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Home Farm honour '203 club' members

THE Home Farm team which earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records with a remarkable world record run of 203 games without defeat, was honoured in the club's premises in Whitehall last Saturday night.

The occasion brought all but five of the 29 players who contributed to the remarkable success together for the first time and it proved to be a wonderful night of nostalgia for all concerned.

Carlise United's Graham Kavanagh was last to arrive, but was given a magnificent welcome after being on duty with his club against Swindon Town before making a dash to Bristol to catch a flight back to Dublin to join in the festivities.

"I didn't want to miss this night," said Kavanagh. "They are all great guys and I'm delighted to be here and to see to many old mates."

Manager Paddy Hilliard, coach Liam Tuohy and assistant Frank O'Neill along with all the players received momentoes from the club whilst a especially commissioned wall graphic was unveiled by current club Chairman John Lyons and DDSL Chairman Tommy Heffernan.

In attendance were representatives from the NDSL -- the first league the squad came together in, the DDSL and the Martin O'Hanlon of the SFAI also attended.

In his speech to the assembled gathering, club honorary secretary Malachy Menton paid tribute to the squad for a stunning achievement that is unlikely to be surpassed and also tribute to manager Hilliard and stated that schoolboy football in Ireland was crying out for more individuals like him to make a contribution to the development of the game here.

Menton also appealed to all the players to try make a contribution back to Home Farm at some time in the future and stated that they given the great successes they had achieved with the club, they all had a beneficial role to play in sustaining the success of Ireland's foremost schoolboy nursery.

Menton also was fulsome in his praise of legendary Irish soccer luminary Liam Tuohy whom he described as an absolute gentleman and who made a huge contribution to the success of the squad, but who would only address the players during a match interval if invited to do so by the manager.

Former team assistant Stephen Murphy and the late lamented Des Crawford were fondly remembered for their invaluable contributions.

Master of Ceremonies on the night was Aidan Seery whose polished performance enhanced the occasion and his anecdotes from the glory run were listened to by appreciative and attentative ears.

For the record, the team played 206 games winning 197, drawing six, losing none, scoring 1111 goals and conceding just 106.

Every league title from Under 11 to under 18 was won, league cups from under 11 to under 16 were won.

The SFAI All-Irelands at Under 13, 14, 15 and 16 were won, the LFA Youths Cup was won and the FAI Under 17s Cup found its way back to Home Farm.

They also became the first team, north or south to win the prestigious Under 14 Northern Ireland Milk Cup while they also won the Belgian International Under 13, the Limezea 21 tournament and the Scotland Under 12s All-Comers Invitation title.

Eleven of the players won underage international honours while Graham Kavanagh and Gary Kelly went on to win full international recognition.

All but five players attended the function. Christian Bowes is living in Finland, Brendan Quinlivan is in Australia, Trevor Vaughan in the USA on holidays while Gary Kelly and Eddie Van Boxtel were unavailable to attend.

The players who contributed to the remarkable achievement were: John Alcock, Ken Byrne, Jimmy Bouchier, Ciaran Dowling, Marc Kenny, Eric O'Neill, Ken Ring, Greg Syms, Damien Bennett, Christian Bowes, Ciaran Duffy, Pat Goodson, PJ O'Connell, Keith Redmond, Trevor Vaughan, Paul Brennan, Neil Cullen, Anthony Lynch, Gary Kelly, John Platt, Ciaran Murphy, Eddie Van Boxtel, Matthew Buttner, Stephen Dixon, Graham Kavanagh, Kevin Clancy, Brendan Quinlivan, Gary Sliney, Karl Wilson, Karl Whelan. (Pic on Page 69)