Joe Gormley On Cliftonville, Goalscoring And The Irish League

Joe Gormley On Cliftonville, Goalscoring And The Irish League
Joe Gormley On Cliftonville, Goalscoring And The Irish League

You are currently in your third spell with Cliftonville and you are the all-time record goalscorer in the history of the club. How much does holding that record mean to you and how much does the club, as a whole, mean to you?

“To hold such a record at this stage of my career is something that I am buzzing about but I don’t think I’ll really understand how special it is until I actually leave the club and realise what I’ve done.

“The main reason I say that is because I’m still trying to add more goals to the record and continue to make a difference for the club going forward.

“This club means so much to me, every experience that I have had here since the start of my career at Cliftonville until now has been brilliant and I’ve loved every minute of it.

“My passion for the club is the main reason why after all of these years I’m still here because I’ve had a few clubs recently enquire about speaking to me but there is only one place I want to be and that is with Cliftonville.

“Hopefully, I can stay here until the end of my career because, I always said it, the only way would leave was if the club was looking rid of me.”

Your second spell at the club, between 2011 and 2015, in particular, was an incredible time for the club. Back-to-back league titles, back-to-back Irish League Cups. What was it like to achieve such highs under the guidance of Tommy Breslin and Gerard Lyttle?

“It was outstanding because no one ever really gives Cliftonville a chance in our league and still to this day, it’s the same. You sometimes get a sense that nobody really wants Cliftonville to do well outwith the club.

“Ultimately, that is how football can be and I am so proud of everything that I have achieved at the club.

“To win the two back-to-back league titles, and especially the league cups as well, it was an incredible feeling.

“To have a good hand in that success by scoring goals and helping the team win games was an extra special feeling for me.

“That period of time is probably the highlight of my career, but I hope that I can add further success before I retire.”

You have won a host of individual honours during your career such as Ulster Footballer of the Year and the Northern Ireland Football Writers Association Player of the Year. How much do such individual awards mean to you?

“It means an awful lot because growing up, you would always hear of a few boys who played in the Irish league and achieved success.

“So, to be able to win trophies with my club and also be recognised as one of the best players in the league at that time was incredible.

“It was an unbelievable feeling for me.”

“For sure because I loved my time at Peterborough for what it was there.

“Unfortunately, my injury stopped me from progressing.

“Despite that, making that move is still a highlight in my career but if things are not meant to be then they are not meant to be. That is the way that I look at it to this day.

“There is nothing that I look back on and wish I’d done this or wish I’d done that. Sometimes bad things happen, some things you are lucky to avoid, and it just happened to be me who was the player who got injured.

“It just wasn’t meant to be, and I accept that because I could not control the situation.”

“I must be honest and say that everyone involved with Peterborough was outstanding. From Barry Fry to Daragh MacAnthony, to Grant McCann.

“All the players were exceptional with me too. They looked after me and, obviously, they understood my situation.

“After such a serious injury, I was a wee bit disillusioned with football at the time and I knew in my heart that it was just time to go back home.

“People may question that decision but, to this day, it’s nothing I have a moment of  regret over.”

Given that a serious scuppered your move to England, when you came back to the Irish League with Cliftonville, did you think that you would perform as well as you did?

“Yes and no. Obviously, with a bit of experience, I probably come back a bit of a different player r rather than just a goal scorer that I was in my previous spells at the club.

“I was able to hold the ball up and bring other players in the play which was something that I knew I had to add to my game.

“Then, coming back and being able to score the goals to pick up from where I left was pleasing because I’m paid to score goals and I was hoping I could repay the club for their efforts in bringing me back.”

“Along with the league title victories, that was the highlight of my career as I’m a massive Celtic fan and playing against them was a dream come true.

“Just to share a pitch with some of the players, it was just an incredible feeling, and I don’t think I’ll ever have an experience like it again.

“Jim and Gerard have come in and the level of professionalism at the club has gone tenfold.

“Things have been outstanding from the two of them since coming in.

“Obviously, I know Gerard obviously from his previous spells with Cliftonville but alongside Jim, the experience that both of them bring to our club is incredible.

“In my view, whenever you play for Cliftonville, you should be competing for trophies, league titles, and nothing changes.

“With the experience of Jim and Gerard, I don’t see why we can’t go and compete against the biggest teams in the league and achieve success, because I’ve no doubt in my mind, the two of them have been exceptional to work with as a player.

“The confidence I’ve regained from working with them has made me become the player that I was a few years ago.”

“He was a great all-round footballer and an incredible goalscorer who always showcased his qualities individually and for the team.”