Belfast Telegraph

Roy Coyle hails David Jeffrey for Linfield trophy count

By Graham Luney

Roy Coyle says it's possible the trophy record set by himself and David Jeffrey as Linfield managers could be smashed.

Jeffrey guided his men to County Antrim Shield success this week and the penalty shootout victory over Crusaders at the Ballymena Showgrounds saw the 51-year-old celebrate a remarkable 31st trophy as Blues supremo.

Coyle hit that mark when he was in the Windsor hotseat from November, 1975 to April, 1990 – a trophy-laden 14 and a half year spell.

Linfield fans were enjoying the good times then and Jeffrey has performed similar heroics.

DJ, who took charge in January 1997, will be stepping down at the end of the season, but before then he hopes to celebrate a 32nd trophy success by winning the league.

Both Coyle and Jeffrey are managerial gladiators who have given Linfield 62 trophies.

Coyle won 10 league titles at the Blues; Jeffrey is now going for his tenth.

Coyle lifted three Irish Cups. Jeffrey bagged seven.

One thing we can be sure of is that Jeffrey will not follow in Coyle's footsteps and go on to enjoy remarkable success as Glentoran manager!

After leaving Linfield, Coyle later went on to win 16 trophies with the Glens and is the most successful manager in the club's history.

But the club is always bigger than any individual – whether that is a manager or player – and bosses will come and go.

"Once you get a managerial job the clock starts ticking until you're history," said Coyle.

Now Director of Football at the Glens, he's still keeping a close eye on the domestic game and he won't subscribe to the view that his and Jeffrey's record can never be beaten.

"You can never be sure of anything in football," he added. "People can say that record won't be broken but how do they know? Records are there to be broken.

"Linfield won seven trophies in the 1961-62 season – the Irish League, Irish Cup, Gold Cup, City Cup, County Antrim Shield, Ulster Cup and North/South Cup – under Isaac McDowell and fans rightly hailed that special achievement.

"People would have said it can't be done again, but under David the Blues did a domestic clean sweep in 2006.

"Nothing startles me or shocks me in football anymore. Some people will soon be saying David who? That's what happens when things change.

"As soon as a manager leaves he's history and that book is closed.

"Success is achieved, but the next trophy is the important one. Great teams and managers come and go, as do records. A lot of managers struggle to achieve success, but myself and David have amassed 62 trophies at Linfield and that's some feat.

"David and the players will now go all out for the 32nd trophy to break my record and I wish them all the best, good luck to them. He has my total respect for everything he has achieved at Windsor Park."

One of the ironies of Jeffrey's time at Linfield coming to an end is the fact the Blues aren't being overshadowed by their old enemy in the east of the city.

The Big Two rivalry has always been intense and Glentoran and Linfield managers have come under added pressure when their counterpart is tasting success.

Irish Cup holders Glentoran have been unable to launch a title assault, but Jeffrey has still fallen on his sword after dwindling support from within Windsor ranks.

"In my last year at Linfield we were beaten seven times by the Glens and that was the straw that broke the camel's back," added Coyle.

"Now it's a different time, but there are always reasons for these things happening and maybe David will explain more in the future. Hopefully the parting of the ways remains dignified.

"It's a hell of a mantle to take on. The new man will be judged on the back of what David has achieved. I'm sure Eric Bowyer (pictured) was judged the same way after I felt Linfield."

Bowyer's managerial spell at Linfield was short – appointed in 1990 he was gone two years later.

Coyle believes Jeffrey now has unfinished business in the Irish League and he expects him to find a new coaching role.

"When you do stop managing of course you miss the game but that feeling wanes over time and the older you get," he added.

"David is still a young man (51) while I'm a pensioner!

"I enjoy being Director of Football at Glentoran as it keeps me involved but I'm finished in the dugout."

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