Belfast Telegraph

Jeffrey joy after sealing deal to bring Watson 'home' to United


Friends reunited: Albert Watson pictured with assistant manager Bryan McLoughlin (left) and manager David Jeffrey (right) on his return to Ballymena United
Friends reunited: Albert Watson pictured with assistant manager Bryan McLoughlin (left) and manager David Jeffrey (right) on his return to Ballymena United

By Billy Weir

It was a case of friends reunited at Ballymena United last night as former skipper Albert Watson returned to the club he began his career with.

After a decade with the Braidmen - where he made his debut at 16 - Watson's travels took him to Linfield before he emigrated to Canada, where he starred for FC Edmonton.

More recently he was in Iceland with KR Reykjavik but has come 'home' to sign with the Sky Blues until the end of the season at least.

Manager David Jeffrey, who signed Watson during his tenure at Windsor Park, is delighted to have pulled off a great piece of business as the side look to keep up their challenge for the Gibson Cup.

"In the first instance this is a short-term contract to the end of the season when both Albert and ourselves will be able to review things. This is a set of circumstances where we all felt that it could be mutually beneficial, we have some big games coming up and in this part of the season we want to be as well equipped as possible," he said.

The player is looking forward to plying his trade at what is a much-changed Showgrounds since he began.

"To work with David again from my time at Linfield is a big attraction but it's about coming home to Ballymena United, I was here for 10 seasons and I still love the place," he said.

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"I have fond memories of playing here and playing in front of the Sky Blues and now coming back here we're sitting second in the league, in a cup final and the Irish Cup coming up this weekend, we have to believe that we can go on and win any trophy and that is why I am here."

And that cup campaign will see the return of another former United favourite, with Matthew Tipton bringing his Portadown side to Warden Street. Jeffrey knows what to expect.

"Portadown had a great result (last Saturday) against Dundela and have secured second place at the moment behind Larne," he said. "Bryan (McLoughlin) and I know Matthew very well, he was with us at Linfield and when we first came to Ballymena he was here and he is a most astute manager.

"He did very well at Warrenpoint, he's doing equally well at Portadown and cup matches are one-off games, and the history books are full of so-called surprises.

"It will be tough. All we have to do is think of when we played Dundela away and my goodness gracious me was that a tough game. It's going to be equally tough and we're going to have to be at our best if we are going to progress. And Portadown, if you look at the players and the quality that's there, coming here will hold no fears for them."

"We're a Premiership side but Portadown are a fantastic club with a great history and coming here will hold no fears for Matthew Tipton or his players."

Ballymena Utd vs Portadown

Tennent's Irish Cup Sixth Round

Ballymena Showgrounds, Tomorrow, 3pm

Belfast Telegraph


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