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Queen's Grads

Queen's Grads

Queen's Grads

Queen's Grads manager Mark Browne has been involved in football for over 38 years now, but he still hasn't lost that Saturday buzz.

The Grads are battling away at the bottom of Division 2A, but after a decade in charge, Browne is as enthusiastic as ever.

“I love football and it's football that keeps bringing me back. I loved playing, and managing is the next best thing. I love the challenge of getting the best out of my team and picking the best team from what you've got available. You get a certain adrenaline rush from it that you can't get elsewhere on a Saturday.”

At the moment, the Grads are in the 2A relegation zone, but Browne is confident they will improve as the season goes on.

“Last season we were just happy to stay in the league, but this year, we would like to climb up a few places. Okay, we haven't got off to the best of starts but we've only played four league games, so there is plenty of time to go.

“Mid-table is certainly the aim for us and I believe we've got the players at the club to achieve that.

“We've stability at the club, as I've been here as manager for over 10 years now and the other coaches and managers have also been here for a while. We've great facilities at the Dub and it's a club people enjoy playing for. I think that helps us a lot.”

Browne believes that Queen's Grad are one of the most vibrant clubs in Belfast, with four teams and over 70 players. But even a club with five dozen players can find it difficult to field a strong 11 on a Saturday.

“Things aren't going too bad. As a club, we continue to attract plenty of players in terms of numbers. We can field four teams every Saturday, which is an achievement in itself nowadays. There are over 70 players on our books, although obviously there is a big spread in ability.

“The first team have had a difficult start to 2A, but we've had issues with injuries to some of our better players so I'm confident we can improve. You can also guarantee that you will be missing three or four players each week for one reason or another. Stag dos, weddings, trips with the wife, trips to football in England – boys are always up to something these days. You can never name the same team two weeks running.

“I also think 2A is very competitive now. There was a period of instability after a number of teams left for intermediate football but I think it's settled down now and it's a very strong league again.”

It may only be October, but the Grads are already planning their traditional end-of-season tour. This year they plan to visit Spanish island Majorca for a couple of friendlies.

Browne explained: “We organise a trip every year. We've been to places like Lisbon and Monaco in the past, and last year, we went to Krakow and played two matches. This year, we're off to Majorca for five days. It's a great social trip and a lot of our former players come along. It's one of the things that keeps Queen's Grads unique.”

No doubt Majorca will be fun, but Browne and his team must now focus on keeping the Grads in 2A.

 

Name : Queen's University Graduates Football Club

Division : NAFL 2A

Ground : The Dub

Manager : Mark Browne

Colours : White

Belfast Telegraph