Hartlepool United boss Craig Harrison knows National League

Craig Harrison
Craig Harrison

Craig Harrison says Hartlepool United fans should have no fears over any perceived lack of experience in the National League.

The 39-year-old took charge of Pools last month following an amazing run of success in Wales.

I know the National League – I’ve watched hundreds of games


Harrison won six Welsh Premier League titles in six years with The New Saints, not to mention four national cup triumphs.

The former Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace defender beat a strong field to win the race to the vacant Northern Gas & Power hotseat, including men with current and former National League experience.

Barrow’s Paul Cox was strongly linked with Pools, as were ex-NL bosses, Gary Brabin and Marcus Bignot.

But Pools plumped for Harrison after his half a dozen years of glory with TNS.

“I know the National League – I’ve watched hundreds of games,” he said.

“I’ve taken players from it, on my doorstep I have Wrexham on my doorstep, Chester is two miles from home.

“It’s my job to watch matches but I go to these games for fun as well, not just with recruiting players in mind.

“I know what it’s all about, even if I’ve not been directly involved in it.

“When I moved into the League of Wales I hadn’t been there as a player or as a manager but I learned about it and I will do all I can do learn and know every player and every team.

“The staff and players here will be the same, they will know everything about the teams we play.

“At TNS I hadn’t played or managed in the league and we did well.

“I’d never played or managed in the Irn-Bru competition either and we did very well in it at TNS, making the semi-finals, beating two Scottish League One teams away from home comfortably.

“I understand I’ve not been directly involved in the National League but I will make sure I know everything about it.”

Pools do have three current players with extensive NL experience which Harrison can draw upon, defender Carl Magnay (formerly with Grimsby), Nicky Deverdics (Dover) and Padraig Amond (Grimsby).

The National League is very southern-orientated, with only eight of Pools’ rivals based in northern England.

There are a number of familiar old haunts – with half of the 24 teams former Football League clubs.

Pools are still a month away from learning their 2017-18 programme with the fixtures not due to be released until early July – some way behind the announcement of the Football League lists.