It’s an unenviable commute — of that there is little doubt. But when you have a bond with a club, any player will tell you it is certainly worth hanging on to it for as long as you can. And that is certainly the case as far as ex-Northern Ireland ace Sammy Clingan is concerned.
Undeterred by the logistical headache his proposed move to Scotland in September will undoubtedly cause, the ever-resilient Clingan plans to up and travel between his new home and Lurgan after penning a new one-year extension on his contract at Glenavon. Some would see it as madness, others, especially the Glenavon fans, see it as nothing more than dedication to the cause.
Hard-working midfielder Clingan, who is aged 35 and has 39 Northern Ireland caps to his name, clearly doesn’t feel that the commute is a barrier to staying for a third season at Mourneview Park; so much so, in fact, that he also plans to make training sessions at the club on Thursdays as well. It definitely means a long and hard season ahead for the middle-of-the-park operator, but he has the full support of his family and his coach, too.
Glenavon boss Gary Hamilton says he isn’t surprised by the level of commitment shown by his player — who made only nine Premiership appearances for the Lurgan Blues last term — and he puts it down to his love of the club, pure and simple. He said:
“Sammy has shown great commitment to the club, without any doubt. It shows what type of guy he is that he’s prepared to travel over on a Thursday and maybe not get home until late on Saturday or on Sunday.
“He just loves the club. When we went to talk to him we didn’t think it was going to be feasible but thankfully Sammy has been the one to make it happen by agreeing a reduction in his wage to help cover the travel costs.”
And despite Clingan’s age and lack of impact that he was able to make last time of asking, Hamilton says the schemer possesses the know-how and experience needed to help his side improve on last season’s third-place finish, and adds that the wise head on his shoulder will also help the side’s younger players develop.
“We’ve certainly lacked experience at times in vital matches and it is no coincidence at all that Sammy wasn’t available for most of the season. Hopefully we can get him back fit this year and playing every week again and hopefully that will result in him giving us that experience and know-how that he has in situations where some of the younger lads have just never come across.”