Well that was a hectic January at Shamrock Park!

When the Christmas period came to an end and the New Year celebrations had finished it was straight to work at Portadown FC, knowing the squad needed some additions, the powers-that-be got to work and brought in a total of 10 fresh faces through the gates at Shamrock. First of all was the double signing of Jack Smith and Jamal Dupree, two attack minded players that possess pace and some pedigree at a lower level, Smith having played with Derriaghy and scored 24 goals already this season while Dupree spent time with Waterford in the League of Ireland, they where followed pretty swiftly with the addition of experienced defender Howard Beverland. Having spent his Irish League career with Coleraine and Crusaders, the Ballymoney native brings oodles of know-how and leadership to a team that needed just that.

Then was the big transfer of the Irish League window with Portadown striker Lee Bonis making his was to Larne with Portadown accepting an offer from the Inver Park men, young striker Matty Lusty came the opposite way on loan, although he has since returned to the Invermen. Next up was the addition of Josh Doherty, the experienced campaigner who spent time playing in League Two with Crawley Town and Barnet before returning home and signing with the Ports. Striker Elliott Dugan joined the squad, after venturing to the Cypriot leagues after release from Swindon Town but he wasn’t long through the door before another big exit as Manager Matthew Tipton parted ways with the Ports, with the board at Portadown making the swift appointment of Paul Doolin, the ex Ports midfielder took charge after successful spells in charge of Drogheda United, Cork City, RoI u19/u23 and most recently Athlone Town.

With only one week left of the transfer window, Doolin and the Ports board wasted no time in bringing in some recruits, first up was Billy Stedman, an attacking midfielder who spent time on the books of Coventry City before heading to Iceland for some game time with Vikingur then returning home with Dorchester Town. On the same day Doolin brought in a familiar face as South African Junior International Katlego Mashigo signed on the dotted line, Mashigo played under Doolin last season at Athlone Town and his high energy in midfield is something the Ports are looking forward to seeing in action, if anything the addition of South African fans to the clubs social media accounts will provide some entertainment!

Transfer Deadline Day loomed and as the window came to a close, two players committed to wearing red for the remainder of the season, first up Josh Chatee, an English winger/forward with Trinidadian & Tobagonian roots came in after spending time with Reading Academy, Chatee ventured to Sweden where he played with Stode IF & IFK Lulea. Minutes before the window closed the second Deadline Day signing was confirmed as ex Leeds United, Sheffield United and Belper Town defender/midfielder Connor Leak-Blunt was confirmed to round out the clubs crazily busy January.

So ten players in through the door, a manager change and a very tired media team, more importantly a key few months ahead for those donning the red of Portadown as they look to improve results after a tough season where they sit in 11th place. The cliché will say, it takes time for players to get bedded in, but time is something the Ports are running low on, it is now over to the coaches and players to come together and start turning the Shamrock Ship around and it all starts with an Irish Cup 2nd round tie away to Coleraine, a side that came to Shamrock in January and played out a 0-0 draw.

Whether they can pull away from the bottom spots remains to be seen, but you can’t say it wont be for lack of trying.

By Mark Beattie