Gary Hamilton rewarded for sticking to his principles

Glenavon player/manager Gary Hamilton
Glenavon player/manager Gary Hamilton

Saturday’s Marie Curie Irish Cup final may not live long in the memory, but the date May 3, 2014 will proudly go down in Glenavon’s folklore.

Much of the post-mortem from the showpiece centred on referee Raymond Crangle’s performance at Windsor Park.

Crangle brandished no less than three red cards on the day, offering Glenavon and Ballymena supporters plenty to debate as they supped over their celebratory/consolatory pints of ale.

But once the dust has settled on Saturday’s controversy, the history of time will ultimately declare that Glenavon won the Irish Cup in 2014.

Gary Hamilton and his players deserve immense praise for their display this season, with Saturday’s cup success following on from a top six finish in the Danske Bank Premiership.

Not many fans would have predicted such progress over the past 12 months.

When Hamilton was appointed as player/manager back in December 2011, his mission statement was to “get Glenavon into the top six of this league” and “be in a position to reach cup finals and semi-finals.”

He has certainly been a man of his word.

True, there were times when Hamilton’s future came under scrutiny, notably after a 5-1 defeat to Crusaders on November 3, 2012.

Hamilton recalls the malaise at Seaview, and the resulting media bluster over his tenure.

“I remember standing in the dugout at Crusaders that night and we were 4-0 down after 20 minutes, and the fans were booing,” he recalls.

“A certain BBC reporter then broadcast that I was getting the sack, and that there was an emergency board meeting – which was funny because at the time I was standing talking to the chairman.

“The whole thing about me is that I stand by what I believe. People sometimes question what I do, but I believe in myself.

“I stick to my principles.”

Hamilton has certainly stuck to his principles, and Glenavon have adopted the mantra by sticking by their manager.

Saturday’s Irish Cup win is rich reward for the burgeoning partnership.

It has gifted fans with a lifetime of memories to cherish – and a manager to hail for years to come.