Dave Challinor gives his verdict on Hartlepool United's new backroom staff additions including former Queens Park Rangers defender and Rugby League physio

It will have been strange for the players of Hartlepool United no longer having Ian ‘Buster’ Gallagher around this week.

Thursday, 28th October 2021, 6:00 am

The Pools favourite enjoyed his final game as the club’s physio last weekend and was given a fitting send off both with the result and from the players and staff who rolled out a guard of honour for him on the Victoria Park turf.

But while Gallagher will no doubt return to the club as a supporter in the future, the club have moved to appoint his replacement in Stephen Hayward.

Hayward’s appointment was announced yesterday and he brings a wealth of knowledge to Dave Challinor’s backroom team having spent over 20 years in the military before his most recent position in Rugby League.

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Stephen Hayward and Clint Hill have both joined Hartlepool United's backroom team this season. Picture by FRANK REID

Hayward was part of the Featherstone Rovers backroom staff for five years and left the position to head to Victoria Park after the team fell short of reaching the Super League earlier this month.

While Hayward’s background has been predominantly Rugby League based, Pools boss Challinor believes he is relishing the opportunity to join his side, having been one of the near 6,000 in attendance at Victoria Park last weekend as Pools came from behind to defeat Harrogate Town, and is looking forward to working together.

“It’s great to have him come in. It’s a new face, with new ideas, and it’s great for him to come in on the back of a win and see the place in good spirits,” said Challinor.

“He’s a completely different character to Buster in terms of where he’s been and what he’s done, but he was desperate to get into football. He has a huge passion for it and over time I'm sure he’ll fit into the role really well.

Hartlepool boss Dave Challinor has welcomed new physio Stephen Hayward to the club. Picture by FRANK REID.

“The first few weeks for him are going to be more of a watching brief in terms of the habits and the routines of the players before ultimately he takes ownership of that side of things.

“It becomes a responsibility for him to take over that department and how he sees it running and hopefully he has a really easy job with nothing to deal with, but that’s never normally the case.

“I’m sure he’ll fit into the group and be a really positive appointment.”

Hayward’s appointment is the second to Challinor’s backroom team in recent weeks after former Queens Park Rangers defender Clint Hill joined in what the club declared as ‘part of the management team.’

Hill’s appointment came on the back of assistant manager Joe Parkinson’s departure in August and Challinor admits his arrival has been beneficial on the training ground.

“It allows us to work with the players individually and as units rather than one big group,” he said.

“It gives us another voice and more ideas which is something we've been missing since Joe left.

“There's no hierarchy,” Challinor added.

“I'm not the type of person who will make decisions on my own or put more value on one person's opinion over another in terms of the coaching team.

"Regardless of whether you're a manager, coach, sports science, physio, whatever it might be, everyone's opinion is valued and listened to.

“We've got a really diverse group of characters with different experiences in their careers so it would be daft not to listen to them.”

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