Football/Soccer

Ryan Catney hoping it's 'written in the stars' for Joe Gormley to break Cliftonville record at Seaview

Joe Gormley equalled Cliftonville's goalscoring record at the weekend with a brace against Ards, and is hoping to smash it when the Reds face north Belfast rivals Crusaders at Seaview tonight. Picture by Pacemaker
Neil Loughran

Danske Bank Premiership: Crusaders v Cliftonville (tonight, 7.45pm, Seaview, live on BBC2)

CLIFTONVILLE midfielder Ryan Catney hopes it is “written in the stars” for Joe Gormley to smash the Reds’ all-time goalscoring record at the home of north Belfast rivals Crusaders tonight.

Gormley equalled Dr Kevin McGarry’s record of 170 goals at Solitude last weekend when he scored a brace in the 3-1 win over Ards, and one more goal would see him out on his own.

There would surely be no sweeter time to get it than tonight as Barry Gray takes his men to Seaview for the first north Belfast derby of the season, and Catney has backed the former Crumlin Star striker to deliver the goods.

“The first live game on BBC, everything seems to be written in the stars for him to hopefully break the club record which has stood for so long,” said Catney.

“It’s amazing when you consider he was away from the club for a couple of years, and it’s not like he was there from he was 16 or 17 - he was a late developer, so his goals to games ratio is phenomenal. It’s scary.

“You nearly run out of words to describe Joe; he’s just an amazing natural goalscorer and you can’t teach that. He’s a predator and you know he only needs a half chance.

“He scores all types of goals now – inside the box, outside the box, he’s even added heading to his repertoire because he was the worst header of a ball I’ve ever seen in my life.

“The boys give him a bit of stick and tell him now he’s probably the second worst header of the ball at the club - I’ll not say after who…

“But no, when he’s on the pitch, all he needs is a sniff.”

It will be a big occasion for Catney too, as he returns to Seaview for the first time since the horrific double leg break in January 2017 that could have ended his career.

The 31-year-old broke both his tibia and fibula during a full-blooded tackle on Crusaders defender Howard Beverland, and only returned to the field at the start of this season.

However, having featured in all Cliftonville’s league games so far this season, Catney insists he carries no mental baggage after coming back from such a serious injury.

“I haven’t given it a second thought,” he said.

“It’ll be the first time I’ll have been back, but we’re just going there to hopefully get three points. It was a pretty serious injury but once I got over that first tackle at training, that was it.

“Once I knew I could do that I knew I could get out on the pitch again. Ever since then, I haven’t looked back.

“It hasn’t mentally scarred me, I’m not afraid to go in for a tackle so I don’t really give it a second thought.”

Catney has always insisted he had no intention to hurt Beverland, while the Crues man said he didn’t hold a grudge.

Asked if there had been any contact with Beverland since the incident, Catney kept his reply as succinct as possible.

“No.”

Meanwhile, a Cliftonville supporters' group is set to boycott tonight’s game.

The North Belfast Reds CSC issued a statement on Wednesday, saying it had taken the decision due to the ticketing restrictions put in place by Cliftonville.

"The committee and members of the North Belfast Reds Cliftonville Supporters' Club have decided, as a club, that we will not be attending Friday's Premiership game with Crusaders at Seaview,” read the statement.

"Unfortunately, we are unable to offer our loyal patrons and fellow fans who wish to attend this fixture, with transport to Seaview.

"As an officially affiliated SC, we have not taken this decision lightly. However, we feel that the ticketing restrictions imposed by Cliftonville FC, on its own loyal fanbase, are unnecessary and excessive."

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