GLENAVON’S new signing Mark Farren is the best finisher in Ireland.
That’s according to his new boss, Gary Hamilton, who finally managed to tie down the Derry City striker on a pre-contract agreement.
The 30 year-old striker on Saturday agreed an 18 month deal, with an option of a further season, that is due to start on 1st January 2013. However, Hamilton is still hoping to negotiate some sort of deal that would see the forward join Glenavon before the transfer window shuts at the end of August.
“Over the next couple of weeks, I’ll sit down with the board and talk about it but Decky Devine and Derry City are looking to keep him until the end of November,” he said.
“If that’s the case then that’s the way it is but we’ve signed him on a pre-contract and we’re 100% that he’ll be a Glenavon player come the 1st January.
“That’s very exciting for the club but if we can do anything before that, we’ll try. However, Rory Patterson’s out for the season and that leaves them (Derry City) a bit short up front so the situation may be that we have to wait until January.”
Whether he joins in August or January, the news that he will arrive has certainly whet the appetites of the Glenavon support, who have been excited by Farren’s goal-scoring performances at Derry that have seen him notch up 110 goals in just over 200 games.
The forward is currently two goals off Liam Coyle’s all-time scoring record for City and Hamilton says that, not only is he the best finisher on the island, but when he arrives, Farren will complete a forward line to match the famous Glenavon attack of the mid-1990s.
“What a signing he is for Glenavon Football Club,” said a delighted gaffer.
“We’ve got Mark, Guy Bates, we’ve got Matty Burrows who scores goals, and young Andrew Mitchell. We’ve got great options up there.
“As I said at the weekend, it’s a long time since Glenavon have had options like that up front. You’re going back to the likes of (Stevie) McBride, (Raymie) McCoy and (Glenn) Ferguson and that sort of era.
“These boys are great players. Batesy has shown what a talent he is and Mark Farren, in my opinion, is the best finisher in Ireland. I said that long before I signed him and I think he’s a better finisher than anybody.
“I’ll always stand by that because when you look at his goals per game record in the League of Ireland, which is, in my opinion, a tougher league to score goals in than the Irish League, it stands up to anybody in our league.”
Hamilton continued: “One thing he does and that Glenavon fans will love about him is that he’s another Tony Grant and he never stops running.
“I’m not saying anything bad about Tony but Mark has the great finishing in his locker as well. He doesn’t miss too many chances. Mark will score more regularly than Tony would but he never stops running either.”
And it is not just Farren’s ability that is exciting the boss. Hamilton has stressed the importance of a positive attitude since he arrived as Glenavon boss nine months ago and he is sure that bringing in players with a winning habit will have a positive influence on his side.
“I think he’s a great addition and he has a great attitude, like Eddie McCallion who also came from Derry,” he told the ‘MAIL.’
“One thing he has said is that, whilst he’ll only be down one night a week for training like Eddie, he’ll be training three or four days anyway.
“That’s the attitude those boys have. They’re coming from a professional set-up and from a club where there is a winning mentality. I keep adding that mentality. When you look at the experienced signings I’ve made, they’ve come from winning backgrounds as much as possible.
“Hopefully they’ll all gel together and there will be exciting times ahead for Glenavon.”
The Blues will certainly have impressive options up front with boss Hamilton, Guy Bates, Matty Burrows and Andrew Mitchell also vying for starting positions.
The gaffer knows that it is exactly this sort of competition that could create a winning culture at the club.
He said: “The players are excited that this calibre of player is coming to the club. Sometimes it will mean other people are on the bench and it will increase competition but that’s what you need at big clubs.
“At Linfield, Peter Thompson and Mark McAllister were starting in the first game and then this week, Matthew Tipton and Gary Browne started. Hopefully we can create a mini situation like that. We’ll obviously never have the same quality of players as Linfield have but hopefully we’re starting to get that quality and competition that we need.”
Whether or not they can match the McBride, Ferguson, McCoy era at the club, Farren’s signing, combined with Guy Bates’ early performances have certainly caught the imagine of Blues’ supporters and make for an interesting season at Mourneview Park