Penalty hero Alan Davidson believes there are more ‘good times’ up ahead for Ballymena United.
The 24-year-old, from Warrenpoint, hit the decisive spot kick in Tuesday night’s dramatic penalty shoot-out against Linfield at the Oval to earn his club the County Antrim Shield – their first trophy in 23 years.
Davidson held his nerve to send Blues rookie goalkeeper, Ross Glendinning, the wrong way, sparking scenes of raw emotion among the Sky Blues and the big following of supporters.
The former Newry midfielder insists it could be the start of something special at the Showgrounds.
“Our aim is to build on this,” he said. “This has to be the start for this team. We can’t get carried away by the highs. We’ll enjoy this, but our next aim is to get top-six in the league. That’s the next challenge.
“There’s a great group in the changing room and we all get on. There are no cliques and there is a great spirit. We are all friends
“It’s unbelievable. It’s just great to bring some success back to the club for the first time in a long time. Twenty-three years is an eternity in football terms, so we’re pleased to put that record to bed.”
Davidson actually started celebrating when United goalkeeper Stuart Addis beat away Daryl Fordyce’s effort seconds earlier.
“As soon as Fordyce missed, I started walking and I knew where I was going to put the ball,” he added. “It worked out OK. I raised my arms and it was part of my routine.
“I wanted to go last. I don’t mind the pressure. I took a few deep breaths and stayed out of the huddle in the centre-circle.”
Davidson adds that manager Glenn Ferguson has injected fresh impetus at the club.
“I love working with Glenn and his backroom staff. They have really instilled a positive and professional attitude. He is very good with the players and is very honest.
“There is a nice mix in the backroom staff. Training is sharp but also very enjoyable. The likes of Norman Kelly has a bit of banter. There is a nice blend between serious and light heartedness and its working. There’s an understanding and bond there.”
Davidson also hailed the United fans – 1,600 made the journey to East Belfast.
“It was great to see Ballymena people come out to support us,” he added.
“We finished seventh in the league last season, yet had the third biggest support. What sort of crowd would we have if we were challenging at the top end of the table?
“That’s the challenge now, to ensure this Ballymena team continues to grow and improve.”