Fans in focus: Santa Claus

Name: Santa Claus

Age: Questionable.

How long have you followed Newry?
I think it was St Stephen’s Day 1923. I happened to be passing after a particularly busy day’s work.

Best Memory?
Oh, has to be St Patrick’s Day 2001 at Windsor Park. Dean Fitzgerald and Gary McPhee (2) scored in a 3-1 victory over the mighty Linfield, Champions and runaway League leaders. Christmas came early that year.

Funniest Moment?
How long have you got? Perhaps when a visit from Linfield had a dedicated supporter on duty behind their dugout. When it came to half time he (Aggro) looked David Jeffrey in the eye and delivered the following in a Mid-West American drawl………“terrible language for a Preacher Man”. The great one beamed broadly as he headed down the tunnel. It could well have been the day Bo Willis scored, even though he was 14 miles offside. Then there was an evening when The Goog almost took out a Flybe plane over The Oval when he ballooned one from 40 yards. You couldn’t make it up.

Favourite Player?
Well, Ollie Ralph is, for some reason, more popular in Newry than my good self. I have a soft spot for flawed talent: Sean Friars, Lee Feeney, Alan Davidson, come to mind and I’m very proud when one of my little elves pulls on the shirt: Austy Friel, Wee Marty Havern, Rambo Hughes. Among our best helpers have been Gavin Dykes, Robbie Casey, Richard Clarke and my own favourite, Dee Curran.

Favourite Ground to visit?
Always enjoyed the Social at Swallytude, I don’t raise as many eyebrows there, but a trip to Stangmore Park was usually eventful. The January evening we came from 2 goals down to win 6-4. Mickey Collins grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and galvanised us. He scored a goal early in the 2nd half before getting a straight red and having a spat with the locals – The ultimate Bad Santa. The unbridled joy when Captain Marvel secured the win remains a cherished memory. Rudolph is no fan of 3G so he has been delighted with some of the grazing available at Intermediate level. Laurelvale and Broomhedge are among his favourites.

What is special about Newry?
The fact that after all the false prophets a band of brothers and sisters came together to prevent their club being relegated into the footballing history books. We also have the great gift of being able to laugh at ourselves.

Thoughts on the future?
Believe. We all believe, don’t we?