Celebrating the first Shamrock Rovers League winning side of 1922/23, we are proud to launch this limited-edition home jersey in the green stripes worn by the club in that era. We call it Fullam27 in recognition of Bob Fullam’s 27 goals that season. The shirt is on sale from the club shop from 12pm Friday, and will be available online from 5pm on Saturday

The winning of the first league title by Rovers in 1922/23 took everyone in Dublin by surprise. St James’s Gate (reigning champions), Bohemians and Shelbourne were the big three and more fancied to do the business. Rovers came into the league in September 1922 having won the Leinster Senior League the previous season. They also had an incredible run in the inaugural FAI Cup competition in 1922 when they pushed the ‘Gate’ who were league winners all the way to a final replay. It was on account of this that many were taken by surprise by the form of the ‘Stripes’ in the 1922/23 league campaign while many others were not.

The team of 1922/23 was comprised of many of the players who won the Leinster Senior League the previous season. They were all locals from the Ringsend/Irishtown area. Players such as William ‘Sacky’ Glen, Denis ‘Dinny’ Doyle, Charlie Campbell, Bob Cowzer, John Joe Flood, Bob Fullam and Joe ‘Buller’ Byrne amongst others made the successful transition from intermediate football to become League of Ireland champions.

In the early years of the League of Ireland, and for quite some time up to the 1940s, there was no such thing as a manager or coach. Teams were selected by committee members of the club. There were no dugouts – there was no need as there was no coaching staff or substitutes. The team would be taken out for training by a trainer – John Dundon was the man at Rovers with that responsibility during the historic first league-winning season. The team captain played a big role also and this responsibility fell to Bob Fullam during most of the 1920s when Rovers won the league three times within their first five seasons as members of the League of Ireland.

Bob Fullam was born in Bridge Street, Ringsend in 1895. He began playing with St. Brendan’s and had spells also at North End and Shelbourne before joining Shamrock Rovers in 1921. Bob, mainly a centre forward, had a tremendous shot. He was of a large build and not a man to be messed around with – not even by his own teammates. Half-time talks in the dressing room used to be fairly unstructured and it fell to the team captain to give a tactical talk. It is said that if a game wasn’t going well then Bob wouldn’t hold back in letting his teammates know what he thought of their performance. Bob was a motivator; he led on the pitch with his own performances and made sure everyone else on the team pulled their weight. The role of Bob Fullam in the winning of the club’s inaugural league title in 1922/23 can never be underestimated.

Off-the-pitch developments meant that a move from Ringsend to Milltown became necessary. Milltown was not necessarily where the committee wanted the club to play their League of Ireland matches. They had been looking at other options but having won the Leinster Senior League in 1921/22 matters began to move fast for them. The ground on Milltown Road at a spot known as Elm Park was leased from the Jesuits. It meant the club’s supporters had to endure a bit of a trek to follow the team playing at home but previously they had played at Windy Arbour so Milltown, by comparison, didn’t seem that far to travel to. The big plus for the committee in making the decision to locate the team on Milltown Road was that they had a good team worth following.

The first game at Milltown didn’t go well. The league campaign began with a 1-0 defeat at home to Shelbourne United. Rovers were missing the key trio of Dinny Doyle, John Joe Flood and Bob Fullam for that game. It was to be their only setback throughout the campaign. They went on to win fourteen of their remaining seventeen games, drawing the other three. Although Bob Fullam ended the season with 27 goals – a club record that stands to the present time – the overall goal tally of 77 goals was well spread out throughout the team. There was one own goal and the records also show a player who is known only as Smith/Jones scored six. Newspaper reports at the time were very often just a paragraph or two and first names were rarely given. There were big wins along the way to the title, the biggest of which was the 9-1 trouncing of Midland Athletic on 3rd March. John Joe Flood netted four in that game.

It was on Saturday, 14th April 1923 that Rovers met their fierce Ringsend rivals Shelbourne in what was Rovers’ final game of the campaign (the Reds had one further outstanding game). Both teams were going for the title. Rovers needed a draw only. Shelbourne had to win. A huge crowd eagerly made the short journey to Shelbourne Park, home of Shelbourne AFC. Rovers were no strangers to the venue themselves having played many of their games in the Leinster Senior League there the previous year. The ‘Stripes’ as Rovers were known then, took an early lead and were 3-0 ahead before the Reds pulled one back. Shelbourne lost a player through injury (there were no subs at that time) but according to newspaper reports from the game they hadn’t been playing well anyway and Rovers were worthy winners, beating Shelbourne 7-2.  

In 1924/25 Shamrock Rovers became the first club in the history of the League of Ireland to win the league a second time.