Banbridge Rangers’ Ally Wilson finds value in vote to settle Mid-Ulster title triumph
Banbridge Rangers manager Ally Wilson may have put the champagne on ice but has rejected accusations of a tainted title for the newly-confirmed Mid-Ulster Intermediate League Section A champions.
Confirmation on Wednesday of a vote by 60 of the 65 clubs within the Mid-Ulster Football League cemented by a two-thirds majority an average-points calculation to settle the standings.
As a result, Rangers’ position as pre-lockdown top-flight league leaders was ratified by officials as title favourites to title winners.
Wilson accepts the unusual circumstances behind the season outcome - and club’s first Intermediate A triumph - but has his focus on the positives moving forward for the ambitious club.
“In any walk of life you can never please everyone and these are unprecedented times in which everything has changed,” said the former Irish League striker, who had helped steer his side to a 17-match unbeaten run across all competitions and only a single defeat in Intermediate A. “Ideally you want to settle the season out on the pitch but the world is far from ideal at the minute and I’m pleased the clubs voted in the majority to draw a line under everything based on a football decision.
“To rule null-and-void would have been heart-breaking for everyone really I think, to dismiss the sacrifices over a season by so many people connected in different ways to clubs.
“We’ve all put in long hours, with people spending time away from family or taking time off work to play and train.
“The lockdown arrived with the season in March and from August I think we did enough on the pitch to prove we are worthy winners, sitting nine points clear with nine games left.
“It was bit strange getting the call from the chairman then getting the word out to the players, rather than everyone celebrating together and sharing in the euphoria of getting a result on the pitch.
“We are all in sport to win and it may not be perfect but it is a solution to the season based on a majority verdict.
“Rather than a major sense of celebration I felt more relief than anything else that the season ended with something to show for our efforts.”
Wilson experienced Irish League top-flight football as a young forward on Loughgall’s books and remains driven to play a part in pushing Rangers forward.
“We did not apply for promotion this season into the Bluefin Sport Premier Intermediate League, we still have some work to do to get ready for that step,” said Wilson. “However, if we can win the title again next season then we would hope to be in a position to try and progress.
“It is a young squad, hungry and with the vast majority no more than 22 years old.
“We’ve played games this season with up to six teenagers out on the pitch and that youth focus in a big part of our infrastructure.
“I came into the club over a year ago and we won last season’s Marshall Cup, so this is another forward step for the club.
“There is real value in achieving that together, even if we cannot celebrate or get over the line in the traditional way.
“Now there is a resolution, we can take some time to relax and then it will be about putting the focus on preparations for next season.
“However, as soon as we get the chance to get everyone together in one place I’m sure we will really celebrate this season’s success.”
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