Table-topping Glentoran take lead from Oval fans
As Glentoran skipped off the Oval pitch on Saturday after a 2-0 win over Coleraine, bellowing from the public address system was ‘Bright Side of the Road’ by east Belfast native Van Morrison.
Prevalent in those lyrics is the line ‘enjoy it while we can’ and that’s certainly how they are looking at things on a very bright Mersey Street at present.
The mood change around the Oval is nothing short of sensational; there is a genuine buzz around the place and the notoriously difficult fans have played their role, helped in no small part by what they are witnessing on the pitch.
Glenmen have got behind the team, willing them on to keep playing the brand of football they were once famous for but had been missing of late.
Just one example of the turnaround arrived in the first half when Andy Waterworth made a burst down the right before firing what was neither a cross nor a shot.
Last season that wasted chance would have been met by a chorus of disapproval from the masses. On Saturday, it was a case of ‘unlucky, Andy. Keep it up, son.’
And it’s clear that the positive vibes emanating from the stands are helping the players to express themselves on the pitch without fear of reprisal.
The Glens were far from brilliant against Coleraine but at times they did produce some scintillating stuff, not least in their two goals, from Daryl Fordyce — a stunning strike for his sixth of the season — and Waterworth.
For the latter, his Glentoran career has yet to really get off the ground but in pre-season and in the very early part of this campaign, Waterworth is beginning to show the type of form which made him one of local football’s hottest properties.
A glut of goals at Lisburn Distillery led to a move to full-time football in Scotland, with Hamilton, but that didn’t really work out and he was back at his first club after just over a season.
Injury problems and inconsistent displays hampered the first two years of his Glens career, but now the striker is playing with a smile on his face and he owes it all to Scott Young and his backroom staff of Pete Batey and Tim McCann.
“It's definitely the happiest I have been since I came back from Scotland,” admitted Waterworth. “I'm coming to training and I'm happy. I haven't always been happy in the past two years but I am now.
“The coaching staff have done everything possible to ensure that and it's up to the players now to pay them back.
“As far as the coaching staff goes, Scotty and the other boys have everything down to a tee. They work so hard and are conscientious that way. In my opinion, it's so much different.
“The key word is a lot of people are happy. I'm coming to training now with a smile on my face it and even if I have a bad game I am still enjoying it. Hopefully that continues, but it's two games, six points, we'll not get too carried away because you know what football is like.”
Young, too, is conscious of the impact the supporters can have on his men.
“The minimum requirement at this football club is that you work your socks off,” he said. “Our fans can be critical and demanding but when you work hard and you do well they will back you to the hilt.”
In the Coleraine camp, boss David Platt should probably have been more disappointed than he was. His side never really threatened and whether he cares to admit it or not, without Rory Patterson and with Darren Boyce coming back from injury, goals will be hard to come by.
“People seem to think that last season was all about Rory (Patterson),” he rapped. “We came here and won the season before last without Rory.
He added: “I can take a lot of positives out of the match. They worked extremely hard for each other and will only get better as the weeks go by.