Belfast Telegraph

Scoring child's play for Portadown star Gary Twigg

By Stuart McKinley

IF you've watched Gary Twigg this season and thought that there is something different about him you'd be right.

A lot has changed for the 29-year-old hitman in the last year – both on the pitch and off it.

Not only is he playing for a new club, he's also playing in a different country.

His switch from Shamrock Rovers to Portadown at the end of 2012 has had a positive impact on his family life too.

Five-year-old son Kaiden and daughter Georgia, who is two, were the reasons why Twigg wanted to end his four-year spell with Rovers, despite being a hero among the Hoops fans.

While playing in Dublin he would, at times, be away from the family home near Ballymena for five days-in-a-row.

Swapping Shamrock Rovers for Shamrock Park allowed everything to click into place.

"With the way my two kids are I probably should have stayed down south," said Twigg, with the same sort of smile that Portadown fans have got used to seeing spread across his face after scoring goals.

"It's great; I love every minute with them.

"I'm only out three or four times a week now, for matches or training, and its only three or four hours at a time.

"It's great to spend Saturday nights and weekends with my family.

"My wife is taking it a bit too far though. She has me watching the kids every minute of the day – you never know, I might go back down south if she keeps this up!

"I've a school run to do at nine in the morning and then at two, as well as looking after the other one.

"Seriously though, I'm delighted to be up with the family and happy to be at Portadown.

"Obviously when we are doing well it makes it so much easier."

Portadown's current form is also in contrast to last season. They failed to make the top-six split in the spring – the first time that has happened since they returned to the senior ranks in 2009.

Now, however, Twigg is enjoying the new vibe surrounding the club.

Just about the only thing that hasn't changed is that Twigg is still scoring goals. He's in double figures for the season in just nine games as the Ports sit second in the Danske Bank Premiership.

"I've got nine goals in the league and one in the cup, which is a good start," said Twigg.

"Last season was difficult for me, coming into the team in January after having a full season in the League of Ireland.

"I had two or three months off, then after five games I got injured and I was out for over a month.

"Trying to come back and play after that, it just never happened for me.

"Although I scored six goals in 11 games I was never really fit.

"I spoke to people just before the season started and I can definitely tell from coming in last year, compared to this year, that we're a different animal really.

"The players have a hunger and I think last year maybe hurt a few egos when we finished seventh.

"If we can keep doing what we are doing and keep improving and be the team that we can be then hopefully at the end of the season it'll be reflected in the league table."

The Ports could top the table tonight, if they beat Glentoran.

With players of the class of Twigg, Darren Murray (pictured) and Kevin Braniff in the attack, as well as the craft and creativity of Neil McCafferty in midfield, Portadown are always going to score goals and that's what has them flying high at present.

"I just want to score as many goals as I can and help the team," said Twigg.

"It's working out at the minute. I am scoring goals and the team is winning – long may it continue.

"I can't score goals without the people behind me doing the work.

"Unless you are Messi or Ronaldo or someone you're not going to take it past four or five players and beat them yourself.

"That's not my game. If the other boys aren't creating chances then I can't score goals.

"Thankfully they are creating chances and I am scoring a fair few.

"As well as that I know when the ball goes up in the air Darren is going to win it 90 per cent of the time."

Portadown manager Ronnie McFall has made many big signings during his 27-year stint at Shamrock Park, but when he snapped up Twigg it was arguably the biggest coup of all.

Now the aim for the Glasgow-born striker is to emulate club legends Stevie Cowan and Sandy Fraser – and another Scottish hitman, Iain Ferguson, by scoring the goals that bring another league championship to Shamrock Park.

"Everybody always mentions the Scottish players that have been here before," said Twigg.

"It's a club that has a tradition with Scottish players coming over and doing well

"Hopefully I can continue that and get my name in history as well."

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