Gary Haveron couldn’t believe his luck when he heard Mark Surgenor was being released by Ballymena United - and he was happier still when his former Warden Street team-mate agreed to join Carrick Rangers.
“Mark is a terrific talent and he’s vastly experienced. He is just what the doctor ordered for us, a quality player who is as versatile as he is experienced - and, with 200-plus games under his belt with the Braid first-team, that’s a hell of a lot of experience,” said the Gers’ manager in waiting.
“He’d been at Ballymena for the last six years and I well remember him arriving there from Ballymoney United. He’s a wholehearted player and I was genuinely very surprised when Ballymena decided not to offer him a new contract.
“He can play up front, is superb in a midfield role or he can drop back and slot in there just as comfortably, because he’s really a tremendously athletic player who just loves playing football.
“He’s just hungry to prove himself and that’s really what every single player in the game should be eager to do. And he wants most of all to enjoy playing football again - I think he will do that with no trouble at all,” added the Rangers first-team coach, who also believes there’s a new goalkeeper on the way very shortly as well.
“Brian Neeson is a terrific goalkeeper and it will take a pretty good one to take the number-one jersey from him. But you can’t have a team in the Premiership without having top-class cover in every position.
“The player in question is an excellent keeper as well and he knows the score and I feel he will be a perfect man to start the season as cover for Brian, but also well capable of pressing for the regular slot.
“We want fierce competition for every single position and that’s how the players like things to be. It keeps them all on their toes and helps bring out the best in them,” assured Haveron, who was delighted to be back on the training pitch on Saturday morning.
“It was nice to be back out with the lads. Getting involved with all the preparations that have to be sorted out ahead of our return to the top-flight game is all very well, but there’s nothing to beat being out on the pitch and there was a great buzz around the place,” concluded a contented Haveron.
n Meanwhile, Carrick have announced Peter Clarke as their new chairman.
As part of a boardroom reshuffle, Clarke takes over the role from David Hilditch, an East Antrim MLA, who is now Rangers’ secretary.
Adam Simpson is Carrick’s new vice-chairman, and Andy McDowell is general manager.
Keith Norris joins the board and Sam Woodside has been appointed as media officer.