PAST PORTS: A look into the Shamrock Park archive

Shamrock Park
Shamrock Park

Portadown Football Club historian Trevor Clydesdale takes a look into the Shamrock Park archives:

Victory over Linfield recently closed the door on the worst run of league defeats - six - since the start of the 1998\99 campaign.

The Ports, third the previous season just eight points off champions Cliftonville, kicked off with a 2-0 victory at Solitude thanks to Vinny Arkins and Richard Clarke.

However, that August 15 success proved the only league win until October 6 when the Ports defeated Coleraine at home by 3-0. In fact, Ronnie McFall’s men failed to even find the net in seven of those eight defeats.

McFall turned to the transfer market - prior to the restraints of a ‘window’ - and had a £30,000 bid for Crusaders’ Glenn Dunlop turned down before successful moves to Scotland to capture the colourful Chic Charnley plus Gary Bowman, alongside domestic deals for Neill Candlish and Nigel Quigley.

A return from injury for Gregg Davidson and the close of Paul Millar’s five-game suspension also bolstered the squad at that point - with attendances enjoying a boost due to the new signings.

Portadown reached the Gold Cup final thanks to knockout wins over Omagh Town, Ballymena United and Linfield. The Omagh tie finished in a 5-1 win for the Ports before Arkins’ solitary finish settled the quarter-final ahead of a 3-0 defeat of Linfield in the last-four date.

Arkins added to his tally in the final but the Glens finished on top by 3-1.

In fact, the form in front of goal of Arkins proved vital in keeping the Ports free of relegation. He grabbed seven goals in eight games - including a sequence of five successive scoring appearances - to march the Ports into the final and set a four-match unbeaten league sequence.

Ultimately, the Ports finished two points off a relegation play-off position.

The season also finished with the Irish Cup in the trophy cabinet - but, memorably, without kicking a ball due to Cliftonville fielding an ineligible player.