Sky Blue Sport News

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Quick Update!

The news coming out of Ballymena United shareholders AGM is as follows:

(1) Our manager Spike has signed a contract extension which will keep in the United hot-seat until end of season16/17, in other words, another two years.

(2) Spike has signed another two players in Willie Faulkner from Ards and Nathan Hanley from Crues.

(3) Spike had an agreement with Rodney Brown for him to sign as an amateur, therefore incurring no sell on fee, but he snubbed us and signed for the scum.

(4) He has been talking to at least four strikers, one of them (we call him player A), is working weekends and nights, so therefore he has no time for football at this present time, but that could change. Player B was looking likely to sign but he got a better offer elsewhere. Player C lives in Killyleagh and doesn't want to travel beyond Belfast for training and player D is prepared to take a substantial wage-cut to play for us, but he still demanding the sort of money that would pay 2 or 3 of our other players and we don't need a groundsman anyway.

(5) We are on a sound financial footing, gate receipts have almost doubled, but we need to get into semi-finals and finals to keep that steady income coming, no Boxing day bonanza this season.

(6) On the downside we were disappointed that our manager thinks he has enough cover for central defence, with only three recognised central defenders on the books and two of them are slightly injury-prone to say the least, but we have no qualifications, we are just onlookers.

We will endeavour to keep fans up to date as the summer progresses, COSB

Friday, April 24, 2015

Last Hurrah!

From a season that promised so much, we had to settle for zilch as usual, when our heroes (and we use that word advisedly), let us down when it came to the crunch. But enough about the gloom and doom, we are on a roll and we play our last game tomorrow, kick-off 14.00 hrs, against Dungannon Swifts, led by former United player Darren Murphy, who cut short his stint at United because of a serious knee injury, which didn't sit too well with Sky Blue fans, when we saw him play on for the Swifts.

But Darren, endeared himself to United fans when he deliberately missed a 'penalty', given by the ref, when Gavin Taggart, stopped play with a deliberate handball, to allow United player Chris Rodgers, who was lying pole-axed in our penalty area to receive treatment. But we expect him not to be doing us any favours tomorrow, he'll want to end on a winning note, or at least not want to lose, so we can expect a tough game, with no quarter asked or given.

That old workhouse, Davey Cookie Munster, is due to bid us farewell and rumour has it that Sparky and Archie have played their last games for United also. Both have been at the club a number of years, Archie came up through the ranks, our one success so far with our youth policy and local boy Sparky, was signed from Ballymoney United in Roy Walkers reign or maybe even earlier. There's also rumours suggesting that Stuarty Addis, our back-up keeper, will retire at the end of this season too.

This in turn will free some money up, enabling our manager to get fresh talent in and the Irish cup final 'gate money' should be available to us, to further strengthen his hand, so its not all gloom and doom. But will he sign the right people for the job, his record on that front is not too good, the only success from the recent transfer window, was keeper Tall Tim. Paddy Mac was showing promise, but he seems to injury prone and he is a rough diamond to say the least.

Maca, signed from Ards was a surprise signing, as he is an out and out winger and we don't normally play with wingers, but on the plus side he has weighed in with a couple of goals, he maybe be one for next season. The less about former player Cutch the better and his gentleman's agreement with Stephen Mr Ugly Baxter, which meant Cutch couldn't play against the Crues. He is now history and he took a hand out of us in the process and in our opinion, he left a bad taste in our mouths.

Will we turn up for the last game of season tomorrow? In truth its anybody's guess, we missed the game at Ferney Park against the Ducks, but in the last four games we have been less than impressive, in our opinion again, just doing enough to get the three points and things have been going for us, the two goals that we scored at Institute comes to mind. We have really rode our luck, maybe that's the way forward, but its due to change, but we fervently hope its good for another game.

Maybe we can entice some more fans in as its the last game of the season and there's a hot Buffet after the game in the Des Allen suite, where the player awards will be handed out. But as for the game itself as usual we don't have a clue about what line-up Glenn has in mind for our last game. How does the old song go, 'for we only know there's going to be a match and Ballymena United will be there', be there or be square? So come on Sky Blues, lets shag those chicken lovers!

Friday, April 17, 2015

Duck Walk!

United will put their unbeaten record on the line when the Ducks visit the Showgrounds for the penultimate league game tomorrow. Its not going to be a cake walk, or even a duck walk, for since United started this unbeaten four game run, with an away victory over tomorrows opponents, the Ducks themselves haven't lost a game and in the process guaranteed they will play Premiership football next season.

