Dundalk boss Vinny Perth has praised the club’s owners for backing the club off the field ahead of the new season.
On Monday, long-time club volunteer David Minto took up the role of Chief Business Officer at Oriel Park.
He is one of three off the field appointments over the off-season with local journalist Gavin McLaughlin also appointed as the club’s new Media Content Officer in January and Aaron Lawless coming in as Project Manager.
Mr Minto’s primary function will be to bring revenue into the club and improve links with the community. He is best known in recent years for his work with former Dundalk FC kit suppliers CX+ Sport, as well as for his involvement with Dundalk Chamber of Commerce where, amongst other duties, he helped to organise the St Patrick’s Day parade in Dundalk.
A former Dundalk IT Students’ Union president, Aaron Lawless has worked at Intact Software and for Ridley’s in marketing roles in recent years.
Speaking about the new appointments on Monday, Perth said it was a show of faith in the club from owners PEAK6.
“To be fair to our owners they’re putting their money where their mouth is in terms of backing the club.
“What has happened over the last seven years is that we’ve built from the top down. We’ve went too quick in terms of success on the pitch and off it we didn’t keep up.
“Now Martin Connolly has people in to help him. Before this he was just one man.
“We have a new chairman now in Bill Hulsizer who has great energy to improve everything on and off the pitch.
“I think these appointments are a positive. Full-time appointments are very expensive for a League of Ireland club so we must give credit to the club for doing this. We’ve had huge success on the pitch and this is their way of saying we want to catch up off it.”
It’s rare that the start of an interview is interrupted because the subject wants to go and move some barriers but then David Minto is no ordinary supporter.
Having started out at the club as a ballboy in his youth, David has chipped in wherever and whenever he can at Oriel Park pretty much ever since.
There’s a feeling that some supporters have taken Dundalk’s recent success for granted but sitting down with him before Vinny Perth’s side lifted the league trophy against St Patrick’s Athletic on Friday night he still retains all the exuberance and excitement that he had when his later father Albert first started bringing him to games.
“I started off as a ball boy here at eight years of age and that’s when I got hooked,” he said.
“My dad took me up many moons ago, Lord rest him, and I was ball boy then for four or five years even beyond when I should have finished being a ball boy. I stayed on and the tracksuit was actually too short for me but I kept it going and I’ve just followed Dundalk every year since.”
In more recent times David was best known for his role as Business Development Manager with CX+ Sport, the kit supplier spun out of local company Horseware who have been providing Dundalk’s jerseys and gear for the past four seasons. David has now departed the company following the announcement last March that CX+ Sport would be wound up at the end of this year but his pride at seeing the team and supporters in gear he helped design very much remains.
One of his fondest memories remains the trip to Iceland in 2016 when Dundalk beat FH Hafnarfjordur on away goals to kick-start a European adventure that would see the club competing in the Europa League group stages.
“To be involved with the club through CX+ at that stage and be involved in the inner sanctum, helping out and making sure the kit was ready and the players were kitted out before they went away really added to that trip and the fact that we had to make those gold shorts that Stephen Kenny hated.
“They wore them in Iceland and we won and I remember saying to him after the game that them shorts weren’t too bad. That made it for me that trip,” he laughed.
“I’m very proud of the gear because I was very involved in the picking of the designs of the jerseys. I looked up the history of the club, the GNR and all that kind of stuff including the very first kit that Dundalk FC wore.
“Fergus McArdle had a book on the history of Dundalk FC and I got it off him and I mentioned it to Andy Connolly and Paul Brown about doing a gold and black jersey. Then the boys wanted a train on the back of it and a tricolour and that was all integral to having local knowledge. You wouldn’t get that with some of the bigger brands because they just wouldn’t even care to be honest.
“Alison Connolly also had a big part to play in designing a lot of the kit and she did a great job. We obviously gave her ideas and templates but she picked it.
“The Temple Street jerseys were brilliant as well. I remember going onto the Temple Street website and looking at their logo which was the two kids holding hands. I said to Ronan, who was our designer, you’ve got to get that and the purple on the jersey. Fair play to Fyffes as well for giving up that prominent sponsorship space on the jersey.
“The black and amber one was my favourite probably because there were such great memories created in it. It’s funny because Stephen Kenny was actually fighting with them one time to wear that black and amber kit here for a European match because we had that much luck in it. We won loads in it.
“We made a video about making the jersey and being proud of it in Dundalk and we had Robbie Benson scoring against BATE in the background. I remember showing it to the management in Horseware and I actually started crying in the boardroom because it just brought such emotion back to me.
“I think the CX+ stuff will be around for years and years because, I’m not just saying this, the quality was unbelievable.”
Having been involved in the local business community through Dundalk Chamber of Commerce, where among his many tasks was organising the local St Patrick’s Day parade, David has seen the benefit of what the club’s success has done for the town.
“The talk and the buzz around town is all about Dundalk and every young kid loves coming up here,” he said, while also referencing his 15-year-old daughter Kayla’s love for the club.
“Dundalk have created a legacy here for the next couple of years because every young kid who is here running around has seen the success that we’ve had now. They’ll be supporters for the rest of their lives.
“I think Dundalk have a great future because every kid I see on the street they’re supporting Dundalk and wearing Dundalk gear, not the Premier League teams. That’s great and it’s testament to what the lads are doing on the pitch because the football we’re playing is amazing.”
While his involvement with the club from a kit supplying perspective is over, David said he would be happy to do whatever is needed around Oriel next season and beyond.
“I’ll do anything for the club and I’ve told the owners that as well. Martin Connolly is a very good friend of mine and whatever he wants me to do on a match night I’ll happily do it.
“Actually so far in the club I’ve been a bar man, I’ve been a steward, I’ve been the Doping Control Officer for UEFA matches, I’ve been kit man for four matches because Noel Walsh was away so I got to see the whole insight on how all the things work. Stephen Kenny’s team talks before games are amazing. You’d nearly want to put boots on and go out and play yourself. I remember being in the kit room the night we beat Cork here to win the league when Brian Gartland scored the winner and Stephen Kenny’s team talk before the game, I wanted to go out and play myself. It was amazing.”
There have been so many good memories for David when it comes to following Dundalk down through the years and he’s hopeful of more to come this Sunday.
“The only thing I’d say is, we need to enjoy this while it’s happening because you know and I know this could all stop very quickly. The lads could pull out and all of a sudden we’re in trouble but I hope they don’t.
“I’d love them to stay here for the rest of my time on this earth because I think they want to put a good team on the pitch, they want us to have success every year and everybody loves success. I just hope it stays like this for a long time because there’s kids out there who follow Dundalk and they don’t know anything else only winning leagues and cups and I hope that doesn’t change,” he said.