If you are planning on attending Saturday’s game please click here to read our guide to the new-look matchday at Mourneview Park.
Saturday will mark 224 long days since Glenavon last played a game in the Danske Bank Premership.
However, come 5.30pm, when referee Ian McNabb blows his whistle to start our 2020/21 campaign, that clock can finally stop ticking.
And aren’t we all glad.
Because while there are far bigger problems in the world right now than a game of football, following our beloved Lurgan Blues gives supporters that release, those 90 minutes when you can get away from the doom and gloom of the current situation that we find ourselves in.
We can finally cheer for the boys in blue once again – in a socially distanced fashion, of course.
Yes, it will be strange, and no, you might not be able to catch up with your mates in the usual fashion, but at least we are back.
Our Mid-Ulster rivals, Portadown, are back as well. After suffering relegation in 2017, Matthew Tipton brings last year’s Championship winners to Mourneview Park on the opening day of the season (a game which is being streamed live on the BBC Sport website and the BBC iPlayer).
While they will be bringing a young team with faces unfamiliar to many Glenavon fans, Gary Hamilton says that his squad is prepared for their arrival.
“We know a bit about them,” he said. “Obviously Kyle Neill was there for a few years before he joined our coaching staff so he knows quite a bit about Tippy and the players that were there.
“We’ve got a bit of an insight and obviously through watching Irish League football we know most of the players, if not all of them.
“We’re prepared as best as we can. It’s a matter of turning up. It’s a derby match so the players have to be bang on.
“I’ve been there before – I know people will say Portadown are just up but I’ve been on the flip side of it when I joined Glenavon and we were the boys at the bottom of the league. Whenever it came to derby games we got results against them because people lifted their games.
“Just because they are coming out of the Championship, it means nothing. We have to treat them with the same respect that we would treat all of the top teams.
“Anything can happen in derby games – you need to be prepared and you need to be up for the fight first and foremost.”
Just as with many other workplaces up and down the country, Glenavon have felt the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, particularly at the moment.
Gary explained: “With the current situation with people having to isolate due to COVID, track and trace and so on we are down by a few players. We’ve got a few injuries as well.
“But it is what it is, it’s going to be like that throughout this year. We’re just going to have to get on with it and not make any excuses.
“We have 14-15 fit first team players and it’s going to be like that for every club this season.
“With part-time players that are working, they are in other people’s companies, they’ve got their kids coming home from school, so for part-time clubs its very difficult whereas for full-time clubs the players can stay in their bubble.
“We had four or five of the young players up at training last night (Thursday). They have the potential to be part of the first team squad on Saturday.
“Apart from the bigger clubs probably, it’s going to be the same for younger players across the board. Given what’s going on across the world, and especially in this country at the minute, people seem to be coming down with it and having to isolate all the time.
“That is going to create opportunities for young players and it’s going to be up to them to take it.”
Andy Hall, Greg Moorehouse and Matthew Fitzpatrick are all out of the Portadown game through injury, while Jonathan Tuffey will be missing as he marries his fiancée Danielle. Everyone at Glenavon Football Club would like to wish the happy couple the very best of luck for their big day!
LAST TIME WE MET: Glenavon beat Portadown 2-1 in the semi-final of the Mid-Ulster Cup on November 27, 2017 thanks to first-half goals from Adam Foley and Jordan Jenkins. Peter Duffin replied for the Ports with 10 minutes to go. Young goalkeeper Conner Byrne, now with Dungannon Swifts, made his first team debut for the Lurgan Blues on that occasion aged just 14 years and 245 days – believed to be a record!
Referee: Ian McNabb.
Assistant Referees: Stephen Bell, Paul Robinson.
Fourth Official: Jamie Robinson.
Match sponsor: Glenavon Social Club
Ball sponsor: Brownlow House
Man of the Match sponsor: Diamond Chauffeur Services