TOMORROW, we make the short journey to take on our neighbours Carrick Rangers in what is now a mouth watering top of the table clash.
The form of Niall Currie’s charges has been fantastic of late and has seen them climb the table into second place, making them serious challengers in the promotion race.
Niall Currie is a good friend who I have a lot of time for both as a person and a coach, he knows this Championship and what it takes to get out of it like no other. I have no doubt whatsoever he has plenty of promotions and days in the sun ahead of him as his career progresses, after we get the business out of the way tomorrow we’ll share a beer and wish each other well, but first we get the business out of the way, we both know the drill.
We spoke at length both before and after our last game at Inver Park, Niall was quietly confident things were coming together for him and the work that he, John Bailie and Clifford Adams were doing on the training pitch was starting to pay dividends, recent results especially a brace of victories over Portadown bear testament to that.
We will need to be at our best to gather at least a share of the spoils, Carrick are on a high and playing with great confidence, but we don’t fear anyone and the boys are determined to see 2018 out giving the #RAWA bragging rights as we head into the New Year.
Our own confidence is brimming, coming off the back of Boxing day’s defeat of Ballyclare Comrades; what price two derby day victories to end the year on a high note?
Ballyclare Comrades came to Inver Park on Wednesday and tried to play football rather than frustrate, which was commendable. We held our own in the first half and coming in goalless at half time possibly wasn’t a great reflection of the game in general when both teams had their chances to score.
Once Rambo broke the deadlock after Davy McDaid had two goals ruled out to offside decisions we found our groove and there was only going to be one winner. I think everyone saw the delight Davy’s teammates had when he finally got his just reward with the second goal and the ground literally erupted when the ‘White Pelė’ did what he does for the third.
Off the pitch Kenny Bruce, Gavin Clements, Niall Curneen, Gary Haveron, the media and marketing teams, myself and the board were rewarded for the work we had put into try and make Boxing Day more of a family event, as opposed to just another football match with crowd that turned up.
Not in my wildest dreams did I ever foresee upwards on 1700 people at the game, but hey there was and yes you were amazing.
Throngs of people snaking up Inver Road, queues at the turnstiles, the bars and the club shop like never before, reaffirms our beliefs that by doing things the right way and by building the right culture around the club we really can have something special here.
Speaking to Larne legend Jim Hagan, who was at the game on a trip home for Christmas from Malaga, he said ‘I parked at Riverdale and walked up Inver Road being carried along with hundreds of fans in front and behind me, it felt amazing, there was a real buzz and sense of anticipation, you could smell you were at a football match, it was great to see’.
Coming from a man who has seen it and done it at the highest levels of the game, I’ll take it as a great compliment and stamp of approval that we’re on the right tracks.
The colour, fervour and atmosphere created was incredible and along with those already mentioned I would like to thank Stephen Clements from Q Radio, Hammy from The Music Yard and the irrepressible Billy D from Sounds Good Music for the part they played in helping us deliver on our vision as to how the day would play out. Thanks again boys.
It would be remiss of me not to give a big shout out to the #RAWA and in particular the youth who sung from minute one to minute ninety and for some time either side of the that, you were unbelievable and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You told us to get a roof on the terrace and you would address the atmosphere problem at home games, I think we both kept to our ends of the bargain, well done everyone.
Before concluding, it was great to welcome some of our local talents to the game as guests, I’ve already alluded to Jim Hagan but we also had Aiyesha McFerran our home-grown, medal-winning, Ireland ladies hockey goalkeeper with us along with DJ Fergie, now more at home in Vegas but still very much a Larne man and fan at heart.
We also had Lee Millar our #BringThemHome campaign winner along with his family and also we had around fifty members of the wider Bruce family with us headed, of course, by Kenny and Michael.
It was great to meet you all, every one of you added to the occasion and I thank you.
Finally, I would like thank our match sponsor Mount Charles and in particular their Chairman Trevor Annon, our match ball sponsor Davy Wilson of Cryospa @JustActiveGym and to our season long sponsors The Curran Court Hotel, Graham’s Pizza and Classic Drinks for their ongoing support.
Let’s bring the noise and colour to Carrick…