This February will see an important anniversary in the history of the Carnmoney Parish Church Lads’ Brigade being marked.
The 3684 Company of the Church Lads’ Brigade, which is attached to the Church of the Holy Evangelists, was officially enrolled on February 13 1926. This February will see the group celebrating 90 years in existence.
In the early years the organisation was recognised by the Army Council as a cadet force. It was affiliated to the King’s Royal Rifle Corps, with lads wearing a khaki army uniform with KRRC badges and buttons.
Following the group folding in 1930, it was started up again in 1932 when the Training Corps was re-enrolled. By this time the CLB was no longer recognised by the Army Council as a cadet force. This resulted in a change of uniform, with the boys wearing a blue uniform instead of khaki.
Sport became a more prominent activity for the lads, with a football team playing other teams from other local churches including St Mark’s and St Michael’s.
In 1936 the Carnmoney Company held their first camp, when they travelled to Ballywalter. In 1940 they became the first company in Ulster to achieve the distinction of wearing the ‘Red Lanyard’.
Sporting prowess was evident throughout the following years, with the Carnmoney Company winning the Battalion Sports tournament from 1936 until 1950 without a break.
The group began to gain more members under the stewardship of Clifford Forsythe. In 1961 the Carnmoney CLB Company became the first Ulster Company to win the National Handball Championships. They retained the cup in 1962 and 1963. Every year from 1965 until 1969 the Battalion Shield was brought back to Carnmoney.
There was further sporting success in the 1970s with the Company retaining the Battalion Sports Shield in 1970 and 1971, as well as being the first winners of the Regimental Sports Cup in 1971.
There was success for teams in handball and five-a-side competitions, with the Junior and Senior teams sweeping the boards to win the handball and five-a-side tournaments at Regimental level. The Junior five-a-side team also won the National title.
There have also been a number of successes in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award over the years.
A number of older lads, who were too old for the CLB, formed the CLB Old Boys football team. The team no longer exists, but during the 1970s they set a number of records in the Churches League. Former player David Stewart played for Northern Ireland in a World Cup qualifier against Belgium in November 1977.
In 1978 the CLB and CGB amalgamated to become the Church Lads’ and Church Girls’ Brigade. In 1980, 15 members from Carnmoney travelled to London, where the Queen was reviewing the new look brigade.
An in-depth history of the Carnmoney CLB was penned by Johnny Conn in 1986. It detailed the first 60 years of the Carnmoney group.
The local group has enjoyed more sporting success up to the present day. Other highlights include the formation of a marching band and the commemoration of the contribution of CLB members during the Great War.
For more information check out the CLB Facebook page.