IRISH LEAGUE: It’s team before self for Jeffrey’s Ballymena

Celebration time for Ballymena United on Friday night after victory in the Europa League play-off final. Pic by PressEye Ltd.
Celebration time for Ballymena United on Friday night after victory in the Europa League play-off final. Pic by PressEye Ltd.

By virtue of sheer force of personality and weight of past achievements, David Jeffrey stands in the spotlight as not only the face of Ballymena United’s revival but also the brains, heart and soul.

Friday’s Europa League play-off final triumph has secured a £200,000 financial jackpot for The Showgrounds on top of the club’s highest domestic finish since 1981 and first major trophy in almost three decades.

Jeffrey built a career out of making memories for the Linfield fanbase and is relishing continued progress having swapped the Belfast Blues for the Sky Blues.

But, in spite of Jeffrey’s position as the focal point of the United momentum, the Ballymena boss considers any success as the result of teamwork on and off the field by a group holding a shared belief in united commitment, passion and pride.

“It comes down to hard work by so many people around the club and when Bryan McLoughlin and I decided to come to Ballymena together it was because of the desire for success,” said Jeffrey. “We spent the first six months or so identifying people who match our thinking and we are proud of building a team that can help bring the club and community together.

“Paul McAreavey has come in as head of a scouting operation which was not really in place beforehand and done a fantastic job.

“We felt it was vital to bring together the Academy and senior set-up, with Damian Curran a great link for that vital role as the head of the youth.

“Alan Simpson has such dedication as goalkeeper coach and gets great support from David Douglas in terms of statistics and gathering information.

“Bertnel Thompson is so professional in his approach as kit man and Joe McCall provides so much help with the youth but also areas like scouting.

“Dr Brian Patterson offers great back-up and Gordon McCartney is a wonderful sports therapist.

“Paul Harbinson is manager of the under 20s with help from Gareth Moody and Richard McClean but Paul is very much part of the first-team group as well in terms of his input and coaching.

“It is about creating and strengthening that sense of a family at the club.

“That extends beyond just the staff to the family members of each individual as that is how we can build something inclusive and lasting, by working together.”

Jeffrey and McLoughlin must now focus on the process of turning any wishlist of targets into a reality on top of an existing panel which has managed to achieve so much under what remains the pair’s first full season in charge at The Showgrounds.

“In terms of the players, we will sit down this week and talk to the squad about the future, with the European money having made those conversations a lot different,” said Jeffrey. “The most important thing for us is that players come here with the same insatiable appetite for success.”