Former star Gary Liddle convinced Jonathan Franks Pools was place for him

Hartlepool United new signing, Jonathan Franks.
Hartlepool United new signing, Jonathan Franks.

GARY Liddle’s final act as a Hartlepool United player was to convince Jonathan Franks that Victoria Park was the place for him.

Liddle revealed in SportMail earlier this week that he had chosen not to sign a new deal offered to him by Pools, instead seeking a fresh challenge after six years at the Vic.

He is now a free agent and is sure to attract the attention from a host of clubs over the coming weeks.

But the midfielder had no hesitation when it came to recommending Pools to former Middlesbrough team-mate Franks.

The 22-year-old forward telephoned Liddle last week when he became aware that a move to Pools was in the offing.

And Liddle gave a glowing report, persuading Franks to put pen to paper as he became Neale Cooper’s first signing of the summer.

“Jonathan phoned me and I told him ‘you couldn’t be joining a better club’,” Liddle told SportMail.

“I knew him from Middlesbrough and he obviously just wanted the opinion of someone who had been at the club for a good few years.

“But I didn’t think twice and told him to sign straight away.

“He’s a good player, an exciting player, and I’m sure he’ll do very well.”

Liddle’s exit came as a shock to some supporters.

He amassed nearly 300 appearances in blue and white having signed from Boro in 2006.

There was the high of promotion in his first season and Liddle has been a stalwart of the side which has now survived in the third tier for a club-record number of consecutive campaigns.

In the midst of that was the “Liddlegate” affair in 2010 when the player appeared in a match despite being suspended.

That saw Pools docked three points and they only escaped relegation on the final day of the season.

And Liddle reflects: “I’ve had six fantastic years at Pools – all except Liddlegate!

“That was honestly the most stressful thing of my life.

“Thankfully it had a happy ending and we stayed up, but I wouldn’t want to go through anything like that ever again.”

Liddle, meanwhile, believes that Pools, under Cooper, are now well equipped to challenge at the top end of League One.

“Neale was a great boss to play under and I’m sure they’ll be looking to kick on next season,” he went on.

“It was a decent season just gone and we probably should have finished higher, but for the home form.

“So if they can sort that then I’m sure they’ll do very well next year.”