Lurgan Town FC on par with Playstation and Lego

Some of the Lurgan Town Under 18 squad from the 1995 Youth Cup Final. Can you spot Yer Man?
Some of the Lurgan Town Under 18 squad from the 1995 Youth Cup Final. Can you spot Yer Man?

Lurgan Town Football Club has been around for a quarter of a century - longer than Playstation but not quite as long as Lego.

All three have, with some aplomb, achieved their shared goals of keeping boys of all ages entertained.

I’m pleased to have played my part in the club’s rich history and to be able to help celebrate its 25th birthday by helping to put together an eight-page feature in this week’s Lurgan Mail.

I joined the club in 1988 and devoted a large part of my youth to Lurgan Town. In my two spells there, as a junior and a senior player, I amassed some fine memories and some great friends.

When I say great friends, the truth is some of them I wouldn’t recognise if I saw their full names written down. Anybody who’s played football at any level will know to refer to a team mate by anything other than their nickname will result in an automatic free transfer to the Girl Guides.

‘Hoof, Bap and Chin’ may read like a fight scene from a Batman comic, but they’re three of the best players I’ve shared the pitch with.

In 1995 I was a squad member of the Under 18 team who made it to the Youth Cup final and although I only played about 15 minutes of football that entire season I was rewarded for my perseverance with the Clubman of the Year trophy.

On the subject of trophies, in 2003 I should have got my hands on the trophy that everyone wants - top goalscorer.

At the awards dinner the coach summoned his top scorers to come forward and state their case as to why they should be getting the trophy. I meticulously detailed the 14 goals I’d scored, in some cases with the aid of diagrams. The coach then asked my goalscoring rival, Lee Dickson, how many goals he’d scored.

“I reckon I got more than 14,” said Dicko, a vague assumption that was enough to earn him the top goalscorer trophy. Not that I’m bitter, but if anyone’s interested I can still provide annotated diagrams for all 14 goals that season.

Asides from winning a cup final with the Seconds, my lasting memory of playing for Lurgan Town was a bittersweet incident whilst playing for the Under 13s.

It happened during a game in the Dundonald League, a competition in which we had been getting walloped on a regular basis by big boys from Belfast. On the day in question we were up against the moustachioed boy giants of Dungoyne.

I’d been on the bench, a position I’d become accustomed to, and there were but minutes to go. One of our players got injured and I was ordered to get onto the pitch. I jumped at the chance but disastrously I couldn’t get my tracksuit bottoms off. They weren’t the sort you see now which slide off over your boots. They had stirrups which went under the soles.

In the end I had to go on with the bottoms half on and half off. In the dying seconds everyone piled into the box for a corner. The ball coming in eluded everyone except me and I slid in at the far post to score. At least that’s how it seemed to onlookers. The truth is I’d got tangled in my tracksuit bottoms and was already on the ground when the ball came over. I just happened to be in the right place and stick out a leg to divert the ball goalward. The whistle blew and I was carried off the pitch as a hero.

And to this day that’s been the best 13-1 defeat of my football career.