Town boss says club must attract the best

Neil Clydesdale will play for Banbridge Town next season. INBL1616-262PB
Neil Clydesdale will play for Banbridge Town next season. INBL1616-262PB

Banbridge Town’s new boss doesn’t care who he upsets on his quest to be successful.

After Stuart King pulled off a successful coup last weekend, pinching striker Neil Clydesdale from under the nose of his good friend and Banbridge Rangers manager Lee Feeney, he said he was simply doing his job.

And he warned we can expect to see more of the same.

He’s determined to make a success of his debut managerial role. And if that means ruffling a few feathers, he’s prepared to do it for the good of the club.

“We’re the most senior club in the area and we have to be attracting the best players from the town,” said King. “We’ve done that this week and it’s my job to keep doing it.”

King wasn’t just talking about the capture of Rangers man Clydesdale. He’s just as pleased with another new signing - winger Andrew Wilson.

He’s another Banbridge man and comes in from Glenavon Reserves.

“It’s a big plus for the club that he wants to sign for us,” said the manager.

“Andrew was one of two local lads I invited to train 
with us during pre-season and he decided he wanted to join.

“They are the two best young players in the town and I’m buzzing that I’ve got one of them to join.

“I told them that the opportunity is here to play senior football.”

Wilson has already made his mark, scoring in the friendly match against Lurgan Town on Saturday.

“Andrew played the second half and scored within a minute of coming on so that’s a good sign,” King laughed.

“He’s a direct winger with a lot of strength. He plays the way I want my wingers to play going forward.”

Clydesdale, meanwhile, is a signing much more familiar to the Town faithful. He has played for the club before, leaving his first stint to join Rangers and now he’s made the opposite journey.

“That’s a big one for us,” said a delighted King.

“Ryan (Watson) tried to get Neil back to the club a few times so he was a big target again this summer.

“I met with him before I went to France and he promised me he would come down for pre-season with us. He did really well in our first friendly on Saturday and then he agreed to sign.”

Clydesdale has played Championship football before, with both Town and Dollingstown. He even netted a brace against Town in Championship Two only last March before transferring back to Banbridge Rangers just a few months later.

“I thought he was the Rangers’ best player,” said King “He wanted the chance to play senior football and he can do that with us. He is certainly more than capable of it. There were other clubs interested in Neil but he really enjoyed our training and saw what we’re all about. That’s down to the rest of the lads and the atmosphere that there has been throughout pre-season.

“He’s a very creative player and he scores goals. He showed those things in the friendly last Saturday when he was getting in behind the defence, creating lots of chances. He put a few on a plate for other people.

“He’s quick and direct and that’s the way I want my forwards to play. We need to score more goals this season and we need our forwards to be direct.”

Clydesdale’s signing takes Town’s quota of forwards up to four with Conor Downey, Neil Barr and Ashley Gregg all fighting for a starting spot.

“I’ve told all the guys that they will have an opportunity to impress over pre-season and stake their claim,” said King.

“The lads have put in a lot of hard work so now they have to go out and enjoy their football on the pitch with the friendly matches.

“It will be great to get playing at Crystal Park (against Cliftonville) on Saturday in front of the fans but there were a lot of them at Lurgan Town last week, which was absolutely brilliant to see.”

Town have now made seven summer signings. Could there be more?

“I’m not far off now,” said King. “If we can get more quality in then I will do it and I’m actively looking but if this is the squad we go into the season with, I’ll be happy with that.”