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Jacob Jones: Simply Unbelievable

Started on 16 March 2019 by ScottT
Latest Reply on 15 May 2019 by Griffo
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Chapter Three


Unsurprisingly, amidst all the uncertainty regarding the club's future, a number of first-team players left prior to the arrival of Raj and myself. It left us with a large amount of work to do, in order to put together a squad that we felt content with, going into the new season.

Liam Donnelly and Andrew Davies managed to seal moves to the Scottish Premiership with Motherwell and Dundee, respectively. Whereas Scott Harrison found his new club in the Scottish Championship with Falkirk.

Rhys Oates forced his way back into the Football League by securing a move to Morecambe, whilst Michael Woods and Devante Rodney both completed moves to newly promoted Harrogate Town and Salford City.

Small pockets of cash were made in the sales, mostly coming from the departures of Rodney and Donnelly. However to lose a large core of the first-team squad was devastating and therefore we had to act quickly in order to replace them. We couldn't go into the new season with a lack of cohesion, which needed to be gained over a hugely important pre-season.

Myself and Craig worked closely in recruiting players. Raj had given us a small amount of money to work with, as he had to ensure that the balance of the club was at a sustainable level, primarily. Therefore, we had to be shrewd in the players brought in.

Gateshead, our local rivals, were also in financial problems of their own and had to look towards local players to stay afloat. Thankfully, we weren't in that same crisis. Our arrivals were a mixed bag, between the Football League and the lower leagues.

Niko Muir and Peter Kioso were the first names through the door, with the duo both coming from the seventh tier of English football. The former joining from Hendon, whilst the latter signed from Dunstable Town.

Muir was the older of the pair, at the age of 25 and had spent a number of years in the Isthmian Premier League with a host of clubs. But, impressed with Hendon, scoring 32 goals in 46 appearances.

Kioso, however, was a young up and coming central defender. Having been released by MK Dons, he joined Dunstable Town in the Southern Premier League and made 26 appearances. Despite being part of a team made up by volunteers, as the club finished second-bottom, only ahead of Gosport Borough, he was a shining star - in which attracted our attention.

Three Football League players joined the ranks, also. Liam Noble joined from Notts County and Luke Williams departed Scunthorpe for the North-East. Mark Kitching was the final acquisition from Rochdale.

Noble joined County last season from Forest Green Rovers, who he gained promotion with to the division. Making 27 appearances, the central midfielder guided the Magpies to the play-offs, before they crashed out in the semi-finals.

Under new management, Liam fell out of favour and ultimately sought for new pastures. His signature is one we are very pleased with, given the experience he has of this league with Forest Green, but experience in both League One and Two with his former club and Carlisle United.

Luke and Mark are two individuals I know well, from my time at Boro. The pair both played alongside me at the club and so it was only natural that when Craig touted them to me, I was keen to get them on board. Both have gone on to leave the Riverside and make appearances elsewhere, but both have the quality to shine here.

It's fantastic to have individuals I know well, as I know that they'll fit into the squad - as the pair are both fantastic lads with a well-balanced and mature attitude.

Finally, Myles Anderson completed a move. He departed Chester in the summer, following their relegation to the National League North. Craig was keen to secure his services, as he watched him numerous times at Torquay United, during his two-year stint in Devon.

There is still a lot of work to be done and I am keen on improving a few areas of the squad, in particular at the back. Depth is key at this level, given the regularity of games and the physical toll it has on the players. Therefore, it is necessary that we move quickly and look to tie up a few more players soon.

Craig and I continue to work tirelessly to achieve this. He has been a real help in recruiting these players and his knowledge and experience has been a major aid in what has been a very stressful time, but a time in which I continue to enjoy, also.

Pre-season looms, but I am extremely confident we can get a strong team together. Talks continue over a few individuals, but I won't disclose any information yet. But, surprisingly, everything seems to be moving fine. Fantastic.


*Note* These signings were made in real life, however have been included for narrative.

Replies


Jack: I hope this update gave you some insight. Quite convenient that you asked about that, given I had pencilled this update down beforehand. More shall be revealed soon, I guess! :P

SoA: Thanks mate, I appreciate that.

Cameron James joins Poolies


Hartlepool United are pleased to confirm the signing of Cameron James.

James will join on loan from Colchester United until the end of the season.

The 20-year-old central defender has spent his entire career with the U's, having joined the club when he was nine. Since, he has risen through the ranks at the club and signed a professional deal in 2014 with the Essex outfit.

Two years later, James would make his senior debut on the final day of the 2015/16 season, coming on as a substitute in a 2-1 loss against Rochdale. Following this, he would agree a further four-year-deal at the Colchester Community Stadium, after just a year of his original four-year-deal contract.

Since, James has made a further 21 appearances for the club - including 14 in the 2016/17 season, as the club returned to Sky Bet League Two following relegation from League One.

Having made just seven appearances last campaign, James was loaned out to his hometown side Chelmsford City in the National League South and would make a further five appearances.

Jacob Jones welcomed the arrival of James.

"Cameron is a very talented player. This has been demonstrated in the Football League and to obtain his services is a real coup, personally. Myself and Craig [Hignett] were both keen to bring him to the club and I'm delighted we've managed to achieve this."

"We owe a lot of thanks to those associated with Colchester for their cooperation in the deal, in particular John [McGreal]."

"I look forward to welcoming Cameron to the club. He is a top defender and strengthens the heart of our defence. I feel this is a real statement of our intent."


Cameron will be available in our forthcoming fixture against Billingham Town on Saturday.
I'm certainly interested to see how Muir adapts to the jump from the 7th tier and how if he is as goal-happy as he has been in the National League. A lot of work has definitely been done here and this could be the start of a much-needed revival!

