Name: John Heron
First Ards game.
As a 4 or 5 year old, my earliest memories of Ards matches are fairly
vague, but I recall needing a couple of bricks to stand on so I could see
over the wall surrounding the pitch. I distinctly remember an aul lad,
coming out of the “Caffola” stand, face purple with rage after yet another
defeat “That’s the worst I’ve seen, we’re one off the bottom now…Won’t
be back to see that rubbish!!!” Left me thinking “Wow, there’s a team
worse than us!” Should point out that my P5 teacher discovered that I
was more than a tad short sighted (What blackboard?)…that may
explain why my very early memories of Ards matches are a bit fuzzy.
What made you follow Ards?
My Dad took me to Castlereagh Park along with my older brother and
sister. All my Uncles, cousins etc were also regulars at matches. It felt as
though everyone we knew followed the team. It was simply what we did
Favourite Ards Matches
During those recent years when we were playing in competitions the
Seconds formerly played in, against clubs that didn’t exist when
Humphries and McAvoy were in their pomp, I sustained myself with
memories of Ards drawing with AS Roma and beating Standard Liege.
However, if I could re-live one match for its blissfully happy ending and
all the emotion football can stir, it would be Ards v Bangor in the 1974
Irish Cup quarter final. Ards two down and looking out of the cup, we
pulled a goal back in the 65 th minute. Then, with McAteer off the bench
the team went from second gear to overdrive. Within the next 10
minutes, a 3 goal blitz had us 4 – 2 up and Bangor flattened. The Ards
supporter’s mood had changed from mournful silence to the halleluiah
chorus in a flash. Youngsters were dancing on the pitch, dunchers were
in the air. By far the best atmosphere I’ve experienced at an Ards match.
(Think “Arthur’s Day” with 4,000 packed into a tight ground)
If I could pick another from a more recent era, The Welders 3, Ards 4,
November 2015 stands out. Ards were down to ten men mid-way
through the first half (Hall was red carded in a case of mistaken identity).
We came from behind to lead three two. Welders equalised, but sitting
tight to defend a valuable away point wasn’t in manager Niall Currie’s
DNA. Danny McKee was sent from the bench to grab a memorable
winner. A superb team effort and great character to get that result from
an extremely difficult venue. We went top of the table that day and
Favourite Past Players
Billy Humphries was the best player in the league and he was playing in
red and blue. He won Ulster Player of the year twice along with every
local medal (bar City Cup). He had subtly but could hit a shot like an
exocet missile, could land the ball on a sixpence from 40 yards, beat
players with apparent ease and had vision to be two or three step ahead
of the opposition. However, Billy McAvoy was the player we all wanted
to be. Cliqued (sorry)…but 4 goals in the Irish Cup Final is “Roy of the
Rovers” stuff. If he wasn’t crocked in that match would he have made it
“across the water?” Frustratingly we’ll never know. It took Billy 2 years to
regain his full fitness, but still amassed 301 goals for Ards.
Best ever Irish League Player
I remember Martin O’Neill taking Ards apart while playing for Distillery –
it was a horrifying thing to watch. With that and his subsequent record he
has to be the one. 2 European Cups, English League title playing for
Clough’s Forest, and then captaining Northern Ireland on that night in
Valencia, when we beat Spain during the 1982 World Cup. Hard to beat
Current Ards Player
Whack – anyone with a hint of red and blue blood in their veins, will
appreciate and applaud Mr Craig McMillen. A genuine character. What a
player he has been for so many years. When he kisses the Ards badge,
you know he means it. Wee Dee Dee is also one of those players who
can turn a match. When he gets the ball the crowd sit up and the
opposition full back gets nervous. When he’s on his game Ards always
have a chance.
Favourite Away ground
Was the Oval until it started falling apart. I like the size of Seaview and
its location among the chimney pots. Proper football ground. I also
admire how Crusaders, a medium sized club, turned things around after
their brush with bankruptcy.
