Catching Up With The Gaffer

As the senior lads approach the start of another season, we caught up with the gaffer Lee Dickson and asked him a few questions…

How many years have you been at the helm?
I’ve been in charge just touching two years now. It seems a lot longer in my own mind, but when you say it out loud, it’s no time at all really. Saying that, any chance of hair regrowth is long gone at this stage.

As one season ends and another begins players tend to come and go. What’s the revolving door at the Arena been like? Something I don’t really comment on, is outgoing players as individuals. Football is a strange game. When a player leaves, you generally end up crossing paths with him again being a coach in some other shape or form, so for anyone that has left the club in the past two years, we have always wished them well. Players in? It’s still quite early for the coming season as everything is still up in the air, however we have managed to sign Luke Adams from Rectory Rangers. He’s a great player and I think I’ve said it before when he signed a few weeks back, I had tried to get him for a few years, so I’m really looking forward to working with him over the next few seasons. He has already impressed in the couple of friendlies he’s had so far. Obviously we aren’t settling for one signing, every team tries to strengthen each year, and we are no different, so it’ll be an interesting few weeks.

What about how last season ended. It can’t have been nice?
I don’t really know what to say about it other than… do I think it was a fair outcome? No. Do I begrudge the teams who went up? Not at all, they were the two best teams in the league up until the break off point. Ideally I would have loved the season to have been paused and restarted from the point of the break, as we were 1 point behind 2nd place (promotion place) and still had to play both teams above us at home, while both had to play each other, so it would have made for a very interesting run in that’s for sure. I personally think sometimes the ‘powers that be’ running these leagues, not just our own, and the governing bodies, maybe need to approach things with a bit more common sense in future, as the saying goes, “more haste, less speed”. Overall we finished 9 points better off than the previous season, and achieved the highest points tally in the last 12 years, so it was pleasing in that respect.

And what about this season. How is pre-season going?
To be honest, it’s been the strangest I’ve ever been involved in, obviously with COVID-19 restrictions in place, sanitising, changing rooms out of bounds, players turning up in kits, I find it very strange. To me that’s where teams are made, inside them four walls of a changing room, where you can get your message across and players can create a bond with each other, it’s the part I miss the most. The sooner its back to normal the better for everyone involved, not just at our football club, but football as a whole.

The new Reserve team set up is bound to make you excited?
Keith Lunn (Manager) and Eric McCleery (Assistant) have been a breath of fresh air. Outgoing manager Colm Nash done a fantastic job, but yes I am excited to see what Keith and Eric bring to the table. I had spoken with them quite a few times and both are very passionate about doing well. Currently they can’t do enough to help out, so once they get their teeth into it over the next few weeks I’m sure everyone will benefit from having them on the training pitch, especially our First Team coaches Geoff and Steven.

What’s the aims for this season then?
Our aims for each season are simple, keep bringing the kids on, get more points than the previous season and finish with promotion. In the first year it was 41 points and a 3rd place finish. Last year we achieved 50 points and again a 3rd place finish. Based on that, it has been constant progress in the points column, which shows we must be doing something right. So now is the time to progress the points tally and also the league position to get this football club into the Intermediate A where it belongs. A bit of silverware would also bring a smile to everyone’s face at Lurgan Town and it’s long overdue. They are a hard working bunch of lads and if anyone deserves it, its them. We have been mightily unlucky missing out on promotion in the last two years, so now it’s time to make our own luck.