Stephen McAlorum may have adopted a more mature side to his game – but he insists being captain of Glentoran won’t dilute his competitive edge.
The combative midfielder has been handed the skipper’s armband at The Oval, following in the steps of club stalwarts Elliott Morris, Colin Nixon and Paul Leeman.
It’s an honour McAlorum doesn’t take lightly, and he is ready to lead by example this season as the Glens look to improve on last year’s sixth-place finish in the Danske Bank Premiership.
“I am a proud man being captain of Glentoran Football Club,” the 28-year-old said.
“You look down the line of captains at this club. The likes of Els (Elliott Morris), Nicky (Colin Nixon), Leeper (Paul Leeman) – all great Irish League names, and it is a privilege to follow those names.”
One sour memory that continues to haunt McAlorum dates back to Boxing Day, 2012.
The midfielder saw red after just six minutes against derby rivals Linfield, being sent off following a clash with Michael Gault at Windsor Park.
The Glens would go onto lose the game 2-1, with McAlorum earning plenty of barbed criticism for his moment of madness.
“I knew back then that I had to make a change, both my temperament and football style,” McAlorum says.
“I can’t react to people, and I sat down and spoke to a lot of people about it.
“I could have stayed the same and ended up playing for a lower division club, or I could change and try and show my own potential.
“I had good people with me and thankfully things are working out.
“I didn’t want to lose that competitive edge, it was just the stupid things I kept on doing. Reacting and lifting my hands – stupid things.
“You still need your aggression, so I have retained that. I just have to stop the silly things.”
McAlorum can see the funny side of his fiery antics.
When asked if being captain brought added responsibility, he joked: “I don’t know about that – I got sent off in a pre-season friendly for arguing with the referee.
“I don’t know what I was thinking – it was frustration.
“We were playing a lot of games but weren’t scoring a lot of goals. But we will keep working hard.”
McAlorum is determined to make an impact in the Premiership this season.
The Glens lifted the Irish Cup back in May, their second success in three years in the blue riband competition.
The east Belfast men have been labelled ‘a cup team’ by some observers, a tag that frustrates McAlorum.
“It does frustrate you when you hear people calling Glentoran a cup team,” he added.
“There is huge potential here, and on our day we can beat anyone. We know how good we can play.
“We have played Crusaders, Linfield and Cliftonville off the pitch at times, so we know when we get our heads right we are a good aside.
“We just have to continue working hard and hopefully things will click.”