The NIFL - Danske Bank Premiership - Top 3 Teams

There are a number of past champions playing their trade in the NIFL-Dankse Bank Premiership in Northern Ireland. Many of these teams have won league titles on numerous occasions, while some of the champions of recent years continue to build their pedigree.

Linfield

Linfield

Although Linfield have yet to win the NIFL-Dankse Bank Premiership since it began in 2013/2014 season, they are certainly the most successful club in Northern Irish football and in the world.

History

The club is one of the oldest in Northern Ireland and was founded in 1886. It was in fact started by workers from the Linfield Spinning Mill and was first called Linfield Athletic Club. Linfield is only one of three clubs in the league who have never been relegated in their history. The other two are Cliftonville and Glentoran.

Nickname

Linfield are known as "The Blues" by their supporters.

Home ground

The club's home ground, Windsor Park, was first used in 1905 and currently can hold over 18 000 supporters. The ground is also used for all of the Northern Ireland national team's home fixtures.

Championship titles

After winning the first Irish league held in the 1890/1891 season, Linfield have gone on to win the title on an incredible 51 occasions. Interestingly, this means that they have won 45% of all the championships ever played in Ireland!

They are also the second most successful club in world football in terms of championships won. Only Glasgow Rangers of Scotland with 54 championships, have won more titles than Linfield.

Cup wins

Linfield have also dominated most of the major knock-out competitions in Northern Ireland. They have won 42 Irish Cups, 9 Irish League Cups, 42 County Antrim Shields and have 111 wins in now defunct knock-out competitions.

Seven competition victories in a season

Linfield are the only team in the world to have won 7 domestic competitions in a season. They have in fact done this twice, first in the 1921/1922 season and again in 1961/1962 season.

A quadruple

Linfield won the quadruple in the 2005/2006 season with wins in the Irish Premier League, Irish Cup, Irish League Cup and County Antrim Shield. They are only one of 25 teams in the world ever to have done so.

Doubles and trebles

Linfield have won the double consisting of the league and the Irish Cup on no fewer than 23 occasions, the most by any team in world football. They have also won three trebles - the league, the Irish Cup and the League Cup twice.

Major rivals

Glentoran were always considered Linfield's major rivals. A decline in their fortunes and the rise of other teams in the league has slightly dampened this rivalry. However, Linfield fans still love nothing more than a win against their Belfast neighbours. The traditional Boxing Day fixture between the two sides often draws the biggest attendance of the season.

Cliftonville

Cliftonville

Cliftonville have become a rising force in Northern Irish football over the past number of years and won the inaugural NIFL-Dankse Bank Premiership in the 2013/2014 season. They also won the league in the 2012/2013 season prior to its restructuring and name change.

History

Founded in 1879, Cliftonville is the oldest club in Northern Irish football. The club was started by a local Belfast businessman, John McAlery who later helped to establish the Irish Football Association and the Irish Cup. Cliftonville is only one of three clubs in the league who have never been relegated in their history. The other two are Linfield and Glentoran.

Nickname

Cliftonville are commonly known as "The Reds" by their supporters.

Home ground

Cliftonville play all their home fixtures at Solitude. The ground was built in 1890 and although it can hold around 6200 supporters it is currently allowed a maximum capacity of 2530 for safety reasons.

Championship titles

"The Reds" have won the Irish league title on 5 occasions. Their first victory came in the 1905/1906 season when they shared the title with Distillery. Even after two play-off matches, an outright winner did not emerge. Another title four years later was followed by a period of almost 100 years without another victory. The clubs biggest period of success has come over the last few years when they won the title twice, in 2012/2013 and 2013/2014.

Cup wins

Cliftonville have won the Irish Cup on 8 occasions. They last raised it in the 1978/1979 season. They have also won the Irish League Cup on 4 occasions and the Country Antrim Shield 10 times. They have 27 other cup wins in now defunct competitions.

Major rivals

Glentoran and Linfield are considered to be major rivals by Cliftonville fans. Wins over these teams are always cherished.

Crusaders

Cliftonville

The winners of the NIFL-Dankse Bank Premiership in 2014/2015, Crusaders Football Club hail from Belfast.

History

The club was formed in 1898 and played in a number of leagues in Northern Ireland. They only joined the Irish League in the 1949/1950 season when Belfast Celtic withdrew.

Nickname

Supporters of Crusaders have two nicknames for their team - "The Hatchetmen" or "The Crues".

Home ground

Since 1921, all Crusader's home fixtures are played at Seaview which has a capacity of around 3300. The playing surface takes the form of an artificial pitch. This was installed in 2009 and Crusaders were the first team in Northern Ireland to this kind of surface. Crusaders are currently trying to raise funds to build a new 6000 seater stadium on Dargan Road.

Championship titles

By winning the NIFL-Dankse Bank Premiership in 2014/2015, Crusaders have now won the Irish League on 5 occasions. Their first victory came 23 years after their entry into the league and was achieved in the 1972/1973 season.

Cup wins

Crusaders have won the Irish Cup on three occasions with their last victory in the 2008/2009 season. They have also won the Irish League Cup twice and the Country Antrim Shield 6 times. They have 9 other victories in now defunct cup competitions.

Major rivals

Crusader supporters consider Cliftonville as the clubs biggest rivals with a victory over the "The Reds" a major cause for celebration.