Sunday, June 16, 2024


Simon Gribben explained why he was able to juggle soccer and Gaelic as a player, how reverse psychology played its part in him joining Cliftonville, and why Gaelic allowed him to transition to top level Irish League football.

SIMON Gribben made his name locally playing soccer for Newcastle and Tollymore, also playing Gaelic with Bryansford, Castlewellan and Down U-21s.

He’s perhaps best remembered for a short stint with Irish League giants Cliftonville, when he was at the centre of the club’s dramatic expulsion from the 1999 Irish Cup final.

In the latest edition of ‘Blast from the Past’, Simon looks back on his breakthrough into the Newcastle first team, the life-changing Irish Cup final incident and the charity game that convinced him to lace up his boots again.

Simon, who describes himself as “Newcastle and Bryansford born and bred”, started his soccer journey in the black and white stripes of the Seasiders before switching to local rivals Tollymore in the 1991/92 season, aged 14.

While at Tollymore, Simon had trials with Irish League clubs Glenavon and Portadown and was even offered a contract by legendary Reds manager Ronnie McFall, but feeling like he wouldn’t have the freedom to express himself on the pitch, he opted against that move, before re-joining Newcastle at the age of 16.

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