Sponsor Lee Doran from Sports Injury Clinic hands over a new advertising board to Willy Cull of Banbridge AFC BL46-210EB
Sponsor Lee Doran from Sports Injury Clinic hands over a new advertising board to Willy Cull of Banbridge AFC BL46-210EB

WILLIE Cull, one of the founding fathers of Banbridge AFC, has blown the final whistle on his tenure as chairman of the club.

The stalwart has called it a day, saying that work commitments have become too much for him to carry on in the role.

Willie formed the club in 1997 alongside Trevor Anderson and says he leaves with plenty of happy memories.

“I’m sad that it has come to this after putting a lot of time, money and effort into the club but sadly things have had to come to a head,” said Willie.

“But we’ve had lots of good times, particularly in the early days. I’ve been the club’s manager as well and the two roles are hard to combine but I always got the enjoyment out of it.

“We gained promotions and reached cup finals during that time as well as producing some of the best players to come out of the district, and for that I’ll forever be proud.”

Willie and Trevor were part of the team which also gained intermediate status for Cheney Park.

“Again, a lot of hard work had to go into that,” Willie added.

“We had meetings with the IFA and got them down to inspect the facilities. With the help of Mike Reith, who was the head of Leisure Services at the time before his retirement, we managed to get intermediate status, which was no mean feat.”

Willie still intends on being a member of the club and will remain in charge of the club’s Seconds.

“The Seconds are going really well at the moment, they are sitting second in Reserve Division 4 behind Rathfriland Swifts Reserves and might gain promotion,” he said.

The club issued their own statement on Facebook. It said: “The Committee of Banbridge AFC would like to thank Mr Willie Cull, for his dedication over the past number of years as Chairman of Banbridge AFC.

“Building on a history stemming back to the 1930s and a name by which the club is still known locally - the Boys Club, Willie helped establish Banbridge Amalgamated Football Club (AFC) in 1997.

“Willie has worked tirelessly since then bringing the club to where it is today.

“He will still be part of the club continuing as a member of its dedicated committee seeking ways to further develop the club and entice both new players and a new first team manager to take over at the start of next season.

“Simon Canning will take on the role in the interim until the end of the season (AGM).”

Meanwhile the big freeze took its toll on the weekend’s football with virtually every sporting fixture being wiped out.

The Mid Ulster League was entirely frozen out, while Banbridge Town’s scheduled game with Moyola Park was called off when Northern Ireland’s game with Russia was moved to Saturday following its original postponement on Friday evening.

Neither of Banbridge or Dromore’s rugby clubs managed to get a game, while the only hockey which got played was Banbridge’s Irish Senior Cup semi-final with Pembroke Wanderers on Saturday - although that was in Dublin.

A couple of junior fixtures - usually the first to be affected in inclimate weater - did get played.