Gary Hamilton believes Leeds United visit will be ‘major draw’ for fans

Leeds United played Glentoran at the Oval in 2009
Leeds United played Glentoran at the Oval in 2009

Glenavon manager Gary Hamilton believes the visit of Leeds United to Mourneview Park will be a “major draw” for football fans.

The Elland Road giants are scheduled to play the Lurgan Blues in a glamour friendly on Tuesday, July 29.

The fixture is part of Robbie McDaid’s transfer from Glenavon to Leeds at the end of last season.

“Leeds came back to us with a couple of dates, and July 29 has been pencilled in for the friendly,” Hamilton said.

“It will be a great occasion for Glenavon, and I think it will be a major draw for football fans.

“Leeds United have a massive fan base in Northern Ireland. Outside of the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, Rangers and Celtic, Leeds have a big following.

“So I think the game on July 29 will attract fans from north and south of the border.

“This is expected to be their only friendly over here, so it will be a chance for fans to come along and see Leeds in action.

“We are delighted that they are coming over to Northern Ireland, and playing at Mourneview Park.”

Hamilton played against Leeds five years ago when the Whites came over to play Glentoran at the Oval.

Goals from Robert Snodgrass, Jermaine Beckford, Enoch Showumni sealed a 3-1 win for the visitors in east Belfast.

“There was a massive crowd that day – I think there was something between 4-5,000 at the Oval,” Hamilton recalls.

“It just shows you the appeal of Leeds United. Obviously, Mourneview wouldn’t have as big a capacity as that, but if we can get a sell-out of something like 3,000 then it will be a massive financial boost for the club.”

Hamilton praised young star McDaid, whose transfer has paved the way for this summer’s proposed friendly.

“It is all down to Robbie and the talent he possesses,” Hamilton said.

“Part of the transfer was that Leeds came over to play a friendly, so it is a big lift for Glenavon.

“Robbie has done fantastically well at Glenavon, and the coaching staff deserve a lot of credit for helping him along in his career.

“Now he has earned his chance at full-time football, and hopefully he can grasp that chance with both hands.”

Glenavon return to training this Saturday as they prepare for European football this summer.

They are entered into the qualifying stages of the Europa League, with games scheduled for July 3 and 10.

“It only seems like yesterday that we were winning the Irish Cup,” he said.

“We are back in this Saturday and we will start building up to the European games. It is a very exciting summer for the club and the players are looking forward to the challenge.”