Cliftonville Chairman Gerard Lawlor has expressed his gratitude to everyone who contributed to Cliftonville Football Club throughout the season just finished.
In addition to thanking those who work hard behind the scenes on a daily basis, the Chairman also applauds Paddy McLaughlin’s masterminding of the Club’s return to Europe and the supporters who have backed the team from Denmark to Dungannon and everywhere in between.
Even if you’re unable to lend voluntary assistance and your input amounts to simply getting behind the team from the stands, Cliftonville FC are likewise grateful for your backing over the course of the 2018/19 campaign and would like to wish every single member of the Red Army – Members, Season Ticket holders, Family Ticket holders, weekly pay-at-the-gate fans and anyone else who passes through the turnstiles – an enjoyable and relaxing summer as preparations for the 2019/20 season, including our return to European football, continue in earnest here at Solitude.
I think it’s important to start with the people without whom Cliftonville Football Club simply would not be able to function from day to day and week to week.
When you’re eating your breakfast on a Saturday, there are Club volunteers already at Solitude working to ensure that the matchday ahead will pass as smoothly as possible. Then, when you’ve returned home or are enjoying some post-match drinks in the Social Club, they are tidying up all the loose ends around the ground. They don’t do it for thanks or for their place in the spotlight, they do it out of their love for Cliftonville FC and, as much as the Board and I are grateful for everything they do, I know I speak on behalf of our supporters in expressing thanks for all of the various jobs they do behind the scenes.
I’ve said before that these people are the heartbeat of our Club and, while a lot of what they do can go unnoticed by the majority, believe me when I say it will never, ever be taken for granted.
I’m reluctant to name specific jobs or roles because it’s inevitable I will leave one out, but whether you’re cleaning seats, sweeping stairwells, operating turnstiles, selling programmes, coordinating stewarding, assisting in the Shop or any of the various tasks that are undertaken every single day, please be fully aware of how grateful everyone associated with this Club is to you.
Just before Paddy was appointed in February, I spoke to our supporters about my belief that we were still in a strong position regarding the Europa League Play-Offs and the importance of making sure we secured home advantage in those games.
At his first press conference as Cliftonville Manager, I jokingly set him two targets in front of the media. The first was to win his first game with a clean sheet and his second was to get us into Europe. He did both and, though he was at Solitude that night to speak to journalists, he made it clear that if he was going to be here, then he wanted the players to bring their boots so he could get down to training straight away.
His attitude from the start was that there was a job to be done and that Cliftonville wouldn’t simply be fulfilling fixtures through to the end of the season. He and his staff have worked extremely hard from the first minute and, much as I am delighted to see the Club in Europe again, I’m also very pleased for Paddy that he has got us there.
I have said countless times in the past that a united Cliftonville is a stronger Cliftonville and, when we’re all pulling in the same direction, we can feel unstoppable at times.
That certainly proved to be the case in the final week of the season, when we were less than a quarter of an hour away from our campaign ending on a disappointing Play-Off Semi Final defeat. Our supporters’ response to that situation was to get behind the team even more passionately and, with the players full of belief that they could turn the game on its head, a remarkable comeback was staged – one that we built on when we progressed to Saturday’s Final.
It has been a disappointing and frustrating season at times but we showed the strength we have as a united force to end it on a high note and I would like to thank our supporters for their role in that. The team deserve credit too and I was delighted to see our players and fans celebrating together at the weekend.