I’m fairly certain that many of you will look back on 2017 with mixed emotions. With the first half of the year culminating in a well deserved play-off place for our senior team we travelled to Carrick for the second leg with all to play for. Unfortunately, it turned out to be Carrick’s night and promotion to the top flight managed to elude us for the second year in succession. However, our U20 Development Squad had provided a real masterclass at the Riverside a few weeks earlier, to beat their neareat rivals Ballyclare, and were deservedly crowned League Champions. So we took a well earned break and looked forward to the new season with high hopes.
It’s now half way through the season and it is clear that, in pure football terms, our optimism was not misplaced with both our Senior and Development squads doing battle at the top end of their respective leagues. However, who could have foretold the extent of the flooding that would devestate the Riverside Stadium on the 22nd August after only one home game. The consequences of that night are still with us and we have a battle on our hands to ensure the long term survival of this great club.
I can assure you all that our Board are working tirelessly behind the scenes to facilitate the release of insurance money and to source other additional funds that will be needed to rebuild the clubs infrastructure. We have already had discussions with Bluefin Insurance, the YMCA, Derry City and Strabane District Council, NIFL, the IFA, Sport NI, and the Department for Communities, in an attempt to explore all possible options before presenting them to the clubs full membership for consultation and agreement on how we should go forward.
Whilst we will do our best to keep members informed, it is important to remember that these are difficult and time consuming processes, so I would ask for your tolerance and patience during these sensitive and complex negotiations.
I am aware that as individuals you will each have had your share of personal joy and tragedy throughout the year and I would like to wish you all the strength and serenity to manage whatever trials and tribulations this year has presented you with. In addition, on behalf of the Institute Board, I wish you all a joyous Christmas and a peaceful, healthy and prosperous new year. Finally, I hope that as a club and as a community, we can all find the strength to embrace 2018 with renewed optimism and even greater resilience.