Belfast Telegraph

Billy Weir: Rolling on like thunder, I guess that's why Blues are the best

Simply the best: David Healy salutes Linfield’s win over Ballymena United last Friday evening
Simply the best: David Healy salutes Linfield’s win over Ballymena United last Friday evening
One of my positive wee columns

By Billy Weir

Oscar Wilde famously wrote that 'there is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about' so it was nice to hear that Linfield boss David Healy was enquiring about my whereabouts on Friday evening.

Sadly, work commitments meant I couldn't get along to Warden Street to see the Blues all but clinch the title, but if I had been there the first thing I would have done was shake David warmly by the hand and congratulate him.

It seems he may have shaken me a little higher up as somehow I have managed to upset him, which is news to me because, while I am not a cheerleader for the Blues, I have had a quick scan through my wee columns so far this campaign and they are, in the main, hugely positive of Linfield and their players.

I have written pieces on Andy Waterworth, Jordan Stewart and Roy Carroll and lavished much praise on Chris Casement, Joel Cooper and Jimmy Callacher, who I said weeks ago was a shoo-in for Player of the Year.

I make no apologies for saying that my favourite player in the league is Jamie Mulgrew, and back in October, after the first round of fixtures, I said Linfield would win the title. So I was somewhat taken aback that David, just minutes after a crucial win, singled me out for a mention.

"I don't see Billy Weir here - has Billy taken the hump?" he asked.

"I know Billy has fond allegiances for Ballymena, as most people do that are here," he told the assembled press corps at the Showgrounds.

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"But Billy has been more than critical - and I was going to say this to him tonight - of not only myself. I don't mind, I have no feelings, I have zero feelings in terms of stick or whatever else, but maybe in his wee column next week he might actually have a wee bit of praise for Linfield."

Consider it done. If I have been critical then it's a case of opinions being like belly buttons, we all have one, and I am too long in the tooth now to become a lapdog with a laptop.

And let's put things in perspective, if I'd taken the hump after every Ballymena defeat I have experienced I would have more humps than the World Camel Championships.

But as David rightly points out it's not about me or him, it's about the players, and as I pointed out a few weeks ago the harder Linfield have worked the luckier they have got, to paraphrase another saying.

"My players deserve credit. I read a lot, and I hear a lot, about other clubs doing this and doing that. We have the best team in the league this season in my eyes," he said on Friday.

And he is spot on. To concede only 21 goals in 34 league games thus far is just ridiculous, and achieved without much input from the likes of Mark Haughey, Mark Stafford, Ryan McGivern and Carroll's season cruelly brought to an end through injury.

A special mention must go to Gareth Deane, who has deputised with such aplomb between the posts that Carroll hasn't really been missed and very few would have thought that possible.

There are other more unsung heroes, the likes of Niall Quinn, Kirk Millar and Matthew Clarke, Josh Robinson has been a revelation, while Michael O'Connor and Daniel Kearns have both popped up when needed.

And now Linfield need just a point to secure the Gibson Cup, and Healy also did some great business this week by getting Waterworth to pen a new two-year deal and also securing Stafford's services for another year.

The first chance to get that point is when reigning champions Crusaders come to Windsor Park on Saturday and it would be hugely sweet for the Blues to win it then.

And all the more so in the season when Crusaders took the bold step of going further along the route to full-time football.

The Co Antrim Shield is in the bag and they are hot favourites to win the Tennent's Irish Cup with the final against Ballinamallard United to come, but, in all honesty, that will probably still feel like failure to many at the club.

The league is what they want most, like Linfield, and while Stephen Baxter picked up his BEM in midweek, there is probably a tiny part of him that would swap it for another league winner's medal.

Despite winning the League Cup and with more than one hand on the Gibson Cup, the Crues' transformation, the arrival of Larne and the revolution under way across the city at Glentoran has a few Blues fans twitching uneasily.

The biggest club in the land, they argue, should be making bigger strides to follow suit and that is probably the next step they will have to take and in Healy they have just the man for the job.

I couldn't hand on heart say they are the prettiest or silkiest team to ever wear the blue shirt, but the stats don't lie and Linfield have been the best team this season, Callacher the best player and Healy the best manager - there, my wee column is at an end for another week.

As another Oscar might have said, let's not get grouchy anymore.

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