Not too many good things happened at the Showgrounds in the season of 1999/2000 except the website got better www.newrytown.co.uk .
The team started the season with high hopes after their success in the InterToto Cup, however there were a few noticeable absences. Joe Rice and Trevor Anderson, who were largely responsible for the club's successes over the past two seasons and ultimately entry into European football, had left for Ards Football Club amidst rumours of cash discrepancies. A new chairman took over and team captain John McDonnell was installed as temporary manager while the search went on for a suitable replacement. At this time the team under McDonnell were riding high in the league and hopes for further Euorpean ties increased. Morton McKnight, club director then lured Mal Doanghy to become team manager. This high profile catch and his assistant Seamus Heath were to keep these hopes alive. But it was not to be.
Many of the players which were responsible for Newry's success began to leave. Dessie Gorman left stating problems with his wages, as did Kevin McKeown and Jonathan Drake. Alan Hall left for his old friends now firmly installed at groundless Ards. The clubs financial difficulties continued and manager Mal Donaghy had to rely on local talent like Seamus Kane, John Joe Maguire and Dean Fitzgerald to name but a few, while Player of the Year Mark Rutherford was injured for half the season. The team's place in the league began to falter and towards the end of the season fears of a relegation battle grew. The club found themselves in court facing a compensation payout of £5,000 to ex-player Jonathan Drake who had been mistreated by then chairman Joe Rice (more). These contract irregularities left the club even closer to the liquidation line. A few fair results towards the end of the season saw Newry finish in a respectable sixth position but not without causalties. Mal Donaghy announced his departure and speculation is growing that he may join Crusaders or the under-18 N.Ireland management team.
There have been many departures this season from the Showgrounds, many on bad terms, which is unsurprising given the personalties running the club, but there is a small glimmer of hope. The proceeds from the InterToto matches are due soon and there are rumours that the board are gearing up for some big summer signings.
Morton McKnight proposed to the IFA that matches be played on a Sunday but this was turned down, much to my relief. Matches on a Sunday would only clash with Gaelic matches rather than the Carnbane matches and there would still be a poor turnout for matches. Friday evening is by far the fans choice but the Mortons of this world do not listen to what potential supporters have to say. In that respect the club is doomed to failure and one can only wait for the news that the club has gone into liquidation. Maybe then we can all buy shares in the club and install Newry Celtic as the senior team in The Town at the Showgrounds. We could watch these games on a Friday evening and Carnbane matches on a Saturday and those who want to indulge could go to GAA games on Sunday. There would certainly be more support for the green and white than the anti-tricolor NTFC.
© June 2000, The Nyuck. The Nyuck is a regular and outspoken visitor to the social club part of this website