Irish League Behaviour Podcast highlights: Foam parties, Christmas trees and ill-timed toilet breaks

By Matt GaultBBC Sport NI
Curtis Allen
Curtis Allen (right) swapped the green of Glentoran for the blue and white of Coleraine at the end of January

BBC Sport NI's Irish League Behaviour podcast may have only launched eight months ago, but it's already built up a treasure trove of great stories.

The first episode, ahead of the start of the 2019/20 season, began with Liam Beckett asking Joel Taggart, "what is a podcast?"

An inauspicious start, perhaps, but thankfully Beckett's limited knowledge of the medium did not stop the pair from conducting fascinating interviews with Irish Premiership players and managers past and present.

From Gary Hamilton and Niall Currie to Colin Coates and Andrew Waterworth, Irish League Behaviour has shone a light on some of local football's most enduring personalities.

In the absence of live Irish League action, here we delve into the podcast's library and pick out six of our favourite moments or stories.

Harney on facing Messi and Argentina's big guns

Cliftonville defender Jamie Harney was a guest on the podcast in January when he was fresh from helping the Reds to County Antrim Shield success.

While the centre-back looked back on Cliftonville's dramatic Shield final win over Ballymena United, the highlight of the interview was his story of facing Lionel Messi during the Derry native's time at West Ham United.

Harney, playing for the Hammers' academy in 2014, was dumbstruck when Argentina - who were due to face Croatia in a friendly at Upton Park - showed up for a friendly match.

While Harney expected to face Argentina's second-string or Under-21s, he found himself tasked with stopping Messi, Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria.

The former Northern Ireland Under-21 international's Messi-watch started promisingly before the six-time Ballon d'Or winner brought the defender back down to earth.

"I was absolutely blowing after five minutes," recalled the Cliftonville man.

That proved to be Harney's last day at West Ham before joining Colchester United. Quite the send-off.

Listen to the episode on BBC Sounds.

Clucas clatters into the Christmas tree

Dungannon Swifts pair Seanan Clucas (who has since moved to Glentoran) and Michael Carvill joined the podcast in September, with the latter treating us to a riotously funny anecdote dating back to the pair's time at Linfield.

"Stormont Hotel, Linfield are in absolute crisis," said Carvill.

"All the board turn up, suited and booted. When you're not winning things at Linfield, you're looked upon as failures.

"We were sitting at the bar having a drink and there was this beautiful Christmas tree. It must have taken days to decorate.

"Seanan was at the bar and I saw this look in his eye and thought 'uh oh, here we go', I've never seen a rugby tackle on a Christmas tree.

"So, he absolutely emptied this tree."

Seanan Clucas: a man you'd definitely want in your back four, but maybe not in your house around the festive period!

Listen to the Dungannon episode, featuring Clucas, Carvill, Swifts boss Kris Lindsay and former manager Joe McAree, on BBC Sounds.

Curtis Allen deadline day move

While Clucas embarked on a new chapter when he joined Glentoran in January, one player who left the Oval during the winter window was Curtis Allen.

Having missed five months through injury, the striker found himself back at Coleraine on deadline day, seven years after he left the Bannsiders.

After Allen rebuffed interest from Ballymena, it looked as though he would stay to help Glentoran's title push.

Then, with only a few hours until the deadline, he received a phone call from Coleraine boss Oran Kearney.

Allen's move to the north coast was nearly scuppered by technology, however, as a computer glitch sparked a frantic scramble to get the paperwork submitted in time.

"It was a surreal deadline day and something I can always look back on and think 'I was involved in a deadline-day move," reflected Allen.

Listen to Curtis Allen and Crusaders defender Sean Ward on BBC Sounds.

Andrew Waterworth on forgetting shirts and quick toilet breaks

If you've made it to full-time football and you're named on the bench, there are two things you do not want to do while waiting to be summoned for a potential debut.

"Don't forget your shirt and don't wander off to the toilet," warned Linfield striker Andrew Waterworth, who managed to do both during his time at Hamilton Academical.

Having made the matchday squad at Hamilton, Waterworth realised he had left his shirt in the dressing room after receiving the call from manager Billy Reid.

The second time around, Waterworth further angered Reid when he nipped off to quickly relieve himself as the coach looked to bring the forward on.

Of course, his mishaps in Scotland form a tiny segment of the 54-minute episode, which covers Waterworth's decorated Irish League career, from his beginnings at Ards and his impressive stint at Lisburn Distillery to his goal-laden spells with Glentoran and, of course, Linfield.

As one of the Irish League's most insightful interviewees, Waterworth is a compelling guest.

Listen to Waterworth's interview on BBC Sounds.

Brush on getting back on the pitch after suffering a stroke

Richard Brush
Richard Brush has been one of the form Irish League goalkeepers this season

"I flicked the light on and noticed my face in the rear-view mirror, it had dropped. That's when I thought 'I'm having a stroke'".

A more chilling subject matter, yes, but Richard Brush recalling the night he suffered a stroke while driving to Sligo is a must-listen.

Brush recalls the panic that set in when, with slurred speech, he tried to communicate with the emergency services.

Stuck on the side of the road late at night, without a car in sight, he worried about the ambulance struggling to locate him.

Thankfully, they did, and the goalkeeper made a full recovery, proceeding to become one of the Irish League's most consistent goalkeepers, first with Ballinamallard United, then with Cliftonville, who he joined in 2018.

If there is one Irish League Behaviour episode to get you hooked, it's this one. It also features Ballinamallard manager Harry McConkey, who reflects on a lifetime in football.

Listen to Brush's full interview on BBC Sounds.

Bressy, sandals and foam parties in Magaluf

In February, Martin Donnelly and Albert Watson joined the podcast to discuss life at Larne with the Inver Park club more than halfway through their first season back in the top-flight.

One of the highlights, however, centred on an experience Donnelly had during his time at Cliftonville.

The story was a heartwarming tribute to former Reds boss Tommy Breslin, who passed away in August.

Donnelly, who played under Breslin in Cliftonville's title-winning side of 2013 and 2014, remembered when the squad visited Magaluf one summer.

Donnelly and Ciaran Caldwell somehow convinced Breslin to visit the BCM nightclub.

Taking in the surroundings in Mallorca's biggest club, Breslin suddenly finds himself covered in foam.

"Bressie was swimming, trying to get out of it," recalled Donnelly.

"I couldn't stop laughing, but that summed him up."

The episode featuring Donnelly and Watson can be found on the Irish League Behaviour's BBC Sounds page. If you haven't listened before, now is the time to get started!

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