Ards 5 v 1 Newry City
Premier Division at Clandeboye Park, Bangor
Saturday, 30 April, 2005
By Adrian Monaghan
The climax to the 2004/05 campaign was a nail-biting one. While Glentoran and Linfield
fought it out at the top of the table, basement dwellers Ards had their own concerns and
the Newtownards men needed a win on the last day of the season to ensure they stayed
above Crusaders and avoid the dreaded relegation play-off slot.
Ards’ opponents were Newry City, managed by the colourful Roy McCreadie. The
relationship between Ards fans and McCreadie was less than amiable. McCreadie, while
manager at Omagh, got embroiled in some ugly scenes during a game in December 1997 at
Castlereagh Park. Ards fans had already seen two of their players sent off in this highly-
charged relegation battle.
McCreadie started ‘whipping-up’ the home support and was sent packing from the dugout
by the referee. He took dog’s abuse on the way off with fans shaking the steel perimeter
fencing. Cool as you like, Roy turned right at the pavilion and casually walked past the irate
fans and onto the terracing to take a seat up in the reserved stand. An eerie silence
descended on the ground as spectators looked on in astonishment at the sheer audacity of
Big Roy started a fair bit of winding up in the build-up to the contest. Playing the ‘Kick
Homeless Ards Out of the League’ card, which was very prevalent at the turn of the
millennium, in a press interview titled ‘McCreadie Keen to Send Ards Packing’, Roy had this
“Ards have been taking liberties in Irish League football for the last few years because they
have no ground. At least Crusaders and my old club Omagh Town have their own stadium.”
With all the pre-match hype out of the way a large crowd descended on the Clandeboye
Road to see if itinerant Ards could avoid the drop. The odds were stacked against them as
they had not won a ‘home’ game since the previous November. This horrible sequence of
results had cost Shane Reddish his job and Ards went into the game with a three man
interim management team of Raymond Campbell, John Bailie and Charlie Murphy.
Ards took an early lead when David Rainey drilled in a 25-yard free-kick on 14 minutes. As
McCreadie had predicted, Newry were not for lying down, well, Austin Friel was, as he went
to ground in the penalty box after a clumsy challenge. Friel was shown a yellow card for
diving when he might have been awarded a penalty on another day.
Michael McHugh went tearing into the Ards box and was sent clattering by Stephen
Robertson. The home support feared a straight red card, but thankfully it was only a yellow
and even better, Robbie Farrell fired the resulting penalty kick past the post. Minutes later
Farrell headed a real ‘sitter’ wide when it looked almost impossible to miss.
Ards, starting to show more fire in their bellies, came back into the game. The importance of
the occasion had clearly got to captain Padraig Gollogley. Pumped-up, the big Dundalk man
was kicking lumps all around him.
On 36 minutes, David Fairclough whipped in a left-footed corner kick and David Rainey
headed in from close range. Two minutes later it was 3-0 to the Red and Blues as Rainey
scored an exact replica of his second goal to register his hat-trick.
Charging about like an elephant shot in the head, Gollogley gave away a penalty when he
nearly cut Richard Clarke in two on the stroke of half-time. This time the visitors converted
with Damian Curran being the scorer.
Gary Kennedy restored Ards’ three goal advantage a few minutes into the second half, but
City were not finished and unbelievably they were awarded a third penalty kick on 67
minutes (the fifth penalty awarded against Ards in two games).
Paudie Gollogley, still trying to kill dead things, was penalised for a clumsy challenge.
Astonishingly, Newry missed this spot kick as well with Robertson guessing correctly to deny
Curran. In an attempt to calm everybody’s nerves (supporters, players and management)
the big centre-half was ‘hooked’ moments later, Sean Cleary taking his place.
A humdinger Irish league game is never complete without a red card or two and thankfully it
was Newry who fell foul of the ref as Austin Friel received a second yellow and was
despatched to the changing rooms. Reduced to ten men, the fizzle went out of City’s game
and Ards made sure of their Premiership survival when Kennedy added a fifth in stoppage
As it turned out, Ards’ last minute reprieve would prove to be merely a stay of execution as
they were relegated at the end of the following season.
No mention of this game would be complete without a reference to Billy Alexander, the
chief steward at the time. Among the healthy attendance was an enthusiastic group of kids
and displaying all the exuberance of youth, they started hurling streamers onto the pitch.
Billy, displeased at the mess that the streamers (bog roll) had made on the pitch, casually
ambled onto the playing surface and started clearing them away. Clearly locked in the zone,
Billy was totally oblivious that the game was still in progress, much to the amusement of the
spectators. A gentle word from referee McKnight aroused him from his reverie.
Ards- S.Robertson, J.Bailie, K.Pike, D.Fairclough, P.Gollogley, R.Scannell, R.Campbell,
A.Watson, G.Kennedy, D.Rainey, M.Hunter. Subs - S.Cleary, A.Waterworth, C.McCreery.
Newry City- N.Coleman, Boyle, D.Curran, Murtagh, P.McLaughlin, R.Clarke, A.Friel,
Ferguson, R.Farrell, M.McHugh, B.Meehan. Subs – Donohoe, A.Crawford, Cunningham.
Referee- John McKnight (Carrickfergus)
Attendance- 700 (Estimate)