It seemed like the impossible task, but Ronnie Moore did the unthinkable and kept Hartlepool United in the football league last season. Now, with an experienced manager at the helm, it’s time for the club to stop flirting with fate year after year.
Last Season: League Two (22nd)
Manager: Ronnie Moore
GKs: Trevor Carson
DFs: Matthew Bates, Sam Collins, Dan Jones, Michael Duckworth, Josh Nearney, Scott Harrison, Carl Magnay, Harry Worley, Jake Carroll
MFs: Brad Walker, Michael Woods, Ebby Nelson-Addy, Nicky Featherstone, Lewis Hawkins, Jordan Richards, Connor Smith, Kieran Green
FWs: Scott Fenwick, Rhys Oates, Rakish Bingham, Billy Paynter, Kudus Oyenuga
In: Rakish Bingham (Mansfield Town), Carl Magnay (Grimsby Town), Rhys Oates (Barnsley), Harry Worley (Stevenage), Jake Carroll (Huddersfield Town), Trevor Carson (Cheltenham Town), Billy Paynter (Carlisle United), Kudus Oyenuga (Dundee United)
Out: Jack Compton (Yeovil Town), Marlon Harewood (Released), Darren Holden (Ross County), Jon Maxted (Released), Tommy Miller (Released), Stuart Parnaby (Released), Jonathan Franks (Ross County), Scott Flinders (Yeovil Town), Neil Austin (Released)
First Six: Morecambe (H), York City (A), Newport County (H), Stevenage (A), Carlisle United (H), Wycombe Wanderers (A)
Likely Lineup: (4-5-1) Carson – Duckworth, Worley, Bates, Carroll – Nelson-Addy, Woods, Featherstone, Walker, Fenwick – Paynter
A word from…Ritchie Humphreys
On his old club The club is still close to my heart, absolutely. My time there was 12 years, a lot of games as you mentioned, we had a lot of highs and lows, we had great promotion campaigns and play-off campaigns, a couple of relegations on the down side, but certainly I have always followed the results ever since I’ve left.
We actually had a reunion dinner back in Hartlepool this summer, the 2005 team that got the play-off final against Sheffield Wednesday, so it was great to see all the lads from that era and also see all of the supporters who I’ve not really seen since I left.
The back end of the season where Ronnie (Moore) came the side did tremendously well, the ‘Great Escape’ as he called it to stay up was fantastic, and I know everybody got behind Ronnie and rightly so, and now some new owners have come in. IOR have left, they had been there a long, long time, for the whole time I was there.
You know, it’s new times, everybody should get behind the owners, the manager and the lads on the pitch as they’re the one who will hopefully deliver results on the pitch.
I hope they can take the club forward, I don’t know much about them, I’ve just been following it through the media, on Twitter etc. But there is always an expectancy when new owners come in. Ronnie has not been there a great deal of time, he did brilliantly to keep the team up, know he is going to build a team and a squad that will hopefully challenge at the right end of the table.
On the inconsistency of constant squad changes It’s difficult when the squad changes around a lot in the summer, I’ve certainly found that at the clubs I have been at. I know at Hartlepool when I first went there was about four or five new signings, and certainly when I first went to Chesterfield there was five or six, probably seven including myself, new signings.
You get to know each other pre-season, you get that spirit, camaraderie, the manager can install how he wants you to play in one or two different ways throughout the season, so that bedding in time is important for the manager and the staff, but also the players
I had a great time there, I talked to all the media and supporters when I did leave, it was a big part of my life, got married in the North East, moved up there for a number of years, it was only when we had children we moved back to Sheffield so me signing for Chesterfield was fantastic for myself and the family, and we ended up having a couple of successful seasons. You don’t know when you are going to move on, but there is always a time and for myself it was a really important move for me.
We won the league the year before last so we were in League One last year, nobody knows how you’re going to do, it was a bit like when we got promoted with Hartlepool, sort of an unexpected team, we got into the play-offs with Hartlepool immediately after we got promoted and we did that with Chesterfield last year and came up against a strong side in the Semi-Finals against Preston North End and we just fell short.
But we had a successful season, we played entertaining football, but the manager has moved on now, some of the players have moved on and we’ve got a new manager now who will hopefully take us even further forward, and like I said, me personally I just want to be playing football and I love my job. This will be my 21st pre-season, so I’ll just enjoy it for as long as I can I think.
On a potential return You never know do you, I don’t know what the future will hold for me in the future, playing or going into the coaching side of things, I wouldn’t say either way, I just don’t know, football is too fickle to make any sort of plans.
The Offside Rule Podcast Prediction: Whilst it won’t be a vintage season by any means, Hartlepool just need a season of consolidation and to make sure they’re not scrapping at the bottom come May 2016.
Key Player: Billy Paynter – The club need a goalscorer and at League Two level Billy Paynter should get plenty of them. Proven at a certain level, Paynter might be just what Moore needs.
One to Watch: Jake Carroll – A fast full-back who can also play on the wing, the youngster should excel in League Two and add something different to Hartlepool’s team.