As City head into the opening night of the 2019 season, we take a look back at the opening nights over the last decade.
As well as a trip down memory lane, we have listed the City lineups from those opening night fixtures, just so you can see how the squad has changed over the decade.
Tomorrow night will be a new era, as Gerard Doherty was between the sticks for each and every opening night in the last decade. Now Peter Cherrie and Nathan Gartside will battle it out to become City’s number one.
A decade ago City hosted Drogheda United on the opening night, with Mark Farren grabbing all three points for the Candystripes in the opening fixture. It was a comfortable win for City who would go on to finish the season in fourth spot but would be demoted due to double contracts and the significant financial issues at the club.
After their expulsion from the top flight at the end of the 2009 season, City started the 2010 season in the First Division and welcomed their fellow demotees, Cork City FORAS Co-Op, to the Brandywell on the opening night. It was a night of high emotion for both sets of supporters, who had genuine fears for the very future of their clubs over that close season.
City had managed to retain the spine of the 2009 side, with a number of local faces such as Mark Scoltock, Vinny Sweeney and Darren Cassidy new additions as Stephen Kenny built a new side for challenge for promotion.
Cork took the lead on the night, before another one of the new additions, Emmet Friars grabbed the equaliser to ensure that City would take a share of the spoils on the opening night. City would dominate the league for most of the season but a late wobble and a tremendous challenge by Monaghan United would see the league go to the last weekend.
On the final night City travelled to Monaghan and as if fated, Mark Farren scored in a final game before heading off for treatment.
2011 saw Sligo Rovers travel to the Brandywell and the visitors took all three points with a late goal from Aaron Greene. After an entertaining game, where City missed a penalty and Sligo twice hit the post, Greene pounced two minutes before the break for the Bit O’Red. City had a great chance to go ahead before the break when McGlynn was felled by McGuinness but Zayed missed the penalty and also sent the rebound over the bar with Clarke stranded.
New faces in the City side included Stewart Greacen and Patrick McEleney was now a first team regular following a break through season in the First Division. Michael McCrudden, who is due to join City during the summer was also a late substitute on the night.
The two sides would go on to have impressive season, with City finishing 3rd, whilst Sligo were runners up to Shamrock Rovers that season.
The following year was Declan Devine’s opening League fixture, albeit City had been in competitive action in the Setanta Cup prior to the league campaign. City defeated Bohemians one nil on the night. City had overhauled their squad in the close season with the likes of Rory Patterson, Dermot McCaffrey, Simon Madden, Stephen McLaughlin all in the starting eleven for the Candystripes. Bohs were reduced to ten men with a lunge by Martin just before the break and City took control in the second half.
It was McLaughlin that nabbed the winner when he headed home Madden’s deep cross. It was an impressive first season from Devine, which saw his side lose out in the final of the Setanta Sports Cup and clinch the FAI Cup after a dramatic game against St Pats.
2013 was a bombastic opening night for City as they trounced UCD 6-0 in Belfield. Rory Patterson grabbed a first half hat trick whilst Crawley, Rafter and Griffin were also amongst the goals. The home side were reduced to ten men just after the hour mark, but the damage was done at that stage, with the visitors already four up.
Patterson was at his imperious best, causing havoc in the opposition half every time he picked the ball up. 2019 club captain Barry McNamee was amongst the starters on the night, and his brother Tony also came off the bench as City strolled to three points.
City bookended their season with another 6-0 victory over Limerick and despite securing European qualification for a second consecutive season, Declan Devine departed in the close season.
Roddy Collins was in the hot seat for 2014’s opening night, when City went to Tallaght to take on Shamrock Rovers. Gerard Doherty, Ryan McBride, Shane McEleney and Barry Molloy were the only starters for City who had also started the opening game the previous year. City fans got their first glimpses of the likes of Cliff Byrne, Aaron Barry and Danny Ventre. A youngster called Michael Duffy also started.
