Bertnel revels in Leicester’s title success

Ahoghill man and Leicester City supporter Bertnel Thompson.
Ahoghill man and Leicester City supporter Bertnel Thompson.

You certainly could never accuse Bertnel Thompson of being a footballing ‘glory hunter’.

The Ahoghill man is a well-known and respected figure in local football circles, primarily from his role as long-serving kitman at Ballymena United.

While he has toiled away behind the scenes for many years as the Showgrounds club has achieved limited success, Bertnel hasn’t even had the consolation of being able to take solace from the trophy-winning exploits of his favourite English club.

Until now, that is.

None of your Arsenals, Chelseas, Liverpools or Manchester United for Bert - he’s been a follower of newly-crowned Premier League champions Leicester City for almost four decades.

“It initially stemmed from being a Rangers supporter and I had been to Barcelona in 1972 to see them win the European Cup Winners’ Cup.

“Then when Jock Wallace left for Leicester in 1978, I just decided to start supporting them and have been ever since.

“I’ve had some good-natured stick about supporting them since then, but this season makes it all worthwhile.

“I’m delighted for the club, manager, players and supporters. Also, you can’t forget Nigel Pearson who started this fantastic run at the end of last season when he saved Leicester from relegation.

“It also gives the other so-called smaller clubs fresh hope that they can do what Leicester did.

“It can be done and I really hope if it’s not us next year it can be a Stoke or West Brom etc.

“This season has been a real kick in the teeth for the so called ‘giants’, who have probably have spent half a billion between them and two of them might not even qualify for the Champions League.

“It’s time the English Premier League took a good hard look at itself, paying over-inflated wages to journeymen players,

“That’s why it’s great to see teams like Leicester, Spurs and West Ham competing at the top end of the table and I hope it continues for years to come, even if Leicester aren’t one of them.

“One of my favourite moments of the season, which shows how the balance of power has shifted this season was a couple of weeks ago when I saw the headline ‘Leicester City held at Manchester United’!

“I’ve had an awful lot of messages of congratulations from people I know - I think they have enjoyed seeing a different team win this league this year - and I’ve had great banter during the title run-in with my good friend Davy King, who’s a diehard Spurs fan.”

Bertnel will now be hoping that his beloved Ballymena United can enjoy a similar resurgence under new manager David Jeffrey. So what odds on the Sky Blues replicating the Foxes’ success next season?

“What a ‘double’ that would be - I definitely could retire a happy man!” laughs Bertnel.