Will the United manager make five changes to his starting line-up, as he has done in the last two games, or will he pick his strongest side and hope they are good enough to do the job. As usual it is anybody's guess, but we at 'Sport hope he has learned his lesson and will not team up Thommo and Captain Jenks in central-midfield. He got away with last Saturday at Institute, but it was not a pretty game to watch and it was nerve-wrecking to say the least.

We fans don't enjoy being put through the wringer, so we fervently hope we will not have to go through it tomorrow. If Kyley is fully fit (he was an used sub last Saturday), it would be great to see him back playing, if only coming on as a late sub tomorrow. As usual we don't know who's fit and able to play and fully appreciate our manager doesn't want to give the opposition a heads-up on the composition of his team, better to keep them in the dark.

The Ducks, meanwhile are missing their defensive stalwart, Mark Stafford and maybe Tippers and Darboy will be able to capitalise on his absence. We don't need the points, the Ducks don't need the points, but we expect both teams will be striving to get the win. So its the battle of the two United's tomorrow and it could come down to, who wants it most, we hope its the 'Ballymena' United, so come on Sky Blues, lets run these 'ugly ducklings' out of town!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Long Walk!

If tomorrows game proves to be the last game Institute will play in the Premier league, we will not miss the long walk that opposing fans are forced to take to get into the ground. Its a tidy ground, but as usual spectators are given little or no thought, when it comes to their comfort, like all clubs in this league, fans are treated like second class citizens. That said, we at 'Sport will be sad to see Stute relegated,  not because we have beaten them 3 times already this season, its because they play the game the correct way.

The all-blacks are out to maintain their unbeaten run, coming as it was too late to have any bearing on the coveted top six position. But with three wins out of three games played, confidence is bound to be high, but apart from the match at Ferney, we have struggled to dominate the opposition and got through by good luck more than skill. We at 'Sport haven't a notion about whether Cush is fit again or Paddy Mac and whether they will be risked at the Riverside ground.

Our gut feeling is that Fergie will try to pick the nucleus of the side that triumphed in the last three games and we won't be surprised if Captain Jenks  is left in Scotland. But Spike could be thinking along completely different lines and want to run the rule over some youngsters and want the Captain there if things start to go wrong, only time will tell. We would urge all United fans to make the trip, if its humanly possible and cheer the all-blacks to victory and show compassion to the Stute.

But the opposite can take place, that's the beauty of our game, if we go down there thinking its easy, we will become unstuck. So we need everybody singing from the same hymn sheet, no complacency and definitely no show-boating. If we stick to the same principles, that started this unbeaten run, we will have no doubt that we will get a victory and continue our managers quest for 50 points and a finish above our dear friends down the A26, so come on United, lets be astute!

Monday, April 06, 2015

Easter Bunnies!

The Sky Blues face the Point tomorrow night, 19-45 hrs, at the Showgrounds, hoping to consolidate their position in their quest for a 7th place finish. They'll be no Easter Bunnies on show for Town have shown  they mean business, with their all-round football skills and United had best be up for this encounter, or they may end up with (cream) eggs on their faces. We must assume that everybody is fit, as our manager was as usual tight-lipped in an interview earlier today.

When asked about why he released Cutch and Brian Mack, he gave the official line that Cutch had other commitments, what with a new job and Brian wanted to go to the USA, where he hoped to get a job. We wonder if we'll ever hear the proper way of it, or just have to adopt the official line, anyway they are both gone and we don't think either of them will be missed.

Our manager delved into the transfer window with four signings in January and only one of them is currently holding down a first team place, Tall Tim. Maca can't get off the bench, Cutch has been released and Paddy Mac is on the injury list or he is dropped. So you see our acquisitions are not working out too well. We signed four players and only one of them is holding down a first team place, not a very good average, sign four to get one.

Big Tim was bang in form against the Coleraine scum on Saturday and he will be need to be in form tomorrow night, as the Point have a few nippy players and he will be tested, have no doubt. Will Fergie start the same eleven for the third game in a row? Its anybody's guess, just when you think you have him figured out, he surprises you. But we don't envisage any surprises tomorrow night, it will be all systems go for a win, so come Sky Blues, lets shag those Easter Bunnies!

Friday, April 03, 2015

Low Key!

We know its hard to get excited for a game that means nothing at all except for the 'bragging rights' but when have we needed anything better? This time it feels different and youngsters, who haven't been fans since 'pussy' was a cat, did get somewhat disillusioned at our recent exit from the Irish cup semi-final, where our players flopped once again.