Hope for the future
Ards have to get a ground in Newtownards. That’s all. Just keeping the
colours flying is a massive task in our present circumstances, so it won’t
be easy (as many past attempts to solve this has proved) A huge team
effort required. We can do it!
1st Ards Game
That is pretty impossible, as I've been going to games since I was about 3! The earliest game that stands out in my mind is the 1992 Ulster Cup final the Oval. Rab Campbell had just left us and scored for the Blues as they beat us that night.
What made you follow Ards
My dad always worked on the turnstiles and took me to matches as soon as I could walk (which meant he got to keep going as well!) When I got to around 8 or 9, I had friends and cousins who went to matches too, so I started to take a bit more interest.
I was there the night we came back to beat Cliftonville 3-2 in the Budweiser semi; Arthurs' Day when we beat Bangor late on just after Christmas; and any time we run up a big score - not nice for the other team, but great to watch!
Favorite past players and why
Marty McCann - for the energy and excitement he brought to the team; Paul Cullen scored a lot of important goals and I think gets overlooked a bit.
Favourite current players and why
When he's on his game, Johnny Taylor is a fantastic defender; I think David McAllister has come a really long way since he joined us, and his game has improved massively.
Favourite Away Ground
Best ever Irish League Players
Liam Boyce, Glenn Lyttle and Tony Gorman.
Hopes for the future
The club comes together to decide what it wants to be - a semi successful team playing a decent level, but with no chance of getting home, or a Newtownards team, playing at whatever level we can, just to ensure we get home.
Full Name: Andrew Rodgers
1st Ards Game:
I can’t remember the first one, but the earliest programme I can find in my collection is against Linfield on the 14th April 1990 at Castlereagh Park.
What made you follow Ards:
I always played football every Saturday from a very young age, but I have a lot of memories of playing matches at Londonderry Park and then going across to Castlereagh Park to watch the 2nd half of Ards games.
As my playing time came to an end I took on roles on the Committee in Comber Young Men, CAFA and the DAWFL, but as my local senior team I would try to get over to see Ards if there were no clashes between the YM games or CAFA/DAWFL events.
I was then lucky enough to be approached by the Club Chairman, Brian Adams, about taking on the Club Secretary role when it became vacant. This has given me a great opportunity to watch and support the team home and away.
Unfortunately due to playing or being involved with my previous Club, as well as living in England Scotland, I haven’t got to as many Ards games as I would have liked.
This season the games against Dundela at Wilgar have been enjoyable, while the fixtures against Portadown have been intense, although the scorelines haven’t been on our side.
I also got to see some of the midweek games when the youngsters of Ben Arthurs, Jonah Mitchell and Josh Kelly were breaking through, which were good to watch.
Favorite past player and why
When I think back I always remember being impressed by Andy Beattie and Darren Erskine. More recently however I enjoyed watching Josh Kelly, although always hoped he would add some more goals to his skillset.
Favourite current players and why:
That’s a hard one, as I’ve been privileged to get to know most of the squad through my position and they are all good lads on and off the field.
Jaimie and JT are always really strong at the centre of defence, while Connall and Salou have been a revolution since they came into the squad during the January window.
DD could easily star in the Premiership, Eamon’s form has been superb before the forced break, while there is definitely a good player in Caoimhín that we are still waiting to see.
If I’m pushed however it would be Whack (minus his cautions, which add to my workload). On the pitch he gives the team energy and I’ve no doubt he would play with a broken leg for the Club if needed. Off the pitch he has a great rapport with the spectators of all ages.
It would also be remiss of me to not mention that we have some great young players coming through the youth ranks, with the likes of Jared Magee, Jourdan Shearer and Karl Hollywood scoring for fun
Favourite Away Ground:
I really enjoy Ferney Park. A fantastic pitch and set up, always made to feel welcome and it provides the opportunity to combine the weekend with a break in Enniskillen.
Wilgar Park is another ground I enjoy going to due to it being old in style and nestled in between housing, providing a good atmosphere on match day. Their officials have always made me feel welcome and they deserve a lot of credit for their plans to develop the ground.
