IRISH LEAGUE: Ballinamallard switch stands after young fan injured

Ballinamallard United's Ferney Park. Picture by Andrew Paton/Press Eye
Ballinamallard United's Ferney Park. Picture by Andrew Paton/Press Eye

Ballinamallard United have moved to switch the home and away supporters in the two standing areas at Ferney Park.

The away fans will now occupy the Fisher Stand closest to the entrance while the home supporters will move to the Village Stand.

The move comes after a young Ballinamallard fan was injured as Portadown supporters passed through the home stand at the end of their game on December 30.

“I wouldn’t like to blow it out of all proportion,” said chairman Jeff Aiken. “There had previously been a few shouting matches but then we had a scuffle against Crusaders and a very serious incident at the Portadown match.

“After the Crusaders incident, we were scheduled to discuss our options at the committee meeting last night. Obviously in between, the Portadown incident occurred, which tightened our need to do something.

“I have written to all Premiership chairmen explaining our decision and asking them to notify their supporters.

“It was always something that we were concerned about. Maybe we should have moved on it earlier but we have moved fairly quickly.
“There are no problems with 99.9% of supporters and the first group of Portadown fans that came through applauded our support.

“Both sets of supporters cheered on their teams during the match and there was a great atmosphere. The players said that, while it’s not the biggest crowd we’ve had at Ferney Park, it was the noisiest. Unfortunately the incident at the end spoiled it for those who saw it and were affected by it.”

Since the incident at the Portadown match, the young supporter has been offered a donation and open invitation from the Portadown Supporters Society.

“Firstly, we’d like to wish her a full and speedy recovery,” said a group statement earlier this week.

“We hope she is back supporting her team as soon as she is able. We will donate all profits from the 50/50 from Tuesday’s match (v Glentoran) to the victim and will formally invite her and her family to be VIP guests at Shamrock Park at our next meeting with Ballinamallard United.

“Secondly, we totally condemn this wanton act of violence - there is no excuse or rationale that can possibly justify throwing an object into a stand crowded with football supporters.

“We would ask that the guilty party make themselves known to the club immediately. If they cannot raise the courage to come forward we would appeal to anyone with information to pass on details to the club.

“Portadown supporters travelled in numbers and supported the team in a passionate and terrific way.

“That we have had such a positive evening spoiled by the actions of one individual is extremely disappointing and discouraging.

“Many hours of volunteering time went into the arrangements and delivery of an excellent night, that one individual felt the need to let those volunteers down is despicable.”

The Mallards chairman praised the reaction from Portadown supporters and said that his own club have planned to give the supporter special treatment at their next home match.

He said: “The club have been delighted that so many Portadown fans have made contact with us. Another group of Portadown fans contacted me wishing to speak to the girl’s parents so that they could do something for her to show her that there are good Portadown fans.

“Gavin Dykes and our players have all signed a match ball that they will give to her at our next match, when she, along with her brother and sister, will be our team mascots.”

Ballinamallard’s next home game is against Glenavon on Tuesday January 17, for which the new arrangement for the two .