Gary Liddle explains why Hartlepool United promotion would be sweeter this time around
Gary Liddle is aiming for his second promotion with Hartlepool United, 14 years on from the first.
Liddle was part of the Pools side that secured automatic promotion from League Two during the 2006-07 season.
Now, Pools are potentially two games away from promotion back to the Football League via the National League play-offs.
After beating Bromley 3-2 in the play-off eliminator round at Victoria Park, Dave Challinor’s side have to beat Stockport County at Edgeley Park to get the opportunity to go head to head with either Torquay United or Notts County for a shot at promotion.
Sounds simple in writing but the reality is Pools have never won a play-off campaign and go into Sunday’s match as the slight underdogs.
But when reflecting on Hartlepool’s most recent promotion campaign, Liddle believes the club’s current squad shares many similarities with the side he was previously part of in 2007.
The likes of James Brown, Ritchie Barker, Antony Sweeney and Micky Barron have been replaced by Rhys Oates, Luke Armstrong, Gavan Holohan and Jamie Sterry.
And even though his position has changed, Liddle’s spot in the side remains the same.
“The squad is pretty similar to when we got promoted back in 2007,” Liddle told The Mail. “We had a squad who all grafted together and we’ve got players now in the starting XI, on the bench and in the stands who the fans know will give 100-per-cent.
"When you’ve got that, whether you win lose or draw the fans here at The Vic, I’ve been here through the good times and the bad times but I do know if you give 100-per-cent then they’ll get right behind you.”
When asked how it would feel to claim a second promotion for Hartlepool in his first full season back at Victoria Park, Liddle added: “It would probably be a bit sweeter if we were to do it this season.
"I would have liked to play at Wembley one day but that’s obviously off the table and I’m not getting ahead of myself because we’ve obviously got a very tough game at Stockport.
"To go up through the play-offs, people always say it’s always a sweeter moment than going up automatically if you like. Any promotion is nice though isn’t it?”