New Hartlepool Utd boss is here to be a success

John Hughes manager of Hartlepool United at his press conference Victoria Park. Picture by FRANK REID
John Hughes manager of Hartlepool United at his press conference Victoria Park. Picture by FRANK REID

FOR most husbands, it is a remark which would lead to a fierce reprisal, maybe even a slap in the face.

In a house of five girls, however, John Hughes is afforded a little more leeway.

And so it was that, earlier this week, the 48-year-old Scot informed his other half he was leaving home in the direction of England.

How did that go down?

“I’m very fortunate – I’ve got a wife who’s a football wife,” smiled the new Pools boss.

“I said ‘listen, I’m going down England, I’ll catch you up in four years’ time’.

“She’s okay – she’s got her sister two doors away, her mother two doors away.

“What chance do I stand with five girls all in the house? It’s true.

“I’m 48 years old and I’m down here for 20 years – I’m down here to be a success.”

Hughes is following a well-trodden path.

Two of his close friends, Alex McLeish – who he played under at Hibernian – and Owen Coyle – his co-manager at Falkirk – have enjoyed good times south of the border.

Currently, at Premier League level, there are four Scottish managers, although it has been as high as eight in recent years.

Hughes puts forward an ingrained resolve, a working-class grit, as reason to his countrymen’s success.

“Scottish managers have done well in England and I mentioned it in my interview in a discussion about society,” he said.

“When I was brought up my mother’s door was never closed.

“I’ve two brothers and three sisters and it was a pan of soup or mince and tatties, cheap and cheerful.

“Look at the industries and shipyards – my father was a docker and I used to go and meet him when the whistle went and there were thousands coming out.

“That working class ethic was instilled in us, that passion and will to win is in us as Scottish managers, and if I can get half the success as some of them then I’ll be a happy guy.”

Hughes begins his English tenure with the visit of Coventry City tomorrow afternoon.

Ten years a manager in his homeland, this is a chance he has long since craved.

“I have wanted for a long time for this,” added the former Celtic favourite.

“I need a freshness – to go to new grounds, to face Coventry, Sheffield United, Portsmouth, all these clubs who were in the Premier League not long ago.

“I’ve done the gig in Scotland and I won’t knock it.

“There’s great stuff going on there, but I’ve done my apprenticeship and I want to work in England.

“The profile here is at a different level and I want to be part of that.

“I’m not here for the short-term, I’m not going back to Scotland.

“If I’m here for 20 years then I’ve been a success and hopefully that’s with Hartlepool.”