We have tried to find reasons for this latest flop, blaming the system our manager had used or players not playing as a team, but until we find out what makes us flop on the big occasions, we at 'Sport feel we won't take that final step, that makes us into winners. But the answer is not us fans boycotting games when the going gets tough, we have got to stick at it.

For that reason we urge all true fans to turn up at Coleraine and cheer United on to victory over the Coleraine scum, for nothing beats a victory over them in our minds. Its true in the last five years we have struggled to keep pace with them, but we are seeing some light at the end of the tunnel in the last two seasons, culminating with that great victory on Boxing day.

So we are the form team this season and we can consolidate that with a victory tomorrow, but we need our fans to turn out in numbers and cheer us on. Our manager and players didn't go out to lose that Irish cup semi, they were the victim of circumstances beyond their control, but they kept trying up to the final whistle and for that they deserve some credit, but only some.

As usual we can only guess at what selection Glenn will pick to do battle against the scum tomorrow, but Darboy surely has to start, against his former team. If Paddy Mac is fit, will Glenn recall him or will he stick with the back four that done the business at Ferney last Saturday. Its a tall order we know, but we have to be up for this game, so come Sky Blues, lets shag these gassers!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Soldier On!

The Sky Blue Sport crew have to miss the match against the Ducks at Ferney Park tomorrow, because of prior commitments. Well in fact we are kicking our collective heels in Spain, enjoying the Spanish sun if not the strong breeze and generally having a relaxing time. Not even Rusty Ray is going to be at the game tomorrow, so we will have no presence at the game for the first time for a while. But we will be with United in spirit, but they will have to soldier on without our bodies.

We couldn't´t ascertain any team news, so we don't know if Paddy Mac and Cookie remain on the injured list or not? Anyway our defence is so porous, you could drive a bus through it, so it doesn´t make any difference who does or doesn't play. The only thing that we can hope for is to score more goals than the opposition, a tall order we know, but needs must, so come on Sky Blues, lets shag those duckies!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Torn Between!

This may seem like a strange headline, but we think it sums up our mood going into tomorrow's Irish cup semi-final against Portadown, exactly. We are torn between wanting our beloved Sky Blues to win and proceed to the Irish cup final for the second season running, the first time since since the 1959 final. But a long way to go to eclipse the 1929-31 finals, where we reached 3 finals in succession. If we beat the Ports tomorrow and lady luck has been with us against Chickenville and the Welders, our manager will no doubt get an extension to his contract.

If on the other hand, we lose, god forbid, we expect our board to say enough, is enough and appoint some visionary to take us to a higher level. Fergie, has taken us to the three finals, only winning one of them. But if truth be known, it was a surprise, given that we had shipped six goals to Linfield, whom we beat to win the Country Antrim Shield, barely a month or so previously. Fergie took us to another two finals in 2014 and 2015 and we deservedly lost them both.

But we have a chance to get to our 4th final tomorrow under his rule and Fergie has been at pains this week, to point out that we need better players, if we want to compete at the highest level. We at 'Sport are in agreement with him, bit we would point out that except for 5 or 6 players, in our first team panel, these are 'his players' and he gave them extended contracts just this season. But if Fergie is giving leave to carry on, which players are going to leave this season and who will he bring in.

We have been with Glenn all the way , but sometimes his tactics leave us nonplussed. He's a great believer in everybody playing to the system as he sees it and he's an avid believer in 4,3,3. It may have worked when he was at Linfield, in all those glory filled years, but alas at Ballymena it hasn't been an unqualified success. He started out this season, by playing a 4,4,2, system and when it became unstuck due to loss of form and injuries, he abandoned it.

He has since rekindled it, but with Maca cup-tied, he has been playing Gawley and his form has gone to the doldrums. The same could be said for  United's talisman, Cush, who blows hot and cold ,but mainly cold. So it will come as no surprise, if he goes back to to his favoured system tomorrow, he will live or die with that system, we fervently hope he lives. If we by some miracle overcome the Ports tomorrow and go on and win the cup, who knows what that can do to our fortunes.

The news on the injury front is not good, with Cookie picking up a groin strain in training and no word of Gavin and McVey, but on the plus side, JT is expected to declare himself fit. Our big goalkeeper Tall Tim, needs to assert himself, not like the last two weeks, he can't expect ref Andrew Davey to take his side every time. So its all systems to go for the Sky Blues, let's send these Portadowners to their orchards where they belong, lets shag them good, come on Sky Blues!

