The success or failure of Sunday football cannot be judged on one game alone but, certainly as far as yesterday was concerned, the experiment proved worthwhile for Newry City.
By no means were The Showgrounds packed to the rafters, but a nevertheless healthy attendance turned out to cast an eye over proceedings and, if entertainment was their craving, there’s every reason they’ll be back for more as both sides produced an enthralling contest in at times miserable weather conditions.
City boss Gerry Flynn is hopeful that yesterday’s would not be the last Sunday fixture of his tenure at the club.
“I watched the first-half from the stand and there seemed to be a pretty decent crowd in there,” he said.
“It’s hard to judge when you’re in among it but, from what I could tell, numbers were up from our normal Saturday games against Cliftonville, who brought a good crowd down themselves.
“Obviously it’s something we need to monitor over a longer period of time but, on the basis of our first experience, it’s certainly an option we’ll look to explore again in the future and we’ll offer the opportunity to a few other clubs and see where we go from there.”
The big test will, of course, come when a Carling Premiership fixture goes up against live televised football, of which there was none yesterday.
Indeed, with the top flights of the English game given the week off for the international break, there is every chance that yesterday’s game could have been played on Saturday as normal and attracted the same attendance.
What can be taken from the occasion, however, is that the Sunday switch had no negative impact on numbers through the turnstiles and Newry will no doubt bear that in mind when it comes to future planning.
Cliftonville boss Eddie Patterson, meanwhile, was pleased with the backing his team received from the terraces.
“Our supporters have been fantastic,” he said.
“We’ve spoken quite a lot about the amount of travelling the team have had to do over the last couple of weeks, but we shouldn’t forget that our fans have also been to Cork, Institute and Newry — paying for trains, buses, hotels and tickets — all within the space of eight days and deserve great credit.”