Latest News

Lauren order

She’s been the eyes and ears of Cliftonville supporters around the world for a few years now and, with the Red Army prohibited from attending this season’s behind-closed-doors action, Lauren McCann’s role has taken on even greater significance in recent months.

A valued member of our Social Media team, Lauren is the principal admin behind our popular @RedsByTheMinute updates service on Twitter and, ahead of fans making a return to Solitude for Tuesday’s Danske Bank Premiership encounter with Crusaders, we caught up with her for an insight on the work she does at the Club.

How did your role with RedsByTheMinute come about?
I took on the role in January 2018, so I’ve been doing it for over three years now.

I saw the position advertised on Cliftonville’s website, as the previous person who had been providing the updates had left to go and work for Celtic.

I applied having regularly followed the account to keep up to date when I wasn’t able to attend games and I was asked to go along to the pressbox for a game one night.

I was introduced to Josh Reynolds, who had been tweeting in the interim, and he showed me the ropes. I was invited along with another guy and he didn’t come back after the first game so I suppose I got the role by default!

At the start, Josh would tweet one half and I would tweet the other whilst I got to grips with things, before eventually I was handed total control on matchdays and have been afforded that free reign ever since.

I’m really thankful to Josh for teaching me everything and I must say I absolutely love doing RedsByTheMinute as it combines my two passions of Cliftonville and writing about football.

The job has obviously changed your own matchday experience – has it been interesting to get a look at what goes on behind the scenes at Solitude during a game?
It has been amazing to see the preparation carried out before games by the amazing team of volunteers at Cliftonville, which probably goes unnoticed by supporters attending the game given they arrive much closer to kick-off.

I’ve become a lot more independent through undertaking the role, arriving much earlier than my dad and brother, (who I had previously attended games with before taking on the job) and getting to work in the pressbox.

It is having a seat in the pressbox which I have enjoyed most, given the incredible people I have met in there. Walking into a press box full of established journalists as a 16-year-old girl in the midst of my GCSEs was daunting at first, but I have thoroughly enjoyed the moments I have spent there and speaking with some of the finest writers in the country.

I think I am now well placed to really appreciate the hard work that goes on behind the scenes by various people associated with Cliftonville to ensure the club runs so well on matchdays.

Was there any match or moment that particularly stands out to you, for good reasons or bad?
The County Antrim Shield Final victory springs to mind for good and bad reasons!

It was an incredible comeback and I was ecstatic to tweet about such a momentous occasion, as it was the first piece of silverware the club has won since I started at RedsByTheMinute.

I was frantically tweeting about Thomas Maguire scoring the first goal when I looked up and saw the second goal hit the back of the net. Delirium ensued and I knew I had to quickly let those not watching know that we were now winning, so I mistakenly tweeted Conor McDermott had scored the winner, as he was the first player who wheeled away in celebration!

I don’t think I’ll ever live it down and I would hate to tell Ryan Curran that I had (momentarily) robbed him of the glory of scoring the winner before correcting myself but, all in all, it was a wonderful night and I’m sure he would forgive me now…

I also enjoyed the thrilling 4-3 win over Linfield this season and victories away at Larne last year and Dungannon Swifts in the Irish Cup quarter-final, as it was my first visit to Stangmore Park and certainly a worthwhile one.

Phone-in-hand mid-celebration has become a familiar experience for Lauren

How do you strike a balance between your own natural desire to celebrate a goal and updating the account as quickly as possible – especially when using your phone at away games?
It is quite difficult at times, especially at away games as I like to sit in a packed away end with my brother and dad, who are also massive Reds.

You instinctively starting celebrating a goal when it goes in, but it is only for a moment or so. I actually find that this can help you, as it allows you to collect your thoughts before tweeting about the manner in which the goal was scored.

I find it is a bit easier to stay composed in the pressbox, as you are surrounded by other journalists who themselves are acting professionally and are trying to get across that a goal has been scored as quickly as possible, so a celebration is even shorter.

Your role has taken on extra significance this season with supporters restricted from attending matches, so you must feel additional responsibility for keeping fans updated?
I do feel some added pressure given that more fans are relying on Twitter updates to know what is going on this season, but I don’t necessarily think it is a bad thing.

Knowing that it is the only way for many to have any notion of what is occurring on the field makes me even more determined to try to be as descriptive as possible to ensure supporters have a clear vision of what is happening.

I do try and do what it says on the tin and provide minute-by-minute updates as often as I can, as I know that if I was a fan unable to view games, I would like the same service.

While Men’s games are streamed live and covered by the BBC online and on the radio, you have also recently started providing updates for Cliftonville Ladies fixtures. How does it feel to produce a service that is clearly appreciated by all associated with a team that doesn’t benefit from that level of media coverage?
I’m very grateful to have been offered the chance to cover Cliftonville Ladies games this year and I’ve really enjoyed the positive start to the season we’ve had.

I’m really hoping the girls can produced a sustained title charge this year, as there is certainly the talent within the squad to do so in what will be an extremely competitive campaign.

There is a huge appetite within Cliftonville’s fan base and beyond for greater coverage of the women’s game, which has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years and which will continue to do so given the success of Kenny Shiels’ side in qualifying for next summer’s European Championships.

I feel that there is an even greater significance for a service like RedsByTheMinute for Cliftonville Ladies given that the in-game media coverage isn’t at the same standard as it is for the men’s games. Many fans therefore rely solely on regular Twitter updates to have any idea of what is going on during the women’s games.

The engagement and feedback received so far has been positive and, given that I am a passionate supporter of the women’s game, I am delighted to be playing a small part in increasing visibility of the team I care about.

As the Club looks to expand its social media portfolio, you have played a vital role in the imminent launch of an Official Instagram account – how do you feel that can be beneficial for Cliftonville and our supporters?
Cliftonville, as Ireland’s oldest Club, undeniably have huge prestige and a huge fan base and I feel that branching out to Instagram will allow more supporters to engage with the Club, particularly those of a younger demographic.

Younger supporters are more inclined to check Instagram for club news than the website. Many other Irish League sides already run successful Instagram and I don’t see why Cliftonville cannot replicate their success on Twitter and Facebook on an Instagram account.

An account also allows the Club to produce diverse content to suit a variety of fans through the post and story functions, enabling matchdays to become even more interactive.

I believe it will help supporters feel more connected to the team ahead of their return to Solitude.

As privileged as many of us feel to be able to attend matches this season, how much are you looking forward to providing updates from the pressbox behind a packed Solitude again?
I am counting down the days until the Red Army can return to Solitude as their support has been sorely missed throughout the season.

Living with two fans who have been unable to watch the team they love in person this season, I can empathise with the vast majority of Cliftonville fans who can’t wait for lockdown restrictions to ease to return to Solitude.

I have been very fortunate to be able to attend fixtures this season and I don’t take for granted my position in being able to go to matches, but games such as the exhilarating 4-3 win over Linfield would have been even better had Cliftonville supporters been allowed inside Solitude.

I have no doubt that Solitude will be rocking when supporters can eventually come through the turnstiles and look forward to it.