Jake Cassidy was always at the top of Craig Harrison’s transfer wishlist

Jake Cassidy.
Jake Cassidy.

Hartlepool United boss Craig Harrison always knew that when he got his break in English football, “close friend” Jake Cassidy would be right at the top of his wanted list.

But the former TNS manager did not for one second think he’d ever be able to sign the striker for a fifth tier side.

Cassidy has been a revelation for Pools in the opening weeks of the campaign, netting twice to rescue the club’s only two National League points from losing positions.

This has come as no surprise to Harrison, though.

The manager knew all about Cassidy’s talents having plucked him from Llandudno Junction obscurity as a 16-year-old while a coach at Airbus UK in the Welsh top flight seven years ago.

In fact, if there is one thing that did surprise Harrison, it is the fact that he was able to pick up Cassidy for Pools this summer.

Harrison admits that when thinking back to that time he worked with the free-scoring teenage striker in 2010, he had few doubts that by this point in his career, Cassidy would be running riot, much further up the league pyramid.

“Jake has had a tough time with injury,” the manager explained.

“Those problems came at a bad time for him. Couple that with the fact I don’t think he was given a fair crack at Wolves.

“If there is one thing I can guarantee it is that Jake will score goals whatever level he plays at.

“When he is fit and firing, he will score.

“He had a tough 18 months before he went to Guiseley. He had niggly injuries and was always playing catch up. It was hard for him.

“Of course I wanted to sign him. It is something that you always have to have in mind.

“Every manager must have a forward plan - you have to be ready for the next episode in this game.

“There is absolutely no coincidence that Jake was my first signing.”

Not only is Cassidy now Pools top-scorer, their targetman and potential answer to their National League woes, but he is also a player that the manager can call a friend.

Even when the striker left Airbus to further his career at Wolverhampton Wanderers, then Tranmere Rovers, Notts County, Southend United, Oldham Athletic, then non-league Guiseley, Cassidy and Harrison remained close.

Harrison, whose side go in search of their first win of the season at Bromley this Saturday, continued: “I have obviously followed Jake’s career quite closely.

“Before he came in here he was a person I can call a friend, having been a colleague earlier on in his career.

“He is someone that used to bounce things off me when things weren’t going well. He would ask me for advice. Jake’s agent is also a friend.
“We kept in touch over the years, speaking on both a professional basis and as friends.

“That will no doubt continue here.”