VIEWS FROM THE STANDS: Fans debate the Danske Bank Premiership season

Irish League fans. Pic by Pacemaker.
Irish League fans. Pic by Pacemaker.

We asked a supporter from each club in the Danske Bank Premiership to answer questions on the forthcoming season:

Thanks to the following fans on Twitter for answering our questions: @JohnnyA81 (Ards), @RJParkinson1 (Ballinamallard United), @RobinsonDarryl (Ballymena United), @ffsragnar (Carrick Rangers), @Desmond_Funk (Cliftonville), @aaron_oneill94 (Coleraine), @Deano_Crues (Crusaders), @tommyla (Dungannon Swifts), @creakylufc (Glenavon), @raven1882 (Glentoran), @Waynefowler9 (Linfield), @warrenpointtown (Warrenpoint Town).

1: Hopes for the new season?

ARDS: Would like a senior cup final day out.

BALLINAMALLARD UNITED: That we push up the table and compete for the Europa League play-offs - plus a nice run in the Irish Cup.

BALLYMENA UNITED: A top-three league finish and to win a trophy.

CARRICK RANGERS: Realistically survival - but the optimist in me says mid-table.

CLIFTONVILLE: European qualification, ideally finishing in the top two and winning the Irish Cup after 39 long years.

COLERAINE: It’s important for us to hit the ground running so I would like to see a positive start to help build early confidence.

CRUSADERS: Hopefully we will bounce back from last season’s disappointing finish, plus maybe reach one or two finals.

DUNGANNON SWIFTS: You hope for season-by-season progress so a top-six spot would be fantastic. Another cup run and shot at qualifying for Europe would be my ambition talking.

GLENAVON: To finish inside the top four.

GLENTORAN: A top-five finish and Irish Cup run.

LINFIELD: To keep on our winning momentum - although, as much as I felt last season was the best finale to the league in a long time, I would like to win a title a bit easier next time.

WARRENPOINT TOWN: Simple - staying up!

2: Who will win the league?

ARDS: Linfield.





COLERAINE: Linfield.

CRUSADERS: Crusaders.


GLENAVON: Linfield.

GLENTORAN: Linfield.

LINFIELD: Linfield.


3: What is a good season for your club?

ARDS: Consolidating in the league plus a cup run.

BALLINAMALLARD UNITED: One where there is never a threat of being drawn into a relegation battle.

BALLYMENA UNITED: Another top-six spot plus a cup final that offers European qualification.

CARRICK RANGERS: Staying up and playing good football.

CLIFTONVILLE: Stability on and off the pitch, with European qualification. We have the team in place to really push on.

COLERAINE: Something similar to last season and I would be happy... a top-six finish and strong cup run.

CRUSADERS: Given how far we have come over the past few seasons then a top-two finish.

DUNGANNON SWIFTS: For a club of our size, last season was probably over-achieving, especially with Andrew Mitchell (who I rate as the best striker in the Irish League) now gone. Premiership safety is the target then as early as possible.

GLENAVON: A top-four finish.

GLENTORAN: A top-six spot and Irish Cup run.

LINFIELD: To challenge for the title in a league in which so many clubs look strong.

WARRENPOINT TOWN: Sixth or seventh.

4: Which player are you most looking forward to watching in your team?

ARDS: David McAllister.



CARRICK RANGERS: Declan ‘Fabio’ O’Brien.


COLERAINE: Ciaron Harkin.



GLENAVON: Andrew Mitchell.

GLENTORAN: Dylan Davidson.

LINFIELD: Jamie Mulgrew.

WARRENPOINT TOWN: We have a number of very exciting players.

5: Happy with your summer business?

ARDS: Yes, with Johnny Frazer the stand-out addition. Maybe one more defensive-minded player would be ideal.

BALLINAMALLARD UNITED: Yes, one more defender would complete it, although another striker wouldn’t go amiss.


CARRICK RANGERS: Our best players have gone and, for me, we’ve replaced them I guess not.

CLIFTONVILLE: Definitely, a sense of balance has been brought to the team, with a new spine put in place.

COLERAINE: Yes and no. Josh Carson looks the part and Stephen O’Donnell has come in to strengthen our defensive options. But I still think we lack the hard-hitting midfielder essential to the Irish League.

CRUSADERS: Absolutely. We have brought in players for areas in which we struggled for cover last season.

DUNGANNON SWIFTS: We cannot be happy with losing Andrew Mitchell but, on a limited budget, Rodney McAree has recruited well, in particular, Ryan Mayse and Grant Hutchinson.

GLENAVON: I’m disappointed we didn’t strengthen a bit more as we look a bit light I think.

GLENTORAN: I still think we need a leader.

LINFIELD: Jordan Stewart, Andy Mitchell and Robert Garrett all in so very much so.


6: Which player from another club would you love in your side?

ARDS: Jordan Owens - purely because he’s so difficult to handle.

BALLINAMALLARD UNITED: Mark Stafford - it’s time he came home.

BALLYMENA UNITED: Rhys Marshall - the most under-rated player in the league I think.


CLIFTONVILLE: Jamie Mulgrew - a no-nonsense player who gets on with the job of controlling Linfield’s midfield.

