This is probably the most difficult Christmas message that I have had to write in my five years as Chairman of this wonderful club. The Covid pandemic has robbed us of the chance to remain in the NIFL premiership. It has robbed us of the pleasure of watching football on a Saturday afternoon, and it has robbed us of the opportunity to support our team through good times and bad. More importantly, it has robbed us of the opportunity to get together with family and friends on a regular basis, in a carefree, joyful and supportive environment.
Regardless of the challenges that we have had as a club, it has always been the mutual support of colleagues and friends that have kept us going. That indomitable spirit that this club personifies has been severely challenged this year, simply by the fact that it has been so difficult to come together for meetings, matches and social gatherings and a bit of craic.
I know that some of you have contracted the virus but thankfully recovered. However, I am also aware that our community has lost some of our number to this horrible virus, so to the relatives and friends of those departed I offer our clubs heartfelt condolences and support.
I am sure that I am not alone when I say that I think our playing and coaching staff deserve medals, even though we haven’t played a single league game since March. Those guys have spent nine months, all but for a short summer break, training three times a week in order to be ready for whenever they would be called on to represent the club in competition. They have had start date after start date postponed, they have suffered the ignominy of not being classified as elite when they play in the second tier of Northern Irish football and are one of the two leagues classified as ‘Senior’ by the Northern Ireland Football League.
Nonetheless, they have remained a united, loyal and mutually supportive group who clearly value commitment, integrity and relationships above financial gain or reward. In fact, along with other club staff, supporters and volunteers they embody the very values that underpin our clubs three guiding principles. Believe in People, nourish their Potential, and continually strive for quality Performance both on and off the pitch.
I guess we will all remember this as the ‘Covid Christmas’, but when we look back, I for one, will remember the undeniable community spirit, the milk of human kindness, the caring for each other, the mutual support and the sheer bloody humanity that sustained and fortified us throughout this horrendous year. That will be my abiding memory. I hope it will be yours.
I wish you all, and those you love, a safe, healthy, and peaceful Christmas and I hope the prospect of a vaccine helps you to look forward to the New Year with hope, and positivity.