We received a lot of positive feedback on our Glentoran story. We already experienced the hospitality of Belfast people when we were there. Crusaders FC for instance was more than willing to show us around in their Seaview Stadium. And a beautiful stadium it is indeed!
It all started back in 1896 when they started playing friendly games. In 1898 the first competitive game was played. The name was derived from the medieval Christian knights and was chosen to give the team a more international look and feel. Originally the team started as a junior team and competed in several junior leagues of which they won three championships in the Irish Football Alliance before they were elected to play in the Intermediate League in 1921.
For 28 years they played in that league and the Crues (as they are nicknamed) won a massive amount of trophies, including six championships. Although they had many successes their applications to play in the senior Irish League were turned down. It caused that much frustration they even considered to apply for a membership in the Scottish Football League and the League of Ireland. Finally, after Belfast Celtic ceased to exist in 1949 Crusaders FC was allowed to the senior Irish League. Due to bad results in their first season, they had to re-apply for a membership but Crusaders FC were determined to stay where they finally wanted to be.
It wouldn't take long before the first trophies started coming in. During the 50s already it started by winning the Ulster Cup in 1954. Afterwards it only became better for the team. In 1967 they even made it to European football and matches against Valencia CF. The decades that followed brought more trophies and championships, but the 70s were also overshadowed by a couple of dark incidents. During The Troubles (we all know what happened in Northern Ireland during the last few decades in the 20th century) there were 1,900 police offices on duty for a game between Crusaders and Cliftonville, even while there were only about 1,700 fans. A story which was shared with us by members of the team while we were there. In 1980 an IRA gunman even shot someone during a game.
Luckily none of that is happening anymore and we must say Crusaders FC and the rest of Belfast is recommended to visit. Especially when you have the opportunity to see the championship trophy in real life and get to experience inside information of Crusaders FC. Let's just say they are very tactical in how they approach the game of football.
Like for so many stadiums, there have been a lot of talks to redevelop the Seaview Stadium as well, but up until now nothing has happened. The team was able to give us some information about one of the stands, where they manually had to turn the stand into a seating area themselves with a couple of volunteers in only a handful of days. The Seaview Stadium is also being shared with Newington FC, a rather young team which is playing in the Intermediate Leagues.
Seaview Stadium was opened in 1921 and the name was given due to the fact that back in the days the coast line was closer to the stadium than where it is right now. These days the area between the sea and the stadium is part of the port of Belfast. On the other side you still have a very nice view on the hills and the castle on the hills. Our suggestion to change the name into Castleview Stadium was only accepted as a joke.
The current main stand was built in the early 70s and the only thing that is still visible from the redevelopment in the 50s is the small piece of terracing right next to the main stand. The stand on the other side of the main stand originally had a completely different look. That original stand was sold to another team and is still being used (surprise surprise, we visited that stadium as well).