The latest on Hartlepool United’s financial plight as Craig Harrison opens up on the stresses and strains at Pools

Craig Harrison
Craig Harrison

Craig Harrison admits he has grown to relish being reluctantly thrust into a role of father figure at Hartlepool United, despite only just turning 40 himself.

The manager has not only had to deal with on-field issues, of which there have been plenty in recent weeks, but also the stresses and strains of off-field problems at Victoria Park.

Having batted away the prospect on no pay in January, those concerns have rolled on to February, especially with no white knight ready to ride in and save the club from defaulting on payments this month.

A winding-up order has been issued , for an unpaid, overdue tax bill.

Administration is a very real prospect this month, with cash resources limited and only fan donations to the Just Giving page to call upon.

And should that come into play, it is difficult to see what administrators could sell to keep the club afloat, given that assets, bar the players, are minimal, making liquidation a likelihood.

All of this is being played out while Harrison is trying to get a team up for the fight to beat the drop to the National League North.

But it’s a burden he’s happy to carry for the time being.

“I’m the manager at the club and the players do come to me.

“I’m only 40 myself and probably not old enough to be some of the lads’ dad!” said the manager.

“But one thing I have got is that I’ve been involved in football a lot.

“I’ve seen the highs and lows, full-time and part-time, positive and negative.

“I take the role on anyway.”

The constant concern at Pools is that players and staff do not know if their next pay packet is coming.

It was a concern at the back end of the year, it is even more so now, with the club’s prognosis looking less healthy by the day.

Harrison says in light of all of this, it is tough to keep the players’ mood positive.

“It is not easy,” said Harrison, whose side are just four points above the National League relegation zone.

“We are trying to keep morale as high as possible.

“I like to think that the players can come into training and forget about everything that is going on in the background.

“The sooner we pick three points it will be a confidence boost and then hopefully we can move on.

“It is a battle to keep spirits high, make no mistake about it.

“It is what it is.

“We have to try our best to put that aside and prepare for the game.”

l Three National League games have been selected to be shown live on BT Sport.

Macclesfield Town’s game at Boreham Wood on March 3 will be screened on BT Sport 1.

Wrexham’s home game against Chester will be shown on Sunday, March 11, while Tranmere Rovers v Eastleigh is televised on Saturday, March 24.