Belfast Telegraph

Jeffrey to take charge of Drogs

By Graham Luney

David Jeffrey is poised to make a swift return to the dugout – but not in the Irish League.

Jeffrey, who parted company with Linfield at the end of the season, is set to take over the reins at Airtricity Premier League side Drogheda United.

However, the arrangement could be a temporary one with the former Blues supremo agreeing to assist the ailing Drogs until the end of the season.

The axe has fallen on coach Robbie Horgan as United have crashed to ninth position with only UCD, Bray Wanderers and Athlone Town below them in the table.

Jeffrey, who guided Linfield to 31 trophies – placing him level on the silverware count with Roy Coyle – is just the man to get United moving in the right direction again.

The 51-year-old declined to comment on the move last night but it looks like he will be heading to United Park with his former assistant Brian McLaughlin.

The Blues won nine league championships and seven Irish Cups during Jeffrey's Windsor Park reign which started in January, 1997.

Dwindling support in the Linfield boardroom contributed to his exit but when he announcement his imminent departure in February, the former Blues skipper said he wasn't finished as a coach.

Jeffrey said at the time: "Today I announced that I would be stepping down as Linfield manager but I am not stepping down from football.

"I don't know what the future holds for me. I am only 51, love working with players and love the game.

"I will think about the future once the end of the season comes."

There was strong speculation he would replace Ronnie McFall in the Portadown hotseat until Shamrock Park chiefs handed their long-serving boss a new deal.

Fans, who lamented the loss of one of the Irish League's most colourful characters, believed Jeffrey had unfinished business in the top flight but not many expected him to accept an offer to manage in the League of Ireland Premier Division.

Drogheda, who are just two places off the bottom rung on 18 points from 20 starts, are now set to benefit from Jeffrey's coaching skills until the Airtricity League wraps up towards the end of October.

Jeffrey joined Linfield fans at the Europa League clash at Mourneview Park last Tuesday as Warren Feeney's first competitive outing as Blues boss ended in a 1-1 draw but 3-2 aggregate victory.

The Blues will now face AIK Solna of Stockholm in the second qualifying round and the first battle in Lurgan on Thursday night will be the club's 100th appearance on the European stage.

Linfield's first ever opponents back in the 1959-60 season were also Swedish – Kamraterna from Gothenburg.

In total the Blues have visited 27 countries over the past 55 years and 99 European games – bagging 16 wins along the way.

According to the Blues' website, Linfield have never ventured to Spain, Italy, Scotland or Poland for a European test.

A souvenir copy of 'Look at Linfield' will be available for fans to purchase at Thursday night's game.

Meanwhile, Linfield and their boss Feeney will be in action tonight in a fund-raising friendly for East Belfast FC at Inverary Avenue.

The match, which kicks off at 7pm, will be a welcome boost to the Amateur League side's coffers after the minnows almost went out of business last season.

Feeney, who hasn't decided whether he will feature for the first team in competitive outings this season, will don the boots again.

East Belfast will also tackle Glentoran at the Oval on Tuesday night (7.30pm).

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