This Saturday could be the biggest day in Moneyslane village history.
That’s according to Moneyslane FC boss David Johnstone, who will lead a select side to face Manchester United Legends, now also including pin-up boy Lee Sharpe, at Jubilee Park (kick-off 3pm).
Before the match, the Manchester United players will be enjoying a breakfast in the Angler’s Rest at 10.30am. Tickets are also available to join them.
That night, they’ll all board the team coach to the Europa Hotel, where there will be a gala dinner and auction. Tickets are still available for that event. It certainly will be a packed day, centered around the match in the village.
“I think it has to be one of the biggest days in the village’s history,” said Johnstone.
“I can’t think of another event that we’ve had, certainly in the recent past, that would compare with bringing the sort of names that we have coming.
“From our point of view, our aim is clear. That is to make this a day that the community will remember for years to come.
“It’s very much all about the local community, giving something back to those who have helped the clubs over the years and making it a really special family day to open our facilities.”
Among the notable visitors to the club’s ground will be Louis Saha, who only last year retired from playing for Lazio last year, Ray Wilkins, David Healy, Keith Gillespie and Sammy McIlroy.
“There has been a lot of sweat and tears as you can imagine over the last nine or ten weeks particularly,” continued Johnstone.
“We have got a good club here at Moneyslane, right from the committee, the players to the supporters clubs and the fans. “Everyone has really mucked in together and we’re all really looking forward to the big game now.
“The topic of conversations about the club are all surrounding the big day at the minute.
“It’s hard to believe we going to have such big names of football coming to Jubilee Park.
“There are guys who have played in world Cups and won Chanpions Leagues. These are genuine world class stars who are going to be playing at Jubilee Park. It’ll be a fantastic day for us.”
Johnstone himself will roll back to years, pull on the ‘Blue and White Army’ jersey and take to the pitch, alongside other retired Moneyslane players.
“We obviously have to put out a team to match their age so we can only have a certain number of players below the age of 30,” he explained.
“That was much to the disappointment of some of the current first and second team members. Our team is made up of people who played for the club in some cases 25 and 30 years ago mixed with some of the younger players who are playing now.
“It’s going to be a good test and we’re all looking forward to the challenge.”
Saturday’s match has launched Mid-Ulster side Moneyslane into the national media. Johnstone hopes it isn’t the last time the nation’s eyes are cast towards Jubilee Park.
He said: “The club itself has come a heck of a long way since the early 80s when it started in the Newcastle League initially. I can remember those days, I played at the club in the late 80s.
“There has been a lot of steady growth since then. It hasn’t been spectacular and were not wishful thinkers.
“As can be seen from the pitch and the facilities. They are a club that have aspirations but they are realistic aspirations.
“Right now, the aim is to get promotion this year and establish ourselves as a leading Intermediate A club.
“We want to challenge for trophies at that level. On down the line, the Championship is a realistic possibility given the facilities we have at Jubilee Park but we’ll take it one step at a time and just enjoy the journey that we’re on.”
Tickets for the match are priced at £15 each and are available from Moneyslane FC, BMO Service Station (Katesbridge), Grahams Ice cream (Dromore and Rathfriland), Banbridge Information Centre (Scarva Street), Loughbrickland Post Office, Loughbrickland Pharmacy and Mace (Dromore) and also via Paypal on the Moneyslane FC website www.moneyslanefc.com.
For tickets for the breakfast, call Andrew McGivern on 028 406 71515 or call into the Anglers Rest.
To book a seat at the dinner, contact club commercial manager David Macauley on 07860667671.