Reds chairman praises manager Gray for confounding critics

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Reds boss Barry Gray

Q Radio Sport

A roller-coaster year for Cliftonville is ending on a high.

The Reds are on a roll, winning their last seven games and moving into the Danske Bank Premiership's top three.

It's a far cry from a few weeks ago when some were calling for new manager Barry Gray to be sacked - while others didn't want him to get the job in the first place...

There have been trials and tribulations throughout 2017 at Solitude - triumph and tragedy as well as issues on and off the pitch.

But drama is nothing new to the chairman of Ireland's oldest football club - Gerard Lawlor is also a member of the senior management team at another great Belfast institution, the Grand Opera House.

It's panto time there and Lawlor is all set for the busiest time of the year in the football season, the key festive fixtures - oh yes he is!

So we thought the stage was set to sit down with the lifelong fan for an insight into the past, the present and the future.

Lawlor pulls no punches - and hits back at his beloved Cliftonville's critics...

Here are the questions and the refreshingly honest answers are well worth a listen.

How does it feel to be the form team in the Danske Bank Premiership after all that? 

But just a couple of months ago the knives were out for the manager when you slipped into the bottom six...

Was a change in management ever on the agenda during the dark days earlier in the season?

Would you like to nail the rumours Barry got the job because he's investing £50k a year of his own money?!

 Do you think the manager is getting the credit he deserves?

There have been some well-documented issues for Cliftonville to deal with off the pitchHow is the club getting to grips with those?

A few familiar faces have left the club in recent weeks, is that to pave the way for new recruits during the January transfer window?

The festive fixtures kick-off on Saturday at Windsor Park - how important are the Christmas and New Year matches?

The big one for many Reds fans is of course the Boxing Day showdown with local rivals Crusaders. You'll be hoping for a better outcome than last year. (4-0 defeat at Solitude!)

Glentoran-Linfield has traditionally been the 'Big Two' derby - is it still the biggest holiday fixture?

Well known as a top official with the Northern Ireland Football League, you joined the IFA Board at the start of the year - how's that gone?

Finally, your employers the Grand Opera House have kindly facilitated us for this interview - how does the day job in the theatre compare with your sporting life in the theatre of dreams in north Belfast?



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