Belfast Telegraph

Gary Hamilton ready for Glenavon hot-seat

By Stuart McKinley

Glenavon chairman Adrian Teer wants to hand Gary Hamilton a managerial baptism of fire.

As the Mourneview Park club were last night locked in negotiations to strike a deal with Glentoran for the release Hamilton before they are able to appoint him as the new boss, a quick glance at the fixture list shows what he is going to be up against in the embryonic stages of his management career.

Glenavon’s next four games include not one, but TWO trips to Linfield.

And while he will inevitably add goals to the Glenavon line-up, even if he is unveiled before the first of those battles of the Blues this weekend Hamilton won’t be able to play any part on the pitch for the Lurgan club in what is left of 2011.

The former Northern Ireland international has no managerial experience whatsoever — although he does hold the Uefa A Licence which is required to be a boss in the Carling Premiership — but Glenavon want to throw him in at the deep end by appointing him as boss in time for Saturday’s league clash with Linfield at Windsor Park.

And things won’t get much easier after facing the defending champions.

Should the appointment be confirmed — it is expected to happen within the next 48 hours — Hamilton’s first home game in charge will be next Tuesday against Crusaders, followed by the traditional Boxing Day derby battle with his old club Portadown.

Then, before the year is out and thanks to a strange quirk in the fixture schedule, there will be a second trip to Windsor Park on New Year’s Eve.

“We haven’t offered the job to anyone,” insisted Teer last night, although an approach to Glentoran has been made.

“The fact that a Glentoran player, Gary Hamilton, has been linked with Glenavon hasn’t come out from Glenavon Football Club.

“We want the matter to be finalised quickly now and hopefully that will be the case.

“We have an important period coming up and we would like a new manager to lead us into those games.”

While appointing rookie manager Hamilton will be seen as a gamble by many — it is at least a bold and brave step — it is one worth taking.

The club has appointed experienced managers with proven track records in the past, including former title winning bosses Roy Walker and the recently departed Marty Quinn, but none has been able to revive the fortunes of the Mourneview Park side.

Their audacious move for Hamilton can also be considered a breath of fresh air for the Irish League and the man himself is feeling the excitement.

“I want to be the manager of Glenavon Football Club and the club knows that — Glentoran itself — and I have been straight up and honest all along,” Hamilton told UTV last night.

“I love playing for Glentoran Football Club and the only reason I would ever leave that club is to go to Glenavon. I never ever envisaged getting into management so early, but when opportunities arise you have to think about them.”

The fact that the transfer window will keep Hamilton in the dugout until Saturday January 7 may be a blessing in disguise for Glenavon.

The next four matches will allow him to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the squad before his presence on the pitch will add firepower to the team when they face Lisburn Distillery.

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