Gary O’Connor was in top form when he addressed the audience at Berwick Rangers Supporters Trust’s Annual General Meeting in the JB Lounge at Shielfield on Saturday ( Nov. 17th ). The former Berwick goalkeeper related stories about his playing career including how, as an 18 year old and before the age of loan deals, he was informed by Hearts that he was being transferred to play for Berwick but would remain employed by the Tynecastle club as a ‘groundsman’.
He went on to describe the attention to detail displayed by one particular manager under whom he played whilst at Shielfield. Pre-match, the boss would go through his own team telling every individual player what was expected of them. Then, they all had to listen to his forensic analysis of every single member of the opposition! After one match, this same manager berated Gary for an error. Gary tried to explain that he had lost his footing on the wet surface only to be told in no uncertain terms, ‘Good goalkeepers don’t slip!’
He provoked more laughter with tales of his time at Doncaster Rovers mainly centred on the antics of the Yorkshire club’s then chairman.
Gary explained he had always aspired to play at the highest level possible even if that involved making sacrifices concerning time, travel and even money. He felt it important that clubs should employ specialist goalkeeping coaches before being asked who was the best man he played alongside during his four spells with Berwick Rangers. Straightaway, he plumped for Marc Anthony who was at Shielfield from 1999-2002 after being released by Celtic. Marc, who later emigrated to Australia, may never have realised his full potential but was number one in terms of ability.
Berwick Rangers chairman Len Eyre gave a brief report in which he again thanked the Trust for its continued financial support to the club. He added that the club’s financial deficit has been reduced and that the Board was working to reduce it further, outlining some fund raising events planned for the new year. He also said that the Board is considering moving the football club from being a public limited company to a community interest company. Another guest, Supporters Club chairman Bill Parkin, also spoke on this theme, acknowledging that such a move would have to be endorsed by a majority of shareholders.
Manager Johnny Harvey, fresh from a great win at Elgin seven days earlier, spoke with enthusiasm about the challenges faced on the field. His aim was to advance the club from a situation in which the priority was simply to maintain SPFL status to one of greater ambition.
During the opening, formal stages of the meeting, chairman Michael Smyth stressed the requirement for the Trust to conduct all activities within the rules of the Financial Conduct Authority. Andrew Allan from Dunbar was elected to the Trust Board bringing its complement of members up to eleven ( a maximum of fifteen is allowed ), with Isla Barber continuing as secretary.