Red handed, red faced and red outs!

In the wonderful world outside of Crusaders.

Its been one of those weeks.

another couple of cups heading to Manchester this year!

The Super-injunction took on the information super-highway . 50,000 Tweeters made one man a Twit!

Loves his countries!

Niall McGinn realised that just because only 200 turn up at a game, it doesn’t mean the GAWA aren’t watching!

Georgie got an airport, Carlo was on his bike!

George Best would have been a pensioner this week. Abramovich made sure Ancellotti wasn’t!

Baa baa black sheep!

Ballymena United lose interest in sheep,  and are sold pups instead!

Jamie's off prospecting!

Linfield get a pot of gold from the IFA. Yet Big Davy can’t use it on two of his own nuggets!

creditors will take the very shirt off your back!

Media scrum after Glentoran are taken to court by Umbro. Rugby kit manufacturer saves the day!

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Ross Arthurs – The Nearly man!

Ross Arthurs challenging Peter Hutton of Cliftonville

The departure of Ross Arthurs, to Ards, after being given his release by Crusaders was pretty much as expected. Having been loaned out in January , the writing was on the wall.

It’s a very rare event at Seaview, when a loanee ever returns to make much of an impact.

Having made his debut as a fresh-faced 18-year-old in 2008, Ross soon established himself as a member of the first team panel with regular appearances from the bench.  His pace and willingness to chase lost causes made him a valuable asset.

The pacy striker broke his scoring duck in the magnificent 2009 Irish Cup winning run , scoring a great goal in the quarter-final win over Portadown at Shamrock Park.

January 2010, saw him add a County Antrim Shield winners medal to his collection.

Injuries to main strikers, Mark Dickson and David Rainey in January 2010, saw Ross become a regular starter for the remainder of the season , finding the net on six occasions during that run, including a goal in the historic 3-0 victory over Glenavon , in our first ever televised Sky game.

There were definite glimpses that perhaps Ross could step up to the higher level. However, the return of a fit again David Rainey and competition from the experienced new signing Michael Halliday, saw Ross demoted to bench duties once again and increasingly a bit part player.

After a quiet start to his loan spell at Ards, he came strongly in the last month of the season, scoring four times and claiming the Ards player of the month award for April.

Ross is one of those players that just lack that little something at the highest level, be it confidence or experience. He was certainly too good for Reserve level. In all competitions he found the back of the net 11 times

Lets hope everything works out well for him at his new club. At the age of 21 , time is certainly on his side.

Good luck Ross!

Psycho babble!

Colin 'psycho' O'Neill doing his best Popeye impression

Blast from the past, Colin O’Neill’s rant in the ‘Tele’ this week probably opened a serious amount of debates this week.

Debates about whether today’s players are as good as yesteryear are pointless.

Saying today’s players aren’t as good as the ones in the 80’s is hard to prove or disprove. One thing I can say for sure is, I’m sure we had this same debate in the 80’s , about the players in the 70’s and the 60’s ad infinitum.

We all reminisce about the characters of the past.

Every club has them.

At Crusaders , they reminisce about Norman Pavis, Danny Trainor, Walter McFarland and fresher in the memory Kirk Hunter. Men who epitomise the very essence of the tag ‘hatchetman’

The Rab McCreery’s ,Roy McCreadie’s and Colin O’Neill’s of the 80’s as well as the aforementioned gentlemen at Seaview , all have one thing in common. Their games would be tempered by the fastidiousness of today’s match officials , the scrutiny of today’s television coverage and the demise of the tackle in the modern game!

I saw Colin O’Neill hobbling towards the Grove Wellness Centre on Thursday morning. He’s due to enter hospital for a hip replacement. His bald pate and disposition a far cry from the bobbed , tipped hair and chunky demeanour that ran amok through the Irish league in the 1980’s.

Colin O’Neill was as close to an Irish League Gazza as you are likely to meet. Loved by his own support, detested by the rest. A highly skilled, master craftsman in midfield, who always played on the edge, forever walking that tightrope with officialdom. He was always the star attraction. His ‘look at me’ attitude mesmerised my impressionable schoolboy eyes.

