What a year it's been: Whitey Anderson
If Ballinamallard United FC manager Whitey Anderson had sat down at the end of 2011 to write his wishes for the club over the next 12 months, he most likely would not even have come close to what has actually happened. Put simply, 2012 has been the most memorable in Ballinamallard's history. The Ferney Park based club began 2012 as the leaders of the IFA Championship with the dream of becoming a Premiership side and they finish the year riding high in the Danske Bank Premiership, having topped the table for a period, after their dreams became reality.
It has been an unbelievable journey during 2012 for Anderson who says that the notion of the club making the step up to Premiership level was only in its infancy back in January.
"It was only at the start of the year that we started to realise that there was the chance that we could win the Championship and the club began to work behind the scenes to see the feasibility of going up to the Premiership if we happened to go on and win the Championship," he said.
As last season progressed the club pushed ahead with their efforts to obtain a Championship licence, which basically would allow them to play in the Premiership should they qualify on the pitch. This required bringing the ground up to the standard required while at the same time hoping that results continue to be positive on the pitch.
By the end of the season, the club had secured the Championship title and they then received the news that they wanted to hear, they were going to the Premiership.
"Winning the Championship and realising that the possibility existed for the club to make history and become the first team from Fermanagh to play in the Premiership was the highlight of the calendar year for me. Any other highlights we had are as a result of that achievement," commented Whitey.
And there have been plenty of highlights for Anderson and everybody attached to Ballinamallard to enjoy since they began life in the top flight of football in Northern Ireland back in August with wins coming against the might of Linfield, Cliftonville, Portadown and Glenavon among others.
"Our start to Premiership life has been something fairytales are made of. I think a large majority of people thought we would go right back down again but we have went into this with the right attitude, and if you have that then I think anything is possible. We have respected every team we have played but we have feared nobody and it is an attitude that has served us well. To be playing in this league is a fantastic experience and it is one that we have been really enjoying. For me personally, and for the players as well, we have not been phased by anything," said Whitey.
He added: "This year has been great recognition for the group of players and the backroom team who have been magnificent. It has been a real club effort."
2012 is a year that will never be forgotten by Ballinamallard, according to Whitey.
"2012 will never be surpassed. No matter what happens next, this year has been an historic one and there will never be another year like it for the club. It has been a great 12 months for the club and for football in the area, and I don't think it has done the tourism industry any harm either," said the manager.
However, Anderson is keeping his feet firmly on the ground as his side heads into 2013 and the second half of the season.
"The biggest thing now is we have to manage the expectations. People have to remember where we came from just a short time ago and where we are looking to get to," he stated.
This article appeared in Impartial Reporter 20 Dec 12