John Fitzgerald Of Cork's Ringmahon Rangers.
A Giant Ambasssador For Cork Cork Soccer
A sixty one years journey is a mammoth test of endurance and in 2014 a famed Blackrock sports legend walked away into the sunlight of a new life outside of his beloved Ringmahon Rangers Football Club who in 2016 celebrated 65 years as a soccer club.
From the birth of Ringmahon Rangers at Dunlocha Cottages, Blackrock, in 1951, John ‘Langton’ Fitzgerald joined up as a 12 years old and played on the clubs first ever team in 1951 on Castle Road, near Blackrock Castle, Cork.
The historic pioneering match was played in a field owned by renowned Irish amateur golfer, Jimmy Bruen, who employed the late John Hayes, one of the pioneering founders of the club and a club officer who served as chairman for a mighty 54 years.
Schooling for John began at Blackrock primary and extended across the River Lee to a famed sports nursery and educational centre on Cork’s northside. At North Monastery it was all gaelic games and basketball was also prominent in the concrete school yard. Soccer was John’s sports destiny and he was rewarded in spades with medals and trophies won under the Red/Black Ringmahon banner.
In 1955, at just sixteen and barely out of school uniform, John walked himself into the clubs secretarial officership and began an association that only ceased as a renowned club officer after an amazing Sixty One consecutive years writing up the minutes, the trials and tribulations of Ringmahon Rangers F.C. Cork.
In the decades in-between 1955 and 2014, John carved his own reputation as probably the clubs greatest ever player and again longevity was a huge part of his game. It was only when he reached the summit of his 40th year that the notion of hanging up his Ringmahon boots crawled up his back. However instead of taking a well earned break from the game he loved, John just carried on with his secretarial duties at Ringmahon Rangers FC for a further 35 years.
The friendships forged through his Ringmahon association and with all the clubs and opponents he encountered over six decades, have stood the test of time, and amongst Cork’s soccer community in all four corners, John ‘Langton ‘ Fitzgerald is a name held in high esteem.
Surprisingly, when John wrote his final secretarial notes in 2014, for the first time in 63 years and at a mere 75 years young, John ’Langton’ Fitzgerald was a free soldier outside of football duties. The years of community volunteering in sport gave hundreds of shoolboys and youths in the Blackrock peninsula a much better quality of life under his stewardship. No better deed can a man export than inspire and convince young people, that sport is all about a much better way of life.
John from boyhood and youth was an imposing figure around Blackrock village, Cork, and when his school pals said he was lanky they could hardly have envisaged that the name ‘Langton’ would become a popular identity all through John’s life. Many soccer fans believed Langton was John’s surname but it never bothered the man himself.
Growing up in Blackrock village in the 1940’s it was only a few stone throws from the open countryside and many of the menfolk became fishermen to earn a living. Working out of the local pier became a way of life and John took his first working steps alongside other crewmen in the early 1950’s.
In 1957 international rubber manufacturers, Dunlops, put John on their payroll and when the famous company upped ship and departed Cork in 1983, it brought a 28 years working relationship to an untimely end for John and hundreds of loyal Cork industrial workers.
Sport is a wonderful friend when people have nothing to do and all day to do it, but in 1983 and the years that followed Dunlops Cork exit, John was bridging his mid 40’s and Ringmahon Rangers were making great progress with mentors such as John steering the club.
John’s younger siblings, Pat and Frank, also played with Ringmahon and amongst the numerous gallery of really special players who came through the clubs schoolboys academy of the 1950’s/60’s, John the tough and elegant centre half, had as colleagues Bobby and John Brohan and Frank Connolly, also of Cork Hibernians fame.
In the FAI Cup Ringmahon and John challenged League Of Ireland clubs, such as Shamrock Rovers, Drumcondra and the great Waterford teams of the 1960’s. In the higher echelons of Irish football, few stars wearing the No.9 shirt would outpace or outshine John Fitzgerald. His talent to rival all the great strikers was a well known factor in domestic soccer.
In Cork John was a ‘Gentle Giant’ on and off the field throughout his playing career and the respect he was afforded by his peers is renowned and rewarded right across all spheres of football.
Noted Cork football historian, Plunket Carter, an inspiration and nominator behind John’s Hall Of Fame Induction, regards John ‘Langton’ Fitzgerald, as one of Cork’s greatest ever football ambassadors.
Ringmahon Rangers grew from an acorn in 1951 to become one of Ireland’s most respected clubs and in the 21st century, the clubs splendid headquarters, looking out on the Blackrock peninsula would do justice to most Irish professional soccer clubs. The genial former club secretary played an inspiring role in the clubs many developments over six decades.
John Fitzgerald had the natural ability to play League Of Ireland football over many years but his loyalty to his native club from 1951 to 2014 made him a rare breed of soccerman and a ONE CLUB ONLY LEGEND.
Friendships brewed through his club, both on and off the field, are legacies that John has treasured for many decades.
In football retirement John ‘Langton’ Fitzgerald is now taking a hugely deserved and overdue rest and finally for John he can sit awhile alongside his wife, Angela of a mere fifty one years, without a mention of going to the club he loves so well.
Selecting John for our All Ireland Hall Of Fame Induction as a Champion Community Sports Volunteer Of Ireland was a delightful and simple obligation.
Our Irish Heritage Website @ www.scoreboardmemories.com now incorporates an extensive sports profile of John’s historic career with Ringmahon Rangers on the worldwide internet at All Ireland Hall Of Fame Online Gallery.
As a player John won all the major domestic honours in Cork and Munster soccer and far and wide scribes of the written word have oft times stated that, John as a centre half was“SIMPLY THE BEST”.
On the 11th November 2016 at the well known Red Cove Inn, Mahon, Cork, an All Ireland Hall Of Fame Induction show was held to celebrate the incorporation of John ‘Langton’ Fitzgerald as a Champion Community Sports Volunteer.
A big screen presentation featured nostalgic Golden Memories of days goneby in John’s illustrious sports career as an exceptional soccer centre half and also as club secretary for 61 consecutive years.
The sports and music show was researched by a team of volunteers and hosted and presented by Derry JF Doody, editor/promoter at the All Ireland Hall Of Fame Online Gallery.
John ‘Langton’ Fitzgerald, Honours Achieved:
2 AOH Cup Winners medals 1960 & ‘61
Premier Division Titles: 1959-’61. Munster Junior Cup 1961.
7 MSL Premier League Titles in 8 years span-1962 -’70.
Other titles won include Pop Kelleher Cup; Berkeley Cup and Shield medals.
Recognitions/Appreciations for services to soccer:
Cork Schoolboys League: Cork AUL; MSL & FAIAwards.
11th November 2016: Incorporation in the national and International Irish Heriatge Website @
All Ireland Hall Of Fame Online Gallery as a Champion Community Sports Volunteer Of Ireland