Next to all of the known wonderful stadiums in and around Dublin, there are also stadiums with a less known status or history for us groundhoppers. The Morton Stadium in Santry, Dublin is one of those stadiums. Actually a very nice one with a rather diverse history. Let's dive into that history.
The stadium, aka Santry Stadium or National Athletics Stadium, was originally built for Clonliffe Harriers and had a main focus for athletics. The Clonliffe Harriers already started in 1886 (originally it was planned to name the team Richmond Harriers, but it seemed the name was already existing - since Clonliffe Road was parallel with Richmond Road, Clonliffe was used instead) and they are officially the oldest athletics team in Ireland. Ever since 1958 the team has Morton Stadium as their home ground. It's not only the oldest athletics team in the country, but it has the biggest status as well including quite a lot of titles, international athletes and Olympians.
But the stadium also hosted quite a lot of football during its 60 year existence. Teams like Raheny United FC, Sporting Fingal FC, Dublin City FC and Shamrock Rovers FC have played there on a regular or occasional basis. Especially Shamrock Rovers FC holds a peculiar memory to the stadium. During one of their derbies against Bohemian FC the game turned out to be a spectacular one with quite a lot of goals. The Bohs won with 4-6 after a very intense game. An extended video is available to be seen on YouTube.
Nowadays the stadium is still being used by Drumcondra FC and Shelbourne Ladies FC. Shelbourne Ladies FC first started in 1995, but in reality Shelbourne FC took over the already existing Welsox FC. Welsox FC already won the cup in 1992 and 1994 and would form a great addition to Shelbourne FC. Up until 2002 the team would have great results, but that year they split off from Shelbourne FC to merge with Templeogue United. After five years Shelbourne FC recreated their women's team. In 2015 finally they merged with Raheny United and took over their spot in the league. Good results came back and finally in 2016 they won their first championship.
On to Drumcondra FC. They started in 1924 and immediately had a lot of success in Irish football. In 1927 they won two cups and afterwards they did great in Irish first division. They played the League of Ireland between 1928 and 1972 winning two titles during the 40s and being the first team in the league to have floodlights while playing at Tolka Park. They even played European football during the 50s and 60s against teams like Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, FC Nurnberg and Eintracht Frankfurt. In 1972 the team merged with Home Farm and for a very short time (one year - afterwards it was just Fome Farm) the team was known as Home Farm-Drumcondra. In 2008 however the team was completely reformed after the merger between Drumcondra AFC and Drumcondra Athletic. Drumcondra AFC started in the early 70s, not long after the demise of the original Drumcondra. Drumcondra Athletic was founded in the 90s.
The stadium had quite a lot of different names throughout the decades. The original name was Clonliffe Harriers Stadium (1958), during the 60s however it was changed already into John F Kennedy Stadium. When Billy Morton died in 1969, the stadium was renamed again to Morton Stadium (name change only happened in the early 90s). Next to that a lot of people refer to the stadium as being the Santry Stadium or National Athletics Stadium.