Hartlepool United analysis: Seeds of recovery sewn despite barren season - the year that YOU got YOUR club back
Four goals and three points.
In the end that’s all you could put between Hartlepool United’s performance in a tumultuous 2017/18 and their most recent crack at life outside the Football League.
I asked the question last week whether this season can be deemed a success or a failure? And to be honest I while it would be some stretch to rank it successful, it has not necessarily been the failure it may look at first glance of the fifth tier table. For those of you who are yet to look at the final National League standings, Hartlepool placed 17th. Yes, they were that low.
Pools ended up collecting three more points than last season, scored three more goals and conceded one less. They finished two spots further down the league table.
Even though Pools have had three managerial changes this season, the turmoil does not even come close to the mess that played out under the previous owners. Pools were under transfer embargo for 75% (ish) of the season, while administration and liquidation were a weekly threat from October onwards.
Pitch this season directly against last and this was a shocker.
But I like to think I am a glass half full kind of guy - and I’d hope many of you are, too.
So going away from the football, which at times this season, most recently at Barrow, has been horrendous - here’s why this season could end up being remembered for its significance, for a lot longer than many might think.
And the proof to the theory was all over the Super 6 Stadium before, during and after the remarkable win over Salford City on Saturday.
This season definitely felt like the campaign when Poolies got ‘their’ Hartlepool United back.
For too long this proud football club has been on the slide. The demise had been coming for some time when a Dave Jones-inspired implosion saw Pools drop out of the Football League, but it still came as a massive shock to many.
That kind of seismic wave through the very core of the club and the town is still reverberating to this day, especially given the news of the cutting of academy resources for next season.
But the biggest disconnect came between club and fans.
What is a football club without its fans? Well, Hartlepool has proven, not a lot.
While in body the fans have never left, in heart and soul they departed.
They continued to support the club north and south, and south again, no matter the weather, opposition, manager or performance.
But something was missing - a hope, an optimism.
Whether you like manager Craig Hignett or not, he’s been inspirational in this rebirth at Pools.
He helped bring Raj Singh to the table when few would put their hand in their pocket, or had genuine cash to give.
And he’s been their knight in shining armour in the dugout when all before him failed.
He’s not perfect but under his watch, football has come back, so has heart, commitment, goals and hope.
That’s sparked something on the terraces. From the lad banging the drum, to the ‘Allez, Allez, Allez’ boys and the fella who stomps on the stairs near the Corner Flag.
You’ve come back. And football and fans suddenly seem aligned again. With everyone pulling in the same direction, this football club can be force not just at this level, but higher. Even in the darkest hour, never forget what this club is and where is belongs. Those days will one day return - of that I am in no doubt - and with Singh and Hignett at the wheel, they might be a hell of a lot closer than people imagine.