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History / Divisional Football

HISTORY OF RUCFA - DIVISIONAL LEAGUE
1970 - 2001

Following an investigation into the cause of the troubles in the late 1960's by Lord Scarman, the government instigated a reform report on policing under the chairmanship of Lord Hunt. In October 1969, he published his report to restructure the force into divisions. This was implemented in June 1970 and initially the force was divided into 16 operational divisions. The first chairman of the new RUCFA, commonly known as the Divisional League was Chief Superintendent Charlie Rodgers, who at the time was the Divisional Commander of "J" Division, stationed at Portadown. Even, during the troubles, football was played regularly, and in the first season of competition, "E" Division won the McAleavey Cup and "K" Division won the McDowell Cup.

In 1971, a new cup was introduced into the league, namely the "Robert Buckley Memorial Cup". The Buckley Cup was in memory of Bobby Buckley, who was killed whilst on duty at Ardoyne shops, Belfast in February 1971. Bobby played divisional football, as well as playing for the police football club. This cup was introduced to create a league championship, the first winners of the league in 1972 were "A" Division.

In 1974 the "Dodd Cup" was presented to the league by "P" Division", in memory of Ronnie Dodd, who was killed, whilst on duty in the townland of Gallagh, Toomebridge, in October 1971. Ronnie also played divisional football, as well as playing for the police football club. This cup was used as a knockout cup for the top 4 teams in the league, and the first winners of this trophy in 1975 were "O" Division.

In 1987, the family of Paul Gray, who had been killed, whilst patrolling Derry's walls in May 1975, donated a trophy to the league to be played for to commemorate Paul's death. The committee used this trophy named "Paul Radcliffe Gray Memorial Cup", to be played for annually between a select "town team" against a select "country team" and the first winners of this match played in 1988 were the "town" team. Throughout the troubles, the committee of the Divisional League managed to keep football going, whilst other sports struggled, and eventually stopped competing. Through time, it emerged that it was difficult to get individual players from the country divisions to participate in this match and in 1994, this fixture changed to a knockout cup, the final being played at Christmas, and the first winners of this match were "A" Division, who also dominated it, winning 6 of the 8 finals played, before it reverted back to its original foundation in the new format created when the Divisional and Station Leagues amalgamated on the introduction of the new Police Service of Northern Ireland District Command Unit League.

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