I recall watching him in a game at Windsor Park, mid 80’s cup semi-final , O’Neill was lining out for Ballymena United. The opposition escapes me, but they were giving him some grief in the warm up. ‘Colin O’Neill , you’re a w*****! You’re a w*****! rang out the cries. He pulled his shorts to one side, and started to masturbate! Could you imagine the headlines this day and age!

Colin’s transfer was well overdue. He attained hero status at Fir Park, helping the ‘steelmen’ to a Scottish Cup win. He scored a long-range screamer in that season’s semi-final.

His elbow on Celtic’s Peter Grant is still talked about http://youtu.be/Vp1RIzNdUfo

He never achieved the amount of International recognition his undoubted skills deserved , but then ‘Bad Boys’ rarely do!

While we can’t ultimately define which decade was better, I’m sure it varies from club to club,  what we can say is that the league is definitely bereft of characters today, compared to previous generations.

Our sons will probably be having the same debate, twenty years hence.

When the cap fitted the North!

Next weeks Nation Cup games  have again hi-lighted the unfair Football Association of Ireland  policy of cherry-picking young talent from the North with a Nationalist background.

It’s absurd that players like Devine, Ferguson , Duffy and Gibson change National allegiance mid-stream after x amounts of pounds has been spent ferrying them around Europe competing for Northern Ireland under age teams , aiding their development and enhancing their career opportunities.

Adam Barton, we can have no real argument about , having not come through the youth structures of our association. He is nothing more than a footballing whore, ready to pimp out his services to whoever can enhance his career to best suit his own ends.   Witnessed as we watched him play National Association hokey Cokey , this past year, between England, The IFA and FAI.

Disappointment continued for the GAWA this week , as HRH joined the growing list of Southern defections!

FIFA claims to be apolitical , yet wouldn’t make a ruling on the IFA’s complaints about players switching allegiance. The Court for arbitration of Sport were equally ambiguous, citing the Good Friday Agreement, which allows for people born in Northern Ireland to claim either Republic of Ireland and/or United Kingdom nationality as reason enough for a switch in allegiance.

So in their eyes, a political agreement, far outweighs any sporting agreement.

While not happy about the situation, I would also look at it philosophically. If the players haven’t the sense of National pride or National identity to do the Northern Ireland shirt justice, then you’re better shot of them anyway. You wouldn’t want disaffected players around your club side.

While this movement between Associations seems one-sided , it hasn’t always been so.

Ireland was represented by an All Ireland single National team under the auspices of the Belfast based IFA between 1884 and 1924. After partition in 1921, the Dublin based FAI was founded and started selecting its own International football team.

Both the IFA and FAI claimed jurisdiction to select players from the whole of Ireland for their teams. As a result, between 1924 and 1950 there was in effect two Ireland International teams , chosen by two rival associations.

Between 1928 and 1950 the IFA had no affiliation with FIFA and competed in the British Home Championships. The FAI team competed in the Olympics and the World Cup.

Despite not competing in the same competitions, there was quite often a clash of fixtures and players had to decide which invitation to accept.

Jimmy Kelly, played for two winning Irish teams in the one week in 1936, on March 11 he played for the IFA XI that defeated Wales at Celtic Park and 6 days later starred for the FAI XI that defeated Switzerland at Dalymount.

In September 1946, Johnny Carey and Bill Gorman played for both Ireland teams against England in the space of three days.

It wasn’t until 1950 that FIFA put a stop to the dual mandate.

Both Ireland teams had entered the 1950 World Cup.

In an IFA qualifier against Wales, four players born in the Free State, Tom Aherne, Reg Ryan, Davy Walsh and captain Con Martin took to the field. all four had previously played for the FAI in their qualifiers, effectively playing for two teams in the same FIFA World Cup competition.

After FAI protests , FIFA intervened , ruled that player eligibility should be restricted to the political border and in 1953 that neither team could be referred to as Ireland, decreeing that for future World Cups, The FAI would be known as the Republic of Ireland and the IFA was to become Northern Ireland.

The earliest dual Internationals, Dinny Hannon, Bill Lacey, Patsy Gallacher, Mick O’Brien, Tom Farquharson,   Frank Collins and Ed Brookes had all represented the IFA based Ireland before the FAI had started to organise its own Ireland team.

Dinny Hannon became the first dual international , when he represented the Irish Free State at the 1924 Olympics.

In all, 33 Southern Irishmen turned out for both Ireland teams.

