Hartlepool United skipper Ryan Donaldson explains what it meant to hold aloft the trophy with Nicky Featherstone

It is an iconic image that will go down in Hartlepool United history.

Friday, 2nd July 2021, 6:00 am

Club captain Ryan Donaldson holding aloft the National League play-off trophy alongside Pools veteran Nicky Featherstone, who captained the side for much of the campaign.

Pools are holding talks with Donaldson over extending his stay at The Vic after a dramatic few weeks, which saw Pools win promotion back to the Football League in the most dramatic manner.

Donaldson has been reflecting on the moment he lifted the trophy alongside Featherstone and heaped praise on the midfielder for his impact this season in keeping standards high.

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Nicky Featherstone and Ryan Donaldson of Hartlepool United lift the Vanarama National League Trophy.
Nicky Featherstone and Ryan Donaldson of Hartlepool United lift the Vanarama National League Trophy.

Donaldson said: “I saw that interview and I told him, I’m not doing it on my own.

"We didn’t really talk about it that much, someone asked the day before if I was lifting it and I said ‘me and Feaths will be’.

"It’s obvious why because he’s worn the armband a lot this season and he’s the longest serving player and I know how much it means to him.

"He’s quite emotional Feaths but he doesn’t really talk about it but I’ve got to know him quite well and I know how much it means to him.

"For us to be in that image together lifting the trophy, that will be the image people will remember and I was really pleased he did it with me.”

“He’s not overly mouthy, he’s just got high standards and there’s more than just Feaths.

"Lidds is one who leads by example, there are loads of people who lead in different ways.

"Feaths has been brilliant, what a player and for him to be part of the club that went down and now part of the club that went back up, it’s some achievement and personally I’m delighted for him.

"I got a bit emotional seeing him because I know how much it means.”

Pools won promotion back to the Football League thanks to a 5-4 penalty shoot-out win over Torquay United in the National League play-off final but this is a summer like no other with the squad back in training in 10 days or so.

The new League Two season starts August 7 with Crawley Town heading to The Vic.

Dave Challinor and chairman Raj Singh have no time to waste when it comes to building their squad ahead of the new campaign with a high turnover of players expected.

Last week Pools announced details of their retained list.

Tom Crawford, David Ferguson, Gavan Holohan and Joe Grey are all contracted to the club for next season, along with midfielder Josh MacDonald, yet the latter has been placed on the transfer list in search of regular first-team football.

Teenage goalkeeper Brad Young, 19, is also under contract but will depart following an offer from Premier League club Leicester City.

Midfiedler Mark Shelton and defender Timi Odusina both had one-year extension options in their contracts which have been activated.

Pools are also keen to keep several members of their senior squad, including Gary Liddle, Nicky Featherstone, Luke Molyneux, Ben Killip, Rhys Oates and Jamie Sterry, who have all been offered new terms.

The club are holding talks with Donaldson and Zaine Francis-Angol.

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