A special celebration will take place tonight (Friday) at Lakeview Park looking back on 50 years of life at Loughgall Football Club:
Niall Currie walked into Lakeview Park in the summer of 2007 with a string of players set to exit a club still reeling from senior relegation.
His debut campaign ended as the greatest in club history with five honours secured across the single season.
Currie added a second league title in 2010 to the trophy cabinet but that initial haul stands as a landmark achievement which established his managerial credentials and secured the Villagers a spot in the domestic game’s record books.
“Despite the size of the achievement, it is something I do not think people really give Loughgall full credit for managing, even if no-one is likely to win five trophies again in one season,” said Currie, who guided the club to the First Division, Carnegie League Cup, Intermediate Cup, Bob Radcliffe Cup and Mid-Ulster Cup across 2007/08. “Maybe it is because we had so many local players so they did not feature on the national radar as much, or I know people tend to dismiss it because we had financial backing from Alan Davison.
“The truth is that other clubs had bigger budgets but what Alan managed to do was give us the financial backing to be competitive with our squad.
“We still had to make the right signings and, to be honest, you could not put a price on the character within our changing room.
“The professionalism and resilience from that group of players got us over the line on countless occasions and it needed such a special group to win five trophies.
“Those games would come thick and fast, especially towards the time for big cup ties in semi-finals or finals.
“Every match was important but when it came down to stand up and be counted the players put everything on the line.
“I am obviously proud of how we managed to keep the squad strong with some key signings for that second league win and even the year we finished third behind Portadown and Donegal Celtic after results on the final day stands as a real achievement for a club like Loughgall.
“But that five-trophy season will always be something special for everyone.”
Currie was appointed as a 34-year-old former Irish League goalkeeper with a few seasons under his belt at Annagh United. He counts support from the committee and coaching team as crucial to such historic success in his first season.
“Jay Willis and Mickey McKeown were amazing as my coaching staff and we blended together with everyone working off each other,” said Currie. “There were so many people around the club who played a part, all across the board, that was our real strength.
“In terms of the players, it was a group easy to manage in that they had so much hunger for success so would drive on each other.
“It was a changing room full of big characters and opinions but I liked that as everyone still had shared respect.
“I was a young manager but the players appreciated we worked based on open communication and everyone who joined had the same desire to win, with money far from the most important.
“We stuck to the rule that form kept you in the side and it was about performance not reputation.
“That meant some of the most established names would have to sit out games but the whole squad understood the situation and that allowed a real bond to develop as no-one was treated as special.
“It allowed us to keep the momentum going even with changes to players because of injury, suspension or form.
“So many of the players knew each other from before so that helped develop a togetherness, along with how the majority came from so close to the village.
“We had quality players but many had been considered surplus at other clubs or not given opportunities.
“We gave some a second chance but knew the character of each player from personal experience before they signed and that allowed us to achieve everything together.
“No-one would try to cheat a team-mate, us or the club and when you put that professionalism together with the character and ability it added up to something really special.”