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Saturday 21st July v. Carrick Rangers (away) - Friendly - k.o: 3:00pm

Statement from David Jeffrey
Uploaded Sunday, 31st Dec, 2017 at 15:43

MANAGER David Jeffrey took time out after Saturday's victory over Glenavon to reflect on the last year, our Christmas games and the year ahead.
Looking back...
"Given the journey we went on during the first half of 2017, understandably the expectations amongst the supporters this season have increased. Bryan McLoughlin and myself place the greatest expectation onto ourselves but we do so with cautiousness as we know it is harder to replicate last season's achievements in back to back campaigns."
Injuries...
"It was always going to be hard to follow last season's achievements, but what we could never have accounted for was the injuries we have sustained this year. Over the season so far I have kept supporters updated on injuries as they've happened and we have looked at what we are doing in training and before matches to see if there is a solution, but the fact is that players are picking up big injuries that aren't down to training methods or types of surface.

Again over Christmas we have witnessed Gary Thompson, probably our most consistent player all year, come off after a tackle against Coleraine despite wanting to stay on, and it turns out he has broken a couple of bones in his foot. Jonathan McMurray re-injured a shoulder in the same match, similar to the injury that saw Kyle Owens miss the start of the season.

We add them to the list including Leroy Millar, William Faulkner, Johnny Flynn, Andrew Burns and Michael Gault who will not be returning for a number of weeks."
On December...
"It was very pleasing to beat Ballinamallard and Carrick here knowing that a run of big games was coming up. At Seaview last Friday we deserved a draw at the very least - with a debatable penalty against us and a clear penalty not given to us.

Against Coleraine I felt we were first class, if we had won on Boxing Day no one could have said we didn't deserve it. On another day we could have been given a penalty, or that chance at the end could have crept inside the post.

Today against Glenavon we had to draw on our depleted well of resources for a third time in a short period. Without Gary and Jonathan we were relying on starting players who were not fully fit. I thought Stephen McAlorum and Kofi Balmer epitomised the collective effort of this squad."
The fans...
"Regardless of whether we're winning or when things aren't going so well I've always said our supporters not only understand the position, but turn up the volume in terms of getting behind the team. Look at the numbers that travelled to Seaview so close to Christmas, the numbers that raised the roof at Coleraine and then again on Saturday at home.

I said earlier that supporters' expectations were raised at the start of the year, but they are also on board for the journey with us and have a realistic understand of where we are and what we are trying to do. That level of trust and personal support isn't something that is afforded to all managers at all clubs, but here we have always felt a togetherness from day one.

I want to say thank you to the fans, the roller coaster continues and I guarantee you this - collectively we go forward together."
Looking ahead...
"Already this year it has been an absolute delight to see the development of some of our younger players. What's even more exciting is that we are still to see the best from the likes of Jonathan McMurray, Cathair Friel, Leroy Millar, Caolan Loughran and Matthew Shevlin. Add to that list Kofi Balmer who has been the breakthrough player of the season so far. Not only have his performances shown a level of maturity much greater than his age would suggest, but his attitude is one of humility and an eagerness to learn - he is reflective of and an absolute credit to his parents who should be very proud of the young man they have raised."
Finally...
"I want to end with an example of what makes us a community club. We know in our town and country about the struggles of addiction, and within our football family the work of Paul Millar, under sad personal circumstances, to raise awareness and money to support those affected. The retiring offering at the carol service was given to help this cause and the players also added in £240. That evening Rose and myself were invited out for dinner and a superb evening with the Ballymoney, Rasharkin and Finvoy Supporters Club and not only did they hand over a sizeable contribution to the football club, they also presented an impromptu donation of £90 to the charity. This is a new supporters club who have not only demonstrated a passion for Ballymena as a club, but also as a family.

Make no mistake, we are a family club, we are a community club - we are UNITED.

Myself and Bryan, the staff team and all the players hope you had a great Christmas and wish you all a peaceful and prosperous Sky Blue new year."
UBU