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Hamilton wants to give fans derby joy

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Challenge: Gary Hamilton has urged his Glenavon side to go second in the league with a win tonight

Challenge: Gary Hamilton has urged his Glenavon side to go second in the league with a win tonight

Challenge: Gary Hamilton has urged his Glenavon side to go second in the league with a win tonight

Gary Hamilton is demanding that his Glenavon team produces a performance to match last month's 1-0 win over Cliftonville in order to banish their derby blues.

Hamilton has been on both sides in Glenavon v Portadown battles over the last 13 years, but he can't remember a single league win for the Lurgan Blues at Shamrock Park.

That's a record he is determined to change and to do it in front of a live television audience would be even better.

"It would be a great boost for the boys if we could get a result at Shamrock Park because we haven't done that for a while," said Glenavon boss Hamilton, who played for the Ports from 2001 to 2006.

"It would be massive if we could win the derby.

"I can't remember Glenavon winning in the league at Portadown in my time at home.

"I think the only time they've won was in an Irish Cup tie, which I played in for Portadown.

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"It's not an easy place to go too and when you see the quality that is in their squad it makes it a tough task to get a result.

"We have a group of boys that will fight for the cause and they will give their all because one thing is for sure if we are going to win it we need a performance like we got against Cliftonville when we had 10 or 11 boys all playing at the top of their game.

"If only five or six players turn up we're in trouble, so hopefully they don't get overawed by the cameras and go out and perform."

Hamilton, whose team will go second in the Danske Bank Premiership if they beat Portadown at Shamrock Park tonight, is putting the club's strong start to the season down to a better attitude in his squad.

While eyebrows were raised over the ages of the players he signed in the summer – 39-year-old William Murphy, David Rainey who is 37 and Gareth McKeown, now 30 – Hamilton looked at the character of the individuals rather than the dates on their birth certificates.

And the moves have paid off, with all three contributing greatly to the club's best start in 13 years.

"I'm not surprised, but at the same time our expectation levels weren't up there either," said Hamilton.

"I didn't expect the boys to get us to where we are at this stage of the season, but I'm not surprised because I have a lot of winners in the dressing room now and they put their all in to win game.

"So far it's worked, but whether we can keep that sort of form going for the most part of the league season remains to be seen.

"One thing is for sure, they go out and give their all in every game and that's the pleasing thing for us as a coaching staff.

"Last year we didn't feel that everyone was pulling in the same direction or playing for each other.

"This season we have formed a squad that will play for the team and play for the club."

If the fierce mid-Ulster rivals can maintain their early season scoring form then the Sky Sports viewers are in for a real treat.

Between them, they have scored an impressive 50 goals in 10 league outings each, with Portadown's Gary Twigg scoring 10 times, with Guy Bates of Glenavon just a couple behind.

"Gary Twigg is as good a finisher as I have ever seen," said Hamilton.

"He's proved himself over here. He's done it with Shamrock Rovers in the League of Ireland, which is a hard place to score goals and now he's doing exactly the same at Portadown."


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