Ards continue campaign for new home as boss Currie keeps promotion focus
Another new season, seemingly without the prospect of a new home any closer, and yet the determination, ambition and drive at Ards FC is as strong as ever. Supporters and committee members alike can thank manager Niall Currie for his part in that.
Unwavering after narrowly missing out on the club’s promotion target in the previous campaign, Ards started their latest title challenge last weekend as they mean to go on, with a comfortable 5-2 victory, following up with a 3-2 away win over Donegal Celtic on Saturday.
And yet, former Loughgall gaffer Currie wasn’t fully satisfied with the manner in which his side captured the all-important three points from the opening weekend.
“A win is a win,” he shrugged. “We played fantastically for the first 20 or 25 minutes, but I am always wanting more.
“We have to build on the result and appreciate that we got the result we want. But there is always room for improvement.”
For this club, the main objective must be to go literally one (or two) better than last season’s third place finish, to give themselves a chance of automatic promotion by winning the league or via the promotion play-off place awarded to the Championship One runners-up.
It’s a tough ask, and Currie feels that the club have a lot of work on their hands to make up the financial deficit on many of their rivals. Yet he remains typically buoyant about his team’s chances to get the job done.
He said: “A lot of people seem to forget just how difficult this league is. We are not one of the big spenders, and we lost out on five or six players, but I am confident that we are in a position to be up there challenging. That’s the expectation every season, and it’s no different this year.”
Despite missing out on several key summer transfer targets, Currie was successful in attracting a number of top signatures to the club. The arrival of Ryan Brown (Cliftonville), Kyle Buckley (Ballyclare Comrades), Mark Stewart (Loughgall), Emmett Templeton (Donegal Celtic), Gary Dorrian (Immaculata), Joe McDonnell (Lisburn Distillery), Jordan Baker (Derriaghy CC) and Ben Brown (Lisburn Distillery) will give a new look to the first team squad, yet, once again, Currie is hoping for more.
He said: “I think we could still do with bringing in another one or two to add depth. The likes of Bangor have 22 or 24 players, but we only have 17 at the minute.”
Looking back on why his team ultimately fell short of their goal last season, the Ards boss has a clear outlook when it comes to assessing what they can do better this time around.
“It’s very simple - we had too many draws,” he stated. “We beat all the top teams, but dropped points against teams we should have been winning against.
“We could feel a bit aggrieved about that, but the fact is we only lost two league games all season. There can be no regrets.”
The one thing that is carrying plenty of regret among all connected with Ards is the fact that the concept of them having their own home remains just that - a concept. After ground-sharing with Cliftonville, Carrick Rangers, Ballyclare Comrades and currently with rivals Bangor, not to mention the continuing ‘Bring Ards FC Home’ campaign, it seems we could still be years away from a resolution to the club’s lack of a home ground within their home town.
The club suffered further heartbreak when the offer of a lease on council-owned land was withdrawn at a meeting of Ards Borough Council on January 28, this year.
This has not stopped the club’s supporters and committee from plugging away with their efforts to raise the funds needed to turn their dream into a reality.