Let me cut through all of the usual fluff and get straight to the point — Aaron McCarey was totally in the wrong and fully deserving of his red card after hitting out at Glentoran team-mate Bobby Burns last Saturday night.
I know that I was no shrinking violet during my own playing career and I have absolutely no problem in holding my hands up to that fact.
History will prove that this game is littered with players falling out with team-mates and, again, I’d be the first to admit that there were some of my own that I didn’t particularly like and, as we would say in my wee toon, some people quite simply ‘don’t stand the knowing’ — but such is life.
I was born with a winning mentality and always found it difficult if I felt a team-mate wasn’t giving it his all, or was becoming a bit of a big-headed Charlie.
There were occasions when I probably chose the wrong way of settling things but if I had a score to settle, it was either sorted in the dressing room or on the training pitch — not in the full glare of the paying public during a game.
For better or for worse, the game has moved on considerably since my playing days and so has the physical side of what’s deemed unacceptable.
Such is the extensive coverage of football, what with TV cameras and huge press presence at every Irish League game — plus the modern day minefield of social media — and, of course, the state-of-the-art video capabilities of mobile phones, before you know it major incidents like what happened at The Oval last weekend have gone global before you can even say, ‘What on earth happened there?’.
We must also not forget that the higher-profile footballers can become role models for lots of kids and thankfully we have an ever-increasing number of youngsters going to games, so what the Glentoran keeper did was most definitely not in keeping with what is expected of professional sportspeople nor was it the type of behaviour that is conducive to setting the right example.
I don’t know the McCarey fella personally, but I do know Bobby Burns well and, believe me, a better young man you couldn’t wish to meet be that on or off a football pitch and I can also assure you that he absolutely loves playing for the Glens.
I can also say with a fair degree of certainty that it isn’t in his DNA to seek out confrontation, he’s just not that type of lad.
I do, however, accept that football is a competitive sport and that, just like in every walk of life, some people have a very different psychological make-up, so I can see both sides of the coin in this incident. But that still doesn’t excuse or indeed give anyone the right to overstep the mark.
McCarey let his team-mates, his manager, the club, and all Glentoran supporters down big time.
So, for the sake of the game and to define right from wrong, I trust and believe the club will deal with this in-house, take into account all the facts and determine just how damaging this was for the actions of one individual to bring this famous and proud club’s name into disrepute and then deal with it accordingly.
I see the Irish Football Association have moved quickly to dispel any doubts regarding the future of Northern Ireland manager Ian Baraclough by announcing that they had ‘unanimously’ decided to extend his contract and that negotiations are ongoing.
Obviously much more goes on with international management than catches the eye and Ian must have ticked most of the boxes required to satisfy our country’s football custodians.
I can well remember predecessor Michael O’Neill having a disappointing run in the early games of his tenure but some leading members of the IFA were telling me that, although results were deemed poor at that difficult time, Michael was making tremendous progress in his work overhauling the entire international infrastructure, so perhaps the same applies with Ian.
Either way, the fact that the IFA’s decision was a ‘unanimous’ one would tell me that Ian is widely recognised by those in power as the man and I would also hazard a guess that some senior players would also have given the thumbs up to help them arrive at their decision.
The only time I could really point the finger or question Ian’s management style was the recent second-half surrender against a poor Bulgarian team but, outside of that, I have been pleasantly surprised and felt he’s done well enough considering several late withdrawals and injuries.
Can they stick the pace? That is the question on the lips of many Irish League fans and it centres around a couple of the teams currently separated by two points at the top of the Danske Bank Premiership table.
At the outset of the season, there were many people — and I include myself in that group — who felt that the four full-time clubs, Crusaders, Linfield, Larne and Glentoran, would dispute the destination of the Gibson Cup among themselves.
However, as we approach the completion of the first round of fixtures, the odds are being defied by two part-time sides, namely Cliftonville and Coleraine.
It completely bucks the trend when this happens and it really thickens the broth when part-timers mix it with the full-time professional outfits, but it always begs that million-dollar question of whether or not the Reds or Oran Kearney and his Bannsiders can stay there?
My answer is yes but only if certain conditions are met. If those teams can stay clear of major injury problems and suspensions to key players then I reckon they can stick the pace.
They will, however, need more than their fair share of luck simply because they do not have the same strength in depth, particularly in terms of quality, that the squads at the full-time clubs have.
All in all, it really does add to the magic and mystique and that’s only one of many reasons Irish League football represents such great value for money and long may that continue.