Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

McCann's ambitious five-year plan for Lisburn Distillery ditched at the end of calamitous first season

Tim McCann said he gave his all for Lisburn Distillery

Former Cliftonville and Glentoran hero Tim McCann says he wanted to stay FIVE years as manager of Lisburn Distillery and build something special at the club.

Instead he was forced out without completing a full season in charge of the Whites, following their relegation from the Irish Premiership in midweek.

McCann arrived at Ballyskeagh full of ambition and hope.

He brought with him a winning mentality gained as a hugely successful player with the Reds and Glens, but unfortunately for him losses – 25 from 36 league outings – as the boss were all too commonplace, leading to him losing a job he relished.

"When I took the job people kept saying to me 'are you mad?' and I would ask why because I saw Distillery as a great club," stated McCann.

"They'd reply that Distillery had just got rid of their best seven players and the budget had been cut drastically, but I didn't think about it like that.

"I wanted the job because I had a genuine feeling for the club. I had hoped to stay there for five years and build Distillery up into something special. There were a lot of young players there and I wanted to develop them.

"I can honestly say I enjoyed 90% of the job. It was tough, but I liked going to training, working on tactics and standing on the touchline. It's the next best thing to playing," said McCann, who made history as a winger in the late 90s winning back to back titles with Cliftonville and Glentoran before later in his career coaching under Scott Young at the Oval.

"Being used to winning as a player, to lose as much as I did at Distillery, it was hard," he added.

"Scott Young advised me not to take the job home with me but it's difficult not to when you care about it so much.

"My wife was worrying in case I had a heart attack on the sidelines because I was so wrapped up it, but that's just the way I am."

Had some of his players shown the same passion, perhaps Distillery would have stayed up.

"Players now are a different breed to when I was playing," said McCann.

"For instance you can't shout at players now. I found out very quickly if I was having a pop at certain players they would go into their shell.

"When I worked under Marty Quinn at Cliftonville and Roy Coyle at Glentoran that was part and parcel of the game and you wanted to go out there and prove how good you were there.

"From the first training session at Distillery I tried to instill a winning mentality and said to the players that even if they lose a five-a-side game they should be hurting.

"At the Glens and Cliftonville we would kick lumps out of each other in practice games to win. It may sound a bit crazy but if you have that mentality in training you will take it on to the pitch.

"Nowadays players are too interested in wearing their pink and orange boots and how spiky their hair is and players won't play because they have a sore toe!"

McCann felt the board at Distillery could have done more too.

"Apparently some board members were telling people from Christmas that we were going to get relegated, so I feel as though I never really had a chance," he said.

"It didn't help that our chairman Jim Greer said publicly a few months ago that relegation could mean the club going amateur. Also we could only train one time a week because there were no training facilities and at times I was booking and paying for training myself and then trying to claim it back from the club.

"To me that's ludicrous. At times I was beating my head against a brick wall not getting support," said McCann, who intends to finishing his coaching badges and return to management with another club in the future.

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