Mark Stafford will play in blue again next year but it will be the blue of Glenavon and not Linfield after the Lurgan club confirmed his signing on Sunday.

And the big centre half is delighted to have signed on the dotted line for the Mourneview Park club with manager Gary Hamilton having played a big part in Stafford’s decision to join.

“I’m pleased to get the deal done. I know the manager, Gary, and I know the way he treats players especially players who had knee problems like myself, he knows how to get the best out of them.

“He told me he’d do the same with me as with boys like Kris Lindsay and Winkie Murphy who went from Linfield to Glenavon and he got a good few years out of them and they are boys that I know for a fact enjoyed their time at the club so I’m very lucky to have the opportunity to play for the club and hopefully it will work out,” he said.

Stafford will have some familiar faces in the Glenavon changing room next season with the club having also signed Mark Haughey and Andy Waterworth from Linfield.

“Hawks was always going to end up there as that’s were he came from and Andy and Gary would be very friendly so they were always going to Glenavon.

“I wasn’t that sure whether I would get a move there so I was very happy when Gary came in for me and I’m lucky to be going to a club like that,” he added.

The trio will bring a winning attitude with them to Glenavon after a successful period with Linfield but Stafford knows that it is going to be tough to compete at the top with so many clubs having gone or are going full time.

“It is going to be very hard for any club who is not full time as you have the likes of Larne, Glentoran, Linfield and Crusaders so it is going to be very hard to make the top six but I’m sure Gary has a plan for next season we’ll give it a rattle anyway and see how high up the table we finish,” he said.

Before joining up with his new team-mates for pre-season, Stafford will undergo an operation on a troublesome knee but all going well he expects to be back for the start of the season.

“I’m going to be out for six weeks rest and then six weeks rehab but hopefully I will be back for the start of the season as it is a little bit later next year, that’s what I’m hoping for,” said the defender.

Meanwhile, the former Ballinamallard captain finished up his time with Linfield on Saturday as they were awarded the Gibson Cup after their game with Cliftonville. And at a club presentation that night, Stafford picked up the Billy Meikle award which is presented to a Linfield personality who displays the characteristics of pride, passion, commitment and never say die hunger and will to succeed. This was the third time that Stafford won the award.

“The club had a function for us after the game and spoiled us a bit before we left. That was the last time that a lot of us would be together so it was great to spend a bit of time with the boys,” acknowledged Stafford.