All in a day’s work for Cliftonville coach Gerry

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Gerry Lyttle newsIt’s highly doubtful if Gary Parker or Johan Mjallby started their day with a 6.30am trip to the gym to take a client on a personal training session- Gerry Lyttle did.

While Belfast has been going Champions League crazy over the last fortnight the Cliftonville coach has been keeping his various business interests ticking over- a grocers shop, pizza parlour and fitness classes.

It may be David v Goliath and a dozen other clichés at 7.45pm tonight but away from Solitude life could hardly be more different for the two clubs that face each other tonight.

Belfast bhoy Lyttle knows both clubs well, he spent four years in the Celtic youth and reserve sides in the mid 90’s and joined the Cliftonville coaching staff two years ago.

From the moment the draw was made life has been chaotic but after two long drawn out weeks he can’t wait for the first whistle to blow tonight.

“We’ve tried to keep things as normal as possible but that’s been virtually impossible,” Lyttle admitted. “Training was a bit of a disaster on Monday with players breaking off for media interviews- I don’t think that Lenny would allow that!

“It’s been a strange time since we were drawn with Celtic. Everyone wants tickets- bought and delivered- I’ve never experienced anything like it.

“We announced that more tickets would go on sale on Tuesday morning and after training on Monday night I had 20 missed calls and text messages.

“In training the boys have been great on the physical work but they’ haven’t really been flying into tackles- no one wants injured in the build up to these matches.

“Everything has been going well but as a coach the big fear is that players freeze on the day and that’s something that we’ve been working hard to avoid.

“I hope that the players don’t get overawed by the occasion. I hope they have the devilment in them that they showed last season and get in about Celtic. We won’t disrespect them but we have to treat them like an Irish League team, get at them and do what we’re good at.”

While the Celtic players enjoyed a night in a five star hotel followed by training after breakfast tonight’s opponents went about their business as normal in their day jobs.

Not even the visit of Celtic and live television coverage will see the Irish champions depart from their usual routine.

Next week’s return match and the opportunity to play at Celtic Park will see a different approach but tonight Lyttle and the Cliftonville management team will attempt to pull off the biggest result in the club’s history.

“We can’t wait to get started, the build up seems to have lasted ages,” the former Celt added. “Since the draw was made our ground has been transformed with work going on all the time.

“The players will be at the ground at 6.15 as usual but everyone knows it’s going to be an amazing night for the club

“For me It’ll be special when we shake hands with the Celtic coaches just before kick-off, that’ll be an unreal moment. If you’d suggested that a few years ago I’d have laughed it off.

“Having Celtic come to Solitude is something that we’ll all cherish and remember- especially if we do ourselves justice on the park.”

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  • joe says:

    Good luck to both teams tonight and both sets of supporters. As a supporter of both teams I am looking forward to the game but think Celtic will go through over the two games.

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