Hartlepool Utd’s Baldwin will miss departed Murray mnore than most

Paul Murray after being substituted in the second half of the game against Coventry City. Picture by FRANK REID
Paul Murray after being substituted in the second half of the game against Coventry City. Picture by FRANK REID

JACK Baldwin will miss Paul Murray more than most.

Two years ago he was a sixth-form student headed for university.

Then, after a successful trial at Victoria Park, he was thrust into the unforgiving world of professional football.

Baldwin has not looked back, the teenager widely tipped for elevation to the highest level of the English game.

But don’t underestimate Murray’s part in his rise, Baldwin certainly doesn’t.

“Muzza was a top, top professional and I’ll miss him,” he said after the veteran midfielder was released from his contract at Victoria Park this week.

“He was always the first one out on the training ground every day despite how far he had to travel (from Preston).

“During training if he thought you could do something better then he’d tell you.

“He’d pull you to one side and spare a few minutes to coach you through things.

“For me, coming into my first professional club, it was priceless to have someone like him to turn to.

“He always had time for you and it was a great person to learn from.

“Having that advice available has helped me so much.

“There have been times when I’ve really needed it and all of the lads have been absolutely brilliant with me.”

Murray will now, in the long term, pursue a career in coaching and management.

But Baldwin’s immediate concern is tomorrow’s trip to Portsmouth, the team who reside just one place above them in League One.

“Every game is huge for us right now but against teams around us we cannot afford to lose,” said the 19-year-old, who is set to start in midfield having come from the bench to score during the 2-1 defeat to Bournemouth on Tuesday.

“For me, I just hope I’ve done enough to keep my place in midfield.

“It’s a huge game for us so I’m desperate to be involved.”

And the Barking-born starlet went on: “It’s a southern game but it’s still about three hours from where I live.

“I think my family are going down though so fingers crossed I’m starting.

“They missed my first-ever goal the other night, so I might have to get another one just for them!”.

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