American Football: Yarvard vs Hale at Ravenhill Stadium, Belfast, Co. Antrim

The first game of American Football in Europe during WW2 was played at the Ravenhill Stadium, Belfast between "Yarvard" and "Hale" on 14th November 1942.

At 1300hrs on 14th November 1942, Yarvard faced Hale in the first American Football game in Northern Ireland. The game at Ravenhill Stadium, Belfast, Co. Antrim took place in front of around 10,000 spectators. Colonel Maurice J Meyer of the US Army introduced the game and gave a running commentary throughout.

The Governor of Northern Ireland was one of many dignitaries in attendance. United States Military bands provided entertainment from 1400hrs. One band’s bass drum bore the likenesses of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Hideki Tojo along with the slogan “Beating the Axis”. In the crowd, an American cheerleader created some big game atmosphere among the locals and US service personnel.

Filming of parts of the game took place for newsreel footage and BBC Forces Radio broadcast commentary at 1545hrs on 14th November 1942. Hale won the game 9-7 with a goal-kick sealing the points.

The First American Football Game In Ireland

American GI teams playing under the names of "Hale" and "Yarvard" took part in the first ever game of American Football in the European Theatre of Operations at Ravenhill Stadium, Belfast on 14th November 1942. Copyright Belfast Telegraph / PRONI.

In 2015, Garreth Montgomery of the Public Records Office Northern Ireland (PRONI) uncovered matchday photos. He undertook to merge the images with modern day photos to show the stadium’s development on more than seventy years.

We have a very large collection of old glass plates and negatives taken from across the north in the archives at PRONI. I’m interested in anything to do with rugby and Ravenhill, and I came across these rare shots of American GIs playing there.

Garreth Montgomery – PRONI

American Football in Belfast 1942

Public Records Office Northern Ireland Photo: D2334_6_12_134. American Football teams under the names of Yarvard and Hale entertain an 8,000 strong crowd in Ravenhill Stadium, Belfast on 14th November 1942. Copyright Belfast Telegraph.

United States Army personnel and local sports fans bought their tickets from:

  • Leahy, Kelly, and Leahy at 2 Castle Place, Belfast, Co. Antrim.
  • Athletic Stores, 21 Wellington Place, Belfast, Co. Antrim.
  • Thornton’s, 43 Arthur Street, Belfast, Co. Antrim.
  • Warnock’s, 8 Royal Avenue, Belfast, Co. Antrim.
  • Mr. WAB Douglas, 9 Donegall Street, Belfast, Co. Antrim.

The game lived up to the pre-match hype. Newspaper advertisements in advance of the day read:

Come in your thousands and see two crack American sides in the first big game of American Football ever played in this country.

Proceeds from tickets sold went to the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, Co. Antrim and the Soldiers’, Sailors’ and Airmen’s Families’ Association. Organisers presented £730, 11s, 4d to the organisations.

Yarvard Lineup

Coached by Captain Hall F Achenbach, Captain Francis E Wehrle, and Lieutenant Ernest H Kennyon.

Last NameFirst Name(s)Weight (lbs)PositionHometown
HopferRobert D200FullbackBuffalo, NY
LopezArmando180Right HalfbackAnthony, NM
VerbickAnton S165Left HalfbackGilbert, MN
WrightJay A185QuarterbackShippensburg, PA
TemenskiJames E198Right HalfbackNew Castle, PA
MooreRush M190Left HalfbackCurwensville, PA
DennisPaul W155QuarterbackHarrisburg, PA
WashburnWalter A230FullbackRock Island, IL
WhalenRichard E165CenterCambridge Springs, PA
HummelAtlee V180EndClearfield, PA
BashamJames B Jr190EndLouisville, KY
EckWilliam F175EndAllentown, PA
WallJohn L185GuardNew Orleans, LA
SchultzLeslie C175GuardBellfonte, PA
McGonigalPaul A196TackleClearfield, PA
HowerMarlin180GuardWest Milton, PA
FaulsFrederick D180TackleDuBois, PA
FemtonFrank A185TackleSunbury, PA
JerlesLeroy M190GuardLock Haven, PA
MooreRalph W190TackleSkaneatles Falls, NY
TrunickJohn L Jr184CenterLouisville, KY
BaxterJoseph D196GuardManchester, IO
PetrickEdward190Left HalfbackDetroit, MI
HeathEugene E180TackleLima, OH
DupakGeorge A195FullbackWalton, PA
ZentnerHenry E175CenterEmmaus, PA
SzymkowiczWalter C175QuarterbackNew Castle, PA
KiserHarvey J215TackleLock Haven, PA
RenningerCharles R150QuarterbackLewistown, PA
JasoFrank M160EndLansford, PA
SaxtonThomas F158GuardNorthumberland, PA
NymanLeroy C185CenterLock Haven, PA
WetzelJoseph B170TackleMechanicsburg, PA
KosolowskiJoseph L180GuardWyandotte, MI
BoshnettAlbert D185CenterTioga, WV

Hale Lineup

Coached by Captain Harry G Chowins, 2nd Lieutenant EK Sauer, and Staff Sergeant Louis J DiSalle.

Last NameFirst Name(s)Weight (lbs)PositionHometown
CarpenterArnold175FullbackEau Claire, WI
ChandlerRaymond145Left HalfbackHouston, TX
BeckFrank175Left HalfbackNew Orleans, LA
St. PeterByron160FullbackMilwaukee, WI
ZywickiDavid180QuarterbackMilwaukee, WI
KacenaCharles165QuarterbackDes Moines, IA
UrbanJohn178Right HalfbackBrooklyn, NY
DixEdward165Right HalfbackElizabeth, NJ
CookeHomer190CenterEau Claire, WI
CummingsRobert180CenterBrooklyn, NY
DunhamLee180Right GuardDetroit, MI
RichardsonThomas165Left GuardRutherford, NJ
StobaeusFrederick175Right GuardSouth Orange, NJ
FabrizioAnthony165Left GuardSpringfield, NJ
GroschErving230Left TackleMilwaukee, WI
RosenbergNorman230Right TackleBrooklyn, NY
ForczekEdmund175Left TackleCudahy, WI
LaurieWoodrow185Right TackleRedgranite, WI
LochmanStephen200Left EndAlbany, NY
GallagherJohn180Right EndBrooklyn, NY
BoltonEugene160Right EndRapid City, SD
RichMadison175Left EndWest New York, NJ
SolowSaul190Right EndBrooklyn, NY
KudernaEdward150Left EndCleveland, OH
RixTheodore190Right EndCrisco IA

Ticket Prices

Ticket TypePrice
Covered Stand (Centre Block)7/6
Covered Stand5/-
Promenade2/6
Unreserved1/-