An Executive decision

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Now you know why the Reids new stand doesn't have any executive boxes!

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Vintage joke No.1

A Cliftonville supporter goes into the Shamrock (staying out of the New Lodge for you B.C.) and asks for a triple whiskey. ‘What’s up Mac?’ asks the barman.  Mac tells him that his eldest Son has just informed him that he is a Homosexual. Next night Mac is back in the Shamrock again . ‘Triple Whiskey’ he orders . ‘Whats up with ye now Mac?’ the barman enquires. ‘It’s my youngest son, he’s just told me he’s a homosexual’ . Feeling gutted for him the barman pours his drink. For the third night in a row Mac enters the Shamrock . ‘Triple Whiskey barman’ he cries. The Barman astonished says ‘Feckin hell Mac, does no-one in your family like sleeping with women?’ ‘Yeah’ , replied Mac, ‘ My wife!’.

The Master and his apprentice

Crusaders 2 v Ballymena United 2 (25-3-2010)

' I'm baaaad , I'm baaaad , you know it!!!

Never regret. If it’s good, it’s wonderful. If it’s bad , it’s experience – Victoria Holt

The match result may have been honours even , but The Master, Roy Walker , shaded it tactically. Describing the pitch as the drastic plastic, Walker picked his team accordingly, taking the field with a very mobile eleven, with the ponderous Haveron warming the bench.

Crusaders started brightly with Nelson making a couple of sharp saves from stinging drives. United playing on the break caught the Crues on the hop with two fantastic strikes taken by Smith and Teggart. A combination of two superb through balls from Aidan Watson and slack play from the two central midfielders Doherty and Black. Doherty missed the work-rate of the suspended McCann , Black just missed almost everything. If ever a player divided Crues fans opinions Black is the man. Sometimes he can produce the sublime , magical almost . At other times his ability to disappear for 90 minutes would rival any feats by the master illusionist David Copperfield.

Second half and Baxter moved us to a 3-4-3 formation , wasn’t working particularly well until we resorted to hoofball , a foul on Rainey (Oh how we’ve missed his tenacity and predatory instincts round the box) , Donnelly free kick ,beats the wall for once , finds the inside of the post 2-1 . Panic sets in and a Black through ball rebounds into the path of Faulkner who turns and drives in an equaliser, still twenty minutes to go, it’ll be like the Alamo we thought. Never arrived . Were we happy with a draw? If anything , Ballymena could have sneaked a winner with a couple of driven crosses across goal.

We probably missed a trick by not reverting back to 4-4-2 after the equaliser. I’d have put Chicken and Rainey up top, played Mickey at the back, and switched sides for the wingers, both left footed but Donnelly is definitely more comfortable cutting inside. Alas it wasn’t to be. Still , we closed a point on the Reids before the split.

Laugh of the night was someone shouting to Walker,  ‘ You got out of jail tonight, Roy ‘ , let’s just say you can’t kid a kidder. On a tangent I know, but apparently Albert Watson has a metal plate on his cheekbone , and there was me thinking he was just a wooden one.

Took in the reserves v Ballymena this afternoon, United won 3-1, the wee lads worked hard with a fine goal from Jamie Turner but when they are up against players of the calibre of Sean O’Neill, Noel Anderson, David Cushley, Nathan McConnell and Phillip Carson who weren’t involved on Thursday night , you wonder how Walkers charges haven’t made the Top Six? Personally , I think Crusaders punch way above their weight, but then we wouldn’t expect or accept anything else.

Keep the Faith

Gone to the dogs

Quick lads, let's get outta here , The Hatchetmen are coming and they ain't got muzzles

Lisburn Distillery 2 Crusaders 2 (20-3-2010)

Son, always tell the truth. Then you’ll never have to remember what you said last time – Sam Rayburn

Have to say, I’m always in favour of telling the truth. It might hurt peoples feelings, might even get me into trouble, but it never makes me feel bad about myself. Never go by the back door , when the front door is for entering.

This was a day for shocks. The Monkstown bus went on a dry run for the first time this season. Crusaders Al never turned up for the battle of the keyboard warriors with Flatcap, Baxter photographed in a Linfield shirt and my mate was referee for the day. The biggest shock was just how shocking he was.

Ross Dunlop was my right back when I managed at UUJ in the late 90’s. He would have kicked his own Ma if she’d been on the pitch. Yesterday , if he’d attempted to kick his own arse he’d have missed it. This was the first time i’d ever seen him referee, with a bit of luck it will also be the last. Lindsay Mckeown had described his refereeing as the most inept he had ever seen in the aftermath of a Coleraine home game earlier in the season. He must be bad if even the pundits can see it. I doubt he would have a bias against Crusaders (Blueman) but it did seem like it. At least two tackles on Collins went unpunished , Collins first tackle yellow card   (reputation perhaps). Can’t blame the referee wholly though, we were very Uncrusaderslike , couldn’t match up with the physical aspects of their game, their midfield totally outmuscled ours second half.

Having got ourselves into a two goal lead , the two young guns putting away a couple of scrappy efforts after some neat lead up play, we sat back and got sloppy , allowed Grandpa Spike to bundle one home (did it come off the zimmer frame?), rode our luck as they came out of the traps second half (not literally on this occasion) and almost equalised straight away. Marking was poor for Muir’s headed equalizer . We got lucky on a number of other chances The Whites fashioned as they ran over the top of us , though Muir was more content with running through us (as Owens and Rainey will testify), obviously hasn’t lost the skills honed at Seaview. How bad was the delivery on our set pieces ? Bit more practice required!  We nearly stole it last kick with Owens volley , but that would have been a travesty.

The European place race is still on. The Reids/Gurns meet on Tuesday night , One or both will drop points. We have the sheepdippers on Thursday, hopefully putting their focus on the Irish cup and only going through the motions.

Keep the faith

The Hoodoo broken

Institute 1 Crusaders 3 (16-3-2010)

War is over, if you want it……John  Lennon

What a difference a few days makes. The weekend on the forums descended into all out hostility . Fingers were pointed and tongues wagged as the Crusaders support turned into keyboard warriors. Was it my own words of wisdom or maybe just the Londonderry Air, either way the Crusaders Family was back United tonight and boy what a difference it made to the team.

Stephen Bell had asked the supporters to find their voices again . To get a bit of atmosphere back into our game. Seaview was deathly silent on Saturday, despite the team putting in one of their best performances of the season.

The support was tentative to start with , but when they found their voices you could see it visibly lift the side. Institute has tended to be a graveyard for Crusaders in the past . There would be no Epitaphs written about our season tonight.

Gibson came in for Collins, stood up to the physical stuff well. Crusaders when they got the ball down and sprayed it about were far too good for the Derry men. Our two wingers had fantastic games , both finding the back of the net. What a turn and finish from Doc. The way the second and third goals were celebrated with the fans shows how much our efforts were appreciated by the team. Black spoilt the night slightly by getting unnecessarily involved with their full back. Mind you , his Red card opens the door for someone else to stake a claim for a place.

Still plenty to play for, second place is well within our reach. Many thought that we didn’t have a big enough squad to sustain a challenge this season, but the younger lads , Caddell, Arthurs, McMaster and Gibson have come to the for . Stephen has nurtured them well this season.

Have to say it’s nicer walking out of a ground with smiling faces and back slapping , rather than last weeks snarls and backbiting.

Keep the faith