Newtownabbey footballers set their sights on promotion after first year in league

In the first of a new feature series, Russell Keers details how a football club, which formed during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, has already set its sights on promotion and attracting more players.

The founding members of Maloneys FC are hoping that although 2020 was tough for a lot of people, they can look back in years to come and see the formation of the club as being one of the year’s few positives.

The Newtownabbey-based club, managed by Bill Campbell, currently fields one team in the Belfast and District League Division 3.

Sign up to our daily NorthernIrelandWorld Today newsletter

Player and ‘founding father’, Ross Glover, said: “There weren’t many positives to come out of 2020 for most people, but I suppose that was a driving factor for me in getting the club started last year.

Maloneys FC.

“It was a year of hell for most people, but hopefully starting the club amongst mates can be remembered in years to come as the year Maloneys FC was born.

“It was a positive thing for us and the community at a bad time, and our aim is to keep bringing positivity to the lads and the local community when we can.

“Robbie ‘Rucker’ Barton is Bill’s assistant and has played at a good amateur level for 10+ years. We might even see him pull the boots on again! Committee member and Larne player Andy Mitchell has also chipped in with a few decent sessions, a couple of real testing ones in pre-season!

“Due to the Coronavirus restrictions it was a slow start, especially with playing games. But once we got going it was somewhat surreal. Every friendly game we played was like a cup final. In one of our summer league games, we brought over 120 people to a mid-week away game across town. A crowd some Irish league clubs would be proud of. The support has been immense, the boys love it!”

The newly-formed club has a very community-focused ethos and although the club is in its infancy, plans are already in place for charitale efforts.

Ross explained: “We are based in Newtownabbey, a BT36 club who use Maloneys Bar and Grill as our base. Again, they have shown great support to us along with all of our sponsors, who are local businesses. We are really grateful for all the support received to date, both on and off the pitch.

“Positive mental health is something we promote within the team. We are all here for each other and have been lucky to work with a local men’s mental health charity.

“We hope to do more in the coming months now Covid-19 restrictions are easing off and it is very important that the club is seen to be positively impacting the local community. We have plans to do a Christmas appeal this year and perhaps visit some of the elderly who don’t have many people around at Christmas with a small gift or hamper. This will be Covid dependent, but we will definitely be doing something this Christmas, watch this space!”

He added: “Currently we have one team. We did toy with the idea of two clubs from the off, but felt it was better to get our foot in the door and take it from there.

“There will definitely be a second team next season. And who knows what the future may bring? A youth team, an academy? We have around 35 members. The numbers have blown us away and we hope to continue our growth gradually over time.

“Unfortunately, this year we can’t accommodate anymore players. The interest has been massive. Roll-on season two when we will start a second team. There will be open training sessions next summer. Keep an eye on our social media pages closer to the time and get involved with something great!”

Detailing the club’s biggest achievements to date and aspirations to gain promotion, Ross stated: “We’ve had some key moments already such as starting during a pandemic, being able to bring together so many people from the local community, have our fundraisers and community fun days, with great success.

“It was a great day out to take two busloads to any away friendly. Every point achieved in the league is massive. This time one year ago we didn’t have a kit, not even a ball!

“Our biggest goal is to win something. All the lads are hungry for it. We will make no secret that we want to get promotion and start a second team in the league too.”

To keep up to date with all things Maloneys FC, Search for Maloneys FC on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

We want to hear from sports clubs interested in being featured in this new series. Get in touch with Russell Keers - email [email protected]


A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We’re more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by Coronavirus impacts our advertisers.
Please consider purchasing a copy of the paper. You can also support trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription of the News Letter.