Does it hurt? Of course it does, I love Hartlepool United

Gary Coxall (left) pictured with former boss Dave Jones. Picture by FRANK REID
Gary Coxall (left) pictured with former boss Dave Jones. Picture by FRANK REID

Gary Coxall admits he is hurting but won’t hide away from any criticism as the head man at Hartlepool United.

The Pools chairman came under fire from supporters during Saturday’s insipid defeat at home to Barnet – a result which put the club in the Football League’s relegation zone for the first time in JPNG’s reign at the Northern Gas & Power.

It’s hard being a big part of something that has under-achieved, massively


It got worse after the 2-0 loss as Pools’ most famous fan, Jeff Stelling, demanded the removal of boss Dave Jones .

The chairman did not react – in fact the vastly-experienced – and qualified – manager survived for a further 24 hours and when the move came, it was Coxall’s and Coxall’s alone.

And he told SportMail it was not a decision he made lightly but accepts responsibility for the appointment not working.

“It’s always hard, no matter who the manager is,” said the East Londoner, whose company bought Pools from Increased Oil Recovery in 2015.

“If you have to get rid of someone after a short space of time then that’s my foul up.

“It’s my foul up, I called it wrong, there’s no point hiding from it.

“If I want the truth from people then I have to be honest myself.

“If I am at fault, I will hold up my hands, I won’t hide away from it.

“It’s difficult, you look at the CV of Dave Jones, it’s fantastic.

“I didn’t hear many critics at the time we appointed him.

“But some things just don’t click.

“It was a tough call, just as it was with Craig [Hignett] and Ronnie [Moore] before that, but it’s part of the job, you can’t hide from it,

“But now it’s about going again against Cheltenham on Saturday.

“When we get that out the way then we’ll go again against Doncaster then see where we are.

“I think our players will relish the challenge.”

This was the rarely seen Gary Coxall – serious, straight, no cheery Cockney quips.

The 36-year-old was the subject of chants from fans on Saturday and has come under fire from the media and, especially, social media.

Has it wounded him?

“Of course,” he admitted. “I can tell you it hurts, it really does, it’s horrible.

“It’s hard being a big part of something that has under-achieved, massively.

“Fans have got a point and no-one can say that they haven’t.

“What the supporters have said has come out of frustration, out of love for the club.

“I know I’ve only been here a short time compared to them but I love the club.

“These last two years have been the biggest part of my life, without a shadow of a doubt.

“If you are not talking about the club, you are thinking about it.

“Being chairman of Hartlepool United is like being a snooker player, you are always thinking three moves ahead.

“Hartlepool is a massive part of my life and I don’t want to be the chairman in charge of a club being relegated.

“But I have to face up to it, I have to hold up my hands and take the abuse and look at myself.

“Some of it is personal, but it’s pure frustration based on the love of the club.

“You have to take it, I have to deal with it. I won’t hide from it.

“I do listen to the criticism, I will take it on board and look to improve.”

Coxall hopes the Pools faithful will see the first shoots of improvement this Saturday at Cheltenham.

His team face (another) must-win mission and believes he has appointed the right people to do it.

JPNG have placed defender Matthew Bates in charge of the team for the matches at Cheltenham and at home to Doncaster Rovers on May 6.

The 30-year-old will be assisted by club captain Billy Paynter, conditioning coach Stuart Parnaby and head physio Ian Gallagher.

“We’ve chosen senior members of the squad and staff,” explained Coxall.

“This is not about tactical play, this is about passion, it’s about coming together as a club and putting everything into the next two weeks, the next 180 minutes of football.”

Coxall explained that Pools needed familiar figures in charge at such a critical stage.

Paynter, currently out of action with an Achilles injury, will provide close support to his team-mate, while Parnaby and Gallagher are both former Pools players who are highly respected by the squad.

“You need that mix,” added the chairman. “It’s not fair to throw one individual into the deep end and say ‘it’s all on you’.

“While there is not that much pressure on them, you don’t want them feeling it.

“They know what we need and they’ll have a game-plan to do that.

“It’s about getting the players on side to go and do it.”