Big match will provide a lasting legacy in town

This photograph of Killymoon Rangers is from 1971, the late Davy Major, who died in house fire in late 2012, is front row far right.
This photograph of Killymoon Rangers is from 1971, the late Davy Major, who died in house fire in late 2012, is front row far right.

KILLYMOON’s match-up with Glentoran is about more than just a game of football according to one of their former managers.

Mark Wilson, who coached Cookstown’s longest standing club during their time in the Championship One, believes that the legacy created by playing one of the biggest teams in the country will give Killymoon more stability and entice more locals to join their number.

“This game ranks right alongside our Bob Radcliffe final appearence,” Mark said. “No matter what the outcome nobody will ever be able to take away the feeling of playing against the Glens at our home pitch in Cookstown, in front of what will probably be the biggest football crowd in Cookstown’s history.

“We started out in 1971 and worked our way up through the Mid-Ulster Leagues for over twenty years. The team then moved into the Intermediate Leagues and with people like Raymond Ferguson, Alan Carson, Davy Brown and Randall McKenzie, they were in and around the top three teams before moving into the IFA Championship four seasons ago.

“The idea behind the move upwards was that we were constantly losing players to teams in the old B Division. From our point of view we were finding out that most of those guys who moved on would have stayed had we been playing at a higher level.

“We explained our position to Cookstown Council and they backed us with allowing us to make the Mid-Ulster Sports Arena our home pitch. When the stand went up we met the criteria to go straight into the Championship One.

“We may have struggled that season but we put in some huge performances including two draws with Ballinamallard and it allowed us to bring some big teams to Cookstown for games including Portadown, Carrick and Donegal Celtic.”

Mark, who has served the club in many different roles, believes that the visit of Glentoran will benefit the club in the future:

“Perhaps after Saturday players from Cookstown Youth FC will be thinking that if they go to Killymoon they stand a chance of playing against the biggest teams in N. Ireland. That, I think, may be the real legacy of our game against Glentoran.

“We certainly would be keen on better links between the two clubs as there is often a big gap with where these players go after they graduate from the underage levels.

“Of course the game also puts our club in the shop window but at the moment it is all about building stability within the club, both on and off the field.”

Mark also added his best wishes to Coagh United who take on Premiership outfit Lisburn Distillery in the cup.

“It is a big ask for Coagh but they have put together a number of good results lately and I think they will give Distillery a better game than they did last time.”