Linfield FC recalls with pride the service for club and country of Corporal William O’Hagan

Posted : 29th June 2020 at 07:55:55

In recent times has discovered and reported on the war service and football history of former players, Lance Corporal Johnny Collins, Corporal James McFarland who displayed incredible bravery on the battlefield in the South African Boer war and league winner WJ Anderson.

In addition, has discovered and reported on the wartime service of two of our Seven Trophy winning heroes in 1921/22 - Bob Wallace and Bill Savage.

Just as the remains of soldiers from over a century ago continue to be found in the former battlefields of Belgium and the Somme, this club continues to rediscover and relate the identities and tales of more of our own brave men who served not just in the colours of their club, but also in the uniform of their country in conflicts overseas.

Today we can reveal the identity and story of another Linfield player who served in the First World War and who as we can reveal at the end of the story, somehow survived the carnage and returned home to resume his football career.

A week or two ago while researching another player in the treasure trove that is the personal handwritten archive archives of the former chairman, the late David Crawford, I stumbled upon, on the same page another military player who I was certain had not been recognised by the club, whose books he had been on, over one hundred years previously.

I am reproducing below the archive entries for Corporal William O’Hagan, as they are recorded by the late David Crawford.

It is particularly appropriate that Corporal O’Hagan is remembered today, as it is the anniversary of his passing in 1972 .. and with the recent Armed forces day fresh in mind .. and also with the poignant Somme anniversary date of July 1 only a matter of days away.

Corporal William O’Hagan was a 6ft 1 tall and 12 and a half stone goalkeeper.

He was born on August 8, 1890 in Buncrana, County Donegal.

He first played football for Rock Rangers BC, St Columbs college in Londonderry and then Londonderry Guild and Derry Celtic.

In March 1912 he earned a junior international cap against Scotland and in the same year, he moved to Scotland where he played for Third Lanark.

He made 22 appearances in his first season at St. Mirren in 1912/13 and by the 1914/15 season, he had played 108 games for St. Mirren.

The First World War broke out in 1914 and William joined the Scottish Horse Gordon's regiment in 1915.

He served at Gallipoli, Egypt, Salonica and France and was a Corporal in the Second Battalion Highland Light Infantry.

He was a Military player who was stationed at Fermoy at Kilroot in 1918.

He was with the Royal Fusiliers, in Carrickfergus in 1918.

Towards the end of the war, he signed for Linfield in July 1918.

He only played 4 Linfield games as goalkeeper in late 1918.

He made his debut in a 1-0 league win away to Belfast Celtic on November 16, 1918.

He also played in a 2-1 City Cup win away v Cliftonville on December 14, 1918 and in a 1-1 home City Cup draw v Belfast Celtic on December 21, 1918.

He returned to St Mirren in 1919 where he made a further 72 appearances, including games in the Scottish League Victory cup.

At St Mirren he had a benefit game against an international eleven on April 20, 1920.

He earned 2 international caps v England and Wales in 1919/20 - a 1-1 home draw against England on October 25, 1919 and a 2-2 draw against Wales on February 14, 1920.

In season 1921/22, he made 7 appearances for Airdrie.

He was with Norwich City in seasons 1921/22 and 1922/23 and in total, he made 57 appearances for Norwich.

He then played for Fordsons and in 1924/25 he made 3 appearances for Aberdare, before returning to Fordsons in 1925/26 and then retiring from the game, aged 37.

He was the nephew of Charlie O'Hagan who was capped 11 times between 1905 and 1909 and who was manager of Norwich City between 1920 and 1921.

Corporal O’Hagan passed away, aged 81, in Prescot, Merseyside on this June 29 date in 1972.

The omission of Corporal William O’Hagan (as with other similar recent "discoveries") from the club's war records was unfortunate and unintended and some belated recognition can hopefully be given to him by this article and by the addition of his name to the war memorial in due course.

Linfield FC trusts that this report can be a worthy tribute and do justice to the memory of one of our former players and our appreciation is once again extended to our military history expert, Johnny Jamison for discovering the images below, including the one of the medal index card which marks the service of Corporal O’Hagan in the First World War over one hundred years ago.

Linfield FC salutes with pride and fond affection the service and the memory of Corporal William O’Hagan (and all his colleagues) and trusts that their souls are resting in eternal peace.

Audaces Fortuna Juvat


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