It’s an obsession: New Hartlepool United boss insists he will give it everything to transform Pools’ fortunes

Showing his colours: Craig Harrison settles into life at Hartlepool United. Picture by Kevin Brady
Showing his colours: Craig Harrison settles into life at Hartlepool United. Picture by Kevin Brady

Craig Harrison insists there will be “no half-measures” from him when it comes to managing Hartlepool United.

The 39-year-old has turned his back on an amazing job and cushy life in charge of The New Saints to try to restore the fortunes of Pools.

Harrison was this week due to be starting preparations for TNS’s Champions League qualifiers.

Instead, the ex-Middlesbrough and Crystal Palace defender was today in the middle of his first week at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium.

It would have been easy to stay in Wales where, you would think, he had a job for as long as he wanted it.

Harrison had won six Welsh Premier League titles in six seasons, plus a couple of Welsh Premier Cups, and had managed in the Champions League, with the number of ties well into double figutres.

He has a nice home in Chester which he shares with his wife, Danielle, and daughter, Ruby.

But the new boss said there were no doubts whatsoever about taking on the Pools job and the challenge it brings.

And he explained that the Harrison family would be swapping the North-West for the North-East.

“It’s nice for be to be back in the area,” said Harrison, who is from Gateshead.

“My partner is not from the North-East, she’s a Chester girl, so it might take a bit of getting used to for her.

“But it’s something we’ve spoken about before that if I got the opportunity [to manage a new club] that we’d move lock, stock.

“Everyone knows how much this means to me.

“As people get to know me, you’ll realise how obsessed I am about football, about winning, about improving, about doing the best I can.

“There are no half-measures with me.

“There was an opportunity to go and manage in a different country previously and we were both up for that, but, in the end, it didn’t happen.

“But that is the commitment I am prepared to make.

“We are here, we are here as a family, we want to be here, we want to have success.

“I’m as enthusiastic as can be.

“I will be enthusiastic from beginning to end and my work ethic is really strong – if it takes 24 hours a day to get it right, I will do it.

“And I expect the dame standards from everyone else coming on the journey

While Harrison did not say so, you get the feeling he has ‘tested the water’ already when it comes to looking for work in English football.

And he feels starting that journey in Hartlepool is the correct decision.

“Definitely,” he said. “Without a shadow of a doubt.

“This was the right fit for me. I am from the area and this is a fantastic club with fantastic facilities.

“Up here, football is embedded in 99.9% of people.

“I live in Chester which isn’t a million miles away from Liverpool and the people there have very similar to the characteristics of Nort-East folk.

“They are hard-working, honest, have great sense of humour and love their football.

“Football is a huge thing for putting smiles on people’s faces.

“Knowing the area, I was born and brought up in the North-East.

“I was born and brought up in a working-class environment, that is obviously where my work ethic has come from.

“I have determination too from having to give up playing football at an early age.”

Harrison was forced to retire in his mid-20s, the result of an horrific leg-break when he was playing for Palace.

His career began though in a TS postcode, with Boro and he played at Victoria Park during his time at the Riverside.

And he says he feels at home already at the Vic.

“It’s familiar to me,” he said. “I’’ve played a few times here, when Middlesbrough played reserve games here.

“It’s all part of it being the right fit for me.

“I’ve had other job offers, been linked with other jobs, but this one feels so comfortable from the word go.”