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Sunday 25 June 2017

Greene shoots for Aaron while Bray still look for fans

Bray Wanderers’ midfield star Aaron Greene. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Bray Wanderers’ midfield star Aaron Greene. Photo: Sam Barnes/Sportsfile

Older supporters of Bray Wanderers are having to convince themselves that it's not all a dream.

But it's true that their club are third in the league table, level on points with the all-conquering Dundalk side, and six points ahead of a Shamrock Rovers side who, in recent seasons, have let current Bray men Conor Kenna, Gary McCabe, Aaron Greene and Tim Clancy leave.

Getting there has been an up-and-down affair with three defeats in nine games and just one clean sheet, but tonight's test at home to Shamrock Rovers will give a good indication of whether Bray can stay up there.

The much-travelled winger Greene - Bray are his seventh club in a nine-season League of Ireland career - says the motto at the club is Keep It Simple.

"We're not complicating things, we have a game plan, it worked up in Dundalk last week when we beat them 3-1, we just do the simple things well," says Greene, who moved to Bray in the off season from Limerick.

"It's great to be where we are but if we lose two in a row we will slide back down the table just as quickly. So we will enjoy this, being in the top three, but we have to work hard to make it last."

But if there is one part of the Bray story missing this season, then it's some appreciation from the public. Their last home game was a 1-0 win over Galway United but the reported attendance was just 477 paying punters. Greene's previous club (Limerick) regularly got three times that gate on a weekly basis while playing in the second tier.

But Bray Wanderers have not yet caught the imagination of the locals. Some are still suspicious of the motives behind the new set-up at the club while the dilapidated state of a clearly-outdated Carlisle Grounds does little to entice new fans.

And Greene, who has played for Galway United, Bohemians, Sligo Rovers, Shamrock Rovers, St Pat's and Limerick, admits it's a struggle.

"It's the old scenario, we are playing good, exciting football this season but how do you get people out of their houses on a Friday night?" he says.

"Bray's a bit like Limerick to me, it's a place with a real rugby tradition and soccer has to fight for attention. It would be great if we could get more fans in. We had Finn Harps at home in a midweek game, I think we had 1,100 there on the night Martin O'Neill went to our game, but then you play Galway on a Saturday and the gate's not even 500.

"Limerick got good crowds when I was there and they are doing the same this season. So you have to hope that people turn up and see us as we are winning, people in Bray might say ' they are not a bad side, let's give them a chance'."

Bray have tried to make inroads into the community but Greene says there's more to be done.

"The kids are sitting at home in front of the TV, dreaming of being Alexis Sanchez and I think they just don't know that there are players in this league that they can look up to as well," he says.

"My son loves Manchester City, but he could probably name every player in the league here as well, he loves watching the likes of Patrick McEleney.

"Ok, I know we lost Daryl Horgan but we still have players like Brandon Miele, Sean Maguire, McEleney, Gary McCabe and Dylan Connolly here. We need to sell them better.

"When I was at Sligo they worked very hard at that and got the kids in. We had a brilliant crowd in Limerick last season for the EA Sports Cup final and as a player that spurs you on. Now, Limerick probably has a bigger football community than Bray but the club are trying." added Greene, an ever-present for Harry Kenny's side this term.

"It's been a funny season at times. We threw away points in games where we were expected to do well - we lost at home to Limerick, we lost away to Bohs when we were 2-0 up - but then we went to Derry and Dundalk and won both of them, I don't think anyone would have given us a chance of taking six points from Derry and Dundalk.

"I don't think any fixture is a given this season and with the three teams going down, there's something at stake every week."

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