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It's just difficult to comprehend how one club can continue making so many high-profile mistakes


Robert Garrett

Robert Garrett

Robert Garrett

On my first visit to Shamrock Park this season, I spotted a familiar face leaving the ground who I had never seen at a football match before.

Seeing him again the next day, I asked if he was originally from Portadown and going back to his roots by taking his son to matches in the same way he had been taken as a boy.

He said no and explained that watching Euro 2016 had sparked an interest in football in the child and they were now having some father and son time at Irish League games.

Fast forward to Saturday past and they were back at Shamrock Park, this time both sporting Portadown scarves.

They've really got into supporting what is now their team, all with the help of a free season ticket for the little boy thanks to the Junior Ports scheme. They've even been to a couple of away games too.

I'm sure, like every other Ports fan, the lad will have left the ground excited at the second-half showing that saw them come from behind to beat Ards 3-1 - a result that meant they had accumulated enough points to wipe out the 12-point penalty imposed by the Irish FA for making undisclosed payments to players.

You could feel that those around the place had just had a huge weight lifted off them. They didn't know that they would soon be hit with another heavy blow.

How on earth will the dad explain to his son, who is just short of his sixth birthday, that the result will ultimately be recorded as a 3-0 win for Ards?

That's a lot for a kid to get his head around but, better than that, how will Portadown explain how they got it so wrong over Robert Garrett's suspension?

I was made aware that there was an issue surrounding the midfielder's eligibility midway through the first half. A quick check of the NI Football League website confirmed that he had received five yellow cards in the league this season - six in total with a booking in the League Cup defeat against Crusaders triggering a ban.

A further check of the Irish FA website showed Garrett's name on a list of players due to be suspended from Monday, October 24.

No doubts, no ambiguity. There it was in black and white that Garrett was suspended for one match from last Monday.

And to make it worse, when I spoke to caretaker manager Vinny Arkins about it after the match, he revealed that he had asked club officials BEFORE the game if Garrett was under suspension.

Worse still, it was someone from Ards who had mentioned it to him.

Instead of making their own check on the IFA site or taking the 'if in doubt leave him out' approach, Arkins was told Garrett was free to play and that he would be suspended for the trip to Glentoran this coming weekend - supporters were even talking about that after the game.

The good news is that Garrett will be available to face the Glens - and good news is something that is in short supply around Shamrock Park.

After being deducted 12 points earlier this season, the Ports have now effectively deducted a further three themselves by not carrying out the proper checks over suspensions.

When every point is precious you would think that these things would be checked, checked and checked again to make sure that there are no more mistakes at a club now running up a long list of errors.

Even that six-year-old kid would be wondering how one club can commit so many errors - if someone can explain to him just what is going on.

Belfast Telegraph