Representative Honours: Irish FA Representative (1953); Irish League: 8 Caps / 5 Goals (1950-1954).
Club Honours: (with Glentoran) Irish League Champion 1950/51, 1952/53; Irish Cup Winner 1950/51, Runner-Up 1951/52, 1953/54, 1955/56; Gold Cup Winner 1951/52, City Cup Winner 1950/51, 1952/53, 1956/57; Ulster Cup Winner 1950/51, 1952/53; Co. Antrim Shield Winner 1949/50, 1951/52, 1956/57; (with Carrick) Irish League ‘B’ Division Champion 1961/62; Steel & Sons Cup Winner 1961/62.
Awards: Ulster Footballer of the Year 1953.
Cliftonville (0/0 Total); Larne (Intermediate); Ballyclare Comrades (Intermediate); Gallahers; Linfield; Larne; Glentoran 1949/50-1958/59 (378/297 Total); Larne (‘B’ Division); Carrick Rangers (‘B’ Division).
Sammy Hughes joined Glentoran in 1949 and in his 378 games for the club he amassed an amazing 297 goals. During his career he won every medal available in local football, broke the post war goal scoring record held by Glenavon’s Jimmy Jones, by scoring 64 goals in 1953 and won representative honours with the Irish League.
Sammy began playing football in the Lifeboys and Boys’ Brigade. In his teens he played for Cliftonville Olympic, Larne and Ballyclare Comrades before joining his father’s favourite team – Linfield! Hughes spent most of his time there playing for the Swifts and won quite a few trophies but first team opportunities were limited and at the end of the 1946-47 season he rejoined Larne. There was however a hattrick for Linfield against Glentoran at Grosvenor Park in January 1947; a game which the Blues won 4-2.
Hughes joined Glentoran in November 1949 under manager Frank Grice and in his first season scored 28 goals in just 25 appearances. His first Glentoran goal came in his debut against Glenavon at the Oval in a league game on 26th November 1949. In fact he got 2 in that match. He scored the following week against Coleraine and another 2 a week later against Ballymena Utd. His first Glentoran hattrick arrived in the semi-final of the Co Antrim Shield (6-0 v Whites), as the Glens went on to win that particular trophy.
The 1950-51 season was a very successful one for both Hughes and the Glens. The first trophy up for grabs was the Ulster Cup and Sammy netted in all 6 games including one in the final victory against Linfield. He scored hattricks against Bangor and Ards in the league as the Glens went on to add the League Championship and City Cup to the Ulster Cup. There was still one more piece of silverware to bring back to the Oval though. Sammy Hughes described it as his best moment in football. “In the 1951 Irish Cup final against my home town team Ballymena United, Glentoran were leading 2-1 and although Ballymena were down to ten men it looked like they might grab an equaliser. Fortunately I managed to score another goal, my second of the match, and we won the game.”
51-52 didn’t live up to the year before but it did bring another couple of trophies, the Gold Cup and the Co Antrim Shield. Hughes scored in the Shield final defeat of Brantwood as we recorded a 3-0 win. Sammy also hit a hattrick against Bangor and grabbed 4 in an 8-1 trouncing of Ards. The League championship returned to the Oval in 1952-53, along with the Ulster & City Cups. First up was the Ulster Cup and Sammy Hughes got hattricks in consecutive games against Crusaders & Ballymena Utd. In the City Cup he got trebles against Coleraine and Bangor (again) before getting FIVE in a 9-1 win against Derry City. In the race for the title Hughes got 3 against Ballymena, Glenavon and Bangor and another 4 against Coleraine. That gave him 64 for the season.
The first four years of Sammy’s decade with Glentoran were undoubtedly the best. 53-54 saw Glentoran defeated by Derry City in the Irish Cup final and although Hughes got 30 goals, including 2 hattricks, the Mercer Cup was the only trophy to come to the Oval. It was the only one a year later too. Again Hughes hit 2 trebles, this time in a season haul of 32. 1955-56 was another barren one for Glentoran. Sammy hit the back of the opposition’s net 20 times but this season the best he managed was 2 in a game. Mind you he did it 5 times!
Sammy Hughes was joined in the Glentoran forward line for the 56-57 season by a young striker called Trevor Thompson. Both players ended the campaign tied on 19 goals as Glentoran won two trophies, the City Cup and Co Antrim Shield. Distillery were the opposition on both occasions. In the City Cup final both Thompson and Hughes netted in our 2-1 victory and both were on target again in the replay of the Shield final; Glentoran winning 4-0. 57-58 saw Hughes rack up another 21 goals. This included what turned out to be his last hattrick, against Cliftonville in the Ulster Cup. In his last season for Glentoran, Sammy Hughes scored 8 times in 17 appearances. His last Glentoran goal came in a 1-1 home draw against Ards on 7th March 1959 and his last game came on the last day of that month at Solitude.
There was one more trophy still to come though. After leaving Glentoran Sammy Hughes went to Larne and then moved on to Carrick Rangers. In December 1961 Carrick met Ballymena Utd Reserves in the Steel and Sons Cup final. After the first game ended in a draw Carrick won the replay 1-0 and once again Hughes scored against his home town’s team.
Season Appearances Goals
1949-50 25 28
1950-51 48 46
1951-52 45 29
1952-53 47 64
1953-54 37 30
1954-55 39 32
1955-56 36 20
1956-57 34 19
1957-58 39 21
1958-59 17 8
There’s a green sward called the Oval,
To the East End of the Town,
And a football team that plays there,
Called the Glens,
And spectators in their thousands,,
Come to see their idols play
While the gantry of the shipyard gazes down
He is known as Sammy Hughes,
By the Glens and by the Blues,
He is hotter with his head,
Than tongue can tell,
When he dazzles with his flicks,
And his forwards do their tricks,
Then our Sammy scores a goal or two as well
It was 1951 and the Ulster Cup was won,
And the team we beat was the famous Windsor Blues,
The first ball in the net,
With your last ‘bob’ you can bet,
Was scored by the famous Sammy Hughes
When the game was at its height,
And our Sammy he took flight,
Between the posts he heads that leather ball,
He’d remind you of Big Fred,
When he scores goals with the head,
But for scoring goals our Sammy lead them all
To that team that plays so fine,
To the leader of the line,
I doff my hat,
With all respect that’s due,
He has always played the game,
Never tarnished his great name,
He’s the idol of the Glenmen,