“Hignett likes his team to play a passing game, but we can over-do it at times”
The opposition interview series reaches number 8. It’s the turn of John Jewson, who answers our questions on his team Hartlepool United:
Hi John thanks for talking to us again, remind us a bit about yourself and how long have you followed the Monkey Hangers?
Hello again. I’m 49 years old, it’s the big 50 next month, and work in my hometown of Hartlepool as a support worker. I’ve been a Pools fan as long as I can remember. Sadly I can’t recall the date of my first match. My dad would take me and my brother along to the match from an early age. I’d guess it must have been around 1975/76 season.
It’s something I’ve never been able to walk away from. Being a Poolie is part of my life and I guess it always will be.
What were your expectations for the team heading into this season?
Pre-season the optimism amongst the fan base was high. The PR coming from the club was excellent and it was hard not to get caught up in it. That feeling was cemented in the final friendly match with a excellent performance and victory over Macclesfield.
How has August gone for the team so far and what’s been the highlights?
Football fans can be fickle, including myself, although it’s mostly born out of frustration and passion for my club. If I’d given my response after a disappointing draw at Chorley on Saturday it would have been overly critical. Fast forward 48 hours and it may be overly optimistic following the 4-2 win over Wrexham.
Largely though, it has to be described as a slow, stuttering start. But there are mitigating circumstances, Pools have been cursed throughout August with a large injury list which has robbed Craig Hignett of some of his most offensive and creative players.
Which Key Players should we be looking out for and why?
As I stated above a lot of our more creative players have been on the injury list, Luke Molyneux, Josh Hawkes and Luke Williams, who last started a match when I was a boy.
The main man so far this term has been Gime Toure, who is currently the top goal-scorer in the National league with 5. Toure has pace, strength and the ability to do the unexpected.
Who is the gaffer, is he the right man for the job and what tactics does he employ?
Craig Hignett, the former Middlesbrough, Barnsley and Blackburn player. This is Craig’s second spell as Hartlepool manager, third if you count his spell as caretaker manager last term. Prior to the current stint Hignett had been Director of Football at the club.
I think opinion is divided among the fanbase over Hignett. In all honesty I can probably count on one hand when this hasn’t been the case over the years among the Poolie faithful when it comes to the man in charge. Although I believe the majority of fans back the boss and are willing to give him time.
Hignett likes his team to play a passing game and he encourages ball retention, but we can over-do it at times, much to the frustration of the fans.
Who owns the club and are you confident they’ll take the club in the right direction?
Mr Raj Singh. If opinion is divided over the merits of Craig Hignett, I can categorically confirm this is not the case when it comes to Mr Singh. The fans are 100% behind him. The man committed more then £1.2 million to the club to save us from administration and possible liquidation. And we are more than thankful.
What’s your away following like and do you think many will make the long trip down to Devon?
Poolies travel in good numbers. They’re loud and largely humorous. The local pubs and clubs (including the Boots and Laces) may receive a boost in revenue on the day of the game. I would imagine most will take advantage of the English Riviera and make a weekend of it.
Who are your tips for promotion and relegation this season?
Prior to the season I couldn’t see past Solihull Moors and AFC Fylde for promotion and I still believe both won’t be far away. Relegation, I try not to give it too much thought, well until I need to. A season without Hartlepool being in the mix at the wrong end of the table would be more than welcome. I don’t want another year of looking at the bottom half of the National league, followed by the forthcoming fixtures and hoping for the best.
The last time we played the Gulls were relegated at Victoria Park, how do you think we’ll do this time round?
Firstly welcome back!
I’m not just saying this because I’m doing this piece, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Torquay. Had some fantastic times there following Hartlepool down the years. A great place to visit with a proper football club, with proper passionate fans.
You’ve certainly started well. Gary Johnson looks to have turned things completely around. The momentum carried over from last season will certainly stand you in good stead this. As it did for Harrogate who came up from the National league North and were excellent throughout last season. Your victory at Dover was notable and there’s no reason why you couldn’t be at least play-off contenders.
The prospect of playing Torquay on a cool, drizzly November afternoon back in League Two one day would be fantastic as far as I’m concerned.
And finally, give us a match prediction for Saturday afternoon?
I’m rubbish at score predictions, much to the delight of my local Corals, but I’ll go with 2-2.
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