Best ever Irish League Players
I was lucky enough to get to watch Lee Feeney on a number of occasions before his move to Rangers. An absolute joy to watch on his day and worth the admissions fee alone as they say.
Hopes for the future
I really want to see John and his team do well on the pitch, as they have been fantastic to work with, but for me the most important thing, above everything else, has to be getting the 1st team back playing in Newtownards.
I truly believe there is a massive support base to watch senior football in the town and if a pitch can be found, then the Club can grow, which in turn will provide the youth of the local area with the platform to excel at the top level of football in this country.
NAME – Dennis S Nash
AGE – 82
1ST ARDS MATCH – Any totally accurate response to this is difficult - but I would nominate a home game played on 30th March 1948 v Derry City at Castlereagh Park. Ards won 4-1.
My brother Derrick and myself were definitely at that game!
WHY DID YOU START SUPPORTING ARDS – As a boy living in Cardy, Newtownards was where I headed every week-end and, as the bus approached the outskirts of the town on a Saturday morning, the first sign I’d see would be the lettering on the Grandstand Roof at Castlereagh Park– “CAFOLLAS FOR ICE CREAM.”
I was naturally drawn to the ground and regularly approached the Boys’ Gate with my “thruppence” for admission!
FAVOURITE MATCH – 26th April 1952. Irish Cup Final. Recall vividly watching Ards land the Irish Cup at Windsor Park with that Johnny Thomson goal. - what a day!!!
FAVOURITE PAST PLAYERS AND WHY – Billy Imrie, Tommy Forde, Billy Humphries, Davy Lawther, Sammy Kydd, Tommy Walker, Billy McAvoy, Ray Mowat, Syd Patterson, Joe McNulty, Michael O’Connell………Everyone of that group did in their own way cement my feelings for the Club and influence the history of Ards FC.
FAVOURITE CURRENT PLAYER AND WHY – Johnny Taylor…….William Armstrong ------Craig McMillen -----Kyle Calderwood. I know this quartet fairly well and fondly follow their progress! I don’t get to the games now on any regular basis but my elder son who now lives in England always takes me along every time he returns “home” on a break.
FAVOURITE AWAY GROUND - Mourneview Park -Windsor Park -The Oval
BEST EVER IRISH LEAGUE PLAYER – Tommy Dickson from Linfield…….Wilbur Cush and Jimmy Jones (Glenavon)………..Sammy Hughes (Glentoran)…….Eric Trevorrow (Ballymena United)…….
MY BURNING DESIRES - To see Ards in a permanent base in the town, to reinvigorate the essential and critical support for the Ground Fund and to wish all my friends on the management side of the club in every capacity all the support and Good Wishes I can muster!
Name : Raymond Potter
Age : 61
First Ards game :IRISH CUP FINAL V DISTILLERY (WIN 4-2) AFTER A 0-0 DRAW , I WAS THERE TO SEE MCAVOY SCORE 4 THAT DAY ON CRUTCHES HAVING BROKE MY ANKLE IN THE SEMI FINAL OF THE SCHOOLS CUP PLAYING FOR THE MODEL .
Why did you start supporting Ards : SIMPLY THEY ARE MY HOME TOWN TEAM AND MY BROTHER BILLY USED TO TAKE ME TO THE GAMES.
Favourite match : AWAY TO FINN HARPS IN THE QUARTER FINAL OF THE BLAXNIT CUP WIN 2-1
AND ALSO THE FAMOUS 3-2 HOME WIN V STANDARD LIEGE IN EUROPE
Favourite past players and why. BILLY HUMPHRIES , FAR TOO GOOD FOR THE IRISH LEAGUE & BILLY McAVOY JUST AN OUT AND OUT GOALSCORER
Favourite current player and why : SCOTT MCMILLAN , CONSISTENCY EVERY MATCH EASILY 7 OR 8 OUT OF 10 EVERY WEEK
Favourite away ground: MOURNEVIEW PARK , GREAT FACILITES AND PITCH , GREAT CLUB
Best ever Irish League player : FOR ARDS , BILLY HUMPHRIES AND ISSAC ANDREWS AND SAMMY PAVIS (BOTH LINFIELD)
Name : Phillip Bartlett
Age : 38.
