Legendary striker Glenn Ferguson has been speaking to Official Linfield Media giving his recollections on the Setanta Cup success 15 years ago.
“What an occasion it was. A couple of weeks after the day when we lost the league at the Oval, we had to lift ourselves to go down to play Shelbourne in their own back yard in the Setanta Cup Final. No-one gave us a chance of doing anything, but we regrouped over those few weeks. The manager and backroom staff had us prepared as best we could and we went into the game with a focus and a gameplan which worked to a tee. Winning the game 2-0 against Shelbourne who had players like Wes Hoolahan, Jason Byrne, Joseph N’Do – quality, quality players who were full-time - we had to have a gameplan."
‘Spike’ opened the scoring on 26 minutes, finishing clinically from Aidan O’Kane’s left-wing cross into the box and he recalls spotting a popular Irish League figure in the crowd, in the form of former Dungannon Swifts manager, Joe McAree.
“I remember scoring my goal and running to the crowd who were fantastic on the day and one of the first faces I spotted was Joe McAree; not only a Dungannon man, but a football man, and it was great to see him down giving his support.”
Aged 35 at the time, ‘Spike’ put in a masterclass, not only scoring the opener and setting up Thompson’s second, but also dropping into midfield in the second half. Looking back, he describes it as one of his best memories in football, which speaks volumes given the decorated career he had.
“After the game, what an occasion. Winning the trophy, getting our medals, then going back to the hotel and having a party like no other. Everyone enjoyed themselves and we had a lovely meal with drink after drink which went on into the early hours. We woke up the next morning knowing we had to get the bus home but of course, we went into the bar again for another couple of drinks. The party continued on the bus on the way home. It was great coming back up the road with the trophy, giving the fans something to shout about and then that was a platform for what we’d go on and do in the next season with a domestic clean sweep.
“To win in Shelbourne’s own back yard will go down as one of my best memories in football, and I’ve had plenty of ups, plenty of winners medals, plenty of personal achievements, but the Setanta Cup win was a collective group, squad and team achievement, we went down there and pulled off something no-one expected us to do and it’s probably one of the biggest achievements that we’ve had as a group. It’s something I am very proud of.”