Cup finals and managerial upheaval - it’s been a topsy turvy year for Banbridge Town

It’s been a drama-packed year for Banbridge Town.

Back in January, Brian Adair was the newly-appointed Manager and he brought with him a few very experienced players through the entrance at Crystal Park, such as Neil Alderdice, Willie Herron, Kevin Henry etc.

Things were going really well with Banbridge Town reaching the final of the Mid-Ulster Cup in May and being unlucky to go under 2-1 to Premier side Dungannon Swifts after extra-time at the Swifts’ home ground.

They also reached the semi-final of the Intermediate Cup - losing to eventual winners, Championship One side Institute. Hopes were high for the forth-coming season off the back of those two thrilling Cup campaigns so it was a big shock when Brian Adair tendered his resignation prior to the start of the new season after a short but promising reign.

However, Town were fortunate to secure the services of current Manager Ryan Watson and he has certainly done an incredible job to date with a largely young and inexperienced squad.

It is widely acknowledged that it has been a dream season since its August commencement and has exceeded all of Town’s wildest expectations. Town are flying high and have been in and around the top of Championship Two for the entirity of the league season to date.

They also picked up a thrilling 4-2 victory over Rathfriland Rangers and former boss Brian Adair in the Irish Cup fourth round on Saturday 7th December. Credit must go to Watson and his coaches Barry Taylor, Neil Watson and Mark Kerr who have managed to kindle a tremendous spirit of togetherness among the entire squad, who are all playing out of their skin.

When one considers that Ryan had not got the perverbial pot of gold to attract big name players to Banbridge Town during the summer transfer window, what he has achieved to date is truly remarkable.

However, as manager Ryan Watson has himself has declared: “It is early days and much too early to blow your trumpet just yet.”

The modest Ryan will ensure that the players keep their feet firmly on the ground and continue to work hard, because this is his philosophy. Statistically, Town have a 75% success rate to date and are still in contention in the Irish Cup, Intermediate Cup and Mid-Ulster Cup.

Star striker Steven O’Neill is certainly living up to the promise shown last season and is already way out in front as leading goalscorer with 11 goals to his name.

It is good to see the ‘Player of the Month’ award resurrected again with the supporters selecting their own choice for the award via Town’s excellent online website. It is also encouraging to see a number of Town’s loyal fringe players from last season (i.e. Stephen Jones, Adam Pedlow and Michael Ferguson) now making a real impact thanks largely to the influence of Manager Ryan Watson and his Coaching Staff.

New Reserve Team Manager Errol Curran has made a welcome return to Crystal Park and this is another big plus to Watson’s Backroom Staff.

The Supporters’ Club are once again playing a big part in Town’s season and their attendance at nearly all away fixtures is a source of great encouragement to the team. They are also providing much needed financial aid to the Club which is appreciated. All in all, it has been a really good 2013 for Banbridge Town. Now the trick is to extend its success to 2014.