It was a very forgettable game and my notes include the phrase – ‘nothing happening, for ages’. City took the lead in the second half when the cross/shot by Mark Stewart was caught in the breeze and drifted in over Barry Murphy. Patterson who came off the bench had a couple of chances to win it for Derry, but it was to be heartbreak at the end for the visitors as Kilduff struck in the 94th minute to grab a point for the Hoops.
Collins was to depart mid season, with Peter Hutton in charge as City limped to an eighth place finish in the table and were denied silverware when they lost out to St Pats 2-0 in the FAI Cup Final.
Hutton got the 2015 season underway with a win in Galway, taking all three points in a 2-1 win in Eamon Deacy Park. As is common, there were plenty of new faces in the City line up with the likes of Sean Houston and Phillip Lowry debuting for the Candystripes. Patrick McClean who has rejoined the club for the 2019 season was also on the bench for the opening night. City fell behind to a first half goal from Sam Oji but second half goals from Sean Houston and Ryan Curran gave City all three points.
McEleney turned the game for City in the second period and his pinpoint ball left Houston with a tap in for the equaliser just before the hour mark. There was real momentum with the visitors now but the winning goal had a freakish quality when it struck Ryan Curran head and spun into the goal. It was a winning start on what would be a difficult season, with Hutton removed from his position in September. Paul Hegarty steadied the ship and lifted City away from the foot of the table, ensuring Premier Division football for the next season.
The opening night of the 2016 season was a traumatic night for City fans and the Kenny Shiels era, when they lost 2-1 to Finn Harps. On an awful night in Ballybofey, City missed good early chances before Harps struck before the break. Ryan Curran returned to haunt his old club with the second goal before Patterson pulled back a consolation goal. It appeared as if it would be a long season ahead for City fans but 17 goals from Patterson and an impressive season from the likes of Vemmulund and Conor McCormack ensured that City were in the European hunt and finished third in Shiels’ first year in charge.
Despite a large and expectant crowd in Dalymount to get the 2017 season underway, City humbled the hosts with a 4-1 win. Nathan Boyle grabbed a pair and with McEneff and Schubert also scoring, it was a handy opening to the season for City. McEneff got City underway with a penalty after Patterson was fouled. There was some debate as to who should take it but McEneff took the ball and slotted home to make it 1-0.
Ronan Curtis and Nicky Low were amongst the stars for City on the night but it was Boyle who was the goal scoring threat. First he latched onto a poor clearance from Supple to finish. He then grabbed his second when a long clearance from Doherty sent him clear. Schubert added the fourth but the game was well won at that stage.
City started the season brilliantly but their early season form was completely overshadowed by the tragic passing of Ryan McBride. City struggled to find their way after this as the the players, staff and supporters struggled to find meaning in football after the events of March 2017. With City in Maginn Park for the season, Kenny Shiels and his players performed admirably to claim fourth spot and European qualification for a second season.
Whilst Derry may have sprung the surprise in 2017, last year they were rocked by Waterford on the opening night. With serious concerns over whether the game would go ahead due to heavy surface water, City were defeated by the newly promoted Blues.
City had the perfect start when Aganovic headed home after 19 minutes from a free, but were second best for long periods of the game. City failed to clear the danger and a low shot from Holohan squirmed under Doherty to get the home side back on level terms before the break. Akinade hit the post at the start of the second period, but Waterford were not to be denied.
City recovered to go on a terrific run of form but this deserted them in the second half of the season and they slid to finish 8th in the table, conceding a record number of goals, winning only once in the league from August to November.
The Candystripes did pick up the League Cup, the first silverware to the new look Brandywell. Kenny Shiels departed in the close season and Declan Devine returns for a second spell at the club.
So there were are, a look back at the record of the last ten years. The record read P10 W5 D2 L3. Darren Cole, Conor McDermott, Eoin Toal and Jamie McDonagh ramaining form the match night squad that started the 2018 season. How will Declan and his staff face in the 2019 season.
