Belfast Telegraph

Walker can lift Glentoran: Jamison

By Graham Luney

Glentoran legend Johnny Jamison believes Roy Walker could be the man to revive the club’s fortunes.

The Glens are staring down the barrel of a trophyless season — with qualification for European football a rapidly fading dream — and they are currently without a manager and searching for a new home.

Interviews for the new manager’s job will get under way next week and former Oval favourite Jamison is praying the club make the right call.

For the second time the east Belfast giants could turn to Walker who guided Crusaders to two league titles in the 1990s.

The former Glenavon and Ballymena United manager was briefly appointed Glens boss in 2007 but had to step down as he didn't have a Uefa Licence at that time.

A boyhood Glens fan, he has re-applied for the position following the resignation of Scott Young, but he faces competition from the likes of Eddie Patterson and Pat McGibbon. Jamison, who lives off the Holywood Road, doesn’t attend many Glentoran games, but he got a shock the last time he ventured into the Oval.

His friend and former team-mate Peter Dickinson was visiting from Spain so the 66-year-old brought him back to the scene of so many golden memories.

The emotions were very different on January 14 this year when Amateur League side Newington YC pulled off one of the biggest shocks in Irish Cup history by beating the Glens 1-0 at the Oval.

For Jamison, who scored 134 goals in 412 appearances for the Glens and won two league titles and one Irish Cup with the club in the 1970s, this was no happy homecoming.

As he watched a disconsolate Scott Young trudge off the pitch at the final whistle he wondered, as another famous footballing son of east-Belfast might have said, where did it all go wrong?

“Peter lives in Spain and unfortunately the match I decided to take him to was that Irish Cup tie,” said Jamison who won one Northern Ireland cap.

“Even after Newington scored I thought the Glens would move up a gear. I felt very sorry for Scott Young. He took a lot of abuse from the fans and for that reason I never thought the dugouts should be on the other side of the ground. It was a long walk for him and we then found out his health was suffering.

“I hope Scott comes back some day and will be a manager again, but the fans had lost faith. I think when I was a player fans were a bit more patient but there seems to be few chances for managers now. If you go on a bad run you can be fin

ished. It really is sad to see the club struggle in this way. There needs to be a fresh look at things and perhaps Roy Walker can do that and make the necessary changes.

“I doubt the club would have the money to bring someone like David McCreery in, but it’s clear drastic changes are needed and they may give Roy a chance because he’s always been a big fan of the club and he was a great success at Crusaders.”

Glentoran could do with a few players of the ilk of Jamison, Jim Cleary and Billy Caskey.

Jamison, who coaches kids at Avoniel and Olympia Leisure Centres in his work for Belfast City Council, once scored a hat-trick against Linfield in a City Cup final at Windsor Park. The former midfield maestro is relieved to see the Glens remain in business after a mystery benefactor stopped them from sinking into administration and he’s clinging to hope.

“I listen to the fans telling me how disappointed they are, but things come in cycles in football and clubs have good and rough times,” he added. “Glentoran will be back challenging for trophies again. The Irish League needs a strong Linfield and Glentoran.”

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Stewart Greacen has rejoined Derry City in a two-year deal after a brief spell with Glentoran and the Candystripes have also handed former Portadown winger Owen Morrison a one-year contract.

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