PAUL Murray admits that his arrival at Hartlepool United last summer was hardly the sort of signing to get pulses racing.
The straight-talking Cumbrian won a one-year deal at Victoria Park following a trial period and so joined forces with Mick Wadsworth for the sixth time in his career.
But Murray remembers how his signing, along with that of Evan Horwood, another free transfer, saw these very SportMail pages filled with former players predicting a season-long struggle against relegation.
The 34-year-old, however, has arguably been Pools’ star player this term and was again instrumental during Saturday’s 3-1 win over Yeovil Town - a victory he believes has buried any threat of relegation.
And Murray told SportMail how that pre-season pessimism made his even more determined to silence the doubters.
“I think we’re safe now - 54 points will be enough and the lads are buzzing,” he said.
“For all the people who had written us off it’s nice to do that.
“I remember reading something in the local paper during pre season and it had a load of old players saying we were going to get relegated.
“I looked at that when I was going to sign and thought ‘I don’t want that to happen when I’m here’.
“And it hasn’t happened, so that’s great, especially considering the last two years when the lads have struggled going into the last two games - it must be a big weight off their minds.
“We’ve got five games to reach that 60-point mark now and that would be fantastic.”
He added: “But if you were a supporter of the club last summer and you brought in me and Evan Horwood on trial you’d surely be thinking ‘God, we haven’t brought a striker in. We’ve got someone who’s 34 who got released from Shrewsbury and Evan who was released by Carlisle’.
“They were hardly inspiring signings!
“So I can imagine there wasn’t much optimism.
“But we’ve turned it around and I’d probably agree that me and Evan have been two of the best players this season.
“That just shows you about football.
“I mentioned Evan to Mick but I don’t think Chris Turner (then manager) was too bothered and I said ‘look, he’s on a free’.
“And I told Mick I’d do a job and I’d like to think me and Evan have done that and have done well for the club this season.”
Read the full story in Monday’s Mail ...