Milestone man Tom Crawford celebrates landmark appearance with Hartlepool United

It may not have been the result Tom Crawford would have wanted against Kidderminster but it’s a game he will not forget after making his milestone 100th appearance for Hartlepool United.
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Crawford is one of the longest serving members of the Hartlepool squad – one of just four players in the current squad who were here during the club’s last spell in the National League three years ago.

The ‘Chester Iniesta,’ as supporters sometimes refer the midfielder as, joined the club in the summer of 2020 after leaving Notts County to link back up with former boss Dave Challinor who had Crawford on loan in his time at AFC Fylde.

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Crawford made his first appearance as a late substitute in a win over Chesterfield before marking his first start for the club with a goal in the FA Cup against Ilkeston Town.

Tom Crawford made his 100th appearance for Hartlepool United against Kidderminster. Picture by FRANK REIDTom Crawford made his 100th appearance for Hartlepool United against Kidderminster. Picture by FRANK REID
Tom Crawford made his 100th appearance for Hartlepool United against Kidderminster. Picture by FRANK REID

But it was following promotion back to the Football League that Crawford would make his real breakthrough for the club, particularly under Graeme Lee, when establishing himself as a regular starter.

Hartlepool has found a way under the skin of Crawford, with the midfielder often keen to acknowledge the affiliation he has with supporters.

And having returned to full fitness from a long-term injury lay-off last season, Crawford is enjoying, arguably, his best spell in a Hartlepool shirt having comfortably exceeded his best return in front of goal, as well as adding assists to his game such as the role he played to help Pools open the scoring against Kidderminster to mark his milestone appearance.

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How Pools fared in Kidderminster draw
Tom Crawford played a key role in Hartlepool United's goal against Kidderminster. Picture by FRANK REIDTom Crawford played a key role in Hartlepool United's goal against Kidderminster. Picture by FRANK REID
Tom Crawford played a key role in Hartlepool United's goal against Kidderminster. Picture by FRANK REID
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"I’m unbelievably proud of reaching that milestone,” said Crawford.

"I love the club, I love the fans. It’s no secret. It means the world to me to make 100 appearances. It’s a good achievement and I’m really proud of it.

"Post-op was tough [last season] but I’m finally finding my form now and hitting the ground running and getting to the levels I know I can be at.

"I feel like the injury is a long and distant memory so I’ve just got to keep putting in the performances and keep scoring goals and see where it takes me.”

John Askey believes Hartlepool United midfielder Tom Crawford is getting better with age after making his 100th appearance for the club. Picture by FRANK REIDJohn Askey believes Hartlepool United midfielder Tom Crawford is getting better with age after making his 100th appearance for the club. Picture by FRANK REID
John Askey believes Hartlepool United midfielder Tom Crawford is getting better with age after making his 100th appearance for the club. Picture by FRANK REID
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Crawford added on Pools as a collective this season: “It’s tough mentally when you’re not playing well and you’re not getting points because it’s a huge football club – I think people sometimes forget how big it is.

"We’ve just got to get back to how we were – I know it’s easy to say that, but we’ve got to because we were absolutely flying at the start of the season and I just feel like we’re slowly ticking away at the performances and getting back there.”

And Crawford’s form this season, having enjoyed a prolonged spell in the starting line-up, has not gone unnoticed by his manager, with John Askey of the belief the 24-year-old, who is out of contract in the summer, is getting better and better.

"It’s probably the first time for quite a while that Tom has played virtually every game. The age that he is he’s starting to get better and better and the way that we’re playing at the moment suits him,” said Askey.

"He’s done really well. He’s got a lot of attributes, so hopefully with playing regularly we’re starting to see the best of him now.”