Rea Bob Image 1 Linfield 1905

Rea Bob Image 1 Linfield 1905


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After beginning his Irish League career with Cliftonville during the 1895-96 season, Belfast born inside forward Bob Rea joined Linfield in November 1895 and first made a real splash in Linfield’s 1897-98 Irish League and Cup “Double” winning side. Also in the Blues’ forward-line that defeated St Columb’s Court 2-0 in the Irish Cup Final was Rea’s brother, Sam who was making his club debut. During that season Bob Rea also won his first major representative honour, playing for the Irish League in a 5-0 defeat by their Scottish counterparts in Dundee.

Rea then spent the start of 1899-1900 season with Distillery joining them in October 1899 before joining Belfast Celtic in January 1900. He was a member of The Whites’ side that claimed the Belfast Charity Cup for the first time, when he guested for them as a last minute replacement for the injured Tom Black, while still a Belfast Celtic player. Distillery, having lost in their previous six Final appearances in the competition, saw off Linfield with a resounding 5-0 scoreline.

After moving on to Glentoran in June 1900, Rea put in some great goalscoring performances as the Glens ran his former club close in the race for the Irish League title. His form was rewarded with a second selection for the Irish League (who lost out 4-2 to the Football League in November 1900) and with his sole international cap for Ireland in a 3-0 defeat by England at Southampton in March 1901.

Rea left the Oval after a single season to return to Belfast Celtic. He later had a second spell with Cliftonville before ending his Irish league career with Ulster. He never really established himself in any of these clubs and in 1903-04 he returned to Linfield and helped out with the Linfield Swifts. He then immigrated to the USA, in October 1909 and remained there until his death in 1946.

The Rea name remained a prominent one in the Irish League as Sam played for Glentoran from 1902 to 1908 and another brother, Fred also played for the Glens (1906-1911) and represented the Irish League.


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