Thistle end on a jagged note in Mid-Ulster
Published 09/08/2007 | 09:42
Banbridge Thistle have withdrawn from the Mid-Ulster League following a dispute with the body over the team's position in that league.
According to Banbridge Town secretary Graham Topping, Thistle have been part and parcel of Town FC for the last six years and have been treated "in an insulting and discriminatory fashion" compared to Coagh and Annagh United.
The dispute has its origins in the changes within intermediate foootball this season over central registration, one-player one-club and the fact that from August 2008, no club will be allowed to have two teams playing in intermediate leagues.
Coagh Swifts and , Annagh FC, are the reserve teams of the clubs playing in the Irish League First and Second Divisions and were happy to drop out of the Mid-Ulster intermediate grade into the junior Division One.
Thistle on the otherhand, who won promotion to the Intermediate Division A this season and could have stayed in that league for at least one more season even as Town's reserves, were viewed by league officials as a separate club from Banbridge Town.
League secretary Paul Suckling said, "The two teams may have shared players but were never seen by us as the one club. We were never told of any formal amalgamation and Thistle's place in the intermediate division was not affected.
"Banbridge Town wanted to put a reserve side into the league but were seen as wanting to start a new team and could have been asked to start in Divison Four. We offered them Division Two which they refused.
"We did not hear anything from Town until July 11 and by that time, Thistle were still in the intermediate 'A' Division
"It appears Banbridge Town were involved in trying to get a new reserve league off the ground within the IFA but that failed.
"It was late in the day and we had already got 16 teams in Divison One and did not want to have 17 in view of fixture problems.
"We are sorry to lose Thistle as they were a credit to the league and maybe they will come back next season," continued the secretary.
Town did not appeal the decision to demote Thistle and Topping added, "There was no point because good people had decided they had had enough and walked away, leaving no one to look after the team.
"Thistle were Banbridge Town Reserves and we have been treated unfairly, leaving us now with no back up team for the First Division side.
"And that will mean having to have a look at the number of players signed as we will not be able to accommodate them all.