Hill sorry to see Simms and McAlea leave Dixon Park

Gerard McAlea (centre) has left Ballyclare Comrades to join Sport & Leisure Swifts.
Gerard McAlea (centre) has left Ballyclare Comrades to join Sport & Leisure Swifts.

Ballyclare Comrades have parted company with two influential midfielders who have moved to other Championship 1 clubs.

Andy Simms and Gerard McAlea have decided to move to pastures new at Dundela and Sport & Leisure Swifts respectively.

Andy’s was a typical ‘local lad made good’ story. Having started his football career just over the wall from Dixon Park at Ballyclare Primary School, he went on to establish himself in the Reds’ senior team for several years, having been recruited by Jamesie Kirk for the 2006-07 season.

His dandy left peg made him a dead ball specialist, with his immaculate deliveries creating scoring opportunities for his team-mates and making him a fans’ favourite.

McAlea, from Annagh United in the Portadown area, was signed by Eddie Hill in 2012 and as a combative box-to-box midfielder, he quickly made his mark in Ballyclare.

Both players were members of Hill’s team that gained promotion from Championship 2 in 2013.

Players and fans thank them for their services to Ballyclare Comrades, and wish them all the best.

Hill said: “I was sorry to see Andy and Gerard leave; they were both dedicated players who contributed much to our successful promotion drive.

“However, we now have a big squad and I can’t accommodate everyone every week, so they have decided to move to where they have a better chance of regular first-team football.

“We parted on the best of terms and I wish them well at their new clubs.”

Looking ahead to the Comrades’ trip to Castlederg this weekend, Hill added: “Travelling over 80 miles on Saturday morning is not the best preparation for a match, and we will not be at full strength,” he cautioned.

“Denver Gage and Andrew Doyle have family wedding commitments, while Gary Brown is a fitness doubt. On the plus side, we have young Joel Cooper back from suspension.

“I don’t forget that Dergview thrashed us 7-1 at Darragh Park a couple of years ago when we were in Championship 2, but last season we beat them home and away, so I feel confident that we will be returning with the three points.”