Three Ryans sign at Crystal Park

Banbridge Town Chairman Stephen Radcliffe and Manager Ryan Watson with the Town's three new signings, Ryan Gregg, Ryan Evans and Ryan Gourley � Edward Byrne Photography INBL1427-220EB
Banbridge Town Chairman Stephen Radcliffe and Manager Ryan Watson with the Town's three new signings, Ryan Gregg, Ryan Evans and Ryan Gourley � Edward Byrne Photography INBL1427-220EB

Banbridge Town’s three new signings will have to called by their second names at training or things could get a little confusing.

Local lads Ryan Evans, Ryan Gregg and Ryan Gourley have all signed on for manager Ryan Watson.

Evans previously left Town in 2008 but after a brief few months with then Premiership high-flyers Lisburn Distillery, he joined Loughgall.

Most recently, Evans has been at Rathfriland Rangers but Watson is confident his new winger can still play at Championship level.

“He’s a class act and always has been,” said the boss. “I’m delighted to get him on board. He’s in his early 30s but he still has what it takes. He’s quality at taking people on and getting great crosses in. We’ll try and recapture that form from him.

“He maybe hasn’t been fully fit so we’re going to get him as fit as possible and get him playing the way I know he can. He’s hard to stop once he’s on form but we just need to get his fitness up to the right level for Championship Two.

“Ryan’s a great lad. He’s a bubbly character and the type of person I want in the changing room.

“He has had a good career and he wants to come back to Banbridge, where it all really started for him.”

At the other end of their football careers, Gregg and Gourley are hoping a spell at Town can prove to be just the beginning of their careers in the top divisions of Northern Irish football.

Ryan Gregg is a 21 year-old defender who has been playing for Banbridge Rangers and has been one of Watson’s primary transfer targets.

“I’ve been wtaching Ryan playing for two or three seasons,” said the Town manager. “He stood out at that level so much and I always thought that if I was manager at Town, he’s a player I’d love to bring to the club.

“For a young lad, he reads the game well, he’s comfortable with both feet and he can play anywhere across the back four.

“He has strong links with Banbridge Rangers and has a lot of friends there. I know it’s been hard for him to leave but his attitude has been first class and he’s been working hard. He really wants to make a go of it.

“Hopefully all his friends from Rangers will get behind him and support him. He has all the potential to be a great player at this level and maybe even higher.”

Gourley is another local lad but comes via USA, where he spent last season on a scholarship. Before then, he played for Newry City’s reserve team and is still just 19.
“He’s an exciting prospect,” said Watson. “He can play up front or out wide and he’s lightning quick. He’s very skilful too and has an eye for goal.

“He was on a scholarship in America last year but he’s come home and was on the look-out for a club. He was attracting interest from a few teams. He has so much potential and I’m very excited to have him on board.

“It’s a big boost to everybody at the club to get the three lads signed up so early in pre-season.”

Bringing in more players from Banbridge is an added bonus for Watson, who is keen to help the town’s talented players progress.

“That has always been a target of mine, to encourage and attract the local talent to play at the highest level they can in Banbridge,” he said. “I want them to challenge themselves to step up.

“I’ve no doubt that these lads will step up to the mark and will compliment the other young lads in the squad like Nathan Baird, Nigel Ferguson, James Wilson, Mark Taggart and David Gray.

“We have a nice mix of youth and experience and the squad’s coming together really well. The majority of the squad is local now too, which is great. We want to bring the young guys through, help them progress and bring a bit of success as well.”

Watson says his squad is close to being finalised ahead of the 2014/15 campaign but did leave the door open for one more signing before the start of the season.

For news on which

Town player has signed for

Rathfriland, see page 30.