Change in fortunes doing Ballymena world of good

Barely had the final whistle sounded on Saturday until Showgrounds groundstaff had swung into action to alter the Warden Street venue in preparation for that evening’s Raceway meeting.

Thursday, 29th August 2013, 9:00 am
Allan Jenkins celebrates with ball boy Brendan McDonnell after opening the scoring against Dungannon. Picture: Press Eye.

Advertising hoardings and dugouts were swiftly removed and a start/finish gantry erected to the extent that by the time I emerged from the tunnel after carrying out interviews, the main arena had a completely different look from half an hour earlier.

It was a fairly significant transformation in a short space of time - and in many ways it mirrored what has been seen on the pitch in recent weeks.

After that infamous opening day defeat by Glenavon, a trip to Seaview and a home game against Dungannon in their next two games - two fixtures in which Ballymena United had notoriously poor records - didn’t exactly provide a great deal of solace for United fans.

But such is ‘the Ballymena way’ - a phrase often used in conversation by skipper Allan Jenkins - the Sky Blues recorded back-to-back wins and the atmosphere around the Showgrounds has changed completely in the space of a fortnight.

On the subject of Jenkins, it was great to see him back to his best in Saturday’s win against Dungannon.

His display drew plaudits not only from Glenn Ferguson but also his opposite number Darren Murphy - when opposing managers agree on any aspect of a match I always find it telling, given that they often seem to have watched two completely different games!

There was some good-natured banter between Jenkins and journalists about actually being able to interview him after a positive result - it has become something of a standing joke that the amiable Scot is wheeled out to face the ‘meeja’ on ‘bad news’ days. While other players, understandably, shake their head and decline to talk, Jenkins never shirks his duties with the written or broadcast Press.

On Saturday he had very much done his talking on the pitch with a commanding display - one of his best in his time at the club.

Hopefully United can avoid the ‘Ballymena way’ when they take on yet-to-win Ards this Friday night, when a win would make for a very healthy start to the season.

* Follow Ballymena Times Sports Editor Stephen Alexander on Twitter (@Stephen_Bmena)