Padraig Amond reveals his admiration for Hartlepool United strike partner Billy Paynter

Billy Paynter and Padraig Amond
Billy Paynter and Padraig Amond

Billy Paynter is more than just a strike partner and friend to Padraig Amond.

The Irishman says the Hartlepool United striker is not only a goalscorer, leader and skipper, he is the perfect role model for every player at Hartlepool United.

Billy is the targetman and I like to go in behind defenders. It gives the opposition questions to answer

Paynter is a fan favourite for the goals he has scored for Pools in recent years.

But Amond says that is only a fraction of the value he brings to the Northern Gas & Power Stadium camp.

His professionalism, according to Amond, both on and off the park is second to none. And one or two others could learn a thing or two about how to conduct themselves by watching the big Scouser in action.

Amond said: “To be fair Billy has been one of the best pros I have ever worked with.

“I have learned a lot from him. I have learned how to conduct myself on and off the pitch working with him.

“He is a fantastic player to play alongside. He supports all of the players.”

Calls for Paynter and Amond to start as a pair have been deafening.

But, until a fortnight ago, manager Craig Hignett had resisted the temptation.

Against Morecambe, though, he threw them in together, and the duo did not disappoint, netting one apiece in the 3-2 victory.

Amond again added to his nine-goal tally this season on Monday at former club Accrington.

And he believes playing with Paynter brings out the best in him.

“It has clicked,” he said.

“I like playing in a partnership.

“When I have had my three or four big scoring seasons I have always done it in a two.

“I am happy to play in a one, or wherever the manager puts me. But I think it works. There is a connection there.

“We travel in together which also helps. We do complement each other.

“Billy is the targetman and I like to go in behind. It gives the opposition questions to answer.”

Even though they get on like a house on fire off the field and connect on it, there must have been some kind of professional rivallry when one was playing and the other not? Not so, says Amond.

“Even when I have been playing and he hasn’t, Billy has been the first one to come up to me in the dressing-room to wish me luck,” said the forward, who faces another one of his former clubs Grimsby Town tomorrow.

“During the game I can hear him encouraging me.”

Just a couple of weeks back Amond was dropped from the XI by Hignett, with Paynter preferred.

It was just what the doctor ordered, according to Amond himself.

“The break out of the team probably came at the right time for me,” he said.

“That is why the manager is there to make decisions. And he got it spot on.

“His decision has been vindicated.

“We had a bad run but it feels like we are coming out the back of that.”

Those bad days of away day hammerings and home turf embarrassments feels like a miliion miles away heading into the depths of January.

But when was the real turning point within the beleaguered Pools dressing-room?

“Going to Portsmouth was the turning point for us,” said Amond.

“We might not have had chances but we defended well.

“It was a victory in a way because of the clean sheet, under pressure in from of 17,000 people.

“Now we are looking up in this league.

“It is so tight. A couple of wins can shoot you up seven or eight positions.”

While things got tough during the period before Christmas, the squad never let their heads drop.

Instead a steely resolve grew.

Amond continued: “The atmsophere has been good throughout. It has not dropped.

“It wasn’t a nice place to be for a while but we were always keen to turn it around.

“We have a talented team, we know that. It is our job to make sure we show that every weekend on the pitch.

“We need to not only earn your pay but the respect of the fans.”

Having netted against two of his former clubs on consecutive weeks, Amond could make it a hat-trick this weekend.

Although coming back to haunt his former employers is no new thing. He said: “The only club I’ve never scored against is the only club I have never played against in Portugal. The rest I have scored against. It is a funny way how things happen.”