PETER Hartley believes his SportMail Player of the Year award is evidence of having achieved one of his pre-season goals.
It was back in July when the Hartlepool United centre-back spoke to us about his quest for consistency, insisting it was time he cut out the “silly mistakes” which had, on occasion, infiltrated his game.
Nine months on and Hartley has been Pools’ Mr Consistent over the course of the campaign, missing just two matches, both times because of suspension.
He has won plaudits from management, team-mates and the press alike in recent months and his average rating of 6.47 has seen him top our Merit Marks column since the autumn.
And the 24-year-old admits his Mail prize shows how he kept good that summer pledge.
“It’s nice to get the newspaper award because that shows the consistency I’ve achieved this season,” said Hartley after collecting his trophy at Victoria Park today.
“I did an interview with the Mail at the beginning of the season about consistency and that was the biggest thing I knew I had to get into my game.
“I’m not a young lad any more and when you get to 23, 24 then you’ve got to start cutting out those silly mistakes.
“So I’m delighted to get this award from the local paper.”
Hartley, though, admits he had a slight early-season wobble which coincided with the team’s dip in results.
However, he was soon out on the Maiden Castle training pitches in a bid to resurrect his form.
“I started the season like a house on fire really,” he reflected. “But after the Notts County game on TV when we lost 3-0 I had a bit of a bad patch. I had two or three games where I wasn’t quite myself.
“I was out on the training ground working on a lot of things and I managed to pick my form back up quite quickly.
“But I think I’ve been above average every game and that was my aim at the start of the season.”
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