The celebrations continued into the early hours of Sunday morning last as Ireland’s oldest club St. Joseph’s FC held their 90th anniversary Gala Dinner dance that was attended by over 240 guests at the Tower Hotel in what was an occasion to remember on Saturday last.
Past and present members of the club were joined by a host of guests from the footballing world that included Mayor of Waterford Jim D’Arcy, John Delaney CEO of the FAI, Paddy Pollard Chairman of the MFA, Noel O’Keeffe Waterford Junior League, Paul O’Keeffe Referees Society and Davy Cullen Waterford Schoolboy League.
The Mayor of Waterford Councillor Jim D’rcy said, “I’m delighted to be part of your celebrations and today is a great day for you all as you mark the 90th anniversary of St. Joseph’s FC. There’s no doubt that this club has played a most vital role in our society. Some great men have served this club and we should be honouring for their hard work here tonight. I congratulate you on this magnificent achievement.”
Speaking on the night, club life president John “Bubbles” Grant said, “I thank each and every single one of you all for joining us in our celebrations here tonight. There are many stories that we can tell that you take hours and hours. I think that the most important thing over the past 90 years of this club is that we’ve been a family club. There are many families like the Toms, Hales, O’Mahony’s and so on that have served this club brilliantly over the years and I’m just honoured to be the life President of this club.
“The one thing that I would really like to say here tonight is that I’d love to see a return to Schoolboy football for St. Joseph’s because that’s what we are. A club that needs to cater for players that will continue to build the club and I’m sure we’ll be all back celebrating our 100th anniversary in ten years time.”
Also speaking on the night, Alfie Hale said, “A lot of great men started their footballing careers with St. Joseph’s. I joined the club when I was ten and I owe so much to people like Toms because they were my coaches and my mentors in my footballing life as a player. I remember many great stories about the club including one about the great Walter O’Mahony when he wouldn’t allow me play because the club couldn’t afford the insurance if anything happened to me.
“This club is a great family club and I was delighted to come back last season. We’re delighted to have John Delaney here with us tonight and I’d like to say this much that football in this country wouldn’t be at the stage that it is now only for John’s father Joe. He was the man that transformed the Association to what it is today.”
John Delaney CEO of the FAI said, “I can sense that there is a lot of emotion here tonight when I listen to the likes of John Grant and Alfie Hale speak. We should be thanking these men for the amount of work and effort that they’ve giving to Irish football. We’re lucky to have men like this involved in football and for St. Joseph’s FC, it’s brilliant that this club is still going.
“There is city authority people here tonight that I’m forever grateful to because the facilities that clubs have are continuing to come on leaps and bounds. Here in Waterford, we have a development officer in Gary Power, who is part funded by the FAI and City Council. To the Mayor and council, I thank you for your continued support of the Association.
“The work of both the Schoolboy and Junior leagues is indescribable as is the coverage of the games that we get from media outlets in our city. Waterford is a great footballing city, a city full of great people and great football men. I’m delighted to be here to celebrate the 90th anniversary of this great club.”
There were a number of presentations during the evening. Paddy Pollard on behalf of the MFA presented a piece of Crystal to John “Bubbles” Grant, while John Delaney issued certificates on behalf of the FAI to John Grant, the family of the late Walter O’Mahony and to club Chairman Christy Hannigan.
Emmett O’Toole received the 1st division player of the year from Alfie Hale, who also presented the 2nd division award to Pappy Bowe. The MC for the night was Derek Power, while music was supplied by Lebowski and the event was organised by Jim O’Neill, who left no stone unturned to ensure a fantastic occasion.