Ballinamallard United FC can confirm that Whitey Anderson will step down from the position of Head Coach following the conclusion of the 2015 / 16 season after a period of 10 years in charge during which time he brought unprecedented success to the club, leading the first ever team from County Fermanagh to achieve promotion to the top flight of football in Northern Ireland.
Whitey took over the Head Coach role in 2006 after guiding Ballinamallard`s Youth team to victory in the Harry Cavan Irish Youth Cup. A former player for the club, Whitey played a key role in the development of youth football at Ballinamallard. In 1996 Whitey helped establish the club`s mini soccer centre and in 1999 he brought the first of many local Brendan Keogh Youth League successes to the club with an under 13 team that included the likes of Mark Stafford, Feargal Murphy and his own son Richard.
In 2008, whilst Ferney Park was undergoing some essential infrastructure development in order to remain in the second tier of Irish League football, Whitey oversaw an 18 month re-location to Holm Park in Armagh. Despite the physical upheaval of playing away from home for a season and a half, this proved to be a critical period in Whitey`s development of what within 4 years would become a promotion winning squad. Combining the experience of players such as Andy Crawford, James McKenna, Mark McConkey, Steve Feeney and Jason McCartney with home grown talent like Stafford, the Hutchinson brothers, Leon Carters, Darren Higginbotham and Chris Curran, Whitey developed the squad that won the Championship title in 2012 to earn the historic promotion to the Premiership.
Whitey and his squad took the Premiership by storm and after the first full series of games the Mallards sat proudly at the top of the league. In that campaign the Mallards won away at Windsor Park twice and also at Cliftonville who went on the win the league that year, and eventually finished 5th in the league and earned a place in the following season`s Setanta Cup. The following 3 season`s proved to be more difficult for Whitey as he found players like Curran, Kee and Stafford difficult to replace after they were snapped up by established Premiership clubs. Nevertheless, with most promoted teams since 2012 having been relegated back to the Championship, Whitey`s legacy is that he managed to retain Ballinamallard`s premier status on probably the lowest budget of all teams in the league.
Outgoing boss Anderson commented “This has been a decision that was made some considerable time ago and although we met and discussed the possibility of me remaining as Manager my mind was made.
It has been an incredible journey for the club over the last 40 years and I have had the pleasure of being First team manager for the last ten seasons. I have coached and managed every age group at the club and at all levels locally and throughout the country in the last 24 years. I am proud of what we all achieved as a club during that time and especially in the latter years which has seen Premier League football brought to not only this club but to the County for the first time ever. I believe it is the right time for not only Ballinamallard United F.C. and myself but in all honesty my family to arrive at this decision. In one respect there still from within lays a hunger to go again but on a personal level I have hit a brick wall, the batteries are low and it’s a preseason too far!
I would like to say a general thanks to everyone for their support over the years in whatever capacity that may be and in that regard I won't mention names so as not to offend.
The former Chairmen, Committee members, sponsors, supporters and volunteers can be rightfully proud of this great club. I thank all the members of my backroom teams over the years but in particular I pay credit to the players who I've worked with in the bad and good times. They are the ones that cross the white line and they all have played their part in contributing to the history of this unique football club .The youth section of this club has been built up over the years by many people and is a great source of pride to us all. The facilities and in particular the Ferney Park pitch are a credit to many and are the envy of many clubs throughout the country. Once again everyone can pride themselves on being associated with such a legacy.
I am genuinely thankful and fully appreciate how lucky I was in being involved in such a great journey”
Ballinamallard United Chairman Jeff Aiken paid tribute to Whitey`s contribution to the club; “Whitey has lived and breathed Ballinamallard United FC for the best part of three decades. Our success, not only in reaching the Premiership but in developing a strong human and physical infrastructure at the club, has much to do with Whitey`s dynamism and effort. Whitey will be forever remembered at this club as the man who brought senior football to County Fermanagh for the first time in 125 years of the Irish League. He will be difficult to replace but we have begun the process of finding a successor and are confident that the Head Coach at Ballinamallard will be an attractive post for an ambitious manager, with the appropriate qualification”.