Hartlepool United defender explains decision to leave Scotland and linking back up with ex-Celtic and Hearts midfielder

Reghan Tumilty admits Paul Hartley has not changed much since reuniting with his former manager at Hartlepool United four years on.

Tumilty worked under Hartley during his time at Falkirk in the 2017/18 season after joining on loan from Ross County in the November.

The 25-year-old would go on to make 20 appearances for Hartley’s side as they finished eighth in the Scottish Championship table.

Both Tumilty and Hartley would leave Falkirk Stadium that summer but would enjoy something of a reunion four years on as Tumilty became Hartley’s second signing at the Suit Direct Stadium this summer.

Reghan Tumilty has explained his decision to leave Scotland to join Hartlepool United. Picture by FRANK REID

And Tumilty has enjoyed a positive pre-season under Hartley in the absence of Jamie Sterry, who has been troubled with injury over recent weeks, with the Scotsman in contention to feature in Pools’ season opener at Walsall next weekend.

But while some of those in the squad may be unfamiliar with Hartley’s style and mannerisms on a day-to-day basis, for Tumilty not much has changed in the 45-year-old during their time apart.

“We’re going back a long time but he’s not changed much,” Tumilty told The Mail.

“He’s still demanding and he still wants the best for the team and for everyone to be at a high standard in training everyday so he's not changed at all to be fair.”

Reghan Tumilty has enjoyed a decent pre-season with Hartlepool United. Picture by FRANK REID

The full-back added: “He’s your standard Scottish manager. I’m used to it and getting screamed at from the side by him and Youngy.

“But I think the boys who were already down here are still getting used to that.

“He demands a lot, and so he should, and we should be able to take it and put across on the pitch what he wants us to do.”

And while we remain days away from the business of the season, some of those methods have been on show during Pools’ pre-season campaign with Hartley’s style of play being integrated into what is a new-look squad at the Suit Direct Stadium this season.

Reghan Tumilty has linked back up with Paul Hartley after the pair were together at Falkirk. Picture by FRANK REID

So far, Tumilty is one of almost an entire starting XI of new arrivals for Pools this summer as Hartley continues his rebuild of the League Two side as they look to advance on last season’s 17th placed finish.

And for Tumilty, that bedding in process has perhaps taken a little longer than it would have had there been a lesser turnover of players.

“We’ve not had long to gel together as a team because it’s been dribs and drabs of players coming through. We’ve not had a full squad at the start,” said Tumilty.

“It’s only been the last week or two where we’ve had to really knuckle down and work on our patterns of play.

“It’s tough. It takes a couple of weeks to gel together, but obviously you’ve got to do what the manager wants you to do as well with his style of play.

“But once we get used to that, and everyone knows and are on the same wavelength, things should be easier for us.”

After the best part of a decade North of the border, having progressed through the ranks at Dundee United, Tumilty believed the time was right for a change amid discussions with Pools.

During his time in Scotland Tumilty has represented six clubs but, after his contract at Raith Rovers came to an end at the end of last season, the 25-year-old knew it was time to move on and test himself at another level.

“For me it was just a time for a new challenge and a change,” explained Tumilty.

“Playing 10 teams up in Scotland over a whole season - I think I played Inverness six times last season.

“But down here you play 23 teams and you go to different places, it’s a more competitive environment, and I wanted to challenge myself on that.”

And Tumilty certainly looks as though he will be able to test himself on that given his solid start in pre-season.

The full-back scored an eye-catching goal in the win over Marske United and has, generally, given a positive account of himself in the games to date.

And with Sterry’s fitness continuing to be a concern ahead of the beginning of the new season, Tumilty may be in line for his official debut at Walsall.

But the Scotsman knows football is much more of a squad game, particularly in the EFL, and has welcomed the challenge of competition for places - with the right-back area arguably the strongest within the Pools squad with Sterry and Reagan Ogle also vying for the spot.

“Competition is good to have,” said Tumilty.

“You can’t go through a season and just be happy with thinking you’re first choice every week.

“It gives you something to work towards throughout the week and to make sure you’re not dropping your standards like the manager wants you to.”

Those standards will be expected to be in place throughout the season as Pools look to push on from last year where they comfortably secured their League Two status.

Much of the talk from boardroom and management has been about the club pushing towards the top end of the table this year, with Hartley suggesting he wouldn’t have taken the job not to compete.

And that is a mentality Tumilty shares, with the defender believing, despite being low on numbers, Pools can enjoy a successful campaign.

“If you think that you just want to be safe, that’s a loser's mentality to be fair,” said Tumilty.

“We’ve got to have a winning mentality and to do that you’ve got to aim high and whatever comes after that comes after that.

“I think we’re going to be a tight-knit squad this season which should only help us and a smaller squad is sometimes better for the team.”