Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 25 October 2014

Glentoran win title that money can’t buy

Gary Hamilton believes Glentoran's title winning success should be held in a higher regard because of the fact that they are competing against cash-rich rivals Linfield.

The Blues flexed their financial muscle in the middle of this season, doing what no other side could do and that was splash out upwards of £70,000 on three players — JP Gallagher, Mark McAllister and Kevin McHugh — in the January transfer window.

They still had some money from Peter Thompson's move to Stockport County, but it also helps to have the coffers swelled by the Irish FA thanks to a contract which stipulates they receive 15 per cent of money earned in international games for the use of Windsor Park.

Because of that, Hamilton believes everyone at Glentoran deserves even more credit for their success.

“I’ve always backed David Jeffrey up because he spends his money wisely — he won three doubles in a row and a clean sweep in the last three years — but Linfield are given a lot more money than any other team in the Irish league,” said Hamilton.

“I don't care who it is, if they win the league outside of Linfield they've done very, very well because it's not easy competing, especially in this day and age when you've got a so-called credit crunch.

“The boys have dug in deep. Alan McDonald and the backroom staff have been great, we've all worked together as a team, set out our standards in the first night of training this year and said we wanted to win the league.

“We've achieved that and set a marker down. As players we want to retain the trophy next year, we want to go out and give our all again and hopefully that gives us a bit of confidence to go out and kick on next year.”

Hamilton also took the time to hit back at those critics of Glentoran's style of football on the way to clinching the Gibson Cup. He feels that boss McDonald has been treated unfairly over the campaign, but is hopeful that the football will be better next year now that they have garnered the experience of title winning glory.

“The manager has got so much stick over the course of the season and in my eyes it's been wrong. Nobody seems to understand what Glentoran have to compete against. Obviously with the money (that Linfield get), I know I keep harping on about that, but you can't argue with facts.

“We probably played better football last year, but we won nothing. This year we've won something.

“It's hard for Alan because last year he encouraged us to play better football — I'm not saying he didn't this year, but he wanted us to grind out results like Linfield have done over the past three years.

“No one can say Linfield have been a great footballing team over the past few years. They won trophies by digging in deep and they've got special players in their team as well. I think we need to get that bit of attitude about ourselves as well.”

“We've got a young team there, obviously there is a lot expected of them. I'm not being disrespectful to Glentoran fans or Linfield fans, but when you are at a Big Two club and things aren’t going so well they get on your back very easily and that's just the way it is.

“Hopefully next year the lads will be a bit more experienced and hopefully next year when we are struggling in games they aren't afraid to get on the ball and make something happen.

“You have to be honest sometimes, if you look at games this year people don't want the ball. That not being disrespectful to players, I have been in that situation too when I was a young kid and you are going 'don't pass me the ball' in case I mess up.

“When you do that at a club like Glentoran or Linfield the fans are one your back straight away. Hopefully next year we can start the fans off positively, relax and concentrate on our own game.”

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