Name: Aquinas Football Club
Ground: Rathmore Grammar School
Colours: Blue and Black
Manager: John McCormick
Captain: Simon Ramsey (club captain) Martin Ramsey (First team captain) Matt Keenan (Second team captain)
In the latest Intermediate Profile, we move into Division 1B of the NAFL and to South Belfast side Aquinas. The Rathmore side are currently celebrating their 50th Anniversary, having been formed in August 1969 by a combination of individuals, and named after the Aquinas Hall on the Malone Road beside which the players would gather for a kick-about.
For the first 40 years of existence though, the club would be solely focused on a burgeoning youth system, and within months of their birth, Aquinas were a founder member of the South Belfast Boys League. Those early years saw the club enjoy much success across the various age groups, but by the time the 40th anniversary rolled around the club began to make moves on their plans to ensure they could provide a full player pathway from underage to senior level.
In 2010/2011 the club entered a senior side in the Belfast & District League, playing out of the YMCA grounds at Knightsbridge in Stranmillis. With successive promotions from Divisions Two & Three which were quickly followed by the Division One title, the club had reached the highest level of the BDFL in the shortest possible time, and with a squad that was almost exclusively made up of dyed in the wool Aquinas men.
One such character is current club captain Simon Ramsey who has been turning out in the blue and black since he still had his baby teeth. “I have been at the club since I was 6 years old, 22 years ago!”, Ramsey commented,“ I played from mini soccer right up through the age groups and then up to senior level.”
Following four seasons within the BDFL, Aquinas made the leap to the NAFL. Both the first team and reserve side took to the step-up like a duck to water. By the season’s end both sides had secured the title in their maiden seasons in the NAFL.
The progress did not stop there though, and in 2018 the club secured promotion to Intermediate football, finishing as runners-up to Tullycarnet in 2A. What followed was a barnstorming first season in a notoriously difficult division, 1C, with Aquinas romping to the title with a +69 goal difference, losing just 2 games along the way. This meant that in nine seasons the club had won seven promotions, going from Division 3 of the Belfast and District League to the Intermediate league in that time. Mirroring those achievements were the club’s excellent reserve side, who also stormed to another title, winning 3C with just one defeat while notching over 100 goals.
“We have enjoyed the season so far in 1B“, Ramsey continued,“ We have made a great start in a tough league and hopefully we can keep it going and be challenging come the business end of the season. It was fantastic for us to see both senior sides gaining promotion in our 50th year as a club.”
“This season we have also set up a third team which is competing in our old stomping ground of the BDFL. We are coming close to ten years now since we set up the first senior team, and hopefully, this is only the start of our success.”
While the progress at senior level shows no signs of abating, the foundations of the club at the youth level are still thriving. With multiple sides at every age level, including a recently formed girls section, Aquinas look well placed to continue supplying the conveyor belt of talent for another 50 years.