Belfast Telegraph

Sports Awards

Why Jimmy Nesbitt’s support is priceless for title-chasing Coleraine

By Steven Beacom

Coleraine chairman Colin McKendry has revealed the positive impact award-winning actor and big Bannsiders fan Jimmy Nesbitt has had on the club’s remarkable success story.

The Cold Feet star is set to fly into Northern Ireland from England, where he is working, to cheer on his beloved Coleraine on Saturday as they attempt to lift the Irish League title.

Oran Kearney’s men are level on points with Crusaders but behind Stephen Baxter’s side on goal difference approaching the final day of what has been an exhilarating campaign.

The Crues are away to Ballymena United, while Coleraine take on Glenavon at Mourneview Park knowing that they must claim more points than the Seaview men to become champions.

Nesbitt attended Coleraine’s last major triumph — the Irish Cup final win over Glentoran in 2003 — and has since then helped the Bannsiders through some difficult financial times and provided priceless guidance on a range of issues.

“It is fantastic to have a man of Jimmy’s stature behind us,” said McKendry. “He is a Coleraine fan through and through and has certainly put his money where his mouth is.

“He has been very good to have on board, not only for finances but because he is a highly intelligent man who can give you advice when required in the bigger scheme of things. Jimmy has been an excellent person to have a chat to about various situations and he can advise you accordingly.”

The Coleraine chairman added: "He is aiming to be at the match against Glenavon. He is filming in England and rang me earlier in the week to say he is trying to fly over for the game.

"Sometimes I think Jimmy could be at Old Trafford sitting beside Sir Alex Ferguson watching Manchester United and instead he is standing beside me which shows how much Coleraine means to him."

The visitors could have up to 1600 fans at Mourneview Park for what they hope will be a stunning title victory following in the footsteps of the famous 1973-74 Coleraine side.

On Saturday-week, they will play Cliftonville in the Irish Cup final at Windsor Park. These are glorious days for Coleraine after some trying times when the chief aim was to keep the club afloat.

McKendry, his board, manager Kearney and his players have worked wonders and are intent on reaping rewards in the shape of some silverware.

"To see how our football club has lifted the spirits of people has been tremendous," said McKendry. "I've never seen anything like it.

"There were rough times and tough times and our brilliant manager Oran Kearney and the players deserve so much plaudits for where we are now.

"I also think it is just reward for the work that not only is happening on the field but the unsung heroes at Coleraine Football Club; the gate men, the tea ladies, the people who open and close the ground. These are people who deserve some recognition for what they have put in.

"I'm not sure anyone in their wildest dreams imagined we would be in this position albeit there is still work to be done and we haven't yet achieved what football is all about - trophies.

"As chairman of the club, I'm exceptionally proud to see us where we are. To be league champions would be unreal but, regardless of what happens on Saturday, we can on look back and think what a journey we've been on.

"Hopefully we can win the title. I do believe it is only the start of it and what's happening here is bigger than myself or anyone connected to the club."

Belfast Telegraph

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