Opinion: Boxing Day now a more attractive proposition after great week for club

You’d have to say, all things considered, it hasn’t been the worst week in Ballymena United’s recent history.

Gary McCutcheon and Brian McCaul - pictured here playing for Glenavon - will be Ballymena United team-mates in January after the striker's return to the Showgrounds. Picture: Press Eye.

A cup final place secured for the third season in succession; a favourable draw in the club’s opening Irish Cup hurdle; and the imminent return of one of the club’s best players of the past decade should be three sources of considerable contentment for the club’s supporters in the lead-up to Christmas.

There was even the icing on the cake of a crucial league win at Drumahoe on Saturday, to arrest United’s worrying slide down the Danske Bank Premiership table.

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It makes the Boxing Day clash against Coleraine a much more eagerly-awaited proposition for Ballymena fans than it might have been just a couple of weeks ago.

Beyond that, Glenn Ferguson has pulled off a masterstroke with the re-signing of striker Gary McCutcheon.

Even in the twilight of his career - the very fact that he has signed only until the end of the current campaign suggests that the little Scot might be considering hanging up his boots this summer - McCutcheon’s arrival will bring so much to United’s team.

Even though he is cup-tied and can’t play in the League Cup final, McCutcheon will be a tremendous asset for United’s tilt at Irish Cup glory, where a fifth round tie at home to Amateur League opposition in the form of Crumlin Star was as much as anybody could have hoped for in the draw.

Irrespective of the fact that he had left Ballymena United, it was still a scandalous waste of McCutcheon’s talent to peruse Crusaders line-ups and see him getting 20 minute cameo appearances as substitute or, as in the case at the Showgrounds a week and a half ago, not even getting off the bench.

Something tells me I can’t see the same scenario arising at the Showgrounds.

Merry Christmas to all readers of this column and here’s hoping for something to cheer on Boxing Day.

* Follow Ballymena Times Sports Editor Stephen Alexander on Twitter