After a decade in the Amateur League, striker proves he belongs at Irish League level by scoring 20 goals in promotion bid
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The 29-year-old, who arrived at Clandeboye Park from Rathfriland Rangers last summer, formed a stunning partnership with Ben Arthurs as both scored 20 league goals apiece to seal Championship promotion.
Neale is a natural goalscorer – he describes himself as a poacher – netting 26 in 25 games to help Rathfriland win the Premier Division last season while his 23 in 19 outings in 2018/19 secured second spot in Division 1A for Killyleagh YC.
It was a campaign to remember for Bangor, who also picked up the Steel & Sons Cup on Christmas Eve with Neale heading home the winner.
"Playing Amateur League for a lot of years you come across teams at higher levels but coming off the back of scoring goals for Rathfriland last season I knew I was going to fit into the team well,” he said.
"As a striker scoring goals you have a natural confidence and when you have good players behind you supplying chances you always back yourself to score at any level.
"There are different types of strikers. Certain players can create their own chances and then there are others like myself that are poachers.
"Poachers thrive off service so you always need people crossing balls and passing into the box. A striker who has an instinct for goals will always back themselves no matter what the level.
"Poaching is an instinctual habit and I reckon if you have the service you can score goals at any level."
Neale had several short stints with clubs up the leagues, spending a few months at Loughgall, Annagh United and Dundela after a spell with Linfield Swifts before dropping down.
What makes the success even sweeter for him is the fact that he’s been able to share it with younger brother Reece – a defender with Premiership experience having made one appearance for Linfield before playing 50 times in the top-flight at Carrick Rangers.
"That was 10 years ago and most of that time since has been spent in the Amateur League enjoying my football,” he added.
"I was itching to win the Amateur League and other trophies at that level - it was something I always wanted to achieve.
"With Rathfriland last year we were fortunate to get a good squad together with Ally Wilson (manager) and a good club and win the double.
"That ticked the box for me and with my wee brother at Bangor the opportunity came up to sign there and I thought it was one I couldn't turn down. Playing with family and winning a double - how could anyone turn that down? It's what you dream of in football.
"I know it's a lower level and people would dream of playing a higher level but playing with family at any level and winning trophies, it's a very special feeling.
"My granda hasn't been very well in recent years but he's coming to all the matches because we are playing together.
"We were able to take photos with the Steel & Sons trophy at Christmas and then got photos with him with the double. He's printed those photos out and they have pride of place in his living room. Memories like that can never be taken away."