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Colin Coates: Crusaders left me no choice but to join Glenavon after making no contract offer

Colin Coates

Defender Colin Coates admits he was left with no option but to leave his beloved Crusaders after 19 years at Seaview - as the north Belfast outfit failed to offer him a new contract.

The tough-tackling centre-back always saw himself finishing out his playing days at Seaview but, with a new deal not forthcoming and Glenavon keen as mustard to bring the experienced defender to Mourneview Park, in the end his decision to move was an easy one.

The move happened so quickly that it came as a shock to most people - and particularly to Crusaders' most high profile supporter.

"The day it was announced, I received literally hundreds of text messages", reveals the 34-year-old. "It was crazy stuff, but very much appreciated.

"Then I got a phone call from Carl Frampton, when he heard I was going to Glenavon, and he sounded genuinely gutted on the phone.

"It was very nice of him to ring and many others, like Michael Gault, Alan Blayney and, of course, all my team-mates at Seaview.

"But at the end of the day, the decision was made for me, because there was literally no offer on the table from Crusaders.

"My contract was up in the summer and in football you would usually be spoken to in November or December, before clubs are allowed to speak to you with just six months left of your terms.

"Come January, clubs put the feelers out for new players and there were a few clubs made their interest known to me so I thought 'okay, I need to speak to the club'.

"Stephen (Baxter) raised issues about my (back) injury and said he would rather wait until the end of the season to offer me a new deal and that didn't bode well.

"I'm not stupid. The club is entitled to do what it wants, of course, and that's fine. Once I got my head around it, I was okay but the day of the announcement was a difficult one for me.

"From my point of view, I wanted to have some sort of security before then because the truth of the matter is that if you suffer a serious injury towards the end of the season, nobody will want to sign you, that's football.

"I wanted to play football and Glenavon ticked all the boxes. I played for the Under 20s during the week and trained on Thursday night and it was quality, really intense.

"Gary (Hamilton) has a lot of young talent and maybe that is where I can help, bringing my experience to the squad to help the young lads and hopefully see them develop.

"I need to prove myself again. I have to win over the manager and the fans so they can trust me.

"This season hasn't gone the way Glenavon or any of us would have expected, but this is a crazy season with the arrival of investment at Glentoran and Larne and Gary will have plans for the summer and next season.

"I wasn't able to play against the Crues (in Saturday's 2-1 defeat to the Lurgan Blues at Mourneview) but I can't wait to play for the first team, so I can prove there is still life in me yet."

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Belfast Telegraph