Early Years

The Early Years

We are happy to record that in the year 1882 a number of well know Presbyterian business men in the City reached a decision to establish a club to advance the intellectual, social, morial and religios welfare of the working men in the City, and all others who may join and to do this by providiing a reading room, library, classroom etc”.

Institute FC, winners of the North-West Junior Cup during the 1911-12 season.


Front Row – J.McCleery, A Marshall, A McHugh, G McGahey, R Wright, W. Maitsaid, G Wood, C Brown and W Logue.
Middle row – R McClelland, J Dunlop, R McBride, J Wood, J McHugh, R A Bogle, T Eaton, D Gillespie and J Mitchell.
Back row – J Burnside, A Miller, R J McCandless, A Lyndsey, R Finlay, W H Platt, J Graham, T Wright, D Rutherford, J Douglas and D Simm

To this end a Working Men’s Institute was formed at a public meeting on 25th April 1882. Premises were acquired at the Diamond for a total outlay of £1,000 and the new Institute opened with a public meeting on 25th January 1883. The P.W.M.I. minutes record that “The Committee decided to buy the premises although they had not a penny with which to pay the purchase price. They however had faith in th Christian liberality of the people of Derry.”

Membership of P.W.M.I. was 317 in 1894 and the first reference to football through an association with the North End Football Club. Hockey was first established in the P.W.M.I. in 1898.

There is no institution like the P.W.M.I. that could make a general appeal to the public were it not that it promoted all kinds of sport. Early in the history of the Institute this was recognised, and steps were taken to provide the members with the healthiest physical recreation obtainable. The name of the Institute has been associated at one time or another, with every manly outdoor sport, with the possible exception of Rugby football. With the game of “Soccer” however, the P.W.M.I. in Derry has had a particularly close and prominent connection, for it was the old Institute Football Club the “discovered” Billy Gillespie, the former manager of Derry City team, lately of Sheffield United and frequently “capped” for Ireland.

The Institute’s association with football goes back to the month of October 1905, when a number of players and supporters of North End Olympic F.C., which had lapsed, conceived the idea of organising a Soccer team. A meeting was accordingly held in the rooms, the late Mr. William Buchanan, of the Diamond Hotel, acting as chairman. It was thereupon decided to form a Junior Football Club in connection with the P.W.M.I., to be known as “Institute F.C.” to affiliate with the North-End Football Association and to play only friendly matches during the season 1905-06.

The benefit of a Football Club to the P.W.M.I. was provided by the addition of 15 new members to the P.W.M.I. in 1906. The P.W.M.I. Football Club was founded in 1905 to be known as the “Institute Football Club” and is credited with discovering the famous Billy Gillespie who was frequently ‘capped’ for Ireland. The first match was played against St. Columb’s Court at the Magee College Grounds.

Won Their First Match – Then It Became A Habit
article taken from The Ireland Saturday Night 5 February, 1983

They may play under the title Institute FC, but they really do not have an institutional background any longer. One quality they do have and – that is they represent a North-West side with a future.

The beginning of Institute Fc go back to the heyday of the Presbyterian Workingmen’s Institute in Derry which aimed at promoting all kinds of sport. The Institute had a particularly close connection with the game of soccer and it was Institute FC which discovered the famous Billy Gillispie, which figured so prominently in the history of Derry City.

The club itself came in being in 1905. They won the first match they ever played by 2-1 and were on their way.

Before long they were figuring in competitive soccer and reached the final of the North West Charity Cup with two years of their birth.

The match was played at Celtic Park and although their opponents, Derry Celtic Wanderers, were nearly all senior players, Institute won 4-1, the first junior team to capture the trophy.

Although Billy Gillispie was then actively associated with the club it was ruled that he was too young to play in the final.

Institute fought their way to the final of the Irish junior cup in 1912-13 and a year later again in the final.

After World War I they were still prominent in junior ranks and down the years until 1980 the Club kept going.

Then came the amalgamation of the PWMI with the YMCA and last year (1982) Institute gained entry into the Intermediate League when Derry City withdrew.

It was a well earned promotion to senior ranks, being the reward for reaching the semi final of the Intermediate Cup, a climax to many North West junior league successes.

Last year their reached (1982) they reached the first round of the Irish Cup, a sure sign that this junior club has grown up and that more will be heard about them.

1965-66 Winner of the North-West Junior Cup

The 1969 Irish Junior Cup Winner

Front Row – Satnley Hamilton, Bertie Long, captain; Howard kirk
Middle Row – David Crichon, Roy Stewart, Gilbert McLaughlin, Billy Kee, Billy Begley
Back Row – William Johnson, William Boyd, Charlie Fergusion (now club President),Hugh Lindsay, Clarke Nicholl, Andy McCorkell