FRANK LOVERING admitted earlier today that it was a massive wrench to step down as Benburb team manager ahead of the opening of their new ground, but insisted he has nothing left to give the famous old Govan club.

A little bit of history is made tomorrow afternoon when New Tinto Park is officially opened with the staging of the annual Dennis Donnelly Memorial Shield game between two of the late striker’s former clubs – the 130-year-old Bens and Ardrossan Winton Rovers.

This fourth clash of the adversaries has the Ayrshiremen looking to level matters at two victories apiece after losing the first two head-to-heads.

However the home side will not lack for extra motivation themselves in seeking to atone for being on the wrong end of an embarrassing 7-0 beating last season.

Frank, who always relished a battle during his own playing days, was expected to lead his side out in their revenge mission, however he has handed over the Bens managerial reins to his own son Paul in favour of taking more of a “backseat” role as a committee man.

“I’ll be doing everything I did before except for picking the team on matchdays,” said the 63-year-old who has occupied the Bens dugout for the past 13 seasons, but could not face the prospect of yet another campaign after being physically and mentally drained by the exertions of last season which culminated in his side being relegated to the Central Second Division.

He revealed: “The past 12 months have certainly taken their toll on me in attempting to deal with one problem after another arising over the new stadium while also trying to bring in players and fix up temporary venues in order to fulfil our fixtures.

“I must have called in favours from every one of my Junior contacts and in particular the extraordinary helpful people at Neilston, Johnstone Burgh and Ashfield, while I’m obligated to all manner of managers for assisting me on the playing front.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that some Friday nights I was burning the midnight oil in looking to confirm where we might be playing the following day while also trying to fix up as many as half a team of trialists.

“Thankfully those days look to be behind us now and the sumptuous new surroundings could be an asset to help Paul attract players to the club for the longer term.

“He doesn’t have a hard act to follow because I never won a thing in my 13 seasons here, however I’ll gladly settle for the consolation prize of Benburb surviving as a club during that time.”

He continued: “I was hanging up photographs of old teams and players such as Eddie McKim, Grant McIntosh and Stevie Whitehead as well as Big Dexi, Stevie Swift and Dougie Fontana from more recent times.

“But playing with hugely successful teams when the Social Club was going strong was not as difficult as turning up to play and train for nothing when times turned tough and I can think of countless stalwarts whose pictures are every bit as deserving of a place on the wall.”

Arrangements were in place for New Tinto (inclusive of the Tommy Douglas Stand) to be officially opened by lifelong supporter Jimmy Hackett who had been at the opening of Tinto Park in 1932.

However, he sadly passed away just six weeks ago and the ceremony will now be conducted by another Bens diehard and former club official – Peter McGregor.

New boss Paul Lovering is looking forward to the 90-minute playing action more than the ground ceremony as he looks to make a winning start to his first managerial tenure.

The 39-year-old had a spell as assistant to Jimmy Boyle at Airdrie until his former team-mate’s sacking led to him taking time away from the game.

He admitted: “I had taken to watching my two sons Lewis and Charlie playing with their boys' teams and was enjoying the break, however this opportunity to get back in at Benburb at the same time as they move into their new stadium could not be turned down.

“Ian Gray and Anton Smith are staying on as coaches and I’ve further strengthened our backroom team with Stephen Robertson’s appointment as goalkeeping coach and our aim is to bring the good times back to Benburb.

“It won’t happen overnight but if we can work as hard as my dad did down through the years … but with a few more breaks going our way ... then I’m sure the rewards will come.

“We have an “easy” starter in the competitive stakes with a trip to face Pollok and everything we are doing on the training ground and in our friendly matches is geared towards having us ready for that opener.

“Ardrossan are a couple of leagues above us but we have a solid core of guys remaining from last season augmented by a handful of new signings plus a couple of trialists which takes us up to a 16-man squad for the game and kick-off time cannot come soon enough.

“We believe our putting a fresh stamp on footballing matters will make a difference and having my dad in the background will enable us to focus on looking after the small details in and around the dressing room as experience tells us that bigger issues tend to take care of themselves.

“Dennis Donnelly was a good friend of my dad and myself so hopefully our Benburb team will pay a fitting tribute to him with a decent performance … and a winning one at that …on the day.”