare I say it, a ‘culchie’. So, when I ventured into the former area that was known as Charlgrove Terrace and Brooklyn Terrace, Dolphin’s Barn I got a few funny looks from the locals.
Most people I spoke to in the area, when I asked them who they supported now in the League of Ireland replied, St Pat’s or Shamrock Rovers, with most starting their answer with, ‘If I had too choose…’ which would indicate their loyalties to either club may not be cemented down. The area seems to be split between the two South Side Dublin clubs but with mixed feelings as if they are forced to pick one to represent them even though they may not fully affiliate themselves with those clubs. I can only imagine that if a club like Brooklyn FC was to be resurrected here and attempted to represent the people of this area, it would probably be followed with a passion and a community spirit that this area has.
One local I managed not to scare away, (a lot of suspicious and skeptical people around!) Paulie (apologies for not getting his second name, but I was lucky to get his first!) told me that he would 100% get behind a League of Ireland club should it come from this area again, as the previous clubs here are not too well remembered. ‘I don’t know anything about Brooklyn FC, I don’t think anyone does really. Dolphin’s gets mentioned because they won a league and were a bit successful and a bit more recent, but I would still struggle to be able to talk about them. I don’t think anyone around here would. It’s a bit sad really because everyone around here loves their football. It would be deadly to support a team and be able to talk about them a few years later like, ‘do you remember when sort of thing….’
Paulie himself tries to go to as many St Pats games as possible but work sometimes prevents him from going on a Friday night. ‘Yeah, I follow the Saints when I can, but they don’t pay my bills’.
Unfortunately, I don’t see a club appearing in this area anytime soon, with financial reasons being the main problem. I have said football can have a big effect on communities around Ireland and can bring people together, but without some sort of financial backing in these areas, in regards to the basics of human living, like jobs and housing it is difficult to imagine a football club being financially backed and stable here. But this area has had its fair share of clubs in or around it over the years, so you never know. Maybe the area itself will produce another club for the League of Ireland again. It would be interesting to see how many would say they are a Pats or Rovers fan if it did or would they pick their local club?
After speaking to a few on my quick journey here, I would say the latter. One thing is for sure, Brooklyn FC may have a mysterious side to it, with its history being lost with the fans and players back in an Ireland that was before our time, but It will still have its place in the League of Ireland’s history.
Next up, we are going west to a club that many would associate with the English Premier League. This club may have something to say about that though. Newcastle West AFC, your turn, your story.