Belfast Telegraph

Pat McGibbon starts Portadown reign with club's future on line

By Stuart McKinley

Pat McGibbon has labelled his first match in official charge of Portadown and just as important as when the club was chasing league title success.

The Ports have made the move to hand McGibbon the manager's job ahead of tomorrow's crunch Danske Bank Premiership game away to Ballymena United, after spending two months as caretaker boss.

The Shamrock Park side need a point to guarantee top-flight survival. Defeat could put them into a promotion/relegation play-off, depending on other results.

Before that, however, the club is also waiting to hear the outcome of their appeal against a £10,000 fine and a ban on signing professional players until the end of next season, which is due to be announced today.

The punishments were imposed after the Ports were deemed to have brought the game into disrepute by the Irish FA's Disciplinary Committee for making undisclosed payments to players.

McGibbon stepped in on a caretaker basis after Ronnie McFall ended his 29-year reign following the Ports' shock Irish Cup quarter-final defeat to Lurgan Celtic in March.

"Taking over from Ronnie was never an issue for me. He had his way of doing things and I have my way," said McGibbon.

"In the circumstances the club finds itself in I have found myself having to fight fires pretty much from day one.

"I would have loved to have spent more time working on the football side of things, but that is why I brought in Vinny Arkins and Trevor Williamson alongside me.

"We now have a big, big game on Saturday that for the club is hugely important.

"I was around as a youngster during the early 1990s when the club had its most successful period and although its difficult to compare the two, I don't think this game is any less important."

McGibbon joined the Ports as a teenager, but played just once in the first team before getting his big move to Manchester United.

He also made just a single first-team appearance at Old Trafford, spending the majority of his time in England with Wigan Athletic.

He returned to Shamrock Park in 2002, spending two seasons at the club before moving to Glentoran, where he won the league in 2005.

Forty-two-year-old McGibbon also won seven caps for Northern Ireland.

A club statement read: "Portadown FC can confirm that Pat McGibbon has been internally appointed to the post of manager on a two-year contract.

"Pat recently took over the position in a caretaker capacity, in what was a very difficult position for the club. The Board have been very impressed with Pat's approach in the managers role and feel that Pat and his current backroom team are best placed to rebuild the playing squad and bring the club forward.

"The Board are pleased to confirm that Pat will continue to be assisted by Vinny Arkins and Trevor Williamson."

Arkins is a huge fan favourite at Shamrock Park, having made over 400 appearances, scoring almost 250 goals between 1998 and 2006.

Knockbreda: McKay; King, Ferguson, Owens, Cockcroft; McMaster, McCain, Johnson, Hanna; Halliday Wilson.

Subs: Burns, Gibson, Hughes, Johnston, Templeton.

Ards: Brown; Hall, Gage, Convery, Lambe; McCullough, Arthurs, Dorrian; Baker, O'Neill, McComb.

Subs: G.Browne, Boyd, D.McAllister, B. Browne, Cully.

Referee: Paul Burns.





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