Belfast Telegraph

Jenkins craving more after toasting 250th game for Sky Blues

By Graham Luney

Allan Jenkins has spoken of his pride at making 250 appearances for Ballymena United and he's not worried about that special chapter in his career coming to a close.

The former Sky Blues skipper hit the remarkable milestone in the 4-1 win at home to Cliftonville on Tuesday, lifting him up to 22nd on the club's all-time appearance list.

The empathic win was a fitting tribute to the midfielder, who has gone the extra mile for the Braidmen by travelling over from his Scottish home on a weekly basis to sweat for the cause.

Stranraer man Jenkins will be 36 in October and with his contract expiring at the end of the season it's possible that the curtain could be about to come down on his Sky Blues career.

But the former Stranraer, Gretna and Greenock Morton ace is not ready to hang up the boots, and reaching the 250 mark for United is an achievement that leaves him bursting with pride.

"It's a great milestone to hit and I'm pleased it was a game to remember for the right reasons as we got the win," said Jenkins.

"I think I've surprised myself and when I reflect on my career I've been with Ballymena United for six seasons and that's a good record when you consider it's around 40 games a campaign. I must have had one or two good games along the way to stay part of it all.

"Coming over from Scotland into a new environment and league, it was a step into the unknown, but I could never have imagined it would have lasted this long and to be 22nd on the club's all-time appearance list is very flattering, especially when you consider the players that have come and gone over the years.

"I can remember my first appearance, a 4-1 win at Lisburn Distillery in the first game of the season. We were fairly comfortable and in our next match we were 3-0 up after about 20 minutes at home to Glenavon. I must have been thinking this Irish League business is easy but that game finished 3-3 so I changed my mind pretty quickly.

"The club, from the fans to management and board, have been absolutely exceptional with me and I've been part of the family for six years. You might say 'here's to the next 250' but I'll not be getting carried away! There's been some big games along the way and I've been fortunate to lead the team out in big cup finals. Regarding my future, I want to keep on playing and if not with Ballymena United with another club.

"There are more important things than where my future lies in the game. What will never change is the great affection I have for the club and the memories. The older I am the more appreciative I am of everything the game has given me."

Jenkins and his team-mates still have a chance to leapfrog Cliftonville in the table and finish fourth so they will be highly motivated to get the win over Crusaders this weekend that could hand Linfield the chance to clinch the title.

"There's no better team to beat than the champions," he added. "If results go in Crusaders' favour they could win the league and I've been part of a Greenock Morton team when Dunfermline beat us at our own ground to win the league and it's not a nice experience. It's a massive test for us but we will relish it."

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