Bates loves being Hartlepool Utd captain – but wants more wins

Matthew Bates in action against Billingham Town. Picture by FRANK REID

Matthew Bates in action against Billingham Town. Picture by FRANK REID

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MATTHEW Bates is loving the role and responsibility of being Hartlepool United captain.

But he admits he would love to get some more wins quickly under his belt after a poor start to the 2014-15 campaign.

The experienced central defender was the first summer recruit of manager Colin Cooper and he was handed the armband on the eve of the new season.

It was no mean feat to be named club captain either given the other experienced players inside the dressing room at Victoria Park including the likes of Sam Collins, Neil Austin and Tommy Miller.

Sadly for Bates, and the rest of the Pools squad, management and supporters, results on the pitch have been poor so far this season.

After five league matches, Pools have won just one, while they also exited the Capital One Cup at the first round stage after a 6-2 demolition by Port Vale.

Bates though is using his experience to guide the younger squad members through the early stages of the season.

He is probably younger than many people would think, given he broke into the Middlesbrough side at such a young age.

The 27-year-old may only have 177 career appearances to his name - as a result of previous serious knee injuries - but he still has a wealth of experience from his time at Boro, Bristol City and Bradford City.

The defender was speaking ahead of this afternoon’s match at Victoria Park between Pools and unbeaten Shrewsbury Town.

Cooper’s side were hoping to bounce back from last weekend’s agonising last-minute defeat to Cheltenham Town, which saw them go down 1-0 after a 90th minute winner.

Bates said: “There are a lot of young lads here at Pools and I am still young myself really, I am only 27.

“But I have a lot more experience than some of the younger players and it is just about coaching them through the games and picking them up afterwards.

“I have been through a lot in my career and one defeat doesn’t leave me too down hearted.

“It is a long season and it is trying to explain that to the younger lads making their way in the game, who don’t always see it like that.

“It’s not just me, we have a good mix of young and older experienced professionals who are doing the same job as I am doing.”

Last summer, long-serving midfielder Antony Sweeney was handed the armband but despite starting the season he was soon struck down with injury and never regained his place in the team.

He left the club in the summer, signing for League Two rivals Carlisle United.

In Sweeney’s absence last year, committed defenders Austin and Collins took over the mantle but Cooper opted for Bates to wear the armband this time round.

Stockton-born Bates had of course enjoyed a short spell training with Pools at the start of last season following his release from Bristol City.

But he joined League One side Bradford, as, at the time Cooper was unable to make an offer for the defender.

He is now back at the club and enjoying the role of captain.

Bates added: “I am enjoying the role and enjoy the responsibility.

“I just want to get some more wins under my belt as captain.

“We need to be more consistent because we got a good away win at Wimbledon but then got beat at the weekend to Cheltenham.

“That could have easily have been a draw and we could have been two games on the trot unbeaten but that is football.

“It is narrow margins but we need to try and turn them narrow margins into draws and wins for ourselves, not defeats.”

l Visit www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk for team news, half-time and full-time match reports from Victoria Park as Hartlepool United take on Shrewsbury Town in Sky Bet League Two.

Follow @RMennearHMail and @HPoolMail on Twitter for live updates throughout the match.

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