Philsy remembers sinking the Blues at Windsor Park

Former defender Graeme Philson had a great career at the Riverside and was one of those players who gave his all for the cause.

Graeme Philson gives a thumbs up after running the recent Waterside Half Marathon.
Graeme Philson gives a thumbs up after running the recent Waterside Half Marathon.
Graeme Philson gives a thumbs up after running the recent Waterside Half Marathon.

Philson played over 100 senior appearances and was given the captaincy along the way.

Playing at the back, he orchestrated the team that caught everyone by surprise from playing senior football for only three seasons, to playing Premiership football and mixing it with the likes of Linfield, Glentoran, Crusaders, Cliftonville and Coleraine.

The former West Ham United Reserve skipper who played with the likes of Frank Lampard and Joe Cole took time out to elaborate on his best moments while at Institute.

“Probably beating Linfield 3-2 at Windsor Park, in our first season in the Premier League, because no one gave us a hope in hell up there,” stated the ex-Blues man.

“I think we actually beat them three times that season, but that was a very memorable moment. Obviously getting promotion was a very memorable moment, but from a match perspective it’s definitely one of the best matches I’ve played in.”

Although that dramatic win against Linfield 11 seasons ago, Graeme still enjoys keeping fit, playing football and continues to do so.

“I’m still playing at junior level up in the country, but I’m doing a lot of running. I ran Berlin Marathon there a couple of months ago. I’m still playing football but I’m more recreational at the minute. I haven’t been able to play more competitively but I’m not retired yet, maybe another year or two left you know!”

Despite his jam packed schedule between football, work and training, the former captain, who had Manchester United and England midfielder Michael Carrick clean his boots while he was at Upton Park, still keeps looks out for how his old club are doing.

“I would always keep an eye on their scores and I sometimes get the twitter feed to see how they’re doing on a Saturday. They’re up at the top of the league and there going well. It’s going to be a tough season because there is quite a few teams there that are closely matched and hopefully they can get back up into the Premiership. It would be great for the city, obviously to have two teams that are playing at the top level. I haven’t been at a game now (at the Riverside), in a couple of years because I actually work up in Belfast so I don’t get the chance to go every Saturday. I have had a few invites from Paul Kee to come down and I’d love to get down sooner rather than later.

“The last match I saw was a few weeks ago when they were away to Glenavon, I was actually down in Lurgan that day so I stayed on and went to the game. They played well but ended up losing. I don’t think the scoreline was a reflection of the game itself, I thought we played well against a very good Glenavon side.”

Reflecting on ’Stute’s season so far Philson seemed impressed, in particular the variety of ages of players in the squad.

“They’re a very young side, but have a couple of the older heads,” he added.

I know Paul Kee’s philosophy and how he plays football. He has them playing decent football which is always going to be difficult in this league because you’ve got a lot of teams that are a scrappy type. There’s a few teams that play football but there’s more teams that play route 1 type of football. But they’ve got a good young side and a of course a lot of the older players like Stephen Parkhouse, Paddy McLaughlin and a few other boys.

“If they can get the blend right, which I’m sure Paul will do, they’ll be very close to getting promoted this year.”

Getting promoted is a serious target for the side after an impressive start to the campaign and as it stands there looks to be a race on between three or four clubs to see who can finish top. Philson believes that if they do get promoted, ’Stute will be back playing where they belong.

“The stadium and the club is very much geared for Premiership football. The ground is fantastic,” he stated.

“The development has been phenomenal and there has been a lot of hard work by people behind the scenes at the club. It would be good for them, and obviously the people of the Waterside, to have a team in the Premiership.”

On one last look back on his time with the Waterside men I asked him who he considered to be the best player he played alongside at the club. This took him a while to answer.

“I’m finding it hard to think of someone I’ve played with that many players,” he added.

It would be someone from the team that played in the first season of the Premiership because there was a lot of great players that year. I would probably have to say Adrian Creane, or Joe as he’s known to us.

“For consistency and the fact that he was quite small in stature but extremely good in the air and obviously being a defender you tend to gravitate towards people in the same area as yourself.”