WARY of the fact he was walking the proverbial suspension tightrope, Peter Hartley had been making every effort to stay out of the referee’s notebook.
So imagine, then, the defender’s outrage and disbelief when he was flashed a yellow card, his fifth of the season, during the first half at Scunthorpe United last weekend – despite being some 20 yards from the alleged infringement.
There was a happy ending, though, with Hartley this week successful in his appeal to overturn the booking – actual perpetrator Evan Horwood taking the caution – meaning he is free to lead the backline during tomorrow’s visit of Yeovil Town.
And the Pools ace reflected: “I’ve known for the last two games that I was on four bookings so I was walking a thin line.
“I’ve had it in the back of my mind not to give any petty fouls away and try stay out of the ref’s book.
“So when he booked me I thought ‘here I am, trying my hardest to avoid a suspension and I’m getting yellows when it’s not even me’,
“I just said to him ‘listen, it’s not even me and you’ve just put me on a suspension’.
“But he wasn’t having any of it, you couldn’t really talk to him.
“Thankfully I’m just delighted I’m free to play tomorrow and it’s a massive relief.”
Hartley is yet to miss a minute of action for Pools this season, only Neil Austin can boast a similar claim, but the 23-year-old admits it will be a big ask to make it through until the end of January – when cautions are wiped clean – without further entry into the referee’s black book.
“I want to play every minute this season but that means staying out of the referee’s book until the end of January,” he sighed in reluctance.
“I think that might be tough with me being the last line of defence because if I give a foul away it’s generally for a reason.
“I’ve just got to try and stay on my feet and hopefully Wrighty (Stephen Wright) or Sam (Collins) will do all the sliding about.
“Being a defender we seem to pick up bookings more easily but I’ll be trying my best to keep out of trouble – although we’ll see how it goes.”
Hartley and co are bidding for a first home win since the middle of September against the Glovers.
And the former Sunderland trainee says nothing less than a maximum return will do.
“We’ve got to win this one,” he sounded.
“No doubt, we need those three points to stop this poor home run and get us back into the play-off places.
“It was a great win at Scunthorpe last week and we’re confident now we’re back on track and hopefully that bad run is behind us.”