Alice Springs Celtic FC

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NewCeltic logo.jpg
Nickname(s) Celtic
Founded 1979
Ground Ross Park
Capacity 200
Chairman Jude Burden
Manager Andrew Pye
League FFNT Southern Zone Premier League
2016 2nd

Alice Springs Celtic FC is an Australian soccer club based in Alice Springs, the Northern Territory. The club was one of the first football clubs to be founded in the FFNT Southern Zone Premier League. The club is part of the Football Federation Northern Territory.

The club has seen great success in recent years, becoming Premiers in 2015[1] and Champions in 2016,[2] the club has competed in the annual FFA Cup since 2015 where it reached the Seventh Qualifying Round, eventually losing 5–0 to Darwin Olympic.[3][4] The club was knocked out in the Alice Springs final in the 2016 edition of the FFA Cup losing 1–0 to Gillen Scorpions and narrowly lost 2-0 in the 2017 edition of the Sports Ministers Cup to Darwin Rovers.


The Club has been competing in the FFNT Southern Zone Premier League for many years. The club was one of the first two Northern Territory based football clubs to reach the round of 64 in the FFA Cup.[citation needed]

Alice Springs Celtic FC was founded in 1979 by Scottish immigrant Billy Reilly, who knew Celtic FC player and manager Jock Stein and wanted to name the club after the Scottish Club. The team consisted of both Alice Springs locals and also Irish and Scottish players who were living in Alice Springs. Reilly was the club's inaugural captain and alongside players such as Michael Dzamko, Charlie McGuirk, Sean Finlaw and Fabio Bonanni lead the team to many league titles over the following years. The club developed its first youth teams in 1981 with the vision of becoming the best club in Alice Springs. After winning a league titles the team would often spend the day having a BBQ at Telegraph Station.

The club did not have a men's A-grade team until 2010 when midfielder Steve Jones joined Celtic from rival Verdi and captained the A-grade team. Ex Palm Beach Sharks player Kris Wheeler joined Celtic from local rivals Verdi in 2011 and helped the club win the league in 2011 and 2012. Wheeler became Player-Manager in 2013 and lead the club to winning the double that same year. Celtic were unable to win back to back doubles in 2014 and lost the preliminary final 4-3 to Buckleys.[5] After winning the 2015 minor premiership Wheeler stepped down as manager of the club and was replaced by Andrew Pye. At the conclusion of the 2016 season after moving back to wales Steve Jones was replaced as captain by Cole Nicolaou who lead Celtic to the 2017 Minor premiership in his first season as captain.[6]

Celtic have been very successful in the local Alice Springs league, having consistently finished either first or second since 2010. The club has a long-standing rivalry with Gillen Scorpions, the rivalry has grown in recent times from the two clubs playing each other in numerous Grand Finals and FFA Cup Alice Springs play offs. The two clubs consider each other their main rivals and the games between the two often become quite heated, and has seen the most red cards between any two clubs in Alice Springs.[citation needed]

2015 Season

Celtic finished the 2015 season as the Premiers, finishing 7 points above rivals Gillen Scorpions having only lost 2 games.[1] The 2015 season was the first that the club competed in the nationwide FFA Cup. After having beat Buckleys FC 4–1 in the fifth round of the 2015 FFA Cup preliminary rounds Celtic went on to beat Gillen Scorpions 5–0 on the 16th of June[7] to secure their round of 64 tie against Darwin Olympic.[4] The club took a youthful squad to Darwin, including Linwood Koonce, Nick Schmull, Dion Bandiera and striker Joe Worrall.[8] Celtic were seen as huge underdogs in the match, Celtic winger Matt Wallace came close to scoring the opener but in the end Darwin Olympic were too good for the Alice Springs club and won the match 5–0.[3][4]

Celtic lost the 2015 Grand Final 4–2 to Gillen Scorpions.[9] Striker Dion Bandiera finished the season as the Southern Zone Golden Boot winner with 11 goals in 14 matches.[10]

2016 Season

Celtic were unable to reach the success that they previously achieved in the FFA Cup and lost 1–0 to Gillen Scorpions in the sixth round of the 2016 FFA Cup preliminary rounds. Celtic finished the season 2 points behind Gillen Scorpions in the league table[11] but went on the beat them 2–0 in the Grand Final,[12] this being the first piece of silverware won under manager Andrew Pye.

16 year old striker Joseph Worrall won the Southern Zone Golden Boot with 16 goals in as many matches[13]

2017 Season

Steve Jones, Linwood Koonce, Nick Schmull and Kris Wheeler posing for a front-page feature before 2017 Sports Minister's Cup

At the beginning of the 2017 season prolific striker Joseph Worrall transferred to MPH Vikings after having won 3 golden boots in all age groups during his time at Celtic.

Celtic started the 2017 season with a 3–2 win against Stormbirds. In the 2017 FFA Cup Alice Springs play off Celtic beat Gillen Scorpions 3–2 on penalties after the match finished 0–0 after 120 minutes. Goalkeeper Zac Watts saved 2 penalties and Jacob Bonanni scored the winning penalty.[14]

Celtic managed to continue to keep their winning run going, recording a 6–1 victory against MPH Vikings[15] in the second round of the competition, this being the highest score recorded between the two clubs. The 2017 Season is the first season in which there will be 5 Clubs in the Men's Premier League, with the addition of Verdi FC to the league.