COLERAINE: Paul Heatley can change a game in an instant and is a defender’s nightmare.

CRUSADERS: Curtis Allen.

DUNGANNON SWIFTS: Andrew Mitchell.

GLENAVON: Paul Smyth or Paul Heatley.

GLENTORAN: Mark McChrystal.

LINFIELD: Andrew Mitchell.


7: Rival player you love to hate?

ARDS: Joe McKinney.




CLIFTONVILLE: Crusaders - the entire team.

COLERAINE: Cathair Friel.

CRUSADERS: Ryan Catney.

DUNGANNON SWIFTS: We are too nice in Dungannon for any of that stuff.

GLENAVON: Paul Heatley or Colin Coates.

GLENTORAN: Jimmy Callacher or Andy Waterworth.

LINFIELD: Colin Coates.


8: What’s the best thing about following your club?

ARDS: The loyal support. Not many clubs would have survived what Ards have suffered.

BALLINAMALLARD UNITED: The pride in the fact that our little club has - and continues to - over-achieve for our relative size, plus that now and again we can upset those much bigger clubs.

BALLYMENA UNITED: Having a successful team, with David Jeffrey bringing a more professional approach to the club, plus winning trophies.

CARRICK RANGERS: Our fans and the atmosphere we matter what, no matter where.

CLIFTONVILLE: The fans, the togetherness after decades of more downs than ups and a sense we will always prevail.

COLERAINE: There’s a great camaraderie about the club. The fact that so many players work in the area means if things go wrong on Saturday they definitely hear about it on a Monday!

CRUSADERS: We have come on so far over the past four or five seasons compared to back when I first started supporting the club.

DUNGANNON SWIFTS: The family atmosphere - newcomers are always welcome (and probably end up with a job to do!).

GLENAVON: You get to travel our country with your mates.

GLENTORAN: The roller-coaster ride that is Glentoran Football Club.

LINFIELD: The passion from the fans, players and manager - it’s the togetherness that makes us the biggest club in the country,


9: Why do you love the Irish League?

ARDS: The passion, the terraces, the craic. It seems to mean an awful lot to people when following their local club.

BALLINAMALLARD UNITED: It’s our league and, despite many views to the contrary, it’s a good product providing value-for-money entertainment.

BALLYMENA UNITED: We can all relate to it and there is a certain appeal to following your local club.

CARRICK RANGERS: The atmosphere is incredible and anything can happen.

CLIFTONVILLE: The fans that follow the team every week, the characters on and off the pitch and how clubs remain part of the community. I hope that it never changes and is passed down from generation to generation.

COLERAINE: It’s full of shock and surprises and love those long away trips. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

CRUSADERS: The connection between the fans and the players.

DUNGANNON SWIFTS: The club is important to you and you are important to the club.

GLENAVON: It is an exciting league that needs more promotion.

GLENTORAN: It’s proper football and offers value-for-money to the fans.

LINFIELD: Anyone can beat anyone and the commitment from players who juggle day jobs and training is impressive.


10: What’s your favourite away day?

ARDS: Old-school grounds like Inver Park or Stangmore Park.

BALLINAMALLARD UNITED: As I live in East Belfast it would be The Oval - with the pre-match banter with Glens fans over a beer always good.

BALLYMENA UNITED: Dungannon Swifts - great playing surface, crowd tight to the pitch and family-friendly club.

CARRICK RANGERS: Ballymena United - lots of banter between the fans and chanting.

CLIFTONVILLE: Dungannon Swifts - the old-school ground, close proximity to the pitch...and the best chips in the Irish League.

COLERAINE: We all know the quality of the burgers at Dungannon Swifts but I look forward to the away trip to Glenavon every season, I think it’s the best in the Irish League.

CRUSADERS: Warrenpoint Town - decent chips and a good bus trip.

DUNGANNON SWIFTS: You always get a warm welcome at Ballinamallard and I love visiting Windsor Park as it’s a good benchmark.

GLENAVON: Ballinamallard United is a great wee ground with a cracking pitch.

GLENTORAN: Ballinamallard United is a good spot and a good place to have a few beers.

LINFIELD: Ballinamallard United - you get a great welcome, the Social Club offers the match on live and the stop in Fivemiletown for chips always goes down well.

WARRENPOINT TOWN: Ballinamallard United.

11: What’s the one thing you would change about the Irish League?

ARDS: Put the entry price back to a tenner - much handier at the turnstiles!

BALLINAMALLARD UNITED: The negative perception so many detractors have of our league.

BALLYMENA UNITED: Summer football would be interesting - but I do love the festive schedule.

CARRICK RANGERS: For Carrick Rangers to be the best in the league!

CLIFTONVILLE: I would give serious consideration to summer football, with a five-year trial period to see if attendances improve and club revenue.

COLERAINE: I would introduce evening games on Saturdays and possibly even on a Sunday. Improved television coverage.

CRUSADERS: Full-time football would allow our clubs to be more competitive in Europe.

DUNGANNON SWIFTS: More even distribution - at times it feels like the small clubs feeding off the big table scraps.

GLENAVON: The advantages Linfield have over the rest of the league.

GLENTORAN: Glentoran to be crowned champions every year.

LINFIELD: I love it as it is overall.