IRISH LEAGUE: Brian Strain believes Ronnie McFall’s record will stand the test of time

Ronnie McFall pictured during Saturday's Irish Cup defeat to Lurgan Celtic
Ronnie McFall pictured during Saturday's Irish Cup defeat to Lurgan Celtic

Former Portadown captain Brian Strain believes Ronnie McFall’s record will stand the test of time at Shamrock Park.

After 29 years at the helm, McFall finally called time on his reign after Saturday’s shock 3-2 defeat to Lurgan Celtic in the Irish Cup.

The 70-year-old took charge of Portadown for a staggering 1480 games, and delivered 23 trophies – including four league titles and three Irish Cups.

The silverware crusade gifted fans with indelible memories that will last a lifetime, but for some supporters the club’s recent demise warranted McFall’s exit.

Portadown are labouring in seventh spot in the Danske Bank Premiership, having won just once in their last 10 league outings.

Saturday’s cup malaise against Lurgan Celtic was the final nail in the coffin for McFall’s reign.

And while some fans have welcomed the manager’s resignation, former defender Strain believes Ronnie’s success should never be forgotten.

“Overall, Ronnie’s reign should be remembered. He brought so much success to Portadown,” Strain – who won three titles under McFall – said.

“You can’t really underestimate the impact he had at Shamrock Park.

“I think when people look back, they will remember the titles and Irish Cup successes, not the last season of Ronnie’s reign.

“It is a shock that he has gone. My son told me of Ronnie’s resignation on Saturday evening, and it is a cruel way for Ronnie to leave the club. I suppose losing to Lurgan Celtic sort of summed up the season they were having.

“It was the final nail in the coffin.

“But Ronnie’s record is phenomenal. I don’t think it will ever be repeated at Portadown.”

Strain claimed three league titles and won the double in 1991 during a glittering era for Portadown.

And the former centre half admits manager McFall was the man behind the success.

“Ronnie was a great manager to work under,” Strain added.

“You had to earn Ronnie’s respect over many seasons. You didn’t just earn it over a few games.

“He was a very honest, hard-working manager, and very professional.

“I played at Portadown for 14 years, basically half of Ronnie’s reign.

“He built a successful squad which saw the club win three titles in the early to mid-1990s, and then he had to rebuild again to win the title in 2002.

“There was a lot of quality in the side back then, and also a lot of character.”

Strain believes failure to qualify for Europe last year contributed to this season’s woes.

The Ports finished fourth in the Premiership before losing to Glentoran in the final of the Irish Cup – denying them another route into the Europa League.

“The Irish Cup was a massive blow, especially the way they lost it,” Strain said.

“Losing out on that European money was a big set-back, and it impacted on Ronnie’s ambitions for this season.

“He didn’t get the chance to continue building his squad, and things went downhill this season.

“It is going to be a big rebuilding job for whoever comes in to replace Ronnie. I don’t know the situation with player contracts, but it is going to take time to get Portadown back to where they belong. Fans just need to be patient.”