by Trevor Porter
In 1996 we made our boldest move, to enter the B Division of the Irish League. The League informed us as to what was required to bring our ground to the standard of B Division football. We would have to build changing rooms at the ground (the changing rooms at the YM building were reckoned to be too far from the pitch) – a fence would have to be built around the ground and turnstiles erected. We would obviously need help to raise the capital needed so we asked Robert Ferris, Charlie Ferguson and Ivan Loughlin to advise. These three became involved in the Ground Development Committee, along with myself, Billy Smallwoods, Jackie Hiscox and Shirley Smallwoods (Secretary). They were able to advise and do the necessary paperwork to apply for National Lottery and Council Grants. This was phase one of the operation to enter the B Division, a phase eventually completed at a cost of £130,000.
It was very fitting that in our first season in the B Division we would win the Smirnoff Cup, beating Chimney Corner 4-2. We would also be defeated in the Craig Memorial Cup 3-2 by Drummond Utd. We also finished 7th in the League to make it a good season.
The season ’97-’98 saw us have a good run in the Irish Cup, eventually falling 4-0 to Crusaders at the quarter-final stage. On the way to the quarter-finals we defeated Ards 2-0 at Ards and at Dungannon we beat Dungannon Swifts 1-0. In the Wilkinson Sword Cup we again reached the quarter-finals, beating Omagh Town 6-1, only to be defeated by Glentoran at the Oval 3-2.