BFI releases Football on Film

Date: 11/12/2015 14:02

Recently discovered and digitised as part of the BFI's Unlocking Film Heritage project, this footage of a friendly between Distillery and Burnley depicts the first match anywhere in Ireland to be played under lights. The game took place on 30 December 1952, at Distillery’s Grosvenor Park ground. The home side’s opposition were then challenging for the English First Division Championship.

12,000 attended the game, paying between 2s and 12s 6d to witness this momentous event. This revenue helped to pay the £750 that it cost to bring Burnley over. Burnley, who had no game the previous Saturday, brought their full League side, including Internationals Jimmy McIlroy (Northern Ireland) and Billy Elliott (England). Burnley triumphed 3-2. However, by the end of the game, both players and spectators were suffering the effects of the floodlight glare.

Also featured here is Distillery’s third ‘Floodlight Friendly’ when, on 29 January 1953, they took on English League Division 2 side, Blackburn Rovers. Unfortunately, for the home side, this prestige game would also end in defeat, with the visitors winning 5-1.

This film is just one of the countless football related films that the BFI have released as part of their Football on Film collection. The Football On Film archive is available to watch, for free, and includes an astonishing range of footage that includes adverts - Peter Cook and Dudley Moore as Guinness supping football fans - documentaries - this extraordinary film about Revie's Leeds 'The Don of Elland Road' - early club games - the Merseyside derby from 1928 - internationals - Wales v Ireland from 1906 - and the gloriously bizarre - Ashbourne Shrovetide Football '66.

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