Banbridge AFC’s quest to claim their first points of the season continues… and so does the positive attitude they hope will help them achieve their target by the end of the campaign.
Back in November, with 11 league games played, the manager of the gutsy Mid Ulster Intermediate B club, Christian Beattie, spoke to The Park of the upbeat mood within the camp, underlying the belief that they could get points on the board. Now, with 19 games under the belt, seven to go, and still without so much as a draw to speak of, they still feel confident they can make an impact of sorts.
Efforts are being made at all levels of the club to make AFC a genuine success story, and as a man with a unique insight into the committee and on the pitch, player / chairman Simon Canning is perfectly placed to confirm that, in spite of the cold hard statistics, things are heading in the right direction.
The defender said: “The league table never lies, but it doesn’t always tell the full story.
“We had a legacy of having players at this club, who maybe didn’t want to put in the work for it. We used to have 6 or 7 turning up to training each week, where now we have 24-plus… the way we train has changed, and we now have a great reserve team coach in Colm Flynn and an experienced Uefa A-Licence coach in Christian Beattie, who has been with the likes of Portadown and Glenavon.
“When I took over as chairman a year and a half ago, we were at rock bottom. And okay, we are still at the bottom of the table, but we have players who want to improve the club, we have managed to stabilise ourselves financially and are in a better position all round than before.”
One of the few things that the management and committee have been unable to legislate for has been the unfortunate litany of injuries faced by the club over the past campaign.
The list has been virtually never-ending: Aaron Monghan (broken foot), Matthew Topley (broken ankle), Neill Brown, (fractured ribs), Paddy Finnegan (torn abdomen), Stephen Budde (anterior ligament damage), Paul Maginess (cruciate ligament), Simon Canning (slipped discs), Chris Maginess (pulled groin), Brendan Donaghy (pulled groin), Rab Winton (hamstring), Gary Spiers (hamstring), Paddy Burns (knee strain).
All of this, combined with the complete lack of self-belief that perpetually follows and grows over a run of straight 19 defeats, has made this a particularly challenging season for the Cheney Park men.
Yet Canning remains positive about the future. He stated: “We have attracted 17-plus new players to the club this season, a number of which are under 21-22 yrs of age. These are players the club can develop over the coming years.
“In my opinion, lack of ability is not AFC’s problem… it’s that lack of self-belief that can lift you when things get tough.
“We have quite a number of technically gifted players and along with the determination and hard work of others like myself, it is only a matter of time until we gel properly and that first league victory does come.
“We do have some tough fixtures coming up, with Newry City and Lurgan Town yet to visit and having to travel to Dungannon Tigers, St Marys, Moneyslane and Seagoe. We can only hope that a result is just around the corner.”
The indications all point towards a much brighter future ahead, and what the table also doesn’t show is that AFC have actually gone ahead in just under half their home games, including Oxford Sunnyside, Ambassadors, Seagoe, Broomhedge and Bourneview.
If they do manage to see a lead through to the full 90 minutes, The Park will be first to bring it to you, in our weekly results section. Click on the link now to see the latest results from the games that survived this weekend’s wintry weather.