Belfast Telegraph

Footballers' Lives with Adam Lecky: I'd recommend an Australian adventure to anyone but now I'm focused on winning trophies with Ballymena

Happy home: Adam Lecky and fiancee Amy at home in east Belfast with their dog Murphy
Happy home: Adam Lecky and fiancee Amy at home in east Belfast with their dog Murphy
Devastating: Adam with Amy and her young nephew Thomas who sadly passed away

By Graham Luney

In the latest edition of our popular series, prolific Ballymena United striker Adam Lecky discusses life under legend David Jeffrey, living in Australia, family heartache and hopes for future.

Q. What are your early football memories?

A I've two older brothers and both of them are football mad. Richard used to play with Portadown, he's seven years older, and Mark could play a bit, more locally with Dergview.

Cousins and friends joined in and we played football from morning to night, particularly over the summer in Castlederg. My dad Trevor played for Dergview and we used to go along and watch the games.

I played with Richard at Dergview when we had a good side, they were good times. My uncle Roy is chairman and his son Nigel is part of the backroom staff. I still keep an eye out for the results. Dergview is a nice family club.

The team I played youth football with was Dungannon. Mark went to the youth team and I ended up there too. At Dergview we played in the Fermanagh and Western League where I was a teenage midfielder playing against men. I played central midfield mostly until my last year at Ballinamallard.

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Adam Lecky (third from left) with brothers Richard, Mark, cousin Nigel and partners Linda, Amy, Chanelle and Rachael.

Q. Do you prefer midfield or attack?

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A I always enjoyed playing midfield more and early in my career I wasn't keen to play up front. It's different now at Ballymena United where you know you will benefit from good service. At Ballinamallard we were fighting for every point and it was tough to play up front.

Q. Was the move to Ballinamallard United a good opportunity for you?

A It's not easy to get spotted in west Tyrone but Whitey Anderson brought me to the Mallards. They were in the Premier League and it was an opportunity for me to prove I could play at that level. People will have their doubts but thankfully I was able to progress.

It was a massive step up in terms of the quality of players and fitness. It took me a few months to cope with the intensity of the matches. I won Players' Player of the Year in my first season. Gavin Dykes then came in as manager and he asked me had I played up front?

I wasn't delighted about it but we played Carrick and I scored two in the first half.

I recognise now I'm more useful up front because of my size. I wouldn't be the most mobile in midfield.

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Adam celebrates scoring for Ballinamallard against Glenavon in September 2016. Photo by TONY HENDRON/Presseye.com.

Q In January, 2017 you left to go to Australia. Why was that?

A Myself and my fiancee Amy had always discussed it since we left university but it never happened. We felt it was the right time to go, otherwise it might never happen. In the summer of 2016 we had made up our minds and started preparing for it.

I hit a purple patch at Ballinamallard and just when it looked like I was making progress I was leaving.

Gavin (Dykes), who was a great manager to play for, encouraged me to stay on but the decision had been made.

Looking back, we loved doing it and I'd recommend it to anyone else.

Q Was there football involved Down Under?

A That wasn't the reason for going. We were backpacking and spent time in Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Indonesia. We loved that and in those four or five months we had experiences we can talk about for the rest of our lives.

It was always the plan to go to Australia and settle for a while, maybe two or three years. We spent about 14 months in Melbourne. Amy is a nurse so she had no problem getting work. I'm a tax advisor but in Australia I ended up working in an accountancy based role.

Johnny Black, who played for Coleraine, sent me a message but I arrived two months into their season and I wasn't the fittest! My heart wasn't really in it and we wanted time to explore our new surroundings. I played a few games but nothing serious.

Melbourne is a brilliant, sports mad city. The lifestyle is great and the weather is better, but we did miss home at times. You miss landmark birthdays or weddings.

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Adam and fiancee Amy

Q Do you see yourself going back to Australia to live?

A I wouldn't rule it out but not in the short term. When my football career is over and we start a family it could be the right time.

