Filled to the brim with dinner, drink and festive cheer, fans from across Mid-Ulster look to the one thing about Christmas they love the most, the Mid-Ulster derby.
A fixture notorious for a red card or a good scrappy Irish League tackle, fans will soon get their money’s worth on Monday afternoon as two sides of the Bann lock horns, battling their hearts out for bragging rights in front of a sell-out crowd.
Mourneview Park hasn’t hosted a Mid-Ulster derby against Portadown since 2015, when Rhys Marshall’s last minute header secured the points, sparking huge celebrations in the Crescent End, ensuring a happy Christmas for Glenavon fans.
Two years prior, the Lurgan Blues also saw home success. A goal from the gaffer and Marshall saw Glenavon leading 2-0 at the break. The visitors fought back, closing the 2-0 deficit. Glenavon fans didn’t lose hope. They felt a goal was coming. A big ball came over the top from Coleman, bounced once, bounced twice, Patton turns and hammers his foot through the ball. The net bulges. What a win for Glenavon.
Manager Gary Hamilton couldn’t contain his excitement ahead of the festive game. Speaking to the Glenavon website, he said:
“It’s the biggest day of the season for the supporters and, as a supporter myself, it’s it’s a big day for me as well, regardless of being the manager.
“Obviously we were dealt a blow with the news about Mark Haughey and his cruciate, so he’ll be missing obviously and we wish him all the best with his revovery. He now has got a date set for his operation which is at the end of January, which we’re happy about because we were originally thinking it wasn’t going to be until the end of March, so it’s a bonus that it will be a couple of month’s earlier.
“Micheal Glynn is suspended so he misses out because we have not a game over the last few weeks.
“It’s a day that the players first and foremost need to be up for the fight and the battle and because that’s the only way you win derby matches. You have to have to win the physical battle and want it more than the opposition. Then, when you get settled in the game and the game settles down, if you get on top then that will stand you in good stead.
“It’s important that we start well because at Shamrock we didn’t in our last league encounter but I’m hoping that the players will be right up for it. I know that I am and we will be pushing that in the team talk.
“It’s important that we give the supporters a performance but it’s important for the players that they give themselves a performance and get the win. That’s the most important thing on Boxing Day.
“It’s a game that we are looking forward to and we’ll have to make sure we’re a lot better than what we were at Shamrock.”
Fans attending the game are reminded to familiarise themselves with and adhere to several messages from the main body’s concerned with the festive fixture. They can be found here – https://www.glenavonfc.com/2022/12/23/message-to-supporters-ahead-of-boxing-day-derby/
A charity bucket collection will take place in an effort to raise money for Stepping Stones NI.
Stepping Stones NI is an award-winning charitable organisation providing a range of services and social enterprises that support people with learning disabilities and learning difficulties to realise their full potential for a better future. This is in memory of Glenavon fanatic Paul Russell who sadly passed away recently.
Have a safe and Merry Christmas, we’ll see you on Boxing Day!
LAST TIME OUT
Glenavon had to settle for a draw at Shamrock Park on Friday evening as Portadown secured their first point of the season in a game that ended 1-1.
Former Glenavon striker Jordan Jenkins saw his penalty saved by Rory Brown in the opening minutes of the match, but the home side did get their noses in front three minutes before the break thanks to a smart finish from Oisin Conaty.
Captain Mark Haughey equalised for the Lurgan Blues seven minutes into the second half, and although both sides had opportunities to score later in the game, in the end they had to settle for a point apiece.
Match Sponsor: Avondale Foods
Ball Sponsor: Rasconi Pet Products
Man of the Match Sponsor: Diamond Elite Chauffeur Services
REFEREE: Shane Andrews
ASSISTANT REFEREES: Andrew Nethery, Rachel Greer
FOURTH OFFICIAL: Glenn Buchanan