Belfast Telegraph

I want to become Glenavon's answer to Ronnie McFall, says Hamilton after penning new deal

Signing on: Gary Hamilton has extended his deal until 2022
Signing on: Gary Hamilton has extended his deal until 2022

Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton says his dream is to emulate legendary Portadown boss Ronnie McFall.

Hamilton has agreed a new deal that will keep him at Glenavon until summer 2022. Providing he sees out that term, it will be 10 and a half years in the job.

That's a rarity for a football manager at any level these days but, while he says he does harbour ambitions to move into full-time football, Hamilton doesn't want his time at Glenavon to end in four years' time.

Rather, he has his sights set on becoming the blue half of Craigavon's answer to Ronnie McFall, who was Europe's longest-serving manager by the time he ended a 29-year reign at Glenavon's cross-city rivals Portadown.

The 37-year-old said: "The only team I ever really supported in my life has been Glenavon and the day I got the job as manager was a dream come true for me. I didn't get to play for them for as long as I would have liked to.

"Maybe some day down the line, I might not be in a job but while I can stay at Glenavon, I will do so. It may be a dream come true for me to emulate what Ronnie McFall did at Portadown and stay for such a long time. We know it's unlikely in this day and age but you have to have a dream to do something. If you can get to 10 or 15 years, you know you've been successful."

Hamilton has already led Glenavon to two Irish Cup titles; a far-cry from the relegation-threatened outfit he took over in December 2011. But he's not content with that and reiterated his ultimate desire to bring the Gibson Cup to Mourneview Park for the first time since 1960.

"The first Irish Cup win was my biggest achievement in football," said the five-time Northern Ireland international. "It was a great honour to play for my country but winning that Irish Cup was the biggest day of my life so far in football terms. Having my family there, it's something I was remember for the rest of my life.

“The ultimate is to win the league but we all know how difficult that is to achieve with the money from European football and the likes of Crusaders and Linfield getting that every year. Linfield have the budget start on the rest of us anyway. It's difficult to achieve but it is the dream. Whether it can become a reality is another thing.

"All the staff, that's what we strive to do and why we put the structures in place underneath us. I want to thank all the staff I've had in my time here. I'm only the figurehead at the top of it all but this is a reward for them as well. If I'm here for another four and a half years, they'll be here with me.

"That's good for the players. They know they are going to be working with the same staff and hopefully they enjoy working with us."

Meanwhile, Glenavon midfielder Mark Sykes has penned a new one-year extension to his contract, keeping him at the club until 2020.

Sykes in particular has been a significant positive for the Lurgan Blues this season, the 20-year-old making 20 appearances in the Danske Bank Premiership, scoring seven goals and adding six assists.

The Northern Ireland Under-21 midfielder has attracted the interest of clubs such as Leicester City, Celtic and Blackburn Rovers this season due to his impressive form, so the club will be delighted to tie him down for another year.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph