Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 1 November 2014

Crusaders family pays tribute to legend Walter McFarland

Heads up: Crusaders' two-goal hero Joshua Robinson contests an aerial tussle with Mallards skipper Mark Stafford

It was a day of sombre reflection at the home of Crusaders even though Stephen Baxter's side masterminded their first Premiership win of the season. Before the 3-1 victory over Ballinamallard United, there was a minute's silence in honour of Crues legend Walter McFarland following the shock news of his passing.

The club's former inspirational skipper was added to the Crusaders Hall of Fame in 2007 and the wider Irish League family know they have lost a true great.

Crues chairman Stephen Bell commented: "Walter was a real gentleman and a wonderful leader for Crusaders. He was guest of honour at the last Player of the Year Awards in April and he loved those events.

"He was a popular character, a much loved player and friend at the club. We extend our sincere condolences to all his friends and his family. He will always be in our thoughts."

On the pitch, Crusaders finally found the winning formula after kicking off the season with two draws. Joshua Robinson goals are like the famous London buses... after a long, frustrating wait two come along at once!

The versatile player's second half double brought his prolific tally up to five in 98 appearances.

Ballinamallard United silenced the Shore Road faithful when Johnny Lafferty powered in a stunning long range opener but Paul Heatley matched it with another exquisite strike before Robinson's rare two-goal salvo.

"It's very important to get that first win," said Robinson.

"It gives that extra boost to the changing room. We are happy with the three points and can go into the next game with confidence.

"With myself coming out of centre-back and going into midfield I felt a little out of position but Stephen (Baxter) gave me a few words at half-time and I was able to push on and get a few goals. I went for it more.

"We want to kick on now. We have Portadown on Saturday which is a big one. They lost against Ballymena United so hopefully we can capitalise on that. It's only the start of the season and the injuries to Leeper (Paul Leeman) and Deccy (Declan Caddell) are a real blow but we have a capable squad. We are just looking to go for European qualification. Anything higher than that is a real bonus."

With Leeman and Caddell sidelined for at least a month, Crues boss Baxter confirmed he was on the hunt for a midfielder and it is understood Cliftonville's Ciaran Caldwell is on his radar.

Whites boss Whitey Anderson said: "Johnny (Lafferty) took his goal well and showed he can play. Him and Anthony (Elding) haven't shown how lethal they can be but it will come. We have a few league games at home now so hopefully we can get our first win on the board and go from strength to strength."

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