While a number of uncapped  Northerners turned out for the FAI , only 6 Northerners became dual Nationals in this period.

Crusaders legends Frankie Haslett, Jackie Davis and Player Manager, Jackie Vernon training at Seaview. Jackie Vernon was capped by the IFA 21 times and the FAI twice

Harry Chatton, and Jackie Brown in the pre-war years and Jimmy McAlinden, Billy McMillan, Jackie Vernon and Paddy Sloan joined the FAI XI tour of Iberia in June 1946.

Maybe that could be a solution to the whole selection headache. Could players be eligible for both Ireland teams until cup-tied for a particular competition? It’s definitely a new slant on things.

I’ll leave the arguing to the Politicians and those with a guarded interest. Me? I just like football and footballers on the same side as me!

Timmy Time!

Well done to all Crusaders Supporters Clubs and fans, who dug deep to help Crusaders secure the services of Stephen Baxter’s number one target , Timmy Adamson from Dungannon Swifts.

Stephen Baxter praised the generosity of the club’s fans after securing the signing of Timmy Adamson on a two-year deal after an undisclosed fee was agreed with Dungannon Swifts.

Baxter revealed it was the dedication of the Shore Road club’s supporters that paved the way for the striker’s arrival.

“A couple of weeks ago I put it to the supporters’ clubs that Timmy was a player I wanted to bring to Crusaders,” Baxter said.

“They have rallied around magnificently and raised the funds necessary to finalise the deal.

“It is a demonstration of great loyalty, and I am indebted to their commitment to the club and thankful for their help.”

It was third time lucky for Stephen Baxter. He had tried and failed on his previous two attempts to lure Timmy into a Red and Black shirt. Once the player had asked to be placed on the transfer list, there was only one place he wanted to be. I’ve heard that he turned down better offers to commit to the Hatchetmen. Colin Coates will certainly be happier to have Timmy as a team-mate , rather than an opponent.

Coates and Adamson, old rivals and new friends!

Questions are already being asked about the style of play Crusaders will adopt next season. Many think we will revert to a wholly long ball game. I think with players of the quality of Dallas , Morrow and McMaster , that would be unlikely to happen. Good footballers play good football.

Questions have been asked about Jordan Owens. Is Adamson his replacement? Won’t two target men get in each others way?

To be honest, if a cross-channel move comes to fruition , then so be it, Crusaders will deal with it. To my knowledge , there’s been no offers to date and no ulterior motive in Adamson’s signing , other than it being another improvement to a very good squad.

Can they play together? Of course they can. Owens is more than a target man. People scoffed when that old sage, Roy Coyle said he reminded him of a young Martin McGaughey. Not many people are laughing now. Nigel Worthington has seen enough to warrant his inclusion for next weeks Nations Cup. It’s also common knowledge down the ‘Road’ , that Davy Jeffrey came chasing his signature in January, only to be beaten to the punch by the shrewd Baxter.

One journalist, this morning, claimed that after the signing of Adamson, Baxter couldn’t continue to throw out the same old tired line about Crusaders being a ‘wee club’. I reminded him, we are a ‘wee club’, but it doesn’t stop us having the ambition of being a ‘great wee club’!

it’s exciting times on the Shore Road.

Return of the big game Hunter!

Glenn Hunter

Interesting wee article in the ‘Match on Tuesday’ in the ‘Mirror’  this week regarding Crusaders all time goal-scoring record holder , Glenn Hunter.

Glenn, scorer of 157 goals in two spells at the club, made a successful comeback at the age of 44 , saving Amateur League side, Saintfield United, from relegation in the process.

The Division 1A side were staring down the barrel of relegation , until the ace marksman donned the boots again to help them to three wins out of three in their final games , finally avoiding the drop in the final game.

Glenn's diving header clinches the Gibson Cup in 1995

Saintfield interim Manager Sam Hanna reported, ‘ Glenn Hunter has made a difference. He only came in recently to help out with midweek games and he played three games and we won every one of them. He opened the scoring and has helped steady the ship’.

Glenn inducted to the Crusaders Hall of Fame in 2007

Crusaders have links with Saintfield going back to Glenn’s heyday. Chris Morgan and Ian Young were both recruited by then Reserves Manager , Jim O’Rourke , back in the mid-nineties.

Well done Glenn, you can get the pipe and slippers out again!