Fulton, Robert Patrick (1906–79), soccer player, was born 6 November 1906 in Gardenmore Place, Larne, Co. Antrim, son of John Fulton, mercantile clerk, and Maggie Fulton (née Purdy). He played soccer as a youth in the Falls Park League and had joined Belfast Celtic as a full back by 1924. The most successful Irish team of their era, Belfast Celtic played at Celtic Park, off the Donegall Road. Commonly known as ‘Paradise’, it had a capacity of 50,000 spectators. Possessed of a keen mind that gave him a rare ability to read the game, Fulton left for London in 1925 to study for his teaching qualifications at Strawberry Hill college. He played for the amateur side London Caledonians before returning in 1926 to sign for Larne Football Club and teach at the town's McKenna Memorial school. He returned to Belfast Celtic for the 1928–9 season under the management of Austin Donnelly. He won twenty-one amateur international caps but caught the attention of senior international selectors in a 3–1 victory over Glentoran in the 1930 City Cup and thereafter won thirty full caps. Perhaps his most memorable appearance for Northern Ireland was in the 7–0 victory over Wales on 2 February 1930, when Linfield's Joe Bambrick (qv) scored six of his team's goals, a record that still stands. Archie Heggarty succeeded Donnelly as manager of Belfast Celtic in 1929 before his own replacement by the former Liverpool goalkeeper Elisha Scott (qv) in 1934. Fulton was captain by the 1935–6 season and was a member of the Great Britain team that reached the quarter-finals of the soccer competition at the 1936 Berlin Olympics. The Irish Football Association suspended the Irish League and City Cup in 1940 because of the war, and teams competed thereafter for the Gold Cup on a league basis. He played his last season in this format from 1942 to 1943. His career accounted for every senior trophy under the Irish Football Association's jurisdiction; this included ten Irish league medals, four Irish Cup medals, six City Cup medals, four Gold Cup medals, and four Co. Antrim Shields. Recognised as the guiding force behind Belfast Celtic's success, he taught tactics to the side he captained under Scott and operated four forwards and a winger before such a system was tried elsewhere. Innovative and competitive, he was utterly loyal to his club, refusing repeated offers from Scott Duncan to transfer to Manchester United. After retirement from football he continued his career at McKenna Memorial school till 1958, when he was appointed principal of St Comgall's, Larne. A quiet man with a wry sense of humour, he retired in 1967 and died in Antrim hospital, 5 May 1979. He married Anne McCambridge on 25 July 1932.
Mark Tuohy, Belfast Celtic (1978); Belfast Telegraph, 8 May 1979; Malcolm Brodie, One hundred years of Irish football (1980); John Kennedy, Belfast Celtic (1989); Padraig Coyle, Paradise lost and found (1999); personal information