Ricky Beggs, the man who led Nortel to successive Premier Division titles in 1996 and 1997, is back in charge at the Factory Grounds, following the surprise resignation of Paul Foy.
However, as Ricky told the Times: “I don’t want to talk about what happened before. I want to move forward. I feel that I am the best man for the job at Nortel, and I’m really looking forward to it.”
And the hard work has already started. “I’ve met the players, individually and collectively, and all who turned up for the meeting have signed, which is good from my point of view,” he said.
Nortel have lost three key players for next term: skipper Andrew Simpson to Ballyclare Comrades, Owen Thompson to Larne, and Simon Craig, who Beggs managed at Dunmurry Rec.
But Beggs explained: “That was going to happen even if Paul Foy had stayed. That’s three good players I need to replace. I’ve targeted a few I feel Nortel need. I’m hoping to bring in the ones I’ve targeted, and then the players that are here will respond and there will be some competition for places. I’ve already signed Ryan McLoughlin who has been out of the game for the last few years, but has played first-team football at Linfield. I’m hoping to make further signings this week.”
He added: “I’m fully aware of their capabilities. I’ve watched Nortel at least a dozen times last season, so I’m familiar with the players and more than know what they’re capable of. They went into the last week of the season still in with a shout of winning the league – and maybe they could have won the league but for some bad luck with injuries, with for example, the two first-choice goalkeepers ruled out at the same time.
“Everyone starts with a clean slate, but I’m not going to break up the camaraderie and team spirit that exists. There’s a good squad already here. I’m hoping to add to that squad, and I’m really delighted to be back.”
Since Beggs last relinquished those managerial reins, he has won the Border Regiment Cup with Grove United; and with Dunmurry Rec, reached the final of the Clarence Cup and the semi-finals of the Border and Steel and Sons Cup. He also had a short spell helping Dee Heron out at Killyleagh YC.
Beggs brings alongside him John McConnell and his nephew, Colin Beggs.