Ballymena United’s Adam Lecky aiming to follow brother Richard’s Portadown path with Europa League goals

Ballymena United's Adam Lecky. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Ballymena United's Adam Lecky. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Within the numerous phone calls and text messages celebrating Adam Lecky’s first taste of European football, one held greater significance than most.

For the second time inside a decade, European football is taking the summer centre-stage in a Lecky family home - a fact older brother Richard was only too happy to highlight.

Richard Lecky celebrates scoring for Portadown in the Europa League during 2010. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Richard Lecky celebrates scoring for Portadown in the Europa League during 2010. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

Adam’s Europa League adventure started with helping Ballymena United to success over Runavik of the Faroe Islands and continues tonight in Sweden against high-profile Malmo.

Clocking up the continental air miles as an Irish League player is a path previously followed by Richard during the late 2000s that left the Portadown striker holding a record as the most prolific forward in the Shamrock Park club’s European history.

“He was certainly quick to remind me of that record and happy to point out how he’s five goals ahead of me in Europe,” laughs Adam. “For Richard to have that position in Portadown’s history books is brilliant and a record that looks set to stand for some time yet.

“He was at Ballymena Showgrounds with our dad watching the first leg against Runavik, so that was great.”

History would not have been far from Lecky’s mind as he boarded the plane to Sweden this week as part of the Ballymena United party.

Victory against Runavik put the current squad in Ballymena’s record books as the first to ever progress past a first European hurdle - with that success setting up a tie with a Malmo club both lucrative in terms of potential experience and six-figure prize purse.

“To have that boost to the club with the finances can only help our plans moving forward back home in the Irish League and it is also something as players we want to take as much from as possible,” said Lecky ahead of facing a Malmo club capable of tracing European credentials back to the 1960s. “Malmo is one of the biggest names in Swedish football and we are realistic about our chances but you always just want to try and keep it tight away from home to give us something to bring back to Ballymena.

“We have experience of European football from David Jeffrey and Bryan McLoughlin behind the scenes, plus Jim Ervin, given past trips with Linfield.

“It is my first taste of it all but David is great at keeping everyone as relaxed as possible.

“Our preparations could not have been any more professional, even down to sending someone to scout the opposition in person or mapping out a detailed itinerary and diet.

“Certainly in terms of match sharpness, these European games are a great foundation for our own domestic season and give us a real platform to push on after the progress made so far by the club.

“Everyone is keen to keep moving forward.

Reflecting on his past, Lecky can recall the buzz back home as a young teen when Richard was heading off to represent the Ports in Europe.

“It was great back then and I was almost jealous of Richard but thinking how brilliant it was for him,” said Lecky. “Because there is such a strong connection between Castlederg and Portadown dating back to Richard Clarke, I would have watched the Ports even before Richard signed and remember the era of Vinny Arkins and Gary Hamilton leading the attack.

“I remember watching Richard score for Portadown in Europe and it would be great for me to get one goal for Ballymena, never mind five.”