Formed as far back as 1898, Crusaders spent their early years playing junior football until, not long after the end of WW1, they joined the Irish Intermediate League winning the league title no fewer than nine times (including three league and Intermediate Cup doubles) until they were brought into the senior ranks to replace Belfast Celtic in time for the 1949/50 campaign.
After a period of consolidation at this level the Crues picked up their first senior trophy in the 1953/54 season with a 2-1 defeat of Linfield in the Ulster Cup final.
Further silverware evaded Seaview until the County Antrim Shield (1959/60), Ulster Cup (1963/64) and Shield again (1964/65) before back-to-back Irish Cup victories (1966/67, 1967/68) over Glentoran and Linfield respectively thrust the club onto the European stage for the first time.
The 70s produced two Irish League titles, in 1972/73 and again in 1975/76. That latter championship went on to directly lead to one of the most iconic European encounters in both club and Irish League history when the might of Liverpool turned up on the Shore Road on their way to a first European Cup triumph.
The rest of the decade and most of the Eighties proved to be a barren period for the Crues with only a solitary Gold Cup win to show for their efforts.
The Gibson Cup returned to the club trophy cabinet in 1994/95 under Roy Walker during an era which also claimed the Shield, Ulster Cup and Gold Cup, followed by a fourth league title in 1997.
However, another decline followed and eventually relegation in 2005. By now managed by Stephen Baxter, the Crues swept the boards in the First Division and bounced back to the top table with a vengeance, going on to win the Irish Cup for the first time in over 40 years in 2009.
Yet there were still greater riches to follow.
The 2011/12 campaign ended up with the Hatchetmen being crowned All-Ireland Champions following victory over Derry City in the Setanta Cup ... but even that was eclipsed just a few seasons later when three further League titles in four years firmly established the Baxter era as one of the great dynasties in Irish League history.