Greg Hall’s substance over style the flag-bearer for Portadown promotion push

Gregg Hall (right) competing for Portadown against Linfield last season. Pic by INPHO.
Gregg Hall (right) competing for Portadown against Linfield last season. Pic by INPHO.

In the drive towards substance over style, Greg Hall standing as a model of consistency may best represent the modern Portadown under Matthew Tipton.

Having arrived at Shamrock Park keen to call on his contacts list to attract players with top-level profiles to life outside the Irish League’s elite, Tipton has adopted an alternative approach towards a second full season at securing promotion.

Darren Murray, Kevin Braniff and Sean Mackle - all former players back in Shamrock Park red thanks to the significant appeal of working with Tipton - have each departed unable to help guide the club back to the top table.

In an exercise exposing the limitations of an over-reliance on individual talent, Portadown struggled too often to maximise the skillset of those standout players as past reputations of some cast too strong a shadow for those attempting to establish bright futures.

Within the highs and lows that defined last season, Hall’s reliability along the right-back slot served as a cornerstone of the collective.

Tipton’s summer recruitment drive has centred on players able to fit within a group dynamic - with team before self the philosophy. It is an approach Hall already considers a success.

“It is not too wise to read too much into pre-season but I think we’ve done well over the friendly schedule across a mix of clubs from a local level and those at the higher standard,” said Hall. “More importantly, there is such a great buzz around the club and that team spirit is going to be important right from the very start with three league games within a week.

“Last year on paper we had such a good team but there are no easy games at this level and playing a club the size of Portadown, especially at Shamrock Park, often seemed to prove such a big match for the opposition.

“That made it extra difficult for us at times and we could never click into the right run of form, everything proved too stop-start as we would drop points in silly games.

“That inconsistency is never going to allow you to build any serious challenge across a league campaign.

“But we now come out of a really positive pre-season aiming to build on those encouraging aspects.”

Hall, at 29 years old, offers experience and the addition of two previous title-winning campaigns with Ards.

“It is a bit strange being one of the oldest but if I can use that to help overall or with the younger players then that’s great,” said Hall, who returns to a former club this weekend in Loughgall. “I’ve loved it at Portadown since walking through the doors, with everyone making me and my family feel so welcome.

“It is such a big club but holds on to that family vibe and we all just want to bring success back to Portadown.

“The fans have been brilliant and turn out in massive numbers every single week.

“There are expectations but you look around and see there is so much history.

“A strong start this weekend would be a great lift out of pre-season and into two successive home games.”