Derry City: Ger Doherty; Ger O’Brien, Peter Hutton, Clive Delaney, Steven Gray; Gareth McGlynn, Barry Molloy, Ruaidhri Higgins, Thomas Stewart; Sammy Morrow, Mark Farren (David Scullion 85)
Subs not used: Pat Jennings (gk), Eddie McCallion, Ciaran Martyn, James McClean.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Eddie McCallion, Emmett Friars, Mark McChrystal, Mark Scoltock; Shane McEleney (Stephen Parkhouse 53mins), Ruairi Harkin, James McLean, Barry Molloy; Vinnie Sweeny (Darren Cassidy 76 mins), Mark Farren.
Subs not used: Eugene Ferry, Seamus Sharkey, David McDaid.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Eddie McCallion, Stewart Greacen, Shane McEleney Daniel Lafferty; Patrick McEleney (Ruairi Harkin, 85), Barry Molloy, Ruaidhri Higgins (Michael McCrudden, 88), Stephen McLaughlin; Gareth McGlynn, Eamon Zayed (David McDaid, 80).
Subs not used: Eugene Ferry, Thomas McBride, James Henry, Emmet Friars.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty; Simon Madden, Stewart Greacen, Shane McEleney, Dermott McCaffrey; Patrick McEleney, Rhuadhri Higgins, Barry Molloy (c), Stephen McLaughlin; David McDaid (Mark Farren ’71), Rory Patterson.
Subs not used: Eugene Ferry, Owen Morrison, Eddie McCallion, Ryan Curran, Ryan McBride, Matthew Crossan.
Derry City: Ger Doherty; Simon Madden, Ryan McBride, Shane McEleney, Barry McNamee; Ruaidhri Higgins, Kevin Deery (Tony McNamee 68), Barry Molloy, Thomas Crawley (Michael Duffy 79); Mark Griffin, Rory Patterson (Michael Rafter 68).
Subs not used: James Gallagher, Ryan Curran, Conall Kelly.
Derry City: Ger Doherty; Roddy Collins Jnr., Ryan McBride, Cliff Byrne (c), Aaron Barry; Mark Stewart, Barry Molloy, Shane McEleney (Patrick McEleney 57), Danny Ventre, Michael Duffy (Ryan Curran 88); Enda Curran (Rory Patterson 57).
Subs Not Used: Michael Lynch, David Elebert, Dean Jervis, Raymond Foy.
Booked: R Mc Bride (67).
Derry City: Ger Doherty; Shaun Kelly, Shane McEleney, Aron Barry, Dean Jarvis; Philip Lowry, Josh Daniels, Sean Houston, Josh Daniels, Paddy McEleney; Ryan Curran.
Subs Not used: Shaun Patton (gk), Patrick McClean, George Kelly, Ronan Curtis, Chris Flanagan, Joe McIntyre, Ryan Doherty.
Derry City: Gerard Doherty: Niclas Vemmelund, Aaron McEneff, Ryan McBride, Dean Jarvis: Barry McNamee, Conor McCormack (Harry Monaghan 84), Gareth McGlynn (Ronan Curtis 72), Aaron Barry: Jordan Allan (Nathan Boyle 60), Rory Patterson
Subs Not Used: Shaun Patton (gk), Keith Ward, Josh Daniels, Ryan Doherty.
Derry City: Gerrard Doherty; Conor McDermott, Ben Doherty (Scott Whiteside 68), Ryan McBride, Dean Jarvis; Nicky Low, Joshua Daniels (Lucas Schubert 63), Aaron McEniff, Barry McNamee; Ronan Curtis, Rory Patterson (Nathan Boyle 28).
Subs not used: Eric Grimes, Rory Holden, Mark Timlin, Alon Netzer.
Derry City: Ger Doherty; Conor McDermott (Dapo Kayode 81), Armin Aganovic, Darren Cole, Ben Doherty; Jamie McDonagh (Ronan Curtis 55), Rory Hale (Nathan Boyle 85), Nicky Lowe, Aaron McEneff, Ronan Hale; Rory Patterson.
Subs Not Used: Eric Grimes (gk), Eoin Toal, Jamie McIntyre, Scot Whiteside.