Marc Robinson has enjoyed an eventful summer. Not only has he guided NAFL Premier Division new boys Derriaghy through pre-season, but the experienced goalkeeper also kept Warren Feeney's Linfield at bay.
In July, goalkeeper Robinson received an unlikely phone call from his old friend Brian Adair. The Loughgall manager found himself without a goalkeeper going into the club's gala friendly with Linfield.
Robinson explained: “I spent 13 years at Loughgall and the club mean an awful lot to me. When Brian Adair contacted me and said he was stuck for a goalkeeper, I was happy to help out. However he didn't tell me we'd be playing Linfield.
“Fortunately I probably had the game of my life, and we just lost 2-1 with the winning goal coming late in the game. It's was brilliant fun but it was just a one off, as I didn't want to see my old club stuck.
“I got all sorts of phone calls and texts from people asking me if I'd signed for Loughgall again, but I'm fully focused on Derriaghy.
“As much as I enjoyed my time at Loughgall, I'm enjoying Derriaghy just as much. I can't wait for the new season.”
Last season, Robinson's Derriaghy side gained promotion from 1A of the Amateur League. Now the player-manager is plotting the Cricket Club's assault on the Premier Division.
“Pre-season as gone quite well. Believe it or not, it is my first pre-season as a manager so it's all new to me. Last year I joined as manager just a few days before the season started, so I didn't get the full pre-season experience.
“The problem is I'm still playing, so I've got to find the balance between managing the guys and getting myself up to scratch.
“It's difficult as I've been focusing on getting the rest of the lads prepared for pre-season and I'm not sure I'm up to scratch yet myself. It's a good thing I'm the goalkeeper.”
Unfortunately not everything has gone to plan for Robinson. Former Glenavon and Bangor striker Marty Verner will miss the opening few weeks of the season due to a nasty arm injury.
“I brought Marty to the club in January and he has been absolutely fantastic for us, but unfortunately he broke his arm during pre-season. That means he is going to miss the first couple of months of the season.
“It's a massive blow for us but he will still be hanging around the club, which is important because he's great influence on our younger players. He's a good person to have round the club.”
Despite winning promotion Robinson has brought a number of new faces to Seycon Park. The Lisburn man is trying to put a squad together that will keep Derriaghy in the top division.
“I don't think it matters whether you've just been relegated or you've just been promoted, you still need to bring in a few new faces to spruce things up. We've brought in a handful of new players and they're shaping up very well. If I'm being honest I'd have perhaps liked to sign a couple more.
“But for me this season is all about stability. Some people will think because did so well last year that we can just carry that on into this season, but the reality is this a step up in standard.
“Our plan is to avoid relegation so we can establish ourselves as a Premier team for years to come. This is our first season in the top division, after all.”
Name: Derriaghy Cricket Club FC
Division: NAFL Premier Division
Ground: Seycon Park, Derriaghy
Colours: Yellow and Blue
Manager: Marc Robinson