The Early Years
The earliest memories are of a Rosario team playing in the Clonard League in the 1930s. This particular team played many of their games at Ulidia Playing Fields were the club currently have their playing facilities today.
Later recollection recalls Rosario junior team involved with Distillery thirds playing under the name Ormo Rec and winning the junior cup in 1953. Rosario soccer section shut up shop for a while during the fifties and early sixties because of the lack of volunteers. Albert Brown, a well respected P.E. instructor from the area joined the Management Committee and soon recruited a number new people who gave many years service to sport and young people. Rosario continued to play in junior leagues thoughout the 1960s and a number of junior players went on to play with Senior Teams in the area, Park United and Eastwood Star – both cross-community teams.
The Martin O’Neill connection
Gerry O’Reilly, a young lad attending St Malachy’s College, encouraged a numbers of his mates to play for Rosario. The under 16 team went on to win the Down & Connor League and Cup double in 1973. One of the players in that team was Martin O’Neill, the current President of Rosario Football Club, and famous manager of today’s Republic of Ireland team.
Before the troubles had begun, the club had applied for funding to build a purpose built centre. This was shelved for a number years due to the disturbances. A youth club in Carolan Road run by the Good Shepherd nuns filled the gap for almost ten years when Rosario purpose built centre was finally opened in February 1978. The Carolan Road location had no real organised sports. Filling Rosario’s gap for soccer at the time was a well known character, Norman Craig, who ran a number of soccer teams known as Ballynafeigh Youth. Shortly after the youth club reopened Junior Soccer was revitalised and the club entered two age-groups into the South Belfast Boys’ League, and Down & Connor League.