Many names were suggested for the Club including Rowan Star, Cultra United, Queen's Rovers, Mervue Wanderers and Lilliputians. Thomas Wade felt that a name of more international significance should be adopted and he suggested 'Crusaders', after the medieval Christian knights.
Initially the Club was only able to undertake friendly fixtures until they were admitted to some of the local junior Alliance Leagues. Players were compelled to pay a match fee of two old pence before they could take the field. It was strictly no pay - no play.
The very first competitive game of which there is any existing record was on the 10th December, 1898. It came in the North Belfast Alliance against opponents named Bedford and reports state that, "after a splendid game Crusaders won by 5 to 2."
1900 - 1949
The team played at a variety of venues before settling at Seaview in 1921. Earlier home venues included the Glen (which later became part of Alexandra Park), Cavehill Road, Simpson's Boiler Fields, Shore Road (opposite the Grove) and Rokeby Park. Seaview was officially opened on Saturday, September 3, 1921 by Mr William Grant, M.P., prior to kick-off in an Intermediate League fixture against Cliftonville Olympic.
World War II meant that there was no football played by the Crues between April 1941-September 1946.
1949 - 1976
However, as has always been the case, Crusaders never lacked determination. Under the player-managership of Jackie Vernon they recovered to win their first senior trophy in the 1953/4 season by defeating Linfield 2-1 in the final of the Ulster Cup.
The 1950's were not easy in spite of the presence in the side of some excellent individuals and the end of the 1957/58 season saw another application for re-election.
The 1960's brought some much-needed success. The Crues won the Ulster Cup once more and the County Antrim Shield twice but these successes were overshadowed by two unexpected victories in the Irish Cup Finals of 1967 and 1968 against the might of Glentoran and Linfield respectively. The Crues had arrived! So, too, did European competition as a consequence.
There were other significant happenings in the same decade. In July 1966 the original Social Club, dressing rooms and administration areas were destroyed by fire. They were replaced some four years later by the present bigger and better facilities.
1976 - 2000
The second championship triumph resulted in the never-to-be-forgotten European Cup-tie with Liverpool which saw the brave Cruemen fall to the might of Keegan, Toshack, etc at Anfield by just 2-0.
The home leg which followed was played before a crowd hanging from the rafters that would undoubtedly give the current Health and Safety legislators a heart attack.
Although performances in the 1980's were steady, they certainly were not
spectacular and the club paid the penalty of not building on earlier
successes. Manager Jackie Hutton had no money with which to buy players but
he did the club a great service when he somehow completed the deal which
Roy Walker to
Seaview. Hutton was quick to recognise the leadership qualities in Walker
and saw him as his potential successor.
At the same time, local businessman Harry Corry, pumped some desperately-needed sponsorship money into the club. As the revival began, southern businessman Tony O'Connell also became involved. It was a partnership that was to produce the most successful spell in the club's history.
Walker took over as player-manager in September 1989, two years after his arrival as a player. One of his first tasks was to apply for re-election as the Crues finished 13th out of 14 clubs.
Walker's sides - he dubbed them "the team with no boots" - went on to win nearly everything in sight whilst wealthier and bigger-supported clubs could only watch and wonder.
There were two further championship titles won (1995 and 1997) whilst Crusaders also finished runners-up in 1993 and 1996. Other trophies won were the County Antrim Shield (1992), Ulster Cup (1993), Gold Cup (1996) and the Stena Line Trophy (1996).
In turn, this meant more expeditions into Europe as the Crues took on teams from Switzerland, Denmark, Lithuania and Georgia within a five-year span.
In addition to the first team and the reserves, teams at Under 16 and Under 18 level were introduced as the club looked to nurture and develop local talent in the area.
Roy Walker resigned as manager in July 1998, just prior to the Club's Centenary Dinner celebrations at Belfast's City Hall.
Since then, lack of funds has seen the Seaview fortunes decline, with Dublin-based managers Aaron Callaghan and Martin Murray both resigning after one year apiece in charge.
ew, including building a new stand at the Shore Road end of the ground.