Belfast Telegraph

UK Website Of The Year

Glentoran show that they are still alive and kicking

By Graham Luney

Published 23/10/2015

Pat McGibbon
Pat McGibbon

Glentoran legends Billy Caskey and Mark Glendinning have warned anyone looking to speculate on the demise of one of the Irish League's Big Two to think again.

The Glens are looking for a new manager after sacking Eddie Patterson last Saturday and it's a huge moment in the club's history as the east Belfast side looks to implement a plan which will see it challenge for league titles again.

Glentoran's last championship triumph was in 2009 - their 23rd - and two Irish Cup wins in three seasons under Patterson wasn't enough to keep the former Cliftonville boss in the hotseat.

The Irish League landscape has changed a lot since Caskey and Glendinning were stamping their class at The Oval.

Tales of a wealthy benefactor, cash-flow problems, the frustrating search for a new stadium and quality players have emerged from Mersey Street.

But the Glens are determined to see young players progress through their academy and they hope a new manager will help blow the dust off this Irish League diamond.

Despite all the tough times, the club not only remains determined to stay in business but to be the cream of what the Irish League has to offer again.

Caskey, winner of two league titles and four Irish Cups during his two spells at the Glens in the late 1970s and 1980s, says the club needs to return to its east Belfast roots to roar again.

Read more:

Glentoran fans must get real says ex-boss Scott Young

Welders' boss Gary Smyth is 'not ready' for Glentoran hotseat

Eddie Patterson: I'm hurt as I could have turned tide at Glentoran  

"It's been a long time since the Glens won the league and Paul Leeman, who was the last skipper to lift the Gibson Cup, is someone who is passionate about the club and it's people like that Glentoran need to get going again," said former Northern Ireland international Caskey who scored 110 goals in 440 appearances for the Glens.

"The club should rediscover its east Belfast heart and appoint someone who lives and breathes the club - like Leeper.

"Of course, having access to finances helps and we want the Glens to move to a new stadium as well.

"While other grounds are getting an upgrade including Windsor Park, The Oval is in a dilapidated state and a new venue would be fantastic for the supporters.

"I know the club has fallen away a bit and attendances have dropped a little, but a lack of success does that.

"I've always had the club in my heart and I want them to do well because I had many great years there. It was an absolute joy playing alongside guys like Jim Cleary, Barney Bowers, Raymond Morrison and Terry Moore in the 1980s.

"As for coaching, I never had the patience to do coaching badges."

Former left-back Glendinning lifted the Irish Cup with the Glens, Glenavon and Bangor and was part of Glentoran's 2005 title winning side.

"I know Gary Smyth turned down the opportunity but guys like him, Paul Leeman and Colin Nixon know what the club is all about and they are proud Glenmen," said Glendinning.

"Gary possibly wanted to bring his own staff with him and it wasn't an arrangement that suited him.

"Pat McGibbon is an absolute gentleman, has all the badges, played for the club and has plenty of experience from his time across the water, starting out at Manchester United.

"There's still a lot of talent at the club and Eddie (Patterson) deserves huge credit for the two Irish Cup wins which were a great achievement.

"The club will move forward and it's a league in which all the teams are capable of beating each other, so with a lot of people working hard behind the scenes, I'm sure they can taste success again.

"The club hasn't been afraid to give young players a chance and I respect that approach, as I was thrown into action when I was 16 and up against grown men but it was great experience.

"If you're good enough, you're old enough.

"The Irish League needs a strong Linfield and Glentoran and the Glens can get back to the top with the right man in charge and the right players coming in."

Belfast Telegraph

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting?

Read More

From Belfast Telegraph