NEWLY appointed Glenavon gaffer Gary Hamilton says his backroom team of Pat McAllister and Nigel Law will have a huge role to play once he steps onto the pitch in January.
The club’s player/manager, who signed a two and a half year deal last week, will be able to put on his boots again in the New Year and he says that his assistant and first team coach will be trusted to make the touchline decisions as he concentrates on trying to put the ball in the back of the net.
“Between the two of them, they can make decisions on the sidelines,” he told the ‘MAIL.’
“When I’m playing, it’s harder to do that and I’ll say my bit at half-time and do everything else but they’ll be on the sidelines making the calls.
“I trust Packie and Nigel and that’s why I’ve got them here. Packie’s got that harder streak to him as well and he’s a great foil for me. He has a great head for statistics and facts and he has a lovely way about him. He’s very enthusiastic.”
The club’s new first team coach, Law, has come along with Hamilton from Glentoran, where he was the reserve team coach and was very highly thought of throughout the club.
After being forced to end his playing career, Law took charge of Ballymena United’s U16 side, whom he led to an unbeaten season before moving to the Oval.
“Nigel had his (playing) career finished early with injury,” said Hamilton.
“He had to pack it in but he loves football and he wanted to get involved again. He’s only 26 or 27 and he’s got his A License already so that shows what he’s like. He’s football daft and at Glentoran there were a lot of players who spoke very highly of him in both the reserve and first teams.
“When I trained with the reserves at Glentoran, I saw what a talent he was. People might say he’s too young but why is he too young? He shows great enthusiasm, works well and to me age is only a number. If you’re good enough, you’re old enough.”
And so, Hamilton has no qualms with trusting the duo to make the decisions. As much as he’s looking forward to playing however, the boss says he hopes he doesn’t have to pull on the playing jersey at the very start of January.
“Hopefully I’ll not have to play too soon because if I don’t have to change anything, it means that the boys are winning and that’s the way we want it,” he said.
“I love playing football though. When you’re on the sidelines, sometimes you want to be able to get on and play because there’s no better feeling than putting on a pair of football boots, getting out and playing.
“Anybody involved in coaching will tell you that they’d rather still have the ability to play. I’ve been lucky in that I’m able to do both.”
It’s clear to see the Waringstown man’s passion for both playing and beginning his management career but he says that it’s extra special to be able to have such a huge role at his boyhood club.
“It’s something I’ve dreamt about all my life,” he admitted.
“I’ve always wanted to play for Glenavon and also to manage them so for this opportunity to come along is great. It was a very proud moment for myself and for my family and it’s a chance that I know I can make a success of.
“I thrive on pressure and being challenged and I would like to think that nine times out of 10 I come out on top. That’s not me being big-headed, that’s a confidence thing and if you want to get anywhere in life you have to be confident in your own ability.
“To keep the team in the Premiership is the most important thing. If the boys put in performances like they did on Saturday, I’m confident that we’ll not only stay up but that we’ll move up the table.
“It’s alright going down to Windsor Park and giving a performance like that, we have to do it consistently. The next few weeks will tell if we’re going to get that and what we have to do about it. Hopefully we’ll not have to do much and it will just be a matter of adding one or two to the squad.”
Club chairman Adrian Teer told the press last Thursday that Hamilton had fought off stiff competition to land the job and highlighted his exceptional knowledge of the club as a key reason for his appointment.
“When Marty Quinn left we had 19 applications for the post from within Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and as far Spain,” he said.
“That included an experienced Football League manager, some Irish League managers and a well known former SPL player.
“The unanimous choice of the board of directors was to go for someone who has gained Northern Ireland caps at youth, U21 and full international level; someone who has had a highly distinguished playing career in the Irish League over the past 12 seasons and who has won everything that the local game has to offer.
“The board has been impressed by his football acumen and his contacts within the game; his in-depth knowledge of Glenavon Football Club from Academy level up to senior level, as would befit someone who has been a supporter of the club since childhood.
“We were also impressed with his vision for the football club, with his positive ideas for rejuvenating this club from the playing side upwards; and his winning desire to become the manager of this club.”
Hamilton, at 31, is the youngest manager the club has ever appointed and their fifth player/manager, following on from Harry Walker, Jimmy McAlinden, Alan Campbell and Terry Nicholson, all of whom brought success to the club.