Soccer has been played in and around Lisbellaw for the greater part of this century
The History of Lisbellaw United
The first records of football being played in Lisbellaw seem to have commenced around the 1920s when they were know locally as "Rock Rovers", appropriately named after the obscene number of stones in this area. The first mention of success came in the mid-1940s when Lisbellaw won the Mulhern Cup in 1947, defeating RAF Castle Archdale 4-2.
In 1960 Lisbellaw were accepted into the Fermanagh and Western League officially and eventually settled at Kerr's Fields' at Cloghcor Road, Lisbellaw. Amongst the young players then and still live in the village today include Sammy McFredrick, Henry Savage, Jim Lindsey, Johnny Elliott and Mervyn Gamble..
Throught the late '60s and '70s Lisbellaw went from strength to strength, building up a great squad of young, gifted players who by now were under the management of Sammy McFredrick. This culminated in Lisbellaw's finest hour in May 1978 when Lisbellaw won the Irish Junior Cup.
In the 1980s a major new phase in Lisbellaw's history was unfolding when the team moved to new grounds at Drumad, Lisbellaw although owned by Fermanagh District Council, the club bought the pitch in 1990 for £18,000 for a 99 year lease. With the now our own and Drumad being one of the best pitches in the league, a new club house was built with facilities bigger clubs are envous of.
In early 2000 the club progressed further when they developed a second pitch across the road from Drumad, named Taylor Park after the great Bobby Taylor, a legend in Lisbellaw footballing circles, who was associated with the club for over 50 years. The opening of the second pitch enables two the senior teams to play at once at home as well as junior teams.
FERMANAGH AND WESTERN HISTORY.
The Mercer Cup, which was put forward by Enniskillen businessman T. A. Mercer, was first played for the in the 1904/05 season and was won by Enniskillen Celtic who were formally known as St. Michael's Hall Celtic and it is that name which adorns the original cup which is still presented today.
The first games for the Mercer Cup in the 1904/05 season were played on Saturday, October 8,1904 and included such local derbies as Enniskillen Moonlighters v Enniskillen Celtic and Enniskillen United v Enniskillen Corinthians and were played under the auspices of the new Fermanagh and South Tyrone League which had been formed the week before under the chairmanship of Viscount Corry D.L.
Other teams in the inaugural league included Lisbellaw, Fintona, Tempo, Derrygonnelly, Fivemiletown and Fusiliers. Omagh F.C. joined after the first round of games.
If you thought that it was friendly old banter and a bit of crack in those days with long shorts down to your ankles and footballs more akin to medicine balls then you would have been mistaken. Indeed, the first round of matches were not without their controversy and the Impartial reported that Fintona had lodged a protest with the referee following their defeat to Tempo. No change there then with the right of protest still a popular tool.
What's more Lisbellaw pulled out of the league later in the season following an incident but despite these teething troubles the Mercer Cup was up and running and soon was going from strength to strength.Local football historian and current President of the Fermanagh and Western, Roy Cathcart, shed more light on the early days of the Mercer Cup and organised football in Fermanagh.
"At the time," revealed Roy , "the GAA in Ireland was growing rapidly and the Irish Football Association was keen to promote the game in the west of Ireland and helped the Fermanagh and South Tyrone league financially to promote football in the area. This ultimately led to the formation of the Fermanagh and Western District Football Association in 1907 which went as far as Sligo and Mayo with local teams commuting by train."
The Mercer Cup was not played for during the Great War with Omagh Wanderers winning in the 1919/20 season with Enniskillen Corinthians winning the year after that.
The Mercer Cup has remained the one they all want to win though and has been witness to some cracking teams such as Enniskillen Corinthians, Enniskillen Rangers, Lisbellaw United and Shelbourne who have all been multiple winners.
The 2000/01season cup was not completed due to the foot-and-mouth crisis and recent seasons, like the very first, one hundred years ago, have not been without their controversial moments.
Despite the many changes over the past one hundred years in local football, and the growing emergence of intermediate football, the Mercer Cup has remained the constant and the one that they all want to win.
1967/68, 1968/69, 1975/76, 1977/78, 1978/79, 1979/80, 1980/81, 2009/10, 2010/11, 2011/12
1969, 1976, 1977, 1979, 1980, 1983
2006, 2009, 2010, 2012