Hartlepool United midfielder Mark Shelton reflects on time at Salford City and the expectation for success
Last week Mark Shelton extended his loan spell at Hartlepool United until the end of the 2019-20 season after a first half of the campaign in League Two with Salford City.
Shelton achieved back-to-back promotions with The Ammies before dropping back to the National League to aid Pools’ efforts for the remainder of the season.
Salford are a much-scrutinised club given their ‘Class of 92’ owners and spending power for a side who have rocketed up the football pyramid since being taken over in 2014.
And Shelton experienced that attention first hand after arriving at the Peninsula Stadium from Alfreton Town in 2017 as a promising 20-year-old.
“I signed when they were in the Conference North and they got back-to-back promotions,” said the midfielder.
“When you do so well as a team, the expectation is to constantly win. Then people talk about the money being thrown at it but at the end of the day it’s a football match, it’s 11v11 and it’s not written that you’re going to win.
“Expectation is the main one, if you draw or lose, it’s like what are you doing and if you lose two on the bounce it’s a disaster but that’s not realistic with how football works.
“You’ve got to be patient and with this season when I was playing at the start, it’s difficult, it’s a new league.
“You’ve got to find your feet quickly and there’s no room for error.”
Shelton missed a large part of last season’s promotion campaign through injury but was still given his time to shine by manager Graham Alexander in the 3-0 play-off final victory over Dave Challinor’s AFC Fylde at Wembley Stadium.
“I broke my leg in November last year so I was out for six months,” Shelton recalled.
“Then [Alexander] played me in the Wembley game which I’m very thankful for.
“I’m very lucky to win two promotions. To be 23 and have two is something you think is normal when you do it fairly young but I think it’s important to realise that it’s not normal and the amount of effort and time that goes into getting promoted from everyone is huge.”