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Legends Jeanette Gordon and Alison Thompson leading Portadown survival bid

By John Flack

It's often said that there is no substitute for playing and Jeanette Gordon and Alison Thompson, who have taken over the coaching reins at Portadown, would certainly vouch for that.

The two former Ireland stars, who played at the World Cup in Dublin in 1994, have both stepped into the breach after Jane McKimm decided to take time out due to work and family commitments.

Both played for the Ports in their glory days when they won every trophy on offer and excelled in Europe, although Gordon also had a spell at Pegasus before returning to Edenvilla.

Gordon, formerly Turner, captained Ireland at the 1994 World Cup while Thompson (Vance) was understudy to first choice goalkeeper Sandra O'Gorman.

The two women still enjoy the occasional run-out with the club and at veterans level when coaching commitments permit.

Both are also heavily involved with the club's youth section while Thompson also helps out with coaching the goalkeepers.

Thompson said: "I played a few games for the firsts at the start of the season when we were stuck and Jeanette has also played once or twice for the lower teams.

"But our main focus is coaching the kids at the club and, of course, the first XI now that Jane has decided to take a break after a decade of dedication.

"To be honest, I don't enjoy coaching at Premier League level as you have so little control of what goes on once the players cross the white line and Jeanette would agree.

"That makes it really frustrating at times and it's obviously completely different from playing when at least you can have some influence on the game."

Portadown have struggled in recent years and only avoided successive relegations from the top flight last season due to a restructuring of the leagues after bouncing straight back from Senior One two seasons ago.

This season, they have at least had a few positive results but Thompson is adamant that she and her former international team-mate have only one objective in their sights.

"Survival is the name of the game this season and we are under no illusions as to how hard that is going to be, especially as Armagh's results have picked up," she added. "We lost seven players from last season and they were all first choice, so obviously that has made life difficult for us."

The Ports travel to Ballymoney on Saturday while it's first against third in the table on Friday night at Deramore where leaders Harlequins face Queen's.

Lurgan travel to North Down, Armagh host Lisnagarvey and Dungannon entertain Ulster Shield winners Randalstown in Saturday's other games.

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