The only way is Essex for St James’ Swifts

St James’ Swifts senior ladies team with their Billericay counterparts St James’ Swifts senior ladies team with their Billericay counterparts
By Paddy Tierney

ST James’ Swifts are hoping to reap the benefits of a new partnership with English non-league side, Billericay Town.

The clubs already share a sponsor – DMC Contracts LTD – and St James’ travelled over to Essex earlier this month with three of their teams to play in charity games to raise money for suicide awareness.

The trip was such a success that further ties are already being discussed.

Billericay have already generated plenty of headlines across the water after signing a host of ex-Premier League players.

Most recently, they secured former Arsenal and Liverpool winger Jermaine Pennant along with former Ireland and Wolves defender Kevin Foley.

Former England defender Paul Koncheskey and ex-Tottenham midfielder Jamie O’Hara played for Billericay last season.

The club are owned and managed by businessman Glenn Tamplin who has ambitious plans for the club – including playing in the English Football League within the next five years.

They currently play three tiers below the EFL in the Premier Division of the Isthmian League and St James’ Swifts chairman Damian Lindsay is excited about their future relationship with Billericay.

“They (Billericay) have a new owner and he is pumping millions into them,” said Lindsay.

“Our sponsor is DMC Contracts and he also sponsors Billericay Town so we got an invite to go over and play a friendly against them.

“We ended up taking 110 people over – our senior team, our senior ladies team and our U15 team.

“We played three games against them and that has begun an excellent relationship with the club.”

Lindsay’s sentiments were echoed by Tamplin who took to his Twitter account to confirm that the two clubs are now “united” and the Swifts chairman feels the partnership is a further boost to the West Belfast side.

“Their owner is now talking about a partnership with the Swifts,” said Lindsay.

“On top of getting Intermediate status, it is great news.

“They hope to be in the Championship in the next 10 years.

“They are talking about us become a feeder club. We have our own ambitions for the Swifts.

“A few of our lads made a good impression when we were over.

“We have gone from two teams last year to having 14 teams this year throughout all the ages.

“It is a good news story after a tough year for the local community.”

The Swifts will make more history this Saturday when they play their first game in the Irish Cup.

The West Belfast side will travel to Holm Park in Armagh to take on Windmill Stars (2pm).

As they embark on their maiden season as an Intermediate team, Lindsay revealed they put out an SOS to former players over the summer months as they sought to build their squad and he said the response was remarkable.

“We have tried to get some players back to help us out this season,” added the St James’ chairman.

“Eugene Gallagher left Moyola Park to come back.

“Sean Pat Donnelly left Warrenpoint to come back.

“He is a great player. He was running at Paul Koncheskey against Billericay and they had a good battle.

“We play in the Irish Cup on Saturday against Windmill in Armagh so these are exciting times at St James’.”

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