Belfast Telegraph

Gary Smyth: I'm here to take H&W Welders into the Premiership


Looking up: Gary Smyth is back at the Welders and hungry to secure promotion
Looking up: Gary Smyth is back at the Welders and hungry to secure promotion

By Steven Beacom

Gary Smyth has revealed that his ultimate goal is to lead Harland & Wolff Welders into the Danske Bank Premiership after retaking the reins at Tillysburn.

Smyth returned to the hotseat last week almost nine months on from losing the manager's role at Glentoran in controversial circumstances.

The Oval legend, who won everything with the east Belfast club as a player, had replaced Ronnie McFall as boss in January but was only in the job until the end of March when Mick McDermott came in.

It was a decision that infuriated Smyth at the time. He felt he had been let down by the club.

Another Glentoran idol, Paul Leeman, who was working with Smyth as a coach, also left The Oval after McDermott's appointment.

Leeman has since joined the Crusaders backroom staff. It has taken Smyth a little longer to make his comeback but he does so in familiar surroundings.

Back in May last year, Smyth left the Welders to join the Glentoran coaching set-up under McFall. In his previous spell as boss of the Championship team, the 49-year-old excelled, winning the Steel & Sons Cup and making them a force to be reckoned with in their division.

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Announcing Smyth's arrival last week, following the exit of Colin McIlwaine and George O'Boyle, the Welders said that an agreement had been reached for him to take over until the end of the season.

The relationship is expected to last longer than that and with a new stadium on the way, potentially next year, Smyth makes no secret that his long-term plan is to turn the Welders into a top-flight outfit.

"It's a bit surreal to be back as it all happened very quickly," said Smyth. "I got a call last Tuesday night when I was working in Manchester and came to meet the board on Wednesday, and we didn't take long to agree.

"I felt I'd like to get back into management after being out of it for a while and I'm delighted to return to the Welders.

"It's a well-run club with ambitions. The new ground will hopefully be sorted next year and we want to get into the top flight of Irish League football.

"With what happened at Glentoran, I learned a lot and certainly come back a more experienced manager. We enjoyed success the first time around at the Welders and I'd like to bring more to the club this time."

Last Saturday, the Welders lost 3-2 at home to Knockbreda which left them in ninth position in the Championship, just six points above bottom spot. They host Ballyclare this weekend.

"The team has changed quite a bit since I was last at the club," stated Smyth. "We have good players and there are six that have played Premiership football, which is a plus, but I would like to strengthen the squad.

"We have work to do, though it's a good time to come in and we will be looking to see who we can bring in during January.

"Our plan going forward this month is to try and make us hard to beat and make sure that we don't concede the number and type of goals we have been conceding in games so far this season.

"I want to stabilise the side and then we can take it from there.

"We had a good home record when I was last here and I'd like to bring that back, starting against Ballyclare."

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