Belfast has had hundreds of football teams come and go over the years, but one team who are very fondly remembered by players and supporters alike are Red Star from Lenadoon.

Though only just founded, from the early to mid 1970s, many boys from Lenadoon played for the team, who built up a reputation as a great side, winning numerous championships across the North and developed good natured rivalries between other local teams such as St Oliver Plunkett and Donegal Celtic.

Sean Hanna, who coached Red Star at the time recalled the time the team headed over to Glasgow in 1974 to play Motherwell and Celtic’s youth squads, only on the return back, to find they had no way home due to the May 1974 Ulster Workers’ Council strike, in which unionist groups, backed by loyalist paramilitaries ground the North to a halt, and brought down the government in protest against the Sunningdale Agreement which was signed in December 1973.

“Back in the day there was a bit of competition between Donegal Celtic, Red Star and Oliver Plunkett, there would be lots of great games between them, with the boys from each team trying their best to win,” he said.

“Red Star had a great run over a number of seasons, they won the Down & Connor Under 13 Championship two years in a row, plus they were National Association of Boys 7-Aside Champions. They won the Donegal Under 11’s in 1974, the year we went to Glasgow to play. Red Star played in the 1972, 1973, 1974 and 1975 seasons.

SUCCESS: Red Star had several successes between 1972 and 1975

SUCCESS: Red Star had several successes between 1972 and 1975

“When the boys headed over I arranged for them to be put with families in Carfin, near Motherwell. Red Star played Motherwell Boys twice, and Glasgow Celtic Boys, and played three games in all.

“After playing three games the lads wanted to go and see the Celtic match at Parkhead. We didn’t have tickets, but we could hear all the cheering coming from the stadium, so I phoned them up and told them we were a team over from Belfast, and the boys wanted to see Celtic.

“When we arrived I knocked on the gate, I said we were the team from Belfast, and they asked if we were Red Star and let us in. The one player who’s not in the photo, but was there on the day was Thomas ‘Tucker’ Stranney. At the end of the match, Celtic manager Jock Stein threw his Celtic scarf in and Tucker caught it, and I believe he still has it.”

Speaking on the events of strike, which broke out as the boys were away playing in Scotland.

“We arrived in Larne from Stranraer and heading out of the port one of the lads came up and said 'Mr Hanna, there’s a man down there with a rifle'," Sean recalled.

“There was a man standing there with a big rifle, manning the barricades so nothing could come in our out. I said to for everyone to stay quiet, and not say anything, and they let us all pass.

“When we managed to get to the station, we got the boys onto the last train, before the strike ground the place to a halt. We arrived back in York Street Station and we had absolutely no way back to Lenadoon and were stuck there with about 13 or 14 of us.

“I luckily enough managed to get in touch with some men from Donegal Celtic who drove Black Cabs, arrived to pick us up, Tony Rooney’s brother and sister came, and piled us into cars and took us back to Donegal Celtic where we were able to get home.”

Sean’s son, Paul Hanna, who was a player for Red Star at the time also spoke on his memories of the trip.

MEMORIES: Red Star just before they left to play in Scotland

MEMORIES: Red Star just before they left to play in Scotland

“I remember going to Scotland, and they put us up in Carfin." he reflected.

“We played three games, two against Motherwell’s U13 and U14 team, and one against Celtic. I remember we beat Motherwell, but Celtic beat us by a wide margin.”

Paul Hanna also recollected the formation and naming of the team, which was chosen after the Serbian team, Red Star Belgrade (also known as Crvena Zvezda).

“My dad arranged for a typist to write a letter to them, asking if they could give us any kits, and they actually wrote back, but said they couldn’t afford it," he continued.

“It was another member of the team’s idea to contact them. I remember when we wanted a name we searched around all the teams in Europe for some influence, and saw Red Star and went for that. Playing with Red Star was a great couple of years.”