Fans in focus: Jim Campbell

Name: Jim Campbell.

Age: 71.

How long have you supported Newry? The first Newry Town game I attended as a schoolboy was a local derby at The Showgrounds between Newry and Bessbrook in the Irish Alliance League on the opening day of the 1955-56 season. A young Pat Davey and Frank McCabe were playing for the red shirted ‘Brook’ indeed Frank opened the scoring for the visitors, but Newry in their traditional blue and white won the game comfortably.

How did you come about supporting the Club? When I was about twelve years of age my late Father kept telling me all about the great players and great games he had watched at The Marshes when Newry Town were in the Irish Senior League prior to the second World War. These stories helped greatly to spark my early interest in the club.

Your favourite ever player? Many superb players including full Internationals like Pat Jennings and Peter Watson have played for the club down through the years, but my favourite has to be a guy, who not only has played but also managed and coached the team, and in the process of playing for us scored a magnificent total of 305 goals. He is of course the one and only Ollie Ralph.

Favourite current player? I have great admiration for a number of players in the current squad but to me one consistently stands out and he is David Anderson.

Best memory supporting the club? I have a number of great memories but probably the best would be at The Oval during 1987 when we won the County Antrim Shield . This however would be closely followed by the winning of the Intermediate Cup during the 1956/57 season and repeating that success ten years later in 1967 at Solitude. The magnificent double triumph during the 1980-81 season when we won the B League championship with three games to go and the Intermediate Cup at Seaview against Chimney Corner. Also it must be said that clinching the First Division title in 1998 at The Showgrounds against Distillery was another very special day.

Funniest moment supporting the club? It has to be an incident that happened at The Showgrounds during the late sixties when we were playing in the old Irish League B Division. In this particular game the tackles were flying in and our Captain at the time Derek “Ringo” Watson was left writhing in agony on the pitch. As he was taken off the pitch to the dressing room I noticed he was still suffering terrible pain from what appeared to be a leg injury. I was concerned about what the extent of the injury might be and ran to-wards the dressing room in an agitated state to find out. A smiling kit man confronted me at the dressing room door, and seeing my concern, put his arm on my shoulder and said “Derek’s not injured but he had a sudden urge to go to the toilet. He will be back on the pitch in a minute or so.” There was a wee chorus of laughter in the background from “Ringo” as he flushed the toilet, and to say the least I did feel a little bit embarrassed.

Favourite ground you have visited and why? I suppose it has to be Mourneview Park Lurgan. For a long time I have admired the improvements etc that Glenavon FC have made to Mourneview and it is now one of the best venues in the Irish League to watch a game. Hopefully we can further develop and improve the excellent facilities at The Showgrounds in the years ahead along the lines of the Mourneview Park model.

What is it you like most about following Newry? First of all it is my hometown club. A club that always will have a special place in my heart. A club that has always been, and I hope always will be, completely cross community. A club where each and all traditions, are treated with great respect and consideration.

Hopes for the future? I want to see the club continue their great efforts to establish a top class Youth Academy and of course I want to see us winning trophies. I want the club also, to retain and in the years ahead, the ambition and drive to get back it’s rightful place in Irish League Senior football.