Tom Crawford is enjoying his football 'for the first time in a long time' after string of fine displays for Hartlepool United

Tom Crawford admits he is enjoying his football for the first time in a long time at Hartlepool United.

By Joe Ramage
Thursday, 17th February 2022, 12:30 pm

Despite a number of midfield additions during the January transfer window, Crawford remains in the Hartlepool side on merit after a fine run of form in recent months.

Crawford’s journey at the Suit Direct Stadium has not been straightforward after his arrival from Notts County in the summer of 2020.

The midfielder has been in and out of the team several times as he has struggled to really cement his spot in the Pools starting XI.

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Tom Crawford is enjoying a run of fine form for Hartlepool United under manager Graeme Lee. (Credit: Federico Maranesi | MI News)

But since the appointment of Graeme Lee as manager in early December, Crawford is one the players who has benefited most from a new manager’s clean slate as he has been able to rejuvenate his career at the Suit Direct Stadium with a string of fine performances.

Perhaps the standout display for the 22-year-old came in Pools’ FA Cup third round success over Championship side Blackpool as he continuously drove his team upfield and assisted Joe Grey for what would turn out to be the winner.

And yet, Crawford found himself back out of the team a fortnight later for the visit of Stevenage having been withdrawn just over an hour into the goalless draw with Carlisle United three days previous.

It is moments like that which have seemingly plagued Crawford’s time in the North East but he is made of sterner stuff these days and has not looked back after being reinstated to the line-up for the Papa John’s Trophy quarter-final tie with Charlton Athletic.

Tom Crawford scored his penalty as Hartlepool United booked their spot in the Papa John's Trophy semi final. Picture by FRANK REID

The midfielder has been on the tip of the tongue of supporters and media alike as his game continues to improve to the point where manager Lee has no option but to keep him in his starting XI.

And that is testament to Crawford who, with the likes of Gavan Holohan, Mark Shelton, Martin Smith, Nicky Featherstone, Bryn Morris, Joe White and Isaac Fletcher, faces fierce competition for his starting spot each week.

“It’s tough for any footballer when you’re out of the team and out of sorts, but you’ve just got to put your head down,” said Crawford.

“I just gritted my teeth and worked hard and I thought my time will come and I know what I can do on the pitch so I thought when my time comes I can show it.

“Obviously the new manager has come in and put the faith in me and he's put his own stamp on things and I think it suits me.

“I’m just playing my football and I'm enjoying my football for the first time in a long time. I love it.”

But has there ever been a time where Crawford was concerned things just might not work out at the Suit Direct Stadium?

“You do think that when it was going how it was going.

“You start thinking ‘this isn’t going how I thought it would’ and you start thinking about what’s maybe next.

“But I just knuckled down and believed it would work out. I thought I’m going to show everyone what I can do when I get my chance and do well to stay in the team and at the moment it’s going very well.”

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