Club focus: Rathfern Rangers
Rathfern Rangers boss Bill Campbell believes he has learned from his mistakes at Grove United.
Campbell left Grove last year before agreeing to step in at Rathfern at the tail end of last season.
Campbell said: “I'm really enjoying Rathfern so far.
“If I'm being honest, I had a bad experience at Grove, but I learnt a lot from my experience there. I spent 11 years at Carrick Rangers, so moving from the Irish League to the Amateur League was a big change.
“I understand now what I need to do and I'm working on improving things at Rathfern. I've made training a little more professional and I've got the players to bring the ball down and express themselves.
“It's going to take a while, but we are improving all the time. We've received a lot of compliments and plaudits from other managers, so I'm sure we're moving in the right direction.”
Rathfern's results have been mixed so far but Campbell is happy with the start he has made.
“I knew I would be taking over at Rathfern in April so I was able to watch their last four games of the season, which allowed me to make a few plans.
“I've brought in some players from outside the estate and they've all settled in well. We've improved the training and all the players have bought into it. I've had nothing but support from the committee, so it's been a good start to my time here.”
The Rangers suffered Irish Cup heartache last week, when they lost 2-1 to Sirocco Works after conceding a goal in injury time.
Campbell explained: “Our aim was to get to the fourth round and get a game against a Championship side, but unfortunately we lost to Sirocco Works after beating Killyleagh in a previous round.
“Against Sirocco, they took the lead but they spent the majority of the second half hanging on. We pushed hard for the equaliser and scored in the 90th minute.
“I fancied us to win in extra time, but we switched off and they went straight up the field and got the winner. It was a heart breaker, but I can have no complaints as the players gave everything.
“Sirocco Works are third in the table so it proved to me we can compete against the best teams in 1B. Their manager Darren Lockhart complimented us after the game.”
Rathfern were also knocked out of the Intermediate Cup, when they lost to Ards II in a dramatic penalty shoot-out after a 3-3 draw at The Diamond.
“The Ards II game was another heart-breaker. They had an 18-year-old keeper in nets who made a string of great saves. It was disappointing to lose, but it was nice to see young talent in action.
“Ards had four first team players in their team, like Ryan Henderson and Ross Arthurs, so I was pleased that we were able to hold them for so long.”
Campbell is confident that Rathfern Rangers will go from strength to strength over the course of the season. He's hoping to land a top half finish before making a push for promotion next season.
“At the moment we're 10th, but I know we're capable of climbing the table. Promotion isn't impossible but I would be delighted if got a top four finish. If we achieved that, then we would be well-placed for next season. It will take some time for the team to gel and for our style to bed in.
“I'm confident we can do something here but I'm realistic enough to know that you don't always get the reward you deserve in football.”
Club focus with Rathfern Rangers manager Bill Campbell:
Name: Rathfern Rangers
League: NAFL 1B
Ground: The Diamond, Rathcoole
Colours: All Blue
Gaffer: Bill Campbell
Skipper: Stephen Logan
Sharpshooter: David Moore and Gary Orr are both scoring goals
Most Skilful: Richard Marks, who we signed from Kelvin
Hard Man: Willie McMurdie
Club Comedian: Paul Montgomery
Best Moment: Beating Killyleagh in the Irish Cup
Club Man: Ronnie Stockard our second team manager