Belfast Telegraph

Players failed Ronnie and DJ faces big task

By Scott Young

Saturday was a desperately sad day for Irish League football.

Love him or loathe him, Ronnie McFall was a big personality and a strong character in the local game and his resignation isn't just a big blow for Portadown, it's a big blow for the league as well.

The events which brought about his resignation after 29 years in charge at Shamrock Park brought back some horrible memories for me. I left Glentoran in similar circumstances, after an Irish Cup defeat to Newington.

It wasn't just that one game which led to Ronnie stepping down though. When I look at Portadown this season the players have been a disgrace.

They should be good enough to go out and beat Lurgan Celtic and get to an Irish Cup semi-final - something for the players and the fans to look forward to after a difficult season.

Football isn't like that though and if you don't have the right attitude then days like last Saturday happen.

And there is nothing that Ronnie can do when a player like Mark McAllister takes things into his own hands and hits an opponent off the ball. He can't legislate for that, but has to deal with the fallout from it.

I listened to Darren Murphy on the radio and he really let rip. He said that Lurgan Celtic did the basics better than Portadown, they wanted it more, their attitudes were better and they were up for it.

At Portadown there are too many players with attitudes that stink and ultimately that has led to a proud man, who let's remember built that club from the bottom and brought unprecedented success, deciding that he couldn't continue in those circumstances and calling it a day.

It is such a sad end to an amazing career in management which has been recognised by the monarchy.

MBEs don't get handed out to just anyone.

When I first came over here I didn't know Ronnie. I was a Glentoran player and he was Portadown manager. The matches between the two teams were always fiercely contested and I called him all the so-and-sos under the sun on a few occasions.

When I got to know him later on - after we became rivals on the touchline - I found him to be a genuinely great guy and the person he is in private isn't what the public might make him out to be.

The players let him down and they let their club down too.

Ronnie deserved to leave Portadown in a much better way than the sad circumstances under which he made his exit.

Whoever takes over at Portadown has big shoes to fill and a huge job on their hands. There are players who have already signed pre-contract agreements with other clubs for next season and some who are coming out of contract who will be looking elsewhere.

In my time in Northern Ireland Portadown have always had the resources to sign players and it will still be an attractive job. There will be people out there who will be interested and who will think that they can go in and make a difference.

I am a Chelsea fan and I have seen what Guus Hiddink has done since he went in there. What I would say though is that if players can turn it on for a new manager, why weren't they performing for the previous one?

It's a disgrace that players get on like that, but it wouldn't surprise me if Portadown finish the season with a good run of form.

As one big personality leaves the game another one returns.

I am amazed, however, that David Jeffrey has taken the Ballymena United job.

He is used to success and is he going to be given an embarrassment of riches to turn the club into championship contenders? I don't think so.

Maybe he wants to get back into the game and enjoy it without the big pressure that comes with being Linfield manager and sees a good club with good people running it and believes he can make a difference.

If that's the case then great, but is he going to turn Ballymena into a championship winning force? No.

Can he get them into finals and win the Irish Cup? Possibly. But then Glenn Ferguson did that and still got the sack!

I have no doubt that David's winning mentality and passion will shine through, but I just can't see him winning the big prizes.

Belfast Telegraph


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