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GARY WON'T SUFFER BLUES; Rookie manager determined to lift Lurgan gloom.

Byline: MARK MCINTOSH

ROOKIE boss Gary Hamilton has vowed to defy the doubters by succeeding where so many experienced managers have failed in the Glenavon hot-seat.

Hamilton was released from his Glentoran contract last week, providing the 31-year-old with the opportunity to fulfil a life-long dream by ending his career at the club he supported as a boy.

Perhaps more unexpectedly, the former Northern Ireland international will also have the added responsibility of being the player-manager after beating off competition for the post from 18 applications.

And while some people believe he is being thrown into the lions' den, the man himself is excited by the challenge.

"If I didn't think I could make a big difference at Glenavon, I would never have thought about taking the job," said the ex-Blackburn Rovers striker. "I was enjoying my football again at Glentoran and was scoring a few goals, too. There is no other club I would have considered leaving the Oval for.

"I've made no secret of wanting to finish my career at Mourneview Park and management has always appealed to me. Maybe this has come sooner than expected but I am raring to go.

"We are not in a good position and there's no point in saying any different. Packie McAllister got a good result last week to lift us off the bottom of the table for the first time this season but that is just the beginning.

"As the manager, it will be my responsibility to ensure we climb the table and avoid a relegation dogfight. Some people probably won't give me a chance but I have always been confident in my own ability and that won't change. "But on the pitch, I believe I can make a difference. I played here for a year last season and got a taste for it and jumped at the chance of coming back. We don't have bad players but something isn't clicking and I am determined to identify what that is and fix it. When the January transfer window opens I will look to bring one or two new faces in because things will need freshening up."

Hamilton has no concerns about his progression from one of the boys to leader. His best friend, Kyle Neill (left), is in the squad but the new boss had to inform his pal he would not be playing in his first game in charge at Linfield yesterday.

"Everyone knows Kyle is my best friend in the world, but not including him from the start was nothing to do with me trying to set down a marker or be the big lad," added Hamilton.

"It was quite simple. The players who earned the win over Ballymena United last week keep the shirts and that is the message I want to send out. If you do well, you play. If not, I will change things. I spoke to Kyle and he understood where I was coming from.

"We have too much respect for each other for that to ever be an issue. I want to show all my players respect from the start and all I ask is the same in return."

Lurgan is certainly excited by their favourite son returning to the fold. Experienced managers threw their hat into the ring but the board were happy to try something different.

"The situation we are in is embarrassing and it has to be put right," said chairman, Adrian Teer. "We believe Gary is the ideal man to ensure that happens.

"We believe this appointment will galvanise the club as a whole - and we are getting the best player in the Irish League playing for the club, too."

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NEW ERA: Gary Hamilton is proud to take over at Glenavon
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Dec 18, 2011
Words:624
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