East Belfast, in the past a place of industry and from where some music and sporting greats hail, played a key part in promoting the city on the world stage.
The terraced streets of east Belfast were also home to a close-knit working-class community and the less familiar story of Glentoran Football Club and its battle against the odds to be crowned Europe’s first champions.
In Belfast’s Victory in Vienna: A Footballing Odyssey (BBC One NI, Monday, 10.40pm), presenter Holly Hamilton and author – and lifelong Glens fan – Sam Robinson explore the fascinating story of the 1914 football team who won the inaugural Vienna Cup.
In 1914 Glentoran – a group of part-time footballers who worked in the city’s shipyards – were one of the most successful teams in Ireland.
On the eve of World War One, the team left home to play in a tournament against Europe’s leading football teams. Most had never left these shores before this once-in-a-lifetime trip to Vienna, the cultural and entertainment capital of Europe.
Over 100 years later, Holly and Sam retrace this incredible journey and explore how nothing, from an infamous pub crawl to a missing goalkeeper, would stand in their way of lifting what was arguably the first European Cup.
Glentoran’s tale of the underdog going all the way in Europe’s top competition barely registered in the newspapers of the day back in Belfast, but the Vienna Cup still has pride of place in the Oval’s boardroom.
The achievements of these men, some who then left Belfast for the trenches of World War One, remains an important part of the club’s history and folklore.
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