Please - don’t freeze

Gary Hamilton hopes his Glenavon players won’t freeze in front of the Sky cameras on Monday evening.

The Blues travel to face rivals Portadown at Shamrock Park, the game live on Sky Sports 1 (kick-off 7.45pm).

�Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -28th July  2012'Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/ ' 'Glenavon FC - Gary Hamilton

�Press Eye Ltd Northern Ireland -28th July 2012'Mandatory Credit - Picture by Darren Kidd/ ' 'Glenavon FC - Gary Hamilton

Glenavon, of course, have a poor record when the Sky cameras roll in. They’ve never won, losing without scoring to Coleraine, Cliftonville and Crusaders (twice) before last year drawing 2-2 at home to the Ports.

Boss Hamilton, however, is hopeful this year’s squad will cope much better.

He said: “For me personally, it means nothing but I’m not naïve enough to think it doesn’t go through players’ heads. People love being on TV, that’s the way they are. It’s ok saying it’s not a big deal but with some of the younger players, it is a big deal.

“Sometimes people can play the occasion rather than the game itself. They can be thinking about others things that aren’t there in a normal Saturday match.

“It’s a great window of opportunity for players but sometimes it can have that negative effect too. “

Last term Portadown had the upper hand in the local rivalry, twice winning 3-1 after the early season 2-2 draw. You have to go back until the 1999/2000 season to find the last time Glenavon came out on top of the majority of derby games in a season, that term winning twice, losing once and drawing once.

Hamilton is all too aware of that fact and admits it will be tough to overturn the recent trend this year.

He said: “No matter what club you’re at, you look forward to the derby. When you’re a footballer, you want to play in these games and when you’re a manager, you want to win them.

“It’s been a long time since Glenavon have got the better of Portadown over the course of a season. It’s not going to be easy this season either because Portadown are a team who will push for the league title.

“There’s no doubt about that with the quality they have. Their starting 11 is up there with the best. It won’t be an easy game but the boys are confident and have been playing well.

“Last year, bar the first derby game which we drew 2-2, I felt that we didn’t perform. The Boxing Day game also came down to a couple of refereeing decisions so we’re hoping for a strong refereeing performance. We don’t want anything to influence the result other than the teams on the pitch. ”

Last season both sides finished in the bottom half but Hamilton is chuffed to see both resting in the top three so far this term

“It’s great for Mid-Ulster both teams are up there. Portadown will be looking to challenge for the title with the players they have. Gary Twigg is a brilliant finisher. In my opinion, only Mark Farren can come close to him. Darren Murray’s scoring goals for fun and Kevin Braniff is one of the best players in the league.

“We don’t expect to be up there at the end of the season but we’re doing extremely well and the boys have been a credit to themselves.”