Amateur League 1B side Bloomfield are taking an unusual approach to coaching this season. The Belfast club have joint managers, in the shape of Jason Elliott and Clinton McCreery.
Joint-managers are hardly unique in amateur football, but generally one man has the final say. In the case of Elliott and McCreery, the duo insist they are equal partners.
McCreery explained: “Jason is a good friend and a good coach, we’ve had a great relationship over the years playing for this club and we are relishing the challenge of managing it together. We both share the same vision and we can bounce ideas of each other to try and get the best out of ourselves and our players.”
Elliott said: “Having never managed a senior team before, it's good to have someone to bounce ideas off and with mutual respect so far it has worked well.”
Although the duo are determined to enjoy a good season in 1B, McCreery says the club will continue to place their focus on youth.
“Like any team in any league, finishing as high up the table as possible is the priority for this club. The average age of our squad, giving products of our flourishing youth academy a chance to earn a place in the senior teams has been at the forefront of the previous management teams and has proven to be successful; obviously this remains in me and Jason’s philosophy.”
Elliott, who also manages the Under 17 team, believes Bloomfield have improved upon last year's squad.
“I have always thought we've had a lot of talent within the club, so we only needed one or two players to make a difference. Last year we had a problem with scoring goals and I feel now that has been addressed.
McCreery agreed: “A lack of goals was our main downfall last year, we’ve added to that area specifically over the summer which hopefully will benefit the rest of the team.”
McCreery and Elliott's good start to the season took a blow when Bloomfield lost 6-1 to Portaferry Rovers in their last league match.
Jason isn't overly concerned, as he believes Portaferry will be one of the top sides in 1B this year.
“After making a good start to the season and enduring injuries to key players going to Portaferry on a midweek fixture was always going to be difficult. It was a disappointing result though I feel most teams will find Portaferry a very difficult place to get a result. On this occasion we didn't do ourselves any justice.”
Bloomfield will face Premier Division side Derriaghy in next Saturday's Border Regiment Cup clash. Although Clinton recognises that Marc Robinson's men will be favourites, he believes Bloomfield have nothing to fear.
“With injured players returning to training this week our squad is returning closer to full strength, as I’ve mentioned before, we have a youthful squad that we encourage to play with no fear. That said, Derriaghy are a great side, we will give them and the level they play at the respect they deserve. One thing is for sure, we aim to give a good account of ourselves against them, us being underdogs puts the pressure on Derriaghy for the tie. We have been preparing well this week and with home advantage, you just never know in football.”
Looking to the future, Clinton McCreery believes Bloomfield's youth system is integral to the club's future.
“We are a big club already in our own right, obviously we would like to gain promotion in the near future to division 1A and have the club regarded as one of the best in East Belfast both on and off the pitch. With a thriving Junior section catering for kids from 5-17 years of age I believe the future is very bright for this club and it’s up to Jason and myself to take us to the next level, working with the junior team coaches to integrate junior players into senior players when we feel they are ready.”
Name : Bloomfield Football Club
Division : NAFL 1B
Ground : Houston Park, Organefield
Colours : Purple
Manager : Jason Elliott and Clinton McCreery