300 not out for Cousins

Any local derby between Banbridge Rangers and Seapatrick is one of the highlights of the local football season but this evening's game, the first of a unique double-header, will see Rangers captain Colin Cousins make his 300th appearance for the club. INBL1532-221EB
Any local derby between Banbridge Rangers and Seapatrick is one of the highlights of the local football season but this evening's game, the first of a unique double-header, will see Rangers captain Colin Cousins make his 300th appearance for the club. INBL1532-221EB

It’s 300 not out for Banbridge Rangers skipper Colin Cousins.

The towering midfielder is celebrating his 10th season at the club and will mark yet another landmark occasion in this evening’s local derby - his 300th appearance for Rangers.

His side travel to Havelock Park to take on Seapatrick in Intermediate A (Tuesday - kick-off 6.45pm) before returning to Cheney Park, where they will host the same near neighbours in the Bob Radcliffe Cup opener on Saturday (kick-off 2pm).

It’s a key double header at this early stage of the season and one that Cousins is confident of negotiating unscathed.

“I’m hopeful that we can get two victories,” he said. “We beat them 9-0 the last time we met. We know it won’t be easy this week but hopefully we can get two positive results.”

The influential skipper has every reason to be confident after he netted a late winner for his side in their season opener against Ballymacash Rangers on Saturday while Seapatrick were thumped 7-0 by Hanover.

A win this evening would cap off what will be a big evening for the popular Cousins.

“It’s amazing to get to 300 games,” he told the ‘LEADER.”

“I started playing for the club from day one when it was formed so to have come all the way through and to reach this milestone is a real honour for me, especially to achieve it in a local derby against Seapatrick. Hopefully we can make sure we get the right result.

“I’ve seen the club come up from the Newcastle League right through the Mid-Ulster divisions to where we are now.”

The last decade have seen a plethora of highlights as the club rocketed through the Mid-Ulster football pyramid to Intermediate A.

However, Cousins does manage to pick out one particular game that he looks back on with fondness.

“Personally, my biggest highlight was the Alan Wilson Cup final a few seasons ago, when we beat Camlough Rovers and I managed to get a goal in that one as well,” he said.

Goal-scoring has become something of a habit for the 29 year-old, who usually weighs in with more than his fair share of the course of a season.

His secret? “Plenty of training,” he says - a model answer for a club captain.

“During matches, I keep going to the end and hope that I can get that opportunity to get the goal.”

It would be a foolish man that would bet against Cousins finding the net in his big match this evening, when Seapatrick will have their work cut out to keep him at bay.

“There’s usually a very big crowd down for these derby games but home or away, we get a good crowd at all of our matches,” said Cousins.

Rangers will again be looking to challenge for the Intermediate A title this season but their long term aims go beyond their current level.

“I reckon we will be right up there this season,” he said.

“Everybody working behind the scenes does an amazing job. They have brought us up from being a small club with one team to having a full youth set-up. We have a lot of strong players coming through so if we can hold onto them, hopefully we can push on up to Championship level.”