It is difficult to countenance Linfield Football Club without David Jeffrey at the helm.
The enigmatic 51-year-old is a dyed in the wool Blueman.
The club’s motto ‘Audaces Fortuna Juvat’, or ‘Fortune Favours the Brave’, is seared on Jeffrey’s very DNA.
The former defender has enjoyed an marriage of almost 30 years with Linfield – the past 17 of which have been as manager.
Thirty trophies have been earned during that marathon tenure, including nine league titles and seven Irish Cups.
Throw in an all-Ireland Setanta Sports Cup, six doubles in seven years, and that mesmeric ‘Clean Sweep’ season of 2005/06, and Jeffrey has a plausible case for the defence as far as his future is concerned at Windsor Park.
But on Saturday, an emotional Jeffrey informed his players that the time had come to step aside.
‘DJ’ admitted he had taken the decision “in the best interests of the club”, before saying he would go into more detail when the dust had settled on the current season.
There is no denying Jeffrey’s incredible record at Linfield –even his harshest critics should give credit to his accomplishments.
Jeffrey is ‘Mr Linfield’, the passionate manager on the sidelines who wears his heart on his sleeve.
He is the man who would defend his club to the death, who revels in sporting rivalry and savours the partisan atmospheres that greet him at away grounds.
He is the pantomime villain to rival fans, the figure they love to berate and ridicule – even before a ball is kicked on a Saturday afternoon.
If anything, the terrace tirades are a perverse sign of respect for a manager who has won all before him.
The abuse and ‘Row Z’ verbals are back-handed salutes to a man who has lasted 17 years at the helm of the biggest club in Irish League football.
Jeffrey is a character that the Irish League can ill-afford to lose – his personality transcends the local game.
His enigmatic personna reaches out to the more casual observer – even if they do call him ‘Davy Jeffries’.
But come April 26, when Linfield complete their Premiership campaign, an era will draw to a close.
A glorious period of Linfield’s history that will stand the test of time, and one that should be applauded.
But before then, there are 10 Premiership fixtures for Linfield to try and claim a 10th title for their manager.
The fairytale ending has been scripted.
Now we wait and see...