Q How did the move to Ballymena United come about?

A I was best man at my best mate David O'Neill's wedding in May last year in Lough Eske, Donegal. The weekend before we were going to return I got a message from the Ballymena scout Paul McAreavey on Facebook.

He didn't realise I was home and when he found that out he was keen to set up a meeting with David Jeffrey and Bryan McLoughlin. I was thinking 'is there any point?' as I was going back to Australia in two days.

I had nothing to lose so I thought I would chat to them for 10 minutes. I arranged to meet them the next night and Amy drove me to Ballymena as we were car sharing. I told her I would be 10 minutes. We had phones but they had Australian numbers so we couldn't phone each other.

I met the boys and got the whole story about their plans for the club.

I checked the watch and realised I had been in there for about two-and-a-half hours!

I said I had to speak to Amy as she was outside probably thinking I'd been kidnapped. I ran out to her and she was fuming! We had a big decision to make and accepted it was time to come home.

It was a hectic time but before we came back we went up the east coast of Australia in a campervan and I proposed to her on a beach. We had one day of good weather and I thought it would give us nice memories. Amy hadn't been expecting it and it worked out well!

Q And on the football front, things have worked out well for you.

A In the league we have exceeded our own expectations. The boys were determined to win a trophy and qualify for Europe, so the League Cup final was very disappointing.

You don't want to finish the season empty-handed.

We are a bit behind Linfield in the league but you keep going as teams can drop points, especially after the split.

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Lecky has been in top form for Ballymena this season.

Q Was it nice to know David Jeffrey and his staff were keeping track of your plans?

A That helps make up your mind because the guys who are in charge made a real effort to get you there. They wanted me to sign for Ballymena United and had obviously been watching me for a few years.

If there is long term interest it does ease your mind and it's nice to be wanted.

Q Do you and Amy live together?

A We live together off the Cregagh Road in Belfast. We are getting married next summer in Fermanagh. Amy is now working in a cardiac ward in the Royal Victoria Hospital.

All her family have a medical background and that caring side. She has got into football more in the last year or two and attends a few games.

It's a big part of my life and it's nice to know I have her support.

Q What encouragement have you had from your family?

A Watching my dad was an early inspiration and the older you get you appreciate all the travelling your parents do. My mum Gillian brought us up to Dungannon on Saturday mornings.

My parents make it to the Showgrounds when they can but it's a long way for them.

Q Have you been through any hard times as a family?

A Three or four months into our backbacking trip myself and Amy got word that her nephew Thomas (Magee) had died after an accident involving a JCB digger at his family's dairy farm in Maguiresbridge. He was only four-years-old.

We got a phone call in the middle of the night when we were in Bali and the reaction was one of sheer disbelief. We were back in Fermanagh within 24 hours for the funeral. It was a rough time and it was certainly the right decision to return home and share our feelings with family. It was hard to go travelling again and leave family but after much thought we felt that we should carry on in our journey.

You can't come to terms with someone so young passing away. It's very hard for such a close-knit family with something like that.

You know there's something missing when you attend family functions.

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Devastating: Adam with Amy and her young nephew Thomas who sadly passed away

Q What's David Jeffrey really like?

A He won't let us get carried away! All the boys love working with him. People say he's a big character and there aren't many left in the Irish League.

He brings a professionalism to the club which is better than possibly a lot of full-time set-ups. Our league form reflects that attention to detail.

Q You must be looking forward to the future on and off the pitch?

A Things are looking good. It was disappointing not to win a trophy but our league position shows how good our form has been and qualifying for Europe would be a big achievement that will hopefully allow the club to get even stronger.

You have to take time to enjoy the moment because things can change quickly and it's important you never get carried away or take anything for granted.

Snapshot

Date of birth: May 3, 1991

Place of birth: Omagh

Previous clubs: Dergview, Ballinamallard

Ballymena record: 40 appearances, 16 goals

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