Hartlepool United skipper Billy Paynter dreams of Everton FA Cup glamour tie

Billy Paynter
Billy Paynter

A third round glamour tie against Everton would represent the perfect FA Cup run for Hartlepool United’s scouse skipper Billy Paynter.

But first and foremost former club Port Vale stand in Pools’ way, with Craig Hignett’s men set to travel to Vale Park, where it all began for Paynter as a youngster, on the weekend of December 2.

And the veteran frontman is relishing the chance to visit his first club, for only the second time ever in a professional capacity.

“It will be brilliant to go back there,” said Paynter.

“And if we can get the win and then draw Everton away in the third round that will be the perfect FA Cup run for me.”

More than two decades ago Paynter signed for the Valiants as a 10-year-old.

Paynter, who made his pro debut in 2001, made more than 150 appearances for the Staffordshire outfit, scoring 34 goals in the process.

He says it will be extra special to go back next month.

“It’s back to where it all started for me,” said Paynter.

“From being a 10-year-old being taken down there for the first time by Henry Bradley as a scrawny, skinny little kid.

“It was there where I got a chance to learn his trade.

“I got a break at 16 under Brian Horton. I still remember travelling around the country on the coach with the first team, getting the odd substitute appearance here and there.

“The experience was brilliant.

“Ever since then, Port Vale has been a club that is close to my heart.

“I will be looking forward to going back and seeing some familiar faces when we play the FA Cup game.