Jimmy Callacher programme article

Posted : 1st May 2022

Linfield stalwart Jimmy Callacher knows a thing or two about what it takes to win a league title – and the reliable central defender believes if the Blues are to get over the line today, it’s important they relish the occasion.

“The mood is good coming into today's game against Coleraine off the back of the draw against Larne last week. We know exactly what we need to do now, so hopefully we won’t be worrying about other scores. As players, we were well aware of what was going on in the Cliftonville match last week. When you heard the cheers, you had a good idea of what the changing scenarios were during the 90 minutes, but it didn’t change the fact that we were focused on trying to win the game. Unfortunately, despite a lot of set-piece opportunities, we couldn’t find a winner.

“Although we know what we need to do, we are under no illusions of how tough this game is going to be. Not only that, but we are also fully aware of how big the game is for the team, the club and the fans, and that is something that we need to relish as a team, to enjoy the game and the occasion. It’s an opportunity for someone to be a hero but we all must chip in collectively.”

A boyhood Linfield supporter himself who grew up down the road from Windsor Park, Jimmy has a simple message for the Blue men and women who will no doubt be out in their numbers this afternoon, as he calls on the twelfth man to be heard.

“The fans have been great. As players, all we can ask for is for them to get right behind the team. As a team we’ll give it one last push to try and hit a high level of performance and hopefully, the fans can make as much noise as possible too. We are at home and want to make that count for us. Let’s give it everything, together.”

The 30-year-old bagged his first league goal of the season eleven days ago and what a time to get it as it proved to be a big goal in the Blues’ 2-1 win at Seaview. However, humble Jimmy – whose goal was Linfield’s 100th of the season - says he takes more pride in his defending and that’s something he and his teammates have done superbly this year, with just 24 goals conceded in 37 league matches in what is a very competitive and ever-improving league.

“To be honest, I don’t overly care about scoring goals. As a defender your job first and foremost is to defend your own goal. If you score at the other end, then that’s a bonus. It’s clean sheets that defenders take pride in, not goals. I was just glad to help the team get a big win when I scored at Seaview. I hadn’t scored for a while, despite going close a few times and Ben Hall has been knocking at the door for a goal of late too.

“It hasn’t been a problem for me adapting beside three different central defenders throughout the season in Michael Newberry, Sam Roscoe, and now Ben Hall. I feel defensively as a back four and as a team, we have been very strong this year. I was pleased for Matthew Clarke to win both 1st South Belfast LSC Player and Young Player of the Year awards this week. 'Clarkey' has been absolutely immense and is sometimes an ‘unsung hero’, so it’s great to see him get that recognition. He’s a wholly committed player who gives his all for the shirt. All the other defenders have been excellent too, as has Chris Johns behind us in goal. Defending is a team effort and everyone does their bit.

“We knew it was going to be tough to replace players like Haughey, Stafford, Cooper, Lavery and Waterworth who we lost last summer but the manager and staff have recruited good players who have settled in really well and have been super for us all year. I also think other players have stepped up this year and found another level in their game. Everyone has worked hard to put us in this position but that counts for nothing, if we don’t get the job done today.”

The very best of luck to Jimmy and his teammates for this evening’s huge Premiership game at Windsor Park. Let’s hope the popular and vastly experienced defender will claim his fifth league winners’ medal as a Linfield player.
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