On anniversary of his heaviest defeat as Hartlepool United manager Dave Challinor admits he's 'lost count' how many times he's re-watched promotion final win over Torquay United
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Pools head to Leyton Orient this afternoon in what is an early play-off rival clash in League Two, just 12 months on from one of Challinor’s worst days in the Hartlepool dugout.
It was a Halloween nightmare for Pools as Torquay came to a vacated Victoria Park, with football stadiums still subjected to restrictions, and ran riot over Challinor’s side winning 5-0.
Challinor was left angered, and embarrassed, by his side and few would have believed Pools would have gone on to achieve the success they did last season after such a harrowing defeat.
It’s a night which still annoys Challinor.
“The club has come a long way [since then],” Challinor told The Mail.
“To be where we are now, we’ve taken huge strides. At the back end of last year that Torquay game always rankled. I suppose when we went back there in the league and won 1-0 that was the time when that performance was, not forgotten about, but we got our paybacks if you like. Thankfully our ultimate payback came in the promotion final.”
It is that promotion final which will live long in the memory for Pools supporters, for had that result not gone in their favour they would not be heading to Brisbane Road this afternoon.
And Challinor admits he still often looks back at videos of that day in Bristol when searching for a pick-me-up.
“I don’t really go on [social media] but I’ve lost count of the amount of times I've watched the play-off final,” said Challinor.
“They’re memories that, especially the way football works, if you need a little perk up they’re great to go and watch. Because you do have to reflect on the experience, and what we achieved was a fantastic one.
“I want to keep that in my memory for as long as possible because it’s a great one to have.”
But while Ashton Gate will always hold fond memories for Pools, they now have their sights set on bigger things in League Two.
Challinor and his squad may not be getting carried away with their start to the season but the Pools boss knows the expectations may rise from supporters for as long as they continue to ride their promotion winning wave.
“You have to cherish what you’ve got at the moment,” said Challinor.
“From a supporters perspective go and get as carried away as you want and enjoy what we’re doing at the moment. They’ve not had a whole lot to shout about in the recent past.
“You have to celebrate success while you have it. If success is winning two games on the bounce or being in the position in the table we are then absolutely go and bask in that little bit of glory because football can change very quickly.
“That doesn't mean as players and staff we don’t have aspirations to want to compete and do well.
“I’ve been fortunate enough over my time to be involved at the top end of the table virtually every year, it’s not something I want to give up. But I’m also realistic as to where we’re at.”