Patrick O’Connell – teammate of Patrick Douris
St Mary's Sligo, Belfast Celtic, Sligo Athletic, Shelbourne FC, Camerons FC (New York), New York Celtics FC
The histography of Sligo and Brooklyn hotelier, Patrick Douris intersects with the development of football in Connaught, Dublin and New York.
When on September 25th, 1909, the usually reliable Fermanagh Herald reported that a St Mary’s Sligo full-back Patrick Douris was to play for Bohemian FC, this would be as close to Bohemian FC colours he would get. Douris, had played in losing Belfast Celtic colours at Dalymount versus Bohemian FC on March 28th that same year in the illustrious company of centre-back Patrick O’Connell – later an Irish International, of Manchester United and manager of Barcelona FC. O’Connell was playing his final match for Belfast Celtic prior to his transfer to Sheffield Wednesday.
Patrick Douris was born in Sligo in 1888, to a middle-class family. His father worked for Sligo Corporation as a plumber before becoming the town’s water engineer. By the start of the twentieth century, the family also owned the Abbey Hotel, a relatively modest hostelry on Castle Street. It was apprenticeship this family Hotel business that would sustain him when he emigrated to New York in October, 1913 until his death in 1951, after a two year battle against illness. It seems the Belfast Celtic club never forgot his exploits in their colours, for in 1949, while on tour in New York, it was reported:
Belfast Celtic in New York, 1949, with Mick O’Flanagan (Bohemian FC), standing third-player from the left. Austin Donnelly (team-mate of Douris, far-right)
''Heartening news comes from L. I. College Hospital this week. The physicians there consider that Pat Douris' condition is improving so rapidly that they will permit of his removal to Hotel St. George, and if convalescence is maintained that he may sojourn to a salubrious rest resort in New Jersey for further recuperation. All of which will delight his many callers. Among these were his former team-mate of Belfast Celtic, Austen Donnelly. The team sent Pat a "Get Well" card filled with all of the players' signatures. A very nice gesture, boys!''
Photo: Abbey Hotel located corner of Castle Street /Thomas Street, Sligo (NLI)
His obituary states: ‘Before coming to America, Pat was a well-known soccer player of international calibre. He played with the Dublin Bohemians and the Sligo Rovers, and played with the old Brooklyn Celtic here’. Yet, Douris’s football career was a relatively unsteady one, with serious injuries, reversals of fortune and changes of direction. His fellow Sligo émigré, Ed Gilgane recalled Douris as one of the earlier pioneers of club football in Sligo. From 1905 to 1906 he played full-back on St Mary’s Sligo FC Junior Cup Finalists, bearing Shamrock Rovers in the semi-final but losing to Linfield Pirates in a replay in Belfast and for the short-lived Sligo Athletic FC team in 1907-08.
By March 1909, he was with Belfast Celtic FC as a professional, albeit for a short-time before his reported declaration as an amateur for Bohemian FC for the upcoming 1909-10 season. For one reason or another, the records have him playing with St Mary’s Sligo (now consisting of ex-Sligo Athletic players) as an amateur mixing football with working in the family hotel business. By 1911 in April he lists ‘journalist’ as his profession lodging in a hotel in Bundoran and by September that year he is in Dublin – playing for Shelbourne FC, and on occasion as captain. Scrapes were aplenty.
In 1911 on October 10th, while captaining Shelbourne versus Cliftonville in a soccer match, the Irish Independent reported the following: ‘Douris, the Shelbourne full-back, sustained a compound fracture of the leg just below the knee. Previously he had wrenched his knee, and despite the advice of the Shelbourne trainer persisted in playing. Douris, who is a Sligo man, has been most unlucky since joining the Reds, whom he captained this season. Last Saturday in the game against Glentoran in Belfast, he sustained a serious injury to his nose.’ Douris was no stranger to being at the receiving end of many a challenge. Indeed he lined out for County Sligo v. Dublin University 2nd XV in 1910, under a different code – rugby.
Sligo Rugby Team, 1910 (Douris, front row, second from the left)
May 11, 1912, sees Douris as referee in a match between Carrick-on-Shannon United and Collooney in Ballymote and his next recorded Irish football endeavour is over a year later when he is named, again as a Shelbourne player for the upcoming 1913-14 season. Less than a month on the 4th of Oct 1913 he has arrived in New York from from Liverpool again listing his profession as ‘journalist’.
