Hartlepool Utd veteran’s good form down to proving it to himself

Ritchie Humphreys in action against Preston North End. Picture by FRANK REID
Ritchie Humphreys in action against Preston North End. Picture by FRANK REID

RITCHIE Humphreys says his recent renaissance is as much about proving a point to himself.

The 35-year-old has started every game under new boss John Hughes and has arguably been the biggest positive of the Scot’s brief reign.

Humphreys had been used sparingly under previous manager Neale Cooper, taking on more responsibility in a coaching capacity.

But the former Sheffield Wednesday star has barely missed a minute over the past eight weeks, emerging with man-of-the-match plaudits on more than one occasion.

Humphreys will again line up in the heart of Pools’ midfield when they travel to Shrewsbury Town this weekend.

And the club captain told SportMail he is relishing every second of his return to the first-team.

“I’ve enjoyed playing again, it’s the best job in the world being a professional footballer,” said Humphreys.

“It’s not just about proving yourself to a new gaffer, it’s something you always have to do for yourself as well.

“As a professional footballer you can’t just sit back and take it easy, you have to be ready to play every week and every day to work to your maximum.

“The moment you get your chance or opportunity to get back in you have to be ready, be fit and sharp enough.

“You might have to adapt it a bit as you get older, but if you aren’t ready then you won’t get on in the game.

“I feel I’ve adapted my game and I’m pleased with how I’ve been playing recently.”

But with that comes a caveat, for Humphreys is far from happy with results.

Pools go into this weekend 11 points from safety and with just one win in 24 matches.

And Humphreys went on: “We are all hurting and not happy with how we have played at times and it’s not nice to see the league table.

“We have an opportunity to change it and do something about our situation.

“Since the gaffer came in we have had a change in style of play and how we want to play.

“But the basics remain and you have to enjoy doing them as well – tracking runners, jumping, blocking, the fundamentals of football.

“It’s a a case of me playing against you, I’ve got to win that battle to give us a platform – if everyone does that then you have a chance.

“That’s what we have to get right first and foremost in every game.”