Luke James discusses the weight of expectation after his Hartlepool United
Luke James admits it feels like he's returned home playing for Hartlepool United again.
And this time, with the expectancy on him to deliver in front of goal, James is determined to hit the ground running for Pools in the National League.
James broke on the scene at Victoria Park as a 16-year-old.
Expectation was not something he had to deal with back then, but in his second coming it could not be more different.
Fan reaction on his signing was joyous, and with that comes the pressure of punters expecting him to carry Pools’ goalscoring burden this season.
James has revealed that despite feeling comfortable at a club he knows and loves, he still feels nervous ahead of the real ball coming out next week.
“Any goal is positive and can build confidence,” he said after netting his second goal back in blue and white at Spennymoor Town on Saturday.
“It was good to get off and running against Shildon - your first one is probably the most important one from a striker’s perspective.
“I’m just looking forward to getting going.
“I know more than anyone that it doesn’t matter how well you are playing it doesn’t feel as if you are doing your job if you are not scoring.
“I’m happy to contribute to the team and I’m hoping we can get a good start to the season.”
Between 2011 and 2014, with a brief loan spell in 2016, James has played more than 100 games for Pools. In that time he netted 23 times for the club.
For the other five clubs he’s played for - Peterborough, Bradford City, Forest Green Rovers, Bristol City and Barrow - he’s scored just 10 times.
It’s no wonder Pools brings back many happy memories for James, as well as hopes of rekindling his goal-laden early days as a pro.
“It’s nice to be up north again,” he said.
“I knew most of the lads anyway and we have a good squad. The banter has been flying so there is a great atmosphere here.
“It’s great to be back here.
“I want to do as well as can for the team and hopefully we can have a successful season.
“I think my loan spell helped but I knew quite a few of the lads anyway.
“Coming into a team where you know a few people always helps, we have a good set of lads and training is very competitive.
“Everyone is pushing each other on and we can’t wait for the fourth.”
A move to Cumbria last season seemed to kick start James as a scoring force again.
Seven goals in Barrow’s relegation battle - one of which came against Pools - in the fifth tier brought him back on the radar of many clubs across the land. But James chose Pools and hopes to bring goals back to the Vic.
“It was a very surreal feeling,” he said of his strike against Matthew Bates’ men last season.
“It was an important game with both teams down there so it was good to score as everyone wanted to win.
“Hopefully I can now score goals for us.”