Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 December 2014

Biting Back

Glenavon's Jimmy Jones in action for Northern Ireland
Glenavon's Jimmy Jones in action for Northern Ireland

If ever a body of sports followers were routinely smeared in broad strokes by the same tar brush, it is the supporters of Irish League football.

It is a fact the excesses of the loutish minority, of whom the majority despair, command the most airtime and usually they deserve the derision heaped upon them.

More unfairly, the impeccable behaviour and laudable deeds of the many supporting their local clubs tend to go unrecognised, often transcending fierce club rivalries.

And every now and then a new idea crops up to underpin faith in the good intent that largely signifies the genuine Irish League football supporter.

On Saturday, April 5, Glenavon will play Crusaders in an Irish Cup semi-final, their biggest game in years. And now one supporter has come up with the idea of a respectful round of applause to echo around Windsor Park in the ninth minute of the game in honour of the club's greatest Number 9, Jimmy Jones, who died last month.

It will be all the more poignant at the ground where his Belfast Celtic career, and that club's Irish League existence, ended in the infamous Boxing Day 1948 riot.

The Belfast Celtic Society will no doubt send emissaries to join in, likewise Crues fans, remembering not just the great Jimmy but how their club owe their Irish League status to Celtic's demise.

With Crueman Carl Frampton in the ring the night before and Ulster v Saracens straight after, Glenavon-Crusaders was never going to top the sports agenda but it can send out a powerful message, thanks to a lad by the name of Gangly. He and all who join in his handclap deserve to stand tall in our estimations.

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