Devante Rodney opens up on the weight of expectation at Hartlepool United and striving to recreate his final day heroics

Devante Rodney scores for Pools against Doncaster Rovers on the final day of last season.
Devante Rodney scores for Pools against Doncaster Rovers on the final day of last season.

The first time Hartlepool United ever played Barrow was way back in April 1922. In the Division Three (North) encounter Pools ran out 3-1 winners.

But the first-team rookie is determined to one day reproduce his final day heroics, although he accepts it’s going to take him time to learn his National League trade.

A signing midway through last season, Rodney had made little impression on either Craig Hignett or Dave Jones but on the final day, with assistant Matthew Bates at the helm, he came off the bench to light up Victoria Park.

Two goals to turn the tide against title-chasing Doncaster Rovers almost kept Pools in the Football League.

Looking back, Rodney still has to pinch himself when thinking about the impact he had.

But with that comes expectation that a division below he will be able to produce the goods.

And while he has no doubt that he will be able to do that in the blue and white of Pools in the future, for now, in his first full season as a first-team player, he content to keep sharpening the tools.

“People expect a lot from me because of what happened at the end of last season,” said the 19-year-old.

“But, in the main, Pools fans have been great with me. They have not made it difficult but I know they want me to try and recreate what I did against Doncaster every week.

“I want them to know that I am trying my best to do that. All I can do is keep going.

“It is the first season I have been around a first-team environment. For me it has been really valuable so far. I’m enjoying every minute of it.

“I am not putting any pressure on myself. All I can do is play to the best of my ability.”

Manchester-born Rodney was schooled in his formative years at the academy on the blue half of the city.

Then as a young teen he made the switch across the Pennines to Yorkshire and Sheffield Wednesday.

Injury blighted the teenager’s time with the Owls, and that’s why, less than a year after jumping ship, he’s just grateful to be given the chance to play.

And that’s why, despite describing himself as an out-and-out centre forward, he’s delighted to play any role for Pools this season.

“It is special to be here,” he said.

“I don’t mind where I’m playing on the pitch, it just feels great to be in a position to play, having had so many injuries.

“I’m just happy to be on the pitch. I’m a natural No 9 but I honestly don’t mind playing out wide at all.

“I’m not someone who will complain when I’m playing games because I know just what it is like not to play.”

There’s absolutely no doubt manager Craig Harrison has been impressed by what he has seen from the stocky, pacey centre-forward.

And it sounds like Rodney feels exactly the same way about his gaffer.

“The manager has been great with me from day one,” he said.

“The one thing he has not done is throw me in at the deep end too soon.

“He is making sure that he looks after me. He’s helped me every step of the way since pre-season.”

Harrison admitted that Rodney was unlucky not to get the nod from the off at Woking at the weekend, and after a useful cameo in Surrey it might be the case the manager turns to him tonight.

Although, Harrison isn’t short of options with Rhys Oates also pushing for a recall, James Thorne with the shirt and new boy Tomi Adeloye on the books.

“Getting back to winning ways for us is the most important thing,” added Rodney.

“We need to win our home games if we are to achieve what we want to season. Three points is a must.”