In New York, the leading organiser of Irish soccer teams was Tom McCamphill from Swateragh, Co. Derry and Douris was to fall in with his soccer gang. With the formation of Hibernian in 1908-09 and Brooklyn Celtic from August 1910, McCamphill provided a sporting outlet for young (and old) footballers to play amateur football in the New York State Amateur League. Amongst the Hibernian team was Mike King formerly of Glentoran. It was Brooklyn Celtic which would leave its mark on USA soccer over the decade with former Irish League players Frank O’Hare (Belfast Celtic, ex-Hibernian’s), Mike King (Glentoran) and Paddy Butler (formerly St James’ Gate, Dublin). Brooklyn Celtic were to win the American Amateur Football Association Cup in 1912, in doing so earning the title of ‘Soccer Champions of the United States’ .
Every year a tournament was held between players in New York, representing the different ethnic or national teams: USA, England, Ireland, Scotland and The Continentals. The tournament was organised by the New York Footballers’ Protective Association, which raised money to meet claims from injured players in the leagues. In the 1914-15, tournament, Ireland won the tournament and there was a strong Belfast Celtic and northern sides representing Ireland, including King, Campion (Brooklyn Celtics and ex-Portadown), J. Duffy (New York Celtics, ex-Derry Celtic) Patrick Douris (Camerons FC, New York, ex-Shelbourne FC captain, Belfast Celtic and St Mary’s Sligo) and his former Belfast Celtic team-mate F. O’Hare.
The latter two, Duffy and Douris had previously squared off against each other in the rough and tumble of the Irish League as different Celtics, Derry and Belfast respectively. Duffy, himself seemed to be one who could stand up for himself and it was certainly a rough game played in New York at that time. In February 1914 in a New York Celtics match versus Yonkers FC it was reported that ‘The Lenox Oval was the scene of a wild third round affair between Yonkers FC and New York Celtic. With Yonkers leading 3-1 with twenty minutes remaining in the second half, Celtics J. Duffy fouled a Yonkers player who was on the ground. Referee George Caldicott ordered Duffy off the field, but Duffy refused to leave. An unidentified Yonkers player then struck Duffy and was sent off as well. Duffy finally left the field, but retuned to attack Caldicott, causing him to be removed from the field by two policemen. Ten minutes later Waters, right fullback for the Celtics, was ordered off for rough play. Waters also refused to leave the field, leading Caldicott to stop the game with ten minutes to play’.
The New York Footballers’ Protective Association had no comparable organisation at the time in Ireland, and while sympathy was a plenty, recompense would not have been common. It is interesting that in 1915-16, seventeen of 182 members in New York required assistance, as an example of the toughness required in New York soccer games. One of these players was Douris, who broke his leg for a second time in a match at the Lennox Oval, ending his playing career that had spanned eleven years from Sligo to New York.
The losing 1915-16 team Ireland team retained Douris, O’Hare, Campion and O’Halloran from the previous year’s team, including four players from Brooklyn Celtic, including Tom McCreevey, O’Halloran and Patrick Butler (now signed as a professional with Bethlehem Steel) and returned to again win the competition in 1916-17.
Douris’s first job in New York was as a track worker with the City Railroads, quickly followed by a less strenuous job as a carpet salesman in Altman’s Department store on Fifth Avenue. While working there, he studied for a BA degree in Accountancy in Fordham University and in about 1915 joined the Comptrollers Staff of the Vanderbilt Hotel, marrying Elizabeth Foote in 1922 and settling down in Jamaica, Long Island. . He subsequently was Chief Resident Accountant at the Hotel Ritz Towers, New York, the Governor Clinton, New York and the Hotel St. George, Brooklyn.
Hotel St George, Brooklyn New York
He never left football behind him, and whether it was refereeing games at the New York Oval in 1922 to writing regularly to the Irish Advocate newspaper in the forties about football or soccer matters, to hosting visiting teams in Hotel St. George, Brooklyn he remained deeply interested in the game in Ireland and in the USA. One 1945 letter read:
PATRICK J. DOURIS OF B'KLYN, SOCCER FAN AND PLAYER IN IRELAND IN HIS YOUNGER DAYS, OFFERS SUGGESTION
Mr. Joe McKeown Sports Editor The Advocate, Park Row, New York.
Dear Mr. McKeown:
I read your soccer column each week with interest as your presentation of soccer news is clear and shows a deep understanding of the game. May I not suggest a feature that I think would interest most of the old timers and which might renew their interest in the game. The feature I have in mind is that each month in your column you would give a summary of the games and standing of the clubs in Ireland. I know as an old Dublin Shelbourne and Belfast Celtic player it would afford me great pleasure. I hope you will not think me presumptuous in making this suggestion.
Among the teams he hosted as manager of Hotel St. George were the Cuba and Israel national teams and Liverpool FC.
It was fitting that one of his last engagements with Irish football was to receive a hospital visit from Austin Donnelly, a former teammate and by now chairman at Belfast Celtic. The card he delivered was signed by all of the touring team that included Bohemian FC guest-player Mick O’Flanagan – a later Bohemian FC player to play on the fields of New York.