This is the fourth in a new series where notable Glentoran players of the past name the team they would pick from the players they played alongside during their careers in the Irish League.
4. JOHN DEVINE
Rarely can a Glentoran career have both started and ended on such a high as that of John Devine. At Christmas 1987, Tommy Jackson’s Glens squad were going for their first championship in seven years when Barney Bowers and his understudy Norman McGreevy both sustained long-term injuries. So, on Boxing Day there was a certain trepidation when Jacko handed a debut to an 18-year old centre back who we’d never heard of. He wasn’t even in the squad photo taken three months four months earlier. Yet that was John Devine, who stayed for the rest of the season as we won not only the League, but our fourth consecutive Irish Cup, our first double in 37 years!
In fact, not only did he stay in the team for the rest of the season, but for the next eleven. During that time John won a total of 16 medals , including three championship medals and four Irish Cups. He also won an international cap for Northern Ireland in the Billy Bigham era. John’s last act for Glentoran was to lift the Gibson Cup as captain in May 1999 before leaving disappointingly early for Coleraine at the age of just 30 and the reigning NI Footballer of the Year for both the Castlereagh GSC and the NI Football Writers. A great player and leader of the club.
Overall, John played 468 games for the Glens, scoring 35 goals, usually at centre half but also in midfield or full back in his early years. He played in two great eras for the club and won league and cup under the club’s two most successful manager ever, Tommy Jackson and later Roy Coyle. So as with Colin Nixon and Billy Caskey, he has a vast number of Glentoran greats to choose from.
Alan Paterson (Goalkeeper)
I played with a few great keepers, but Paddy just shades it from Wayne Russell, a fantastic sot stopper and a brilliant pro.
Colin Nixon (Right Back)
I was lucky to have witnessed Colin from a 16 year old boy to become the best right back I have seen at the club, should have played a higher level and scored his fair share of goals.
Alfie Stewart (Left Back)
The complete full back, although right footed played at left back, comfortable and centre back also and a brilliant athlete.
Chris Walker (Centre Back)
Just pips Gary Smyth, mainly because of the length of time we partnered each other and what we won together. A great left foot but can only recall him scoring one goal for the club (with his right foot)
Terry Moore (Centre Back)
My first central defensive partner and what a man to learn from, what I achieved at Glentoran stemmed from Terry’s influence. Tough in the tackle great in the air. The ultimate professional.
Johnny Jameson (Right Midfield)
Great athlete on the wing who could cross the ball on a six pence, chipped in with his fair share of goals over the years. I used to get a lift with Jamie after training and am indebted to him for the advice he gave me.
Raymond Morrison (Centre Midfield)
"Nuts" was your modern day midfielder, box to box, scored a lot of important goals and was brilliant with the ball. Didn’t get the recognition he deserved but was highly respected by his teammates.
Billy Caskey (Centre Midfield)
The ultimate competitor. Whether it be head tennis or five aside Casko wanted to win at all costs. Nuts and Casko complimented each other fantastically. Will go down as one of the all time greats.
Jim Cleary (Left Midfield)
Jimmy would almost certainly get into most players best 11. My first captain at the club and truly fantastic player. The best I have played with. Jimmy just oozed class and sometimes made the game look simple.
Gary Macartney (Centre Forward)
“G-Force” scored goals for fun, didn’t sign for the club until he was 26 but is up there with the all-time scorers. The best centre forward I have seen at the club.
Gerry Mullan (Centre Forward)
Didn’t score as many goals as g force but just as important a player. A fantastic work rate and brilliant at holding the ball up. The perfect foil for Gary Macartney.
Wayne Russell (Goalkeeper)
Signed as part of the deal that took Glen Little to Burnley. Brilliant all round goalkeeper who was released to early by the club.
George Neill (Right Back)
Not too many players faster than George. A Great Defender who backed Jamie up brilliantly on the right side for many years. Not many will forget his goal in the Irish Cup final.
Gary Smith (Central Defender)
Brilliant defender and a threat from set pieces. Fantastic left foot. Should never had left the club in the early 90’s.
Glenn Little (Right Midfield)
Unbelievable talent who deserved his shot in England. Just my out on the first 11 as I didn’t play with him long enough.
Barney Bowers (Midflield/Sweeper)
Unfortunately in my early days at the glens Barney was curtailed by injuries, but when we did play together you could see his class. Equally at home in midfield or sweeper. A very intelligent footballer
Paul Leeman (Midflield/Central Defender)
Leeper didn’t get it easy at the start of his Glentoran Career, but testimony to his character and will to succeed he went on to become an iconic figure at the club
Liam Coyle (Centre Forward)
I wish I had played with Coyler at his peak because he was unbelievable when he came at the twilight of his career.
Ron Manley (Centre Forward)
Probably the most unselfish player I played with. Fantastic work rate and would have played anywhere.