First Ards game : Ards vs Everton (January 91 I think ?), just about remember this game. Also
went to the Ards Bangor Irish Cup final ‘93 (2 out of 3 of them anyway ��) with 1 st Ards BB.
More recent ‘return’ to Ards FC was a 4 th round Irish Cup game at home to Donegal Celtic when
Ards ran out 7-0 winners. I had attended the game with some of the boys from the Ards Academy
07 squad who were over to do mascots and haven’t looked back since.
Why did you start supporting Ards : Home town club so have always kept an eye on them,
wouldn’t have gone to many games in my earlier years as I was playing most Saturdays (Down
Area League regular ��).
I got the opportunity to take up coaching with one of the under ages squads at Ards Academy
(07s) in 2015 and through going to games with the Squad as mascots and meeting the
management / players at various events, my love of the club and team has only increased along
with my attendance at matches both home and away.
Favourite match : There has been a few great games that have stood out, the recent 8-0
demolition of Knockbreada being one and seeing Warren Feeney make his debut for the club
was unexpected, but the 2-1 home win over Linfield in October 2018 is hard to beat. We didn’t
have much luck after that result but as a game it was a brilliant performance from the whole team
considering the opposition, especially from big Mark Kelly who grabbed two goals.
Favourite past players and why. From my perspective as a player/coach I always focus on
defensive minded players and goalkeepers, so it’s no surprise that my favourite players are from
Greg Hall and Sam Johnston….consistency across the back and in between the sticks is a must
and these two were the epitome of consistency. Sam would often save the team in seemingly
impossible circumstances and his volume of penalty saves were incredible. Greg played with
both calmness and professionalism, not to mention excellent ability. Was a shame to see both
players move on.
Favourite current player and why : After the recent rebuilding job following relegation, we don’t
have too many ‘stalwarts’ left at the club.
DD would be top for me at present with his pace and ability to beat players (and score a goal or
two or three) but Scott McMillan, Willie Armstrong and Bam have all been very impressive since
coming in during the summer.
Favourite away ground: Stangmore Park, Dungannon Swifts. Great wee ground that I have
visited several times to watch games when Ards were not involved. Great burgers and chips too
Best ever Irish League player : My love of the NI national team and Manchester United has had a
huge bearing on this as he hasn’t played for that many seasons in the Irish League, but I have to
opt for Roy Carroll.
Note, if Johnny Evans ever comes to play in the Irish League it will change to him ��
NAME - Adrian Monaghan
AGE - 55
FIRST ARDS MATCH - Ards v Glentoran 08/08/73, Ards won 4-2 and Billy McAvoy scored a hat-trick. Always remember that the referee got knocked out when the ball hit straight up the face and the match had to be stopped for a while!
WHY DID YOU START SUPPORTING ARDS - It was a natural thing for me. I loved football from no age and was born in Ards and my elder brothers, Gerald and Brendan, took me along to matches when I was young and it all sprung from there.
FAVOURITE MATCH - Probably the 4-2 win over Bangor in the Irish Cup in 1974, Ards were 2-0 down, but stormed back to win in style, of course, they went on to win the trophy.
FAVOURITE PAST PLAYERS AND WHY - When I was a kid it was Billy Humphries and Billy McAvoy, brilliant players in trophy winning sides. In the 80s we had great players like Jim Campbell and Damien Byrne, who were top class, but never had any silverware to show for it!
FAVOURITE CURRENT PLAYER AND WHY - Hard to look past Craig McMillen. 'Wack' is one of the few players from recent times who understands that it is an honour to play for Ards. He is also a fans favourite who relates brilliantly to the supporters.
FAVOURITE AWAY GROUND - Mourneview Park in Lurgan.
BEST EVER IRISH LEAGUE PLAYER - Even though he was getting on in years when I first saw him, Billy Humphries, was still a great player and the best I have ever seen in an Ards shirt. Non-Ards player would be Glentoran's Jim Cleary.
