Irish FA chief shows his true colours on Cup day
The Irish Football Association president should adopt a neutral stance on Irish Cup sixth-round day — but not this time.
Jim Shaw will be one of the proudest men in Northern Ireland if his beloved Nortel can stun neighbours Crusaders at Seaview today.
If Shaw didn’t hold such a powerful job at Windsor Avenue, his extraordinary service at Nortel would perhaps slip under the radar.
He remains one of the many individuals around the province who play a vital role in the development of smaller clubs away from the top flight spotlight.
He’s been the Nortel treasurer for an incredible 37 years, although his secretary role from 1975 to 1985 had to come to an end when he became chairman of the Amateur League.
And he’ll have his Amateur League hat on this afternoon when the Doagh Road boys hope to perform one of the greatest shocks in Irish Cup history.
It’s a local derby with a real David v Goliath feel as the romance of the competition lives on.
"It’s a massive day out for us and a great boost for the Amateur League with ourselves going to Crusaders and Dunmurry Rec heading to Windsor Park," said Shaw who became the new IFA president in November.
"The 1982-83 season was a memorable one for us when we won the Border Cup and won Division 1A of the Amateur League as well as doing well in cup competitions, reaching the semi-finals of the Steel & Sons Cup.
"But a win over Crusaders would be our finest hour. Coleraine beat us 6-0 at this stage last year but perhaps we can be inspired by Warrenpoint Town’s great win at Cliftonville.
"However, we also won’t forget that Linfield thumped Kilmore Rec 11-0 in the County Antrim Shield semi-final!
"We have a great relationship with the Crues and their goalkeeping coach, Roy McDonald, was manager here for a season. A lot of our boys support Crusaders and it’s a big occasion for them.
"Crusaders are a very progressive club and as well as being in great form, they want to move to a new stadium.
"I suppose it’s 11 v 11 so that gives us a chance but there’s a significant gulf in quality there and our boys will look to put in a good performance."
Whatever the result on the Shore Road, Nortel will be heading home over £2,000 richer.
"I believe we get £1,500 for reaching this far and then you have a share of gate receipts," added Shaw.
"That will be a big help to us and I’ve heard it said that we are an Irish League club in all but name, with excellent facilities and an excellent manager in Jamesie Kirk."