WHEN it rains, it pours.
Last Saturday proved to be a day of immense frustation, anxiety and disappointment for everyone connected with Dergview Football Club.
Officials of the Castlederg club awoke to find their ground Darragh Park under water following 24 hours of flash floods and were forced to close the facilities to the public after the River Derg burst its banks.
To rub salt into the wounds, the club’s senior team - fortunately scheduled to play an away game in Belfast - then suffered a concerning 3-1 defeat to PSNI, their third straight loss, as the team fell to second from bottom in the NIFL Championship.
“The water has subsided now but we don’t know what damage has been caused underneath,” manager Ivan Sproule told the Tyrone Constitution.
“I don’t know what the conditions are like around the dugouts, and I know a lot of paint work was carried out around the stands during pre-eason.
“At this moment in time, we don’t know the extent of the damage, but fingers crossed it’s not as bad as we first thought.
“It’s not the first time the grounds have been affected. It’s probably something the council will have to look at because this cannot continue.”
Sproule, however, is feeling confident this weekend’s home league game with Ards will go ahead.
“I walked the pitch on Sunday night and thankfully it didn’t seem too bad, though it will take a while to dry out.
“It’s a waiting game and we will assess it closer to Saturday.
“At the minute, the game with Ards is scheduled to go ahead.”
While the weather cannot be helped, results on the pitch can be influenced.
And for Sproule, the start his team have made simply hasn’t been good enough.
He admits too many players are not performing.
“I missed the last three games as I was on a family holiday, but it was a very disappointing week for Dergview FC,” continued Sproule.
“We have to dust ourselves down now. It’s a learning curve for the players, the team is going through something of a transition.
“Everyone at the club is hurting - players, staff and supporters. The reminder is the horrible run the club was on last season. And now we have lost four games from home. We cannot afford to lose too many more.”
The loss of talisman Emmett McGuckin, who joined Coleraine in August, has been a huge blow for the club. Take the leading striker out of any club and they will struggle.
The attempt to bring in a replacement was largely unsuccessful. Sean McCarron was signed from Limavady United on Friday and though he came on as a substitute against PSNI, Dergview have since terminated his contract.
Unfortunately the transfer window is now closed and Dergview have to make do with what they have.
Sproule, however, is reluctant to make excuses for his team’s poor run of form.
“You can make all of the excuses under the sun - we lost Emmett the day before the season was due to kick off,” said Sproule. “We built our whole system around him at the start of the year. It did affect us.
“We missed Matty McCallaghan, a stalwart of our team last season, for a number of weeks due to a knee injury, but I think our squad is strong enough to be doing better.
“For me, there is certainly a number of players who are under performing. As a player, you have to look at yourself first and foremost before you start blaming anyone else.”
Dergview undoubtedly missed the presence of their manager on the touchline, but Sproule’s experience and quality on the pitch has also been sorely missed.
“I have tried to stand back and manage as much as I can this season but after a series of matches you need to reassess the situation. We have certainly came up short from what I expected.”
In spite of their lowly league position, Sproule says the current situation is not yet a crisis.
“We are only two or three wins from getting ourselves back into it again,” he added.
“It was a disappointing week and the players, I hope, are sorely disappointed in their personal performances.
“I would have my hoped that my players would have enough quality to see off teams like Queens and PSNI - and I’m not being disrespectful.”
A scan showed that Callaghan had a slight tear in his knee but he will be in contention, along with Sproule, Philip Wallace and Marc McConnell to play against Ards this Saturday.
“There will be four players returning to the squad and hopefully that will give us a little more bite,” said Sproule.
“I hope that the hurt within the changing room can be turned into an energy going forward and there’s no better place to start at home to Ards.
“I’m hoping that home comforts can give us a welcome boost and the three points on Saturday.”
This weekend’s game will give Sproule an opportunity to catch up with his former team mate and Ards boss Warren Feeney.
But their friendship will be put to one side as pit their wits against one another.
“Warren is a close friend of mine, he actually managed me for a time at Linfield which was a bit strange. He’s a very passionate person about his football, like myself,” said Sproule.
“He wants to see his team play in the right way. Ards got relegated last season and Warren has aspirations of going straight back up. It’s another top side coming to Darragh Park and it gives my boys another chance to take their scalp.
“If we perform like we have done in the last week, we will get a smack up the face. But if we can step it up, we may just get the points on Saturday.”