‘We are the biggest team in this league – we are Hartlepool United’ – Nicky Featherstone opens up about Pools ponderous start to life in the National League

Nicky Featherstone will face Bromley tomorrow
Nicky Featherstone will face Bromley tomorrow

Hartlepool United are a big fish in a small pond, they should fear no team at this level.

That is the confident view of Pools midfielder Nicky Featherstone.

We are the biggest team in this league – we are Hartlepool United

The 28-year-old returned to the starting XI for the midweek 1-1 draw with Chester at Victoria Park.

And it is no coincidence that the ex-Hull City man’s reintroduction to the first-team ranks coincided with Pools’ best performance of the season so far, even if they did not get the desired result.

It is expected that Featherstone, recently returned to action after undergoing a double hernia operation at the start of pre-season, will again be Pools’ catalyst for creativity from the centre of the park at Bromley tomorrow.

And Featherstone thinks Pools should carry confidence into any game in the fifth tier, simply because of the name on the badge.

“Mentality is a big thing,” he said.

“We are maybe going to grounds some weeks that are like we are used to – like Macclesfield. That was just like a League Two ground.

“Then we have places like Maidenhead or tomorrow which are places that we have to get used to. Maybe the dressing rooms are smaller, the ground not as good. But that shouldn’t matter. It is all in the head.

“What we need to do is go to these places with a bit of arrogance.

“We are the biggest team in this league – we are Hartlepool United.

“We have to believe that and show teams just how good we are.”

There have been shocks already in the National League this season, despite it only being four games old.

And that’s not just the fact that Pools are yet to win a game under new boss Craig Harrison.

Perhaps the biggest head-turner so far was in midweek when tomorrow’s opponents produced the performance of the campaign to date by beating Leyton Orient, relegated with Pools last season, 6-1.

Featherstone, brimming with confidence after his return, says that matters little tomorrow.

“Games are all difficult at this level,” he said.

“Absolutely nothing surprises me. The amount of results you look at in this division and think ‘wow’.

“Their confidence will be high, but we should not, and do not, fear anyone in this league.
“We feel like, with the players that we have, we can beat anyone at this level.

“We can go there and create chances and score goals.

“We want to win the game, make no mistake about it.”

Having seen so many changes at Pools over the summer, Featherstone thinks it is only right that the side is given a bit of time to settle.

A new division, new direction in the boardroom, new manager and a whole host of new players – very little remains from the side who suffered the drop just a few months ago.

“People are still learning about the manager – what he wants from us. We are all still learning about each other and the manager is learning about us,” explained Featherstone.

“There are a lot of new faces around here and that can sometimes take time to get things right.

“It is a disappointing start to the season – we cannot hide behind that – but we are steadily improving.

“Things are getting better and they will continue to get better.”

While some may look at the league table and wonder whether Pools are already letting their hopes of automatic promotion slip, the experienced midfielder is too long in the tooth to get worked up about that just yet.

Even though just one team goes back up to League Two automatically, Featherstone knows it is early days and there are plenty of games to make up for lost time yet.

“Aldershot are the only team who have really kicked on,” he said of the campaign so far.

“The rest have dropped points and we know that it is early days for us.

“There are plenty of games to play this season and we aim to make sure we win as many as we can between now and May.”

And he is in absolutely no doubt that Pools have got the quality in the dressing room to turn things around.

He thinks it could be just a case of getting the first victory out of the way, then many more will follow.

“We have the quality in the playing staff and the coaches to challenge at the very top,” he said.

“We all know that within the club. Three or four wins and we are back at the top of the table.”