Friday, March 13, 2015

Home Comforts!

United go into their penultimate match before the split with a home game against league leaders Crues. Not only are they league leaders, but the they have plundered 77 goals and United have let in 68 goals, so a scoreless game doesn't look likely. The Sky Blues will no doubt be hoping for a positive result in this is our last home game before Easter and the last game before our Irish cup semi-final, against Portadown. Judging by our managers pre-match comments, it doesn't look likely, he'll play a weakened team and he has emphasised the need to get a result from this game.

It's not known whether Cutch, who transferred to Ballymena from the Crues, is eligible as he is the latest United player to be bound by a Gentleman's agreement, between him and the Crues manager, Stephen 'Mr Ugly' Baxter. So he is a signed United player, but he might as well be on loan, if this proves to be the case. Definitely missing from the Sky Blues line-up, will be Thommo, JT and Cush as they are all serving suspension, but they should be available for the the semi-final next week.

In the absence of JT, who will Spike select alongside Paddy Mac at the centre of our defence. Does he take a chance on Cookie, who struggled along with all our other players at Stangmore, last Friday night or does he, as he has done in the past, ask his Captain Jenks, to drop back into defence? We at 'Sport are of the opinion that Jenks will be needed to bolster the midfield, with Thommo and Cush  not available and Maca cup-tied next week.

He could maybe take a chance and play the versatile Sparky at the centre of defence, but we think he will not want to take a chance with the Crues forwards in prolific form. Paul Heatley, ex-Carrick Rangers, needs no introduction to United fans, as he took a 'dive' to win a penalty as United were cruelly dumped out the league cup semi-final a couple of  seasons ago. We'll need a strong ref to combat Heatley's diving tomorrow, but our luck is out for the ref appointed, is none other than Tim 'nice but dim' Marshall.

So it'll be a hard game, but one we have got to be up for and its a last chance to get a decent gate, as it is a Corporate dinner, we'll be lucky if the Crues bring 150, in fact 150 would be a good crowd for them. There is a collection on behalf Huntingdon disease, which is a degenerative disease, affecting people in all walks of life, so please do give generously to this worthy cause. Lets hope the Sky Blues are up for this one, so come on Sky Blues, lets shag those paper tigers!

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Not Pretty!

United go into this match at Dungannon Swifts tomorrow night, doomed to a bottom six finish, but we hope they don't take their foot of the gas. We aren't out of the woods yet as regards automatic relegation, but three points at Stangmore tomorrow night,should go a long way to ensuring that. What selection will our manager make? One change was forced on him with injury to JT last Saturday, luckily its not so bad as feared, badly bruised and not broken, but he'll missing for a number of weeks.

We, at 'Sport expect Glenn to start with Cookie in JTs place or he could start with Captain Jenks, who played there with distinction on a number of occasions in the past. With the return of Steeky from his one game ban, we should have a back four of Jimer, Steeky, Paddy Mac and Cookie or Jenks, therefore releasing Tony into midfield. Will Fergie recall the cup-tied Maca in place of the disappointing Gawley and might there be a chance to give Darboy a rare start?

We'll have to wait and see on that one, but Glenn has found a way to play his two favourite players, Captain Jenks and Thommo, in the same team and we fully expect him to start with virtually the same side as last week, the only two changes, Steeky and Cookie. A word here about the young lad Craig Gardiner, who filled in at a leftback in the absence of Steeky last week. Bruce Balmer was scathing in his match report on young Craig and most of all he was livid with our manager Spike, but we had to calm him down.

The manager saw a way to give the youngster a baptism to the cut and thrust of Irish cup action and he took a chance and he was rescued at the eleventh hour by the 'never say die' attitude of our team. The 'Sport crew to a man, thought we were dead and buried when Tippers weak penalty was saved by the Welders keeper, but credit to our players, they kept going and we were rewarded with a last gasp victory. But its back to the bread and butter of league football tomorrow night and we best be up for it.

The ref is our old friend Heth and we think the NIFL is taking the 'piss' as he is a native of Dungannon, but what's new. In the absence of regular spot-kick king, Ally, will Tippers still get the nod if we should be lucky enough to get one, or will the responsibility fall to Cutch? We suppose we'll have to wait and see on that one, but it will make for an interesting talking point. Its not going to be pretty, but if we want enough we can do it, so come Sky Blues, lets shag those chicken shaggers!