McFall hopes for happy ending
Ronnie McFall is facing up to his last Boxing Day stand in today's mid-Ulster derby at Mourneview. The Portadown boss, one of the big Irish League personalities of the past three decades, is adamant he will be making a clean break when he steps down at the end of this season.
It had been thought McFall might take up a director of football or consultancy role.
But in an article in today's Glenavon programme, he confirms: "I always said when I finished with Portadown, I'd be finished with football, and I'm holding to that. It will be a complete break."
When McFall walks off into the sunset he will look back fondly on his three Iirsh Cup wins and four league championship triumphs with the Ports.
But his toughest task in the modern era has been keeping the Shamrock Park faithful happy as their last Irish Cup victory was 10 years ago and the 2002 title triumph is a fading memory.
European football's longest-serving manager has come under pressure this season after poor results and despite his legendary status at the club was even booed by a section of fans.
Those long-suffering supporters are badly in need of some festive cheer and this is McFall's last chance to fulfil their wish.
The club, despite hearing the discontent in the stands, have stood by the former Glentoran manager and recognise the importance of him leaving the post in a dignified manner.
McFall's passion for the game may have been tested in recent months but it remains strong and he still hopes to steer the club to one more Irish Cup and European qualification.
Around 50 years of Boxing Day action as a player or manager is about to come to an end but McFall's only focus will be saying goodbye to the festive wrestling match with Glenavon on a winning note.
"Maybe getting closer to the time, I will start wondering what I'm going to do with the time I've spent on football down the years," added McFall.
"I expect I'll still go to matches. Many good friendships have grown out of club rivalries down the years and there's nowhere I wouldn't feel welcome. People have been particularly good to me at Mourneview."
Pat McGibbon, the club's physio, and Linfield's legendary boss David Jeffrey are in the running to succeed McFall.