Ex-Sunderland winger reveals Hartlepool United ambitions after signing permanent deal

Hartlepool United’s Luke Molyneux is ready to hit the ground running after making his loan move from Sunderland permanent.

By Dominic.Scurr1
Monday, 17 June, 2019, 06:00
HARTLEPOOL, ENGLAND 19th April Hartlepool United's Luke James celebrates with Luke Molyneux and Fraser Kerr after scoring their first goal during the Vanarama National League match between Hartlepool United and FC Halifax Town at Victoria Park, Hartlepool on Friday 19th April 2019. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News)

The 21-year-old winger was a fan-favourite during his spell at Pools in the second half of the 2018-19 National League campaign.

And when Molyneux’s return to the club was confirmed last week, Poolies’ positivity reached a summer high ahead of the upcoming season.

Craig Hignett’s promotion-challenging ambitions may have seemed slightly optimistic a few weeks ago.

But after retaining a number of key players and bringing in the likes of Molyneux, Nicke Kabamba, Michael Raynes and Ben Killip permanently – the Pools boss looks to be putting together a very competitive side ahead of the new season.

After finally agreeing a full-time deal at the Super 6 Stadium, Molyneux said: “I’m happy to be back, it has been a while coming but I’ve been looking forward to getting back and now it’s all done I’m just happy to kick-on and meet the lads again.”

Molyneux will join up with the rest of his Hartlepool teammates when the side start their pre-season training at East Durham College on Thursday.

A busy friendly schedule is lined up for the National League outfit, including big matches at home to Middlesbrough (July 14, 1pm) and away to York City (July 17, 7pm).

The former Sunderland man felt the togetherness he experienced as part of last season’s squad was a key reason for his return.

“Our team spirit is massive and all the lads know each other so well,” said Molyneux.

“There isn’t anyone who doesn’t get on so I’m just looking forward to seeing everyone.

“Coming back and knowing the lads, it’s not often you go to a new team and not meet a lot of new people, then obviously the fans had a big influence as well.”

Hartlepool's new signing got the Super 6 Stadium rocking last season when he netted a 91st-minute winner against Dover Athletic to seal a 3-2 comeback win.

And Molyneux aims to repay the fans’ faith and support by helping Pools return to the EFL.

“Knowing the fans wanted me here and the players wanted me here, it just made things a whole lot easier,” he added.

“The atmosphere while I was here was unbelievable and I don’t think anyone could fault the effort that (the fans) put in so I’m just looking forward to what next season brings.

“The fans are the biggest part of the club and you can’t fault them at the end of the day. It’s all down to them and we play for them, so hopefully we can get back up to where we should be.”

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The early signs of encouragement are there for Molyneux and Hartlepool, as everyone at the club should be desperate to build on a positive end to last season.

Pools have suffered back-to-back bottom-half finishes in their first two seasons at non-league level and will be hoping to compete at the right end of the table next time out.

This summer will be Hignett’s first full pre-season as Hartlepool manager, which Molyneux sees as a big positive.

“The main factors for me were the gaffer and Ged (McNamee),” added the Sunderland academy graduate.

“The gaffer has been a big influence on me because we got on so well and he understands me as a player as well, which will make things a lot easier.”

2019/20 season-ticket sales at Hartlepool quickly surpassed the 1,000 mark following Molyneux’s signing.

An added bonus for the Pools winger will be having his close family supporting him from the sidelines next season.

He also revealed the difficult decision his Grandad made to watch him play at the Super 6 Stadium.

“My Mam and Dad will be getting season tickets in, and my Grandma and Grandad, so they’ll be here every game,” the 21-year-old continued.

“A lot of family will be supporting me now. My Grandad has been a season-ticket holder at Sunderland for 50 years now but he’s decided to swap and come to Hartlepool now that I’m here – he said he’s looking forward to it and he’s glad I’m here.”

Molyneux netted twice in 16 matches for Hartlepool while on loan from Sunderland during the second half of last season.

He spent the first half of the campaign on loan at Gateshead, scoring three times and assisting five in 17 games.

Now he’s looking to push on and is keeping his aims for next season simple.

“I’m definitely going to be setting little targets, just to score as many goals as I can and get as many assists, so we finish as high up the league as we can,” Molyneux told the club website.

“There will be pressure, there is always pressure.

“It’s a big year for myself and a big year for the club and hopefully we can do as much as we can to get as high as we can in the league and hopefully push on from there.”