One of the good news stories that emanated from the Combined Counties Football League at the start of the season was that Sarsfield Park would once more host competitive matches.
Affectionately known as the ‘Bullring’, the compact pitch on the edge of town had seen some epic footballing battles over the years. Melville United and Celtic had enjoyed home advantage there for a number of years but with both teams taking a break, the pitch generally lay idle. There was considerable interest then when a new club calling themselves Melville FC was formed and Sarsfield Park would again be a hive of activity.
It was a long road from establishing the club and playing a first ever game though. It was a new adventure in the world of local football with loyalty and respect as its core values. There was a lot of work to be done behind the scenes before a place in the CCFL could be taken.
Derek Wallace came in as interim chairman and with other stalwarts such as Martin Stephens also getting involved, the momentum gathered pace. The amount of goodwill for the new set up was obvious and the club was finally ready to be launched in June 2019.
Training started in early July with the registration of players also getting underway. The all-important fundraising now started in earnest. The costs involved before a ball is kicked were substantial but valuable sponsorship lessened the load somewhat.
In preparation for the new season, a number of friendly games were organised. The team’s first outing was against Moate Celtic where Melville just lost out by the odd goal in five. A first ever win followed against Riverside and the expectation was immense when the CCFL confirmed that the team would operate in Division Two. It was a tough task with games against local rivals Moate Celtic and Temple Villa adding to the interest.
The season was to start with an away game as St. Carthages provided the opposition on the first day of September. It was a tough introduction for all concerned but the team acquitted themselves well and were unlucky to lose by a single score. The first home game a week later saw Moate Celtic being entertained and the celebrations were merited with a first ever success on a four two score line.
Coolraine were next but the table toppers proved too strong as Melville continued on their learning curve. As the campaign headed into the dark evenings, just a further point had been gained by November. Long periods without a game did little to help the new team gel but a great result in the first round of the Counties Cup in early December lifted spirits, Abbeyleix Athletic being edged out by the odd goal in seven.
A big win in the League over BBC United kept the momentum going as Christmas approached. The year ended with Melville sitting comfortably in mid table as early season jitters were overcome. It had been a roller coaster campaign thus far as the club made great strides in such a short space of time.
The draw for the next round of the Counties Cup threw up a mouth-watering tie as Willow Park were the opposition in a huge local derby. It was a major task for the lower division team with Willow also looking to retain their Senior Division title. The tie went to form as the more experienced visitors recorded a comfortable win in Sarsfield.
It was then back to league action and a visit to Portlaoise. The home team were in contention for the title but were lucky to collect full points following an amazing game. Melville coming out on the wrong side of a nine goal thriller. It proved to be the last action of an eventful campaign. Full credit to all concerned to have gotten thus far and the future looks bright for the new boys.