John Askey's 'mixed emotions' on York City return as Hartlepool United secure big win on the road
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It’s no secret that this was a fixture which meant a little bit more than most to Hartlepool boss Askey, even if he was reserved in admitting it.
Ahead of his return to the LNER Community Stadium a year on from his exit, Askey declared how it would be a 'strange' occasion and one, because of that, which he wasn’t necessarily looking forward to.
Askey enjoyed a hugely successful 12 months with York where he saw his interim title made permanent before guiding the Minstermen back to the National League with promotion in the National League North play-offs in 2022.
The last time Askey took charge of a game at the LNER Community Stadium came in October of last year, a 2-0 defeat to Southend United, before a series of away fixtures at the beginning of November ahead of his mistimed exit.
Askey had guided York to mid-table upon their return to the National League, just six points outside the play-off spots, before he was relieved of his duties by the club’s former owner in a move which still frustrates supporters, and perhaps Askey himself, to this day.
“It’s mixed emotions,” Askey admitted of his return.
“I wasn’t really looking forward to coming. The supporters here were really good to me and when they did release me the support I got was fantastic, so it’s a club that I really liked. I enjoyed being here.
"But I was desperate to get a win and when you come away and put a performance in like that in front of 1,500 [of our supporters], it’s probably been a while since that’s happened with Hartlepool when so many have come away with us, and to give them something to shout about going home, I’m really pleased about that.”
Askey could be seen taking in his old surroundings ahead of kick-off as he paused to take a few moments in the technical area of his dugout.
As supporters made their way into the stadium, Askey was greeted by York fans aplenty who gave their former manager nothing but praise throughout the afternoon – despite the scoreline – with the Hartlepool boss happy to reciprocate, including at the full-time whistle when applauding all four corners of the LNER Community Stadium following Pools' 3-1 success.
“I got a good reception and [in the end] it’s really nice to come back because I had huge support when I left, not only from supporters but from players as well,” he said.
"It was a funny time. I don’t think most managers would have got the sack under those circumstances, and the way it was done as well. But that was nothing to do with what I would call the club.
"But it’s gone now and I’ve been treated really well by Hartlepool supporters as well, and the chairman, and I really appreciate that and I want to try and repay the faith that they’ve put in me to try and achieve something.”