Hartlepool United manager Craig Hignett discusses Torquay trip, away support and putting a run together following Wrexham win

Hartlepool United will make the longest journey in the National League this weekend when they travel the width and length of the county to face Torquay United on Saturday (3pm kick-off).

Friday, 30th August 2019, 06:00 am
Updated Thursday, 29th August 2019, 16:46 pm
Hartlepool United manager Craig Hignett during the Vanarama National League match between Chorley and Hartlepool United at Victory Park, Chorley on Saturday 24th August 2019. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News & Sport Ltd)

The near 800 mile round trip will see the Hartlepool players and staff leave the north east early on Friday morning before arriving in Exeter sometime in the evening. They will then stay overnight before making the short journey south to Torquay on the Saturday morning ahead of the match at Plainmoor.

It’s arguably the most arduous of a number of brutal journeys for Pools over the course of the National League season but manager Craig Hignett feels his side ‘know what it’s all about’ as he hopes to prepare them in the best way possible.

It will be Hignett’s first trip to Torquay in charge of Pools but he has learnt one fairly obvious thing from his previous trips to the English Riviera.

Goalkeeper Ben Killip celebrates the Hartlepool goal with travelling fans during the Vanarama National League match between Maidenhead United and Hartlepool United at York Road, Maidenhead on Saturday 10th August 2019. (Credit: Ian Randall | MI News)

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“I played a couple of times [at Plainmoor] and I’ve been down there as an assistant with Colin Cooper as well so...it’s a long way to go!” He laughed.

“We’ll have quite a few days on the coach, just to get there!

“We’ve got Barrow after and everyone looks at Barrow after and thinks it’s a local one for us but it’s still well over two hours and the journey isn’t the best across the A66. Everywhere is a trek for us and we know that.

“To get Torquay out of the way early isn’t a bad thing, we’ve been all right so far in terms of the travelling but it will start to get hectic now with Eastleigh coming up in the not too distant future and again it’s another trip along with Dover and then all the London ones as well.

Hartlepool United manager Craig Hignett before the Vanarama National League match between Chorley and Hartlepool United at Victory Park, Chorley on Saturday 24th August 2019. (Credit: Mark Fletcher | MI News & Sport Ltd)

“We know what it’s all about so we’ve just got to prepare right and recover between them.

“All our lads will look after themselves properly, I won’t have to do anything. They know it’s a long way and we’ll try and prepare right so we’ll have a pool session after travelling tomorrow just to get it out of their legs.

“We did think about stopping on the way and training but sometimes you’re asking for trouble when you’re on a coach for four hours then you stop and train for an hour before getting back on the coach and being stiff again.

“I don’t want that so I’d rather do the journey in one and get the lads in the pool so everything is done.”

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United have been backed by a strong following of Poolies in each of their three away trips so far.

574 fans made the Tuesday night trip to Halifax during the opening week of the season. The matches at Maidenhead and Chorley that followed saw no official figure given though it is believed that around a few hundred made the journey to each of them.

And despite the distance, Hignett admits he wouldn’t be surprised to see another great following on Saturday.

“[Anyone who is at Torquay] they deserve a medal,” said the Pools boss.

“It’s unbelievable the support we get away from home and from the South East Poolies as well who travel everywhere with us as well, it’s amazing.

“They’ll get up at silly o’clock in the morning and it will take them hours and hours to get there and win or lose they’ve been fantastic.

“The following away from home has been incredible so we’re hopeful we’ve turned a corner, it’s one defeat in five now so we can kick-on and give them a good day out on Saturday.”

After picking up their first win of the season at Maidenhead, Pools failed to carry the momentum on as they had to wait three matches for their next win to come against Wrexham on Bank Holiday Monday.

And Hignett wants his side to ensure that the impressive win over The Dragons isn’t another false dawn.

“I said after the win at Maidenhead we can go on a run now but we didn’t,” he continued.

“We’ve had a decent four points return from a possible six but it would have been nice to get the six because we played well enough to have done that.

“I said after the Wrexham game that they’ve got to carry this on, we’ve got to go on a run where we’re winning games and not win one, draw one, lose one.

“It’s got to be win, win, win because if you do that then you’ll end up where you want to be because the league is so tight.

“Whilst we’ve been disappointed with our start, the win against Wrexham is the difference between being in the relegation zone or being a win away from the play-offs. It’ll only take two or three wins in a row to do that at this stage.”

And Hignett feels the pressure will be on Torquay as the home side to come out and put in a performance as he eyes back to back wins for the first time this season.

“The onus is on them and they’ll have to please their home fans because they’ve got a way of playing football,” said the 49-year-old.

“They like to get it down and move the ball like we will. We have a plan when we go there so we don’t have to do anything first, we can let them do it.”

Flybe operates up to five flights a week from Newcastle to Exeter with fares from £36.99 including taxes and charges. Book now at flybe.com