...............Where it all began...............
Once upon a time in a galaxy far far away, sorry thats Star Wars isn't it. right back to reality lets tell you the real beginnings of AYRE UNITED AFC and try to bring you up to the present day.
The Club was originally formed on the 10th April 1967 following an inaugural meeting in the growing village of Andreas due to the demand for a Local Football club to be created. During the meeting it was decided to apply for membership of the Isle of Man Football League division 2 for the forthcoming 1967 - 68 Season.
To bring the dream of football at Andreas to the point of reality the club realised there was a great deal of work to be done before the first ball could ever be kicked by someone wearing what is now our accepted team colours of Tangerine and Black. So to help fulfill the dream the newly formed Club members got together with their wives to plan and create the foundations of the club that we all take for granted today, with the drive and enthusiam that has been the mainstay and heart of this proud club.
The Club's first ever President was Edward Kerruish and it was through his initial generosity that the club wasable to purchase its very first set of goal posts. Among the original members of the Club were Percy Collister, Fred Corlett, Ron Liversey, John Bolton and Bert Kelly.
Sadly for the club the likes of Edward Kerruish, Fred Corlett and Percy Collister are no longer with us but the names remain. Edward Kerruish is honoured with a plague in the Clubhouse, Percy Collister has a Northern trophy named after him that is contested yearly by Ayre, Ramsey, Laxey and Jurby, while Fred Corlett has this year had a Trophy awarded in his honour at the club dinner for the Club player of the year.
As with everything though a team cannot play without the provision of a pitch and it is at this point in the proceedings that the Andreas Parish Commissioners came to the help of the club by providing the field to put the pitch on, and it should be noted that they have supported the Club ever since.
A new Club though also needs facilities in the shape of a club house and this problem was solved with the introduction of Ayre's first clubhouse which came in the shape of an old RAF hut from the base at Jurby. The hut was slowly transported in 50 sections to Andreas and placed on a concrete base before being re-erected to form the new changing facilities and social room of the club. Something that in total took 16 months from start to finish. It was also said that "Many wives joined the Ladies Committee because it was the only way they could get to see their husbands during the time".
Ayre's first league fixture came at the start of the 1967 - 68 season and saw the mighty tangerines travel down to Colby. The result on the day though went against us as we lost a well fought match by 4 -2 but Bobby Kennaugh placed himself in Ayre folklore by scoring our first eve league goal. Ayre finished on only four points that initial season but times were about to change for the club and in dramatic fashion.
Within two full seasons of the Club being formed the Club was celebrating its first piece of Silverware as the Woods Cup returned to Andeas for the first time, along with the Fred Faragher Cup, and it was back to Andreas again the following season as Ayre began to get a taste for the good life. The club also became the first on the island to install floodlights at the ground to assist with training through the winter months, an idea that has been adopted by several clubs over the years.
The Club itself holds the recored of most successes in the Wods Cup with a total of Seven Victories with the last success being in 2001 the year in which we rightfully regained our position in the First Division after being relegated the year before.
The clubs first forray into Division 1 though came back in the 1977-78 season after Ayre had won the Division 2 title for the first time and since then we have won the Division 2 title on three other occasions. After promotion in 1986-87 the club settled well into the top flight and after attracting a few players achieved their best ever league standing in the 1988-89 season when they finished a creitable second in the first Division.
Over the last ten years the club has been relegated once during the 1999-2000 season but won promotion twice, as runners up to the Police in 1995-96, when we pulled of the Paul Henry and Woods Cup double and the Combination side won the League for the first and so far only time, and also in the 2001-02 season when we went up as Champions.
The True highlight though for all associated with Ayre came during the 2002-2003 season as Ayre lifted the Manx FA Cup at the Bowl for the very first time at the Bowl in front of hundreds of fanatical barmy army supporters. Prior to the game Ayre had been written of by everyone but teamspirit and the self belief installed in the players in the locked changing rooms before kick-off paid off.
It was Martin Torr who gave Ayre the lead as he capatalised on mistakes at the back before making it two nil just before the break. After the interval the fans saw St Georges throw everything at us but the defence marshalled by the impressive Gawne, Allison, Stevens and Jauncey stood firm until Myers scored with a thunderous header.
The luck was well and truely on our side as Myers somehow managed to blast a penalty over the bar, at a point in the game where Geordie's looked like dominating totally, however when the whistle eventually blew it was George Gawne who had the honour as captain of lifting the cup to celebrate in front of the estatic tangerine barmy army.
This season saw Ayre once again given no chance prior to the beginning of the campaign but a creditable third place added to the knowledge that we are the only team to beat St. Georges in the league twice has turned the spotlight towards us slightly. We also saw four senior players called up to the Island squad for training during the year namely Johnny Cowley, Martin torr, Niall Cummins and Stuart Fayle while Sarah Kelly also recieved her call up to the Ladies Island Squad.
So all in all it has been somewhat of a rollercoaster ride for those associated with Ayre United AFC, plans for new changing facilities are drawn up and waiting on wriiten acceptance from the Andreas Commisioners, the idea of a Club bar is well under way and with the team looking forward and the club maintaining its first Division status who knows what the future might hold.
We entered 2005-2006 season with extremely high hopes following our third place in the league during the previous season and there were changes in the team management as Steven Easthope stepped down as first team manager, while Craig Taylor , who is still out through injury, happily took up the reins to give the team a new focal point. The season though never took off for us as we lost ten players to university, Johnny, Nuts and Bolty to an American adventure and several key players through injury before finally avoiding relegation and maintaining our Division One status for another year, but on the plus side Martin Torr, Niall Cummins and Stuart Fayle all represented the Senior Island side, with both Stuart and Martin playing in the island games.
The Combination side finished in sixth place and finished the season with a run of six wins, one that was only bettered by evenual Champions Peel AFC, while the club also lost teams in the 15-17 league and our ladies side folded following the introduction of Ramsey 's ladies team as the majority of our team quickly saw the bright lights and scarpered.
On a brighter side our Under Fifteen side won both the under 15's B league cup and the league title follwing an impressive season and sevearl of theose players will be introduced into the Combi fold over the next year or so.
On the club side the Bar was finally finished and the club held a grand opening on the 28th May 2006. The bar was opened by the oldest club member Mr Bert Kelly. A Bar-b-que and bouncy castle was in place for entertainment while the club celebrated the beginning of the 40th Annivesary season in style.
One thing I do Know though, as the advert say's,
THE FUTURE IS BRIGHT, THE FUTURES ORANGE,
and who knows just what might be around the corner. So roll on preseason training lets see who wants to come, who is leaving and lets build on the success this club has already achieved during its short life in manx football.