Patrick Van Dort: ‘Points tally important but real magic number for Portadown stands in youth minutes’

Patrick Van Dort
Patrick Van Dort

Portadown’s visit to Dundela today could prove a defining weekend in the Bluefin Sport Championship promotion race.

However - despite the high stakes and high hopes of a return this season to the Irish League’s top table bolstered by an away win - the true magic number for many at Shamrock Park stands not at any final points tally but 9,802.

That figure represents the total minutes played by Ports teenagers across the current campaign of Bluefin Sport Championship league games and the two senior cup competitions.

Key to long-term financial security for one of the game’s most decorated clubs remains a return to the senior stage, due to increased attendances and enhanced revenue streams into a ground still operating off Danske Bank Premiership costs.

However, another vital strand of the long-term rebuilding work off the field by Portadown is a continued and coherent investment in youth across the grassroots game leading into senior selection.

Within that impressive 9.802 figure is firm evidence of steps towards internal promotion over external investment.

Luke Wilson’s rise has been capped by the captain’s armband, Gerard Storey recently returned from a successful trial with Portsmouth and Declan Dunne featured at Northern Ireland under 21s’ EURO 2021 qualifying training camp.

All examples of the next generation flourishing under renewed focus.