POOLS-SIDE: Bedside stories at Hartlepool United’s training camp

NEW ARRIVAL: Stephen Pears
NEW ARRIVAL: Stephen Pears

DURING my time as a journalist for the Hartlepool Mail I have carried out interviews in some random places over the years.

But interviewing new Pools assistant manager and goalkeeping coach, Stephen Pears, on his bed in Spain is definitely up there.

ON THE RUN: Pools training at la Cala

ON THE RUN: Pools training at la Cala

I took advantage of the afternoon break in training during the club’s pre-season camp to grab a few interviews with the players and coaching staff during their stay at La Cala Resort.

I chatted with most in an outside courtyard after lunch but Pears had already retired to his bedroom so I popped up the Apples and Pears – pun intended – to meet with him.

He couldn’t have been more accommodating and we had a good chat while he took a break from finalising his goalkeeping coaching session for later that day.

A former Boro and Pools stopper in his playing days, he told me he has “fitted in like a glove” at his new club and is looking forward to helping improve further the current keepers, Scott Flinders and Andy Rafferty.

LA CALA: Pools training in the stunning setting in southern Spain

LA CALA: Pools training in the stunning setting in southern Spain

Well, they couldn’t have a nicer – or more experienced – coach to work with.

He was also reminiscing about his time at the club.

Pears agreed a deal to join Pools – under boss Keith Houchen – and he went on to make 19 appearances for the club in the 1996-97 campaign before retiring at the age of 35.

The former stopper, who has been coaching now for 16 years, said Pools fans back then didn’t see the best of him but he is now looking to show them the best of his coaching ability.

Flinders and Rafferty are certainly in a safe pair of hands. Welcome back to Hartlepool, Stephen.

Factor 50

PRE-SEASON trips aboard may sound glamorous but the week-long stays often come with a fair bit of down time for the players in between training sessions.

Pools right-back Michael Duckworth – enjoying his first trip away with Pools – revealed the camp whiled away any spare time listening to music, watching films and the World Cup semi-finals from Brazil.

“We have just been doing the usual really in our spare time, listening to music, watching films, watching the World Cup, playing cards etc,” said Duckworth.

“We haven’t had a quiz yet but I reckon we might put a word in for one of the older lads to sort out.”

One thing they haven’t been doing much of, however, is sunbathing.

Despite not getting much chance to sunbathe there are still some cracking tans among the Pools camp given their training and runs in the hot Spanish sun.

But sadly, two of the younger more fair-haired players are struggling on that front.

Duckworth revealed: “I am up there in the tanning stakes.

“But Daz [Holden] and Josh Nearney are struggling – they both need their Factor 50 on.”