New Hartlepool United boss Craig Harrison’s pledge to fans – and players

New Hartlepool United manager Craig Harrison
New Hartlepool United manager Craig Harrison

Promotion and achieved with a smile.

That is the dream of new manager Craig Harrison as he embarks on the challenge of reviving Hartlepool United.

The 39-year-old has left his job at the all-conquering The New Saints – he was preparing his team for the Champions League this week - to take charge at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium.

Harrison says the start of his reign represents a new beginning for club, players and fans.

“This is a clean slate,” said the man who took TNS to six straight Welsh Premierr titles.

“Speaking to club officials that is the way it is going to be.

“I’m a hungry and young manager who wants to build this club and take it forward.

“Obviously, it’s been a really disappointing time at Hartlepool, but I’d like to think I can play a huge part in getting it back into the Football League.

“I want to put a smile on fans’ faces too – that is just as important as anything.

“People spend their hard-earned money to come and watch football.

“I understand the ethos that what happens on a Saturday could make or break someone’s week.

“We will try to give them everything we have got and to entertain them along the way.”

A return to League Two is the plan for the club who came within seconds of staying up on the final day.

“The aim has to be promotion – we have to go for it,” said Harrison.

“We want to be back up the league as soon as possible, we can’t hide away from it.

“The club was unfortunate to go down, but the players at the club are more than good enough to make a go of it and we aim to get back as soon as we can.

“I wouldn’t’ come here, wouldn’t accept the challenge if I didn’t believe it.

“The players here, the staff here, the facilities the training ground are all geared for success and we want to make a go of it.”

Instant success would be sensational, but Harrison wants to establish stability, continuity.

“The season ahead is important,” he stated. “The aim is promotion straight away, that’s the ideal scenario.

“But speaking to everyone at the club, it’s the bigger picture too.

“I think there’s been something like 10 managers in 11, 12 years here.

“The club has hit an all-time low in dropping out of the Football League.

“But this is a great opportunity to build a strong foundation to move forward and get back – next season, ideally, or the one after.

“We are here to win games and the supporters want to come to watch us win.

“If it happens first off in the new season, then brilliant, but if we don’t then as long as we are progressing and getting closer and closer then when we do get there we are stronger for it.

“We then move up the table, looking up, instead of trying to stay away at the wrong end of League Two.”