Dave Challinor: Promotion gives Hartlepool United the chance to keep play-off heroes together in the EFL

Hartlepool United’s squad was a penalty shoot-out away from being dismantled.

Monday, 21st June 2021, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 21st June 2021, 8:16 am

After securing a dramatic 5-4 penalty shoot out win over Torquay United to clinch promotion back to the Football League, Dave Challinor’s thoughts quickly went towards planning for the new season.

As it stands, Pools have just five players contracted for next season. Gavan Holohan, David Ferguson, Joe Grey, Brad Young and Josh MacDonald with options on a few more.

And with the League Two season starting on August 7, it’s going to be a quick turnaround.

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Nicky Featherstone and Ryan Donaldson of Hartlepool United lift the Vanarama National League Trophy during the Vanarama National League Play-Off Final match between Hartlepool United and Torquay United at Ashton Gate on June 20, 2021 in Bristol, England. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

“It means the players get a shorter break then maybe what they’ve hoped for,” Challinor said.

“It has been the case where we’ve had to plan and then plan again so there are two plans for us in terms of today’s eventuality. Whether we start on August 7th or August 21st, so thankfully we’re starting on the 7th.

“It’s a quick turnaround. We’ve only got five players contracted. Hopefully we can keep the group together now.

"We’ll enjoy tonight and we’ll have a staff meeting on the coach on the way home.

"Having options makes things a lot easier when it comes to getting contracts secure. This group would have been dismantled if we lost today because our budget in the National League is in the bottom half and next season would have been the same.”

After 10 years in management, Challinor can finally count himself as a Football League manager, something he was struggling to comprehend at the full-time whistle.

“It’s difficult at the moment, I knew regardless of the outcome of this game, I’d be crying,” he added. “The question was whether it was going to be tears of joy or depression. We’ve come out on the right side of the result in a game that had everything.

"We’ve probably done what Hartlepool fans expected taking them to the brink. One hand on the trophy and one hand on the Football League and then all of a sudden that’s snatched from you.

“Then we’ve gone and won it in the most emotional way possible. When I first started out, I wanted to be a Football League manager. I’ve not been given that opportunity but thankfully now, I’ve earned that opportunity.”

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