SIXTEEN years ago on Friday, January 4, 1997, a fresh faced David Jeffrey was thrust into the biggest job in the Irish League.
Now, 16 years on, ‘Big Davy’ is still in charge of Linfield FC despite a rocky start to the Danske Bank Irish Premier League.
Some fans late last year were predicting his desmise after his team lost in the Co Antrim Shield final to Ballymena Utd after a poor string of results.
It was a setback but in recent weeks his team has seen a good run in the Danske Bank League which has proppelled Linfield nto third place.
And the run of form has seen the Blues beat table toppers Cliftonville at Windsor Park on New Year’s Day, much to the delight of ‘Big Davy’ and the Linfield faithful.
On Saturday, the champions have William ‘Winky’ Murphy back in the team gainst Coleraine FC after his one match suspension against the Reds who are ten points ahead of the Blues.
While Linfield are now hitting form as they turned the New Year corner, opponents Coleraine have seen a dip in form which has seen them drop to fifth place.
New boy signing Jamie Tomelty is unavailable for the trip down the M2 to Windsor Park.
Second-placed Crusaders face Glenavon at Mourneview Park.
Striker Timmy Adamson remains sidelined with an ankle injury as the Crues seek to close the gap on their north Belfast rivals to three points.
“We know the situation at the top end of the league but we simply just concentrate on the next game in front of us,” said Seaview boss Stephen Baxter.
“It really is a case of one game at a time and outside matters will take care of themselves.
“We have been relatively fortunate with injuries so far this season but we will have five players suspended in the next few weeks and that is a concern.”
Portadown go into their Shamrock Park game against Donegal Celtic without banned trio Darren Murray, Garry Breen and Keith O’Hara.
Murray and Breen were suspended for Tuesday’s 1-0 defeat at Crusaders, in which defender O’Hara was sent-off with six minutes left.
Lisburn Distillery’s relegation fears increased after the 2-0 defeat by Ballinamallard left them four points adrift at the bottom.
The struggling Whites host a Dungannon Swift side which has Johnny Topley and Terry Fitzpatrick avaialble again after suspension.
Danske Bank Irish Premiership Bank: Saturday, January 5 – kick-offs 3pm:
Dungannon Swifts v Lisburn Distillery
Glenavon v Crusaders
Linfield v Coleraine
Portadown v Donegal Celtic