New manager, new players, new direction as well as a fresh challenge.
Things just got real for Craig Harrison and Hartlepool United as the National League fixtures were yesterday put down in black and white.
From Torquay to Tyneside, Pools will certainly have to do it the hard way if they’re to have any chance of returning back to the Football League at the first time of asking.
But which fifth tier games stand out? Here we take a look at SIX key games that lie in wait for Hartlepool.
Dover Athletic (h) – Saturday, August 5
The curtain raiser on home turf.
Manager Harrison has highlighted the need for Poolies to get behind his troops, especially at the Vic.
He’ll be hoping for a bumper crowd and something close to the roar of the last day of last season.
Wrexham (a) – Tuesday, September 12
This is a division full of horror away trips and this is by far and away the worst of the lot.
The only really long one in midweek. It’s not getting there that’s the issue, it’s getting back!
Two days off work booked in is a must.
Tranmere Rovers (h) – Tuesday, October 24
Everyone expected Tranmere to go up last year – this season will be no different.
This will be the first time Pools and Harrison will have had to lock horns with the supposed best at this level.
Torquay United (a) – Saturday, October 28
The biggy. Trips at this level don’t get any longer than this.
Just the 366 miles and 12-hour round trip.
Looking at the positives, though, it’s just a smidge over 20 miles shorter trip than last season’s longest – Plymouth Argyle. Every cloud and all that.
Gateshead (a) – Tuesday, December 26
Both clubs wanted it and the club obliged.
So there’s no long trip down south for Poolies with a Christmas day hangover, just the short drive to Tyneside.
Another bonus is that the return leg at the Vic is on New Year’s Day.
Tranmere Rovers (a) – Saturday, April 28
Smurfs, Stormtroopers, penguins, mime artists – however poor Pools players have been on it, their fans have always pulled out all the stops off it. The final away game is always one to remember.
The North West and National League won’t know what’s hit it!