Warrenpoint Town boss Barry Gray insists he will not mind taking on the role of ‘party pooper’ in Saturday’s history-making Premier League clash against Linfield at Milltown, WRITES ALEX MILLS.
All eyes will be on Blues manager David Jeffrey who will celebrate 17 in the Windsor Park hot-seat. But the ‘great one’ will take his team to the County Down venue in search of three points, regardless of all the glitz of his landmark occasion.
“It’s a wonderful achievement,” said Gray, whose team have catapulted to 10th in the table, four points ahead of Coleraine, having played one game less.
“David deserves all the accolades for his wonderful service, but we are in a results-based business and hopefully, we can spoil the party.
“We’re in a nice little run a the minute, having won our last three games. It has helped put a bit of daylight between ourselves and the two bottom clubs, Ards and Coleraine,” added Gray, who wife presented him with a baby daughter yesterday.
“We pinched all three points at Ballinamallard on Wednesday with a last minute winner, which was a massive boost. Hopefully we can keep that going for what should be a fantastic occasions when Linfield come to Milltown.”
Jeffrey, typically, declared there is a ‘job to be done’ in spite of his wonderful personal achievement.
His team lost ground at the top of the table after their New Year’s Day game against Glenavon was postponed due to flooding at Windsor Park. It gave title holders Cliftonville the opportunity of closing the gap to only three points.
“It’s vital we build on our Boxing Day win over Glentoran,” said Jeffrey. “We were disappointed that Wednesday’s game was called off, but the referee had no choice.
“We now face a team that has been in great form, claiming vital wins that has shot them away from the bottom of the table - we must be ready to meet what will be another big challenge head on.”
And, on his 17 years in charge of the Irish League’s biggest club, Jeffrey added: “I feel very proud, humbled and honoured.
“I am unashamedly a Blueman and have been since I was a boy. To play 10 years for the team I supported and then, to captain the team for quite a number of those years, was absolutely fantastic. I always counted my playing career as a terrific privilege. It really was a boyhood dream come true.
“Being given the big job was a dream. I’ve hadthe honour of serving this club as player and then manager for between 27-28 years of my life, which has been just superb.
“I remember very clearly my first game as caretaker boss on January 4, 1997, when we won 2-0 away to Portadown. I obviously never ever thought I’d be still manager 17 years later.
“I never ever imagined in my wildest dreams that I’d get to complete 17 years, but I have enjoyed every minute of it and I take great satisfaction at being the longest serving manager in the club’s great history to date.”
Recent P’ship form (latest on left): Warrenpoint W-W-W-L-W; Linfield W-W-W-W-L
Last 2 league meetings: Linfield 5 Warrenpoint 1, Warrenpoint 0 Linfield 2.
Prediction: Warrenpoint 0 Linfield 2