INT. KILLYLEAGH FC CLUBHOUSE - DAY
The Reign of King David - Season 1, Episode 7 - Part 1
It rained all last night. The thunder and lightning normally doesn’t keep me up, it must be nerves. That's what the Lagavulin 16 is for - that and the fact that it's a damn fine Scotch. Smokey like a campfire on the beach. But why am I nervous? It’s ridiculous. I've played at the highest levels of the game. This is Killyleagh in the Belfast Telegraph Championship 2, Third tier of the Northern Ireland League, not Manchester United. Either way, I am tired and I accidentally slept in. Not a good way to start a new job.
”Good morning David, nice of you to join us. May I call you David?”
[sheepishly nods yes] Sorry I'm late.
”It is raining today, so I thought we would get you up to speed on the current state of the club. First, let’s start from the beginning. Every good manager should know his club's roots and history. As a former player of the club, you already have a leg up. However, Killyleagh Youth Football Club existed long before the Dee Heron era, which you are familiar with.”
Killyleagh Football Club
"In the 1950’s and probably long before that as well, we had a lot of trouble in Killyleagh with kids, having nothing else to do, joining sectarian gangs, vandalizing property, and drinking and fighting in the streets. It’s a problem we still struggle with today only add drugs to the mix as well. We established Killyleagh Youth Club in 1960 as a way to bring Protestant and Catholic kids together in a positive environment, working together for a common goal, and realizing they had more in common than differences. This enlightened policy was well ahead of its time and would be used as a model for years to come all around the country as a ground up solution to the Troubles.
The Youth Club operates as an important nursery for young talent to this day. In addition to you, David, Killyleagh has turned out three other international players: Terry Cochrane, Hugh Henry Davey, and Trevor Carson. Also, it is unique in Northern Ireland in operating its own summer youth league for school children, which has been running for more than 50 years."
"We had a lot of trouble in Killyleagh with kids, having nothing else to do, joining sectarian gangs, vandalizing property, and drinking and fighting in the streets."
The founding officials were: Sam McCullough (Chairman), Billy Ferris (Secretary), Jim Farson (Treasurer), Gerry Green, Barlow Matthews, Frank Houston and Rev J. C. Boggs (President).
(on a good day... and yes, that is a real castle in the background)
"The town donated The Showgrounds on the Comber Road for our home and Killyleagh Youth Football Club was born. Football has been played on the showgrounds since it was first opened in 1912. In fact football legend Hugh Henry Davey played on this very pitch in 1918-1920.
Killyleagh’s Youth Club played its first organised football match in the South Belfast Youth League in September 1960. After winning the South Belfast League title in its first season, the club progressed to the Amateur League where it has remained ever since. The Manager at the time, Andy Cranston, took it into the top flight in 1979, and it has remained there since. Cranston also led the club to its first two Steel and Sons Cup final appearances when they were beaten by Dundela and Ballyclare Comrades.
The big trophy breakthrough came in 1984/85 when Eric Halliday took over as Manager and led the club to an Amateur League and Border Cup double. Paul Kirk, Ronnie Cromie, Ian Russell and Hugh Ross all managed the club between 1986 and 1992 with appearances in the finals of the Steel and Sons Cup, Intermediate Cup and League runners-up positions to their credit.
When the Premier Section of the Amateur League was formed in 1992, Killyleagh was one of the founding clubs and had has been there ever since. During that time Killyleagh has established a number of records including Premier Section Champions for a record six successive years.
The appointment of former Killyleagh player Dee Heron as Manager heralded the club’s golden era. He won the Premier Section title in his first season in charge in 1992/93."
Dee Heron - Head of Youth Development/Former Manager
"In 2000, the year in which the club celebrated the 40th anniversary of its founding, Heron’s side retained the Amateur League's Premier Section title and picked up the League's main knock-out competition, the Clarence Cup. This earned them a summer trip to Sweden to compete in the Carlsberg European Pub Cup. In his first 12 years in charge, Heron won 12 trophies including the Steel and Sons Cup at Christmas 2002.
But it is Killyleagh’s reputation as Davie vs. Goliath on the bigger stage that has made the club famous. Remarkably for six successive seasons Heron and his assistant Michael Murray led out a Killyleagh team against Irish League opposition in the sixth round. Heron took his team to Windsor Park for a sixth round game in February 2000 where they were only defeated 1-0 by Professional Premier side Linfield. I don't need to tell you that Linfield is the most successful club in Northern Ireland, so this was quite an accomplishment for an ameteur side despite the loss. Linfield fans generously applauded Killyleagh off the pitch. Twelve months later and they held Linfield's rivals and the 2nd most successful club in Northern Ireland, Glenavon, to a scoreline of 1-1. They shocked their hosts thanks to a Mark Holland goal in the first half before Gary Haylock earned his side a replay. There was no chance of a shock second time around as Glenavon coasted to a 4-0 victory. In 2002 Killyleagh made it to the semi-finals defeating Irish League sides Larne and Ballyclare on the way, before losing to Linfield. In 2003 they were defeated by Ards in the sixth round.
Indeed Killyleagh has a strong Irish Cup pedigree. The club has taken on Professional Premier sides in the Irish Cup on other occasions, with creditable performances against Ballymena United (lost 0-2) in 1985 and Crusaders (lost 1-2) in 1997. In the past the amateur side has claimed the scalps of Irish League sides Portadown, Bangor and Carrick Rangers in the Co Antrim Shield.”
“Hopefully we'll be able to build upon Killyleagh's success with some more cups and championships under my reign. Where do you see the club going from here?”
”Needless to say, we feel the time is right to take the club pro. We have already proven that we can compete at the top flight of Northern Ireland Football. Due to the financial difficulties of Chiminey Corner, they have decided to drop down to the Amateur Premier League. This has left an opening in the Belfast Championship 2. Despite a mediocre season last year, we were the only club to pony up to build the minimum required grandstands. Our historical Championships was enough to convince the League that we would be able to handle ourselves at the Senior level.
That being said, we do feel it will be nessassary to bring in additional players. Therefore, we have allocated you £2,000 to handle transfer fees. In addition, we have dramatically increased the per week wages to £6,400 in order to attract better talent on the free agency market.
The Senior (or Pro) side will now be simply known as Killyleagh Football Club, our reserves will play at the Intermediate level and will be known as Killyleagh II, and our Junior side will be made up of strictly U18's and will carry on the proud name Killyleagh Youth Club.
“The transfer budget and wages are quite a bit lower than what I am used to but I understand the financial restrictions the club is facing. We'll try our luck on the free agency market and see what is available. Also, we should try to set up some affiliations with bigger clubs so that we could benefit from loan deals.”