NIFL Premiership, Stangmore Park, 17/8/19
Dungannon Swifts Football Club
Nicknames: The Swifts
Honours : Irish League Cup 2017/18
Current Division: NIFL Premiership
Random Fact: Aberdeens Niall McGinn started his career at the club and hails from Dungannon (Any Dons connection is good for me)
The final day of the holiday and the final places to visit until we return, which I’m already looking into due to this being a fucking excellent get away. The day started at the Falls of Glenoe, a truly stunning site that I could have sat and looked at all day. This was followed by a rummage about Carrickfergus inclusive of the historic fortress castle, which unfortunately was partially closed due to development. Didn’t stop us taking in the stunning views though. From Carrickfergus it was on to game two of the holiday
Stangmore Park is a bit more random than Dundalk given the Lillywhites stature but a highly more competitive game than the blitz on Friday. The extras thrown in made the experience more memorable too. There is a reason for the randomness of choice though. In 2008 Formartine United (still juniors) played The Swifts in a friendly on a Friday night at North Lodge. I took this game on due to a couple of my mates being on Uniteds books. When I checked the fixtures for the time we were over I saw they were home and the fact I had seen them before and spoke to some of their committee in the pub after the friendly was the reason I decided to visit. I had emailed the club (as I do with every club I head to watch abroad) and I received a very welcoming message from the club secretary Simon Graham. In his email he said to make myself known on arrival so he could come and meet us. So I took him at his word and did as much. After a five minute blether which included finding out Niall McGinns sister cut his hair, Wee Man and myself had been invited into the boardroom at half time. I had also found out that “Oor Niall” was very well respected at the club and everyone from the security to the coffee wifey to Simon himself had a good word to say.
Once in the ground It felt like Glentoran were the home team. They must have outnumbered the Swifts fans 5:1. The ground is small making the Glens presence more known and they filled three sides of the ground pretty much. This made me want the Swifts to win even more. The game was competitive to say the least. Some of the challenging on the billiard table like surface was like a throw-back to the seventies. It was bloody brilliant. No prisoners at all. But what was clear was, Dungannon started the better team which was clearly making the Belfast crowd twitchy and rightly so. This was increased tenfold when The Swifts took a brilliant lead through Dylan King. Not just a tap in either, a thirty yard banana howitzer. The lanky Glens keeper didn’t stand a chance. A beauty of a strike. This leading to the hosts going in at half time leading 1-0
Half time came and I had to run and get our scarves as the club shop is fan run and only open at the break during games. When that mission was accomplished I saw Simon waiting for us to take us up to the board room. Once we were in and Wee Man chose a Jammy Dodger as his weapon of choice I was introduced to David Martin…..Aye me neither but as it happens he is the President of the NIFL and his game of choice for the day was this at Stangmore. Once he found we were from Aberdeen he was clearly surprised we had made the effort but was also clearly impressed and said to Simon that he was happy to hear that people from Scotland could be visiting them when Linfield and Cliftonville were at home that day (both got beat for the record). A couple of sandwiches/jammy dodgers, a coffee and a gander at the retro team photos we headed back for the second half
The second half carried on in the same manner as the first with Dungannon running the show. Their backline were all quality and the Glens could not get anywhere near the goal. The longer this continued the more poor challenges came in from Glentoran which in turn unsettled the visiting support. They found themselves heading for the exits on the 75 minute mark when some good play on the wing left Ryan Wade with a tap in. In the Dungannon end the long in the tooth mannie next to us chopped about forty years of his age and basically danced a jig while continually shouting “get in” over and over. This leading to Wee Man having a hysterical laughter fit. Anyway this killed the game and it looked as if the Swifts were heading to the three points, which they were and confirmed it by taking a three goal advantage through a penalty which was tucked away by Seanan Clucas. Nothing less than they deserved as Glentoran were pretty woefull throughout. What was left of the Belfast contingent was well on its way toward the gates when they grabbed a consolation in the ninetieth minute through Paul O’Neill. A very well deserved win for the County Tyrone side. But more importantly from a selfish point of view a very decent performance to watch and a decent experience of Dungannon Swifts FC. Cheers guys. Really chuffed I decided to head your way instead of a “big” name.
Irish fitba over both sides of the border. Different scenarios with the favourite running riot in one game and the underdogs pulling of a cracking win in the other. Nine goals witnessed. I want to do it all over again in the same manner we did it this time. Ireland, Northern and Republic are fantastic countries. I will be back. Wee Mans presence confirmed after we drove past Crusaders’ Seaview en route to the North Coast. He asked if that’s where we were going and I replied “no pal, maybe next time” to which he retorted “when we going then?”. No way ill disappoint him. Crusaders and Finn Harps next time
Me 156 , Wee Man 29