Noel's 'grand' title?

LINFIELD Captain Noel Bailie has two targets in sight this weekend - to win the Blues' 49th title and to make his 1000th appearance for his only professional club.

The Lisburn man has been with the Blues for 24 years, since joining from Hillsborough Boys in 1986.

He has been involved in some epic title battles and is hoping to help his side clinch the Gibson Cup once more tomorrow (Saturday) when they travel to Seaview, needing just one more win from their remaining three fixtures to become champions.

And should he be involved in tomorrow's match, Bailie will make his 1000th appearance for the Blues - a club record.

Paying tribute to Bailie's feat, Blues' boss David Jeffrey said the player is "remarkable."

Jeffrey commented: "He's just incredible; I've run out of superlatives for him.

"The word legend is very much overused these days, but when you consider Noel's longevity at Linfield, the number of first team games he's started, the quality and consistency he brings; he is quite remarkable. Certainly no-one has had 1000 appearances at Linfield, I'm not sure if anyone in any context has done it."

Jeffrey added: "Noel's focus is not on his 1000th appearance, but on getting the win to bring the title back to Windsor Park.

"We are in a position we never thought we'd get to at Christmas. The reality is we need three points from three games, sometimes if you heap too much pressure on players it can have an adverse affect, but obviously we'd like to finish it as soon as possible. Crusaders have also got themselves into a fantastic position and they will be after third spot, so it is all to play for."