Belfast Telegraph

David Jeffrey exclusive: Ronnie McFall's welcome back call meant a lot

By Steven Beacom

David Jeffrey has revealed how touched he was to receive a call from legendary former Portadown manager Ronnie McFall following his appointment as the new Ballymena United boss.

Having been the longest serving manager in Europe and in charge at Shamrock Park for almost 30 years, a devastated McFall left the Portadown hotseat on Saturday when his side were knocked out of the Irish Cup quarter-finals by Lurgan Celtic.

The departure and manner of his exit hit McFall hard, but typical of his generous nature he took the time to contact Jeffrey and congratulate him on his latest role.

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Jeffrey and McFall had many memorable battles as managers of Linfield and Portadown respectively. The former admits that he is sorry he won't have the chance to go up against his old pal on his return to the fray, adding that he will forever be grateful for McFall's kind words this week especially when he was going through such a difficult period.

"Ronnie phoned to congratulate me on my appointment at Ballymena and said 'it's nice to have you back'," said Jeffrey.

"He and I shared words that will never become public knowledge. It was a conversation that meant the world to me. I have great affection for Ronnie and genuine love and respect for what he achieved as a manager and because of the person he is.

"I was so touched to get a phone call from Ronnie in what has been the most horrendous week for him. It showed the quality of the man.

"Not for the first time in my life I sat back like a little boy to listen to the master. He was so caring, kind and gracious. He is an unbelievable man.

"What has happened to him over the weekend was a horrible way for him to leave Portadown, a club he dedicated so much of his life to. That is the cruel side of football.

"I'm delighted to be back in management but one thing I will miss this time around is not having the chance to go up against Ronnie."

Jeffrey added he is confident Ports fans will remember the good times McFall brought to the club rather than how his long tenure ended at the weekend.

The Sky Blues boss said: "What I hope and believe will happen now is that the unproductive years at Portadown will be forgotten and people will reflect on what the man did for Portadown in terms of the football club and the town. That will happen quicker than he will realise.

"It won't be too long before people aren't talking about Ronnie's difficult ending at Portadown and remember the glory he brought to the club."

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