Glenn Ferguson won everything as a player and less than a year into his first job as a manager he has written his name into the history book, ending Ballymena United’s 23-year wait for a trophy — but now he has the taste for more.
The former Northern Ireland international striker has dramatically transformed the Sky Blues since taking over from Roy Walker last December but few would have predicted silverware quite so quickly.
Together with his backroom staff, Lee Doherty, Norman Kelly and Wes Lamont, ‘Spike’ has laid the foundations for what he hopes can be a bright future for the Braidmen.
Not only have the current squad showed a dramatic improvement, culminating in Tuesday night’s penalty shoot-out victory over Linfield to claim the County Antrim Shield, he is already hoping to add fresh quality to the playing staff in January.
“I’m hoping there are some good players at other clubs who are either surplus to requirements or maybe their club can’t afford to keep them anymore might think there is an opportunity to come to Ballymena and win trophies,” said Ferguson.
“We want to attract that quality of player and winning this will help.
“If we can do that we will become a better team, and a better club and things will hopefully only get better.
“We won’t get too carried away, though, there is a long road ahead.
“We knew it was going to be hard because the players were at a low ebb and we needed to instil a bit of confidence, discipline and desire which we did last season.
“We targeted silverware this year and we have done that now, but we must push on.”
The celebrations were perhaps made all the more enjoyable given the Sky Blues’ heartbreak during last season’s Irish Cup.
New signing Alan Davidson was the toast of the town after scoring the winner against his former club, Newry City, to claim a semi-final place — until it emerged he wasn’t eligible to play.
They were eventually thrown out of the competition, but he was in the headlines for all the right reasons on Tuesday, scoring the decisive spot-kick to get their hands on the trophy.
“The Irish Cup debacle last year was a downer for everyone but we
had a big objective this year to win a bit of silverware,” said Davidson.
“I’d only arrived at the club; that was my first match and it was a whole big whirlwind.
“We were going to be in the semi-final of the cup and I had scored the winner, then we were in, then out, then in, then out.
“I never questioned the move because of it, though, I knew I was at the right club.
“This one is for the fans though. They have gone 23 years without winning a cup and last year we were the third best supported club in the league.
“It just shows you every week we go out and are supported, no matter what.
“Even when we had those blips, when we were beaten bad by Cliftonville and Linfield, our fans clapped us off the pitch.
“It says a lot about them and means a lot to us as well.
“It would be a different story if you were booed off the pitch and your confidence would be down but they have been so supportive.
“It was nice to give them something back like the County Antrim Shield and, hopefully, this is the beginning of something special.”