Hartlepool United's best and worst awards: Liam Kennedy verdict on the biggest Pools flop, star player and one to watch

It was hardly a campaign to remember for Hartlepool United in many ways, but 2018/19 produced plenty of highs, lows and talking points as Pools navigated their way through their second season in the National League.

Wednesday, 22nd May 2019, 8:59 am
Hartlepool United manager Craig Hignett.

Our Pools writer Liam Kennedy was with them every step of the way.

And with the dust now settled on the season that was, he's decided to dish out his best and worst awards.

Player of the season - Ryan Donaldson

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You could make a massive case for Scott Loach, Luke James, Liam Noble and others, but for me Mr Consistent was Donaldson.

An attacking winger by trade Donaldson was Pools' best right and left back, as well as most progressive wing-back and a solid performer out wide and in the centre of midfield.

He'd be an asset to any squad at this level and above.

Disappointment of the season - Andrew Davies

The marquee signing of the summer, things did not work out the way the player or club planned.

Departed midway through the campaign for Dundee, who ended up getting relegated from the Scottish Premiership.

Most improved player - Josh Hawkes

2017/18 was the 20-year-old's breakthrough campaign, 2018/19 was the one where he came of age.

Seeing little to no gametime at the start of the season, it must have been frustrating for a player who showed flashes of brilliance as Matthew Bates' side avoided relegation to the National League North.

But under Craig Hignett at the end of the season he was key cog in Pools' tunraround in fortunes.

Has the ability to change a game in an instant.

A bright future awaits the lad, if he continues on his current trajectory.

One to watch - Peter Kioso

An incredibly bright start to the season, faded as it went on - but this was to be expected of a player stepping up to National League level.

Moulded into a full-back, he's a real athlete in this side, giving it legs down the flank.

Needs plenty more games to sharpen the tools, but he's got all the skills to make a fantastic future for himself at a good level.

Individual performance of the campaign - Luke James - Hartlepool v Sutton, March 2, 2-2

Two goals down and looking out of reach, the energetic striker got back on the scoresheet late on to cap a fine performance.

Pulled the team up by their bootlaces that day.

How did the manager perform?

Out of 10, I'd give Craig Hignett a very solid seven.

Had the run after he took over continued through the spring, he'd have bagged an eight or a nine, but I think he can be happy with what he has achieved so far.

Result may not have been perfect, but he managed to transform a dressing-room, style of play and mindset. That is no easy thing.

The big test will now come next season, building on the foundations built in 2018/19.

I said it this and will say it again, Pools have to be building a side to challenge for promotion.

They will be outspent by many again but cash does not always win prizes.

The club have the right man in Hignett in the role, they just need to back him this summer.

Shoot me down this time next year, but play-offs is a must in 2019/20.