Darwin Olympic player Josh Horvat (right) and Dion Bandiera from Alice Springs club Celtic during the Northern Territory final in the FFA Cup at the Darwin Football Stadium.

In the first meeting between rivals Gillen Scorpions, Celtic were beaten 3–0, this game being played 3 days before the FFA Cup Alice Springs Play-Off.[16]

Celtic suffered an injury crisis during the buildup to the FFA Cup Round of 64 Match. With striker Jay Jay Olivares, Centre Back Nicholas Marzohl and Goalkeeper Zac Watts all being injured, as well as club legend Damon Van der Schuit re-injuring himself in a training session and prolonging his expected return from a knee injury he suffered the previous season. Back up striker John Fennelly also missed a number of weeks due to prior commitments. Because of this, manager Andrew Pye promoted reserve players Ethan Bowman and Lachlan Rothwell to the first team. Bowman is one of only 3 players to remain from the 2015 Premiership winning team and kept a clean sheet on his first appearance in the 2017 season, making a number of crucial saves throughout the match against Vikings in round 5.[17][18]

Celtic lost the FFA Cup round of 16 match 2-0 against Darwin Rovers,[19] conceding in the 16th and 18th minutes. The team went the rest of the season without dropping a point and eventually won the minor premiership with 3 games to spare, the earliest it had been won in recent times.

The club finished the season with a team in every single available final, ( U14, U16, B-Grade and A-Grade) winning the A-Grade and B-Grade ones. The B-Grade team finished 4th in the league but managed ease through the finals series recording 3-1 and 5-1 wins against Stormbirds and Vikings in the quarter and semi finals before beating the Premiers NTC U16 2-1 in the final. The A-Grade team won the grand final 2-1 over Vikings.

Out of the 4 grand finals that the club competed in 3 of those were against Vikings, this continued the rivalry between the two clubs that had been brewing in the latter stages of the season. The fixtures between the two clubs often became quite heated and saw a number of red cards throughout the age devisions. The rivalry began towards the end of the season as it seemed Celtics main rival, Scorpions, were not going to challenge for any of the titles after a poor run of form in all age devisions, so Vikings became Celtics only real challenger. The rivalry reached its climax when a Celtic tifo was burnt by Vikings fans after the A-Grade Grand Final.

Sponsors and kit

Alice Springs Celtic have been using a similar kit to the Scottish Premier League club Celtic FC since it was founded. With green hoops on white, with white shorts and socks. For the 2017 season Celtic's main sponsors are Bonanni Brick yard, Gapview Hotel and Brian Blakeman Surveys.[citation needed]

Competition timeline

Competition 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Southern Zone Premier League 1st 2nd 1st 1st 1st 2nd 1st
Southern Zone Finals R/U SF W SF R/U W W
FFA Cup N/A N/A N/A N/A Rd 7 Rd 6 Rd 7



  1. ^ a b "Ladder for Southern Zone Premier League". SportsTG. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  2. ^ "Results for Southern Zone 2016 Premier". SportsTG. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  3. ^ a b "Darwin Olympic vs Alice Springs Celtic | Match Report". The World Game. Special Broadcasting Service. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  4. ^ a b c Wake, Rebekkah (27 June 2015). "Top End outfit Olympic too good for Alice Springs opponent Celtic in FFA Cup final". NT News. News Corp Australia. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  5. ^ "Scorpions to alter tactics" (PDF).
  6. ^ "Ladder for Southern Zone Premier League". SportsTG. Retrieved 2017-08-15.
  7. ^ "Alice Springs soccer clubs chasing national FFA Cup glory". Centralian Advocate. News Corp Australia. 21 May 2015. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  8. ^ Kossatch, Nick (26 June 2015). "Underdogs Celtic carry Alice Springs' hopes in FFA Cup zone decider against Darwin's Olympic". Centralian Advocate. News Corp Australia. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  9. ^ "FFNT – Football Federation NT Match Centre – SportsTG". SportsTG. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  10. ^ "Competition Stats for Southern Zone Premier League". SportsTG. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  11. ^ "Ladder for Southern Zone 2016 Premier". SportsTG. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  12. ^ "FFNT – Football Federation NT Match Centre – SportsTG". SportsTG. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  13. ^ "Competition Stats for Southern Zone 2016 Premier". SportsTG. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  14. ^ "Westfield FFA Cup Match Centre – SportsTG". SportsTG. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  15. ^ "FFNT – Football Federation NT Match Centre – SportsTG". SportsTG. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  16. ^ "FFNT – Football Federation NT Match Centre – SportsTG". SportsTG. Retrieved 18 May 2017.
  17. ^ "FFNT – Football Federation NT Match Centre – SportsTG". SportsTG. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  18. ^ "FFNT – Football Federation NT Match Centre – SportsTG". SportsTG. Retrieved 10 June 2017.
  19. ^ "Westfield FFA Cup Match Centre - SportsTG". SportsTG. Retrieved 2017-08-15.
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