Hartlepool Rovers coach steps down following poor league run

Hartlepool Rovers score in their Durham Northumberland  Horden & Peterlee
Hartlepool Rovers score in their Durham Northumberland Horden & Peterlee

Carl Robinson has left his position as head coach at Hartlepool Rovers.

The former stand-off has decided to step down after Saturday’s 17-15 home defeat to Novocastrians, a result which moved the club closer to the relegation zone.

Rovers have acted quickly to replace him, appointing former West Hartlepool full-back, winger and stand-off Jon Benson, who will take charge of training tomorrow.

His first match will, ironically, be at former club Ryton who currently lie bottom of the Durham Northumberland One table.

Robinson had coached the side for the last three and a half years to good effect.

The first two and a half seasons he shared the coaching duties with his former team-mate, Graham Puckrin, before work commitments forced the prop to leave.

While Robinson also played for Hartlepool, Horden and Athletic, he’s a man steeped in Rovers tradition, having played stand-off during the club’s best years in the noughties.

His record was a good one, eighth in 2013-14, followed by fifth and seventh-place finishes, with three successive Durham Intermediate Cup final appearances.

The omens looked bad ahead of this season when Rovers lost two of their best players, stand-off Ryan Foreman, and flanker Lee Maddison.

Despite those circumstances and a testing start fixture-wise, the Friarage outfit began well and were among the promotion pack.

In fact, when they won at Gateshead on the first Saturday in November, the side were in sat comfortably in fourth but a run of seven defeats in the last eight fixtures has sent them slump to 12th.

Injuries and unavailability have decimated the squad and at South Shields Westoe, they were forced to select three back-row forwards in the backline.

Rovers are just three points above Novos in 13th, with the Newcastle side having a game in hand.

Robinson’s assistant, Michael Hendrson, has also stood down while fellow right-hand-man Darren Smith, who works with the forwards, will continue while Benson settles in.