Club focus: 1st Bangor
Everybody knows about the team from Newtowards who play in Bangor, but what about the team from Bangor who play in Newtownards?
Despite their name, 1 Bangor of the Amateur League ply their trade at The Drome on the Portaferry Road. The club crossed the carriageway many years ago, and they've played their football in Newtownards ever since.
While people often comment on the matter, manager Mark Knell isn't concerned about it. He is focused on making 1 Bangor a progressive club.
“It's funny. I used to always think of 1 Bangor as a Bangor club who just play in Ards.
“Now I'd say we're neither an Ards club or a Bangor club. We've got guys from Bangor, Ards, Dundonald and Belfast in our squad.
“It doesn't really matter, it's more important that we've got lads who play for the shirt and stay loyal to the club. We didn't have that for a long time, but I think we've managed to change that.”
When Mark Knell took the reigns at 1st Bangor in 2010 he was handed the unenviable task of turning the club around. Reflecting on his tenure, the former Comber Rec man is happy with what he has achieved.
“I've been at the club for exactly four years. At times it feels like 40," he said.
“In that time a lot has changed. The club was on the slide for a long time. They went from challenging in the Premier section to playing in 1C. I think they suffered three relegations in a row.
“It's tough to stop a slide like that. Last year we got promotion out of 1C and I think we've been constantly improving.
“I'd like to think we can move up to 1A, but nowadays it's very difficult to get into the Premier. There are so many top Belfast clubs coming through the ranks, it's much more difficult than it used to be.”
1 Bangor will finish the season in the top half of 1B, but Knell believes they could have claimed promotion.
“It's been a good season in many respects, because we've come up from 1C and competed at the right end of the table, but at the same time we could have done more.
“We were docked three points for fielding an ineligible and we conceded late equalisers on three separate occasions. Those nine points would probably have given us the league title.
“Craig McCracken's injury was a big blow for us. He scored 26 goals for us in the second half of last season. If he'd even managed to score 10 in the second half of this season that would have been enough for promotion.
“We also only had Stuart Beattie for six months as he started the season with the Welders. If we had a more consistent line-up, we could have done more. That said, I'm sure every team will tell you the same.”
Knell is now fully focused on delivery promotion next season. He is confident a few new signings could make all the difference.
“I'm already working on new players for next season, but the most important thing for any manager at this level is to make sure you hold onto the players you've got.
“We've got some great players at our club and it's important that we keep them together. For along time players weren't showing any loyalty to the club. I think we've managed to change that.
“I've got a few irons in the fire for next season. If we can add some new faces and keep the ones we've got, we can compete for promotion next year.”
Name : 1 Bangor
League : NAFL 1B
Founded : 1967
Ground : The Drome
Colours : Black and White
Gaffer : Mark Knell
Skipper : Martin Robinson
Sharpshooter : Craig McCracken or Diarmuid McPhillips
Most Skilful : Ryan Oliver
Hard Man : Stuart Beattie
Club Comedian : Dean Gordon
Best Moment: Winning Promotion from 1C
Club Man : Ken Mullan does everything
Belfast Telegraph Digital