Age : 68.
Name : Stuart Dellow.
Age : 68.
First Ards game : November 23rd 1963, a City Cup game at home to Glentoran, we lost 4-2.
Why did you start supporting Ards : I had just moved to Northern Ireland from Wales and some friends took me to watch Ards. I had only heard of Glentoran and Linfield so I said I'd be supporting the Glens. However, although they lost the game I liked how Ards played and by the time the match had finished I was a fan and have been for 56 years!
Favourite match : So many to choose from but it would probably have to be the 3-2 defeat of Standard Liege at a packed Castlereagh Park against a team full of Internationals in September 1973. The previous Saturday we had beaten Coleraine 6-0 with all five forwards scoring [we had the old 2-3-5 formation in those days!] and I really felt we would do well against the Belgians. On the night we went behind early on to a goal that had a hint of offside about it, but we kept our heads and came back to win deservedly, although if VAR had existed in those days we may not have been awarded the penalty that won the game! It was a great night and will never be forgotten by those that were lucky enough to be there.
Favourite past players and why. Again hard to choose, but the 1973/74 side was superb. For me the three Billys can't be split. McAvoy for his goals, Humphries for his class and ability to beat a man and Nixon for his timing of tackles and his composure on the ball.
Favourite current player and why : Craig McMillen for his enthusiasm and love of the club and David McAllister for his speed and skill.
Favourite away ground: Mourneview in the Premiership and Loughgall in the Chamionship.
Best ever Irish League player : So many to choose from over the last 56 years but leaving aside Ards players I'd go for Glen Little who played for Glentoran in the mid 1990s and went on to win promotions with Reading and Burnley and play in the English Premier League. If asked the same question tomorrow I'd probably pick someone else!
NAME - Michael Barritt
AGE - 43
1ST ARDS MATCH - 1-0 win v distillery mid 80s ,Ards scored in last minute
WHY DID YOU START SUPPORTING ARDS - i really enoyed going with my Dad and the great cheer that went up when Ards scored that last minute winner hooked me.
FAVOURITE MATCH - Ards beating Linfield 3-2 in the Irish cup Quarter finals , Huge crowd and the atmosphere was electric , A real proper cup tie and Tommy Kincaids goal was coolness personified
FAVOURITE PAST PLAYERS AND WHY - Tommy Leeman was my top pick , superb defender and loved getting involved with the fans he gave everything in an Ards shirt , But others like Erskine ,Beattie,Bustard and Paul ONeill were all part of a great team in the early 90s
FAVOURITE CURRENT PLAYER AND WHY - Dee Dee McAllister , really exciting player on his day as good as anyone else
FAVOURITE AWAY GROUND- Back in the 90s it was Bangor mostly for the atmosphere when Ards played them in the derby games ,sitting in the old rickety stand and we had a great record there.
BEST EVER IRISH LEAGUE PLAYER - from the ones ive seen has to be Billy Caskey ,Class act
NAME - Stuart Killen
AGE - 38
1ST ARDS MATCH - 1-0 defeat home to Newry 1987 (6 year old)
WHY DID YOU START SUPPORTING ARDS - after my Dad took me to a few Linfield matches, my brother David took me along with him and his mates to watch Ards. Think I made the right choice!
FAVOURITE MATCH - the 97 home leg in the playoff vs B*ngor. Best atmosphere I ever seen at Castlereagh Park. Massive Ards crowd, singing from before kick off until well after the match. Winkie Murphy scored the only goal of the game.
FAVOURITE PAST PLAYERS AND WHY - Darren Erskine, Marty McCann and Harry McCourt. As a school kid in that era, they were icons!
FAVOURITE CURRENT PLAYER AND WHY - Whack, though he's left 3 times now, he's still Ards through and through!!
FAVOURITE AWAY GROUND - Mourneview Park
BEST EVER IRISH LEAGUE PLAYER - Joey Cunningham from Portadown, best I've seen