‘We can be champions’ is Tim Mouncey’s message to Portadown fans as they prepare to show the Carling Premiership what it was missing last season.
The Ports are back among the big boys after their failure to lodge the application for last season’s kick-off of the new 12-team league structure in time resulted in it not being accepted and that meant having to fight their way back on the pitch.
While a number of players backed out of deals with Ports boss Ronnie McFall when they were sent to the Championship a year ago, Mouncey was happy to swap life at double-winning Linfield for intermediate football.
It was a long-term move for the talented midfielder, who at the time set his targets as winning the Championship and then ending up as the top team in the country 12 months later.
Getting promoted at the first time of asking was the easy part for the Ports, to take the title ahead of Glentoran and Linfield is a different prospect altogether, but not one that Mouncey is about to rule out.
“I’d won everything at Linfield and I saw moving to Portadown as a new challenge,” he said, ahead of a return to old club Crusaders this afternoon.
“I wanted to help them get back into the Premier League and then try to win it.
“I definitely think it’s a realistic goal to have, because I don’t see anything in Glentoran or Linfield that we should fear.
“We’ve strengthened the squad with Neil Teggart coming in from Ballymena United, who has looked good so far and everyone knows how good a player Darren Kelly is. As well as that the young players are a year more experienced after playing in the Championship.
“We also bonded as a team during the season in the Championship, the squad grew closer together and that always helps when you want to bring success to the club.”
The Ports will know that they are back in with the big boys straight away, with three tough games straight off the bat.
After today’s trip to Seaview to take on last season’s Irish Cup winners they welcome defending champions Glentoran to Shamrock Park next Saturday — and there is rarely a dull game when those two teams meet.
That is followed by a derby clash with Glenavon, some 16 months after they last met.
“The first three games will be a good judge of every team,” said Mouncey.
“We just want to get as many points as we can early on.”