Nathan Arnold completes Hartlepool move


Jacob Jones has strengthened his squad ahead of the new season with the signing of Nathan Arnold, following his release from Lincoln City.

The 30-year-old winger made 21 appearances last campaign for the Imps in their return to the Football League, however spent the latter half of the season on loan with the National League North champions, Salford City, due to a supposed disagreement with manager Danny Cowley.

Arnold, who began his career with Mansfield Town, signed in 2016 from rivals Grimsby Town on a free transfer. In his debut season at Sincil Bank, he would score twelve times in 44 appearances, notably scoring the only goal in Lincoln's 1-0 victory over Ipswich Town, in which began their memorable run to the FA Cup Quarter Finals. He also helped the club win promotion to League Two, by winning the National League title.

With over 400 appearances to his name, Arnold brings much needed depth to the Hartlepool squad, following the departures of key players such as Michael Woods and Liam Donnelly elsewhere in the squad. He becomes the seventh signing of the window for Jones and his team.

Following confirmation of the move, Arnold said: "I'm delighted to sign with Hartlepool. This is a great chance for me to prove myself once again, following my release from Lincoln. I have great memories to hold onto from my time there, but this is the next chapter for me and I'm ready and raring to go."

Manager Jacob Jones commented, "There's no doubting his quality. He has bags of experience, which is key in a squad with a lot of young talent. He will be a key figure to those players and I expect him to become a leader within the squad."

"It's rare you have the chance to sign players like Nathan. I strongly believe he will be a top player for us over the course of the season."

Hartlepool travel to Maidstone United and the Gallagher Stadium to begin their National League campaign.

Replies


Jack: Muir is one that really excites me. His goals to game record is extremely exciting and I hope he can replicate that for us. The business looks good on paper, hopefully that can translate onto the pitch.
A heavily experienced player for sure with all them appearances to his name. You really seem to be revamping the squad, whether its yours or Hignett's influence is performing it. Very exciting times ahead!
Some good looking signings with a nice mix of experience and youth! Good luck mate!

Chapter Four


It cannot be understated the extreme stress that everyone involved at the club is under. Not just because of the situation we have come into, but simply the stress that football itself brought. It's a tough market and one that requires a lot of skill and patience.

With the recent additions of Cameron and Nathan, myself and Craig seemed quite content with the squad at hand and were ready to conclude over business for the time-being. In the National League, the window never closes and thus you are able to bring in players if and when required, usually.

We felt like the squad had the depth I wanted, with 22 players currently at the club, with a few loaned out. Those included Paddy McLaughlin to York, in which took place prior to my arrival, and Aaron Cunningham to local side Blyth Spartans. Aaron was a young player, at just twenty, however wasn't going to get the regular game-time he required and so I was happy to accept Blyth's offer, who would take him for the season.

With just four loan players contracted to us, I was pleased that we weren't overly reliant on loans. Michael Raynes and Cameron James would be our centre-back pairing, whilst Danny Amos would provide an option on the left-hand side of the defence and Luke Molyneux would be our dangerous winger, on loan from Sunderland.

Everyone was fit when I arrived and I intended for that to remain the case. We had got through our first three friendlies without any concerns and looked on course to keep a fully-fit squad going into the opening day against Maidstone. This was particularly pleasing, as I wanted everyone to have a chance to impress me over the seven friendlies we scheduled.

However, following the 3-0 victory against Worcester City, our second choice keeper Ryan Catterick sustained a broken foot. At just 19, I was keen for him to play back-up to Scott Loach, who would act as a mentor. I couldn't take any chances, if Scott picked up an injury, we would have no recognised keeper and therefore another short-term loan was required.

Craig recommended Birmingham City keeper Adam Sviter, who despite only being eighteen, was impressing for the Blues at youth level. After getting in contact with officials at the club, we were delighted to secure his services for the next three months, with the option to extend his loan, if required.

As I pen this, we have yet to suffer any further injuries, which is a relief. Keeping a fully fit squad is always a benefit, but especially at this level when the games come thick and fast. It's not just a physical challenge, but very much a mental one too - ensuring that everyone is ready for each game, treating the opposition with high moral and not resting on their laurels.

With two more friendlies to go, I am pleased with the squad who have bonded well, despite the upheaval. Whilst the results have been a mixed bag, victories against Billingham Town and Worcester City, a draw to Bury and losses to Altrincham and Doncaster Rovers, the players have all been bright and desperate to make a mark. That is all I wanted.

I approach the season with careful optimism. The league season is one that is extremely long and demanding, so we have to manage accordingly with our expectations. Each target will be set and another will not be made until that target has been met. I intend to look at short-term aspects, rather than racing ahead with wild objectives. Maybe that's a mistake, but I guess we'll see in time.


Replies


Jack: I'm very much looking forward to seeing how the squad bonds, especially in the opening few games. It's all well and good bringing in these names, but it's important that they achieve that bond in order to succeed.

LFC: Appreciate it mate!
Great story so far, looking forward to seeing how you do in your league campaign.

Pre-season Review


Pre-season has been hectic, to say the very least. There has been a lot of turnover at the club and it has been an incredibly stressful time. However, there has been a lot of positives mixed in with that. These last few weeks have been a very important time for everyone associated with Hartlepool, as we seek to welcome a new era.

One of the most necessary things was to ensure that the team built a connection. With a very fresh group of players, it was key that everyone was on the same page and ready to work hard for the club. As mentioned previously, I have high expectations in the players to perform for the club and the supporters, therefore it was key that I raised that point to each individual.

There has been a lot of bonding taking place over pre-season, so whilst regaining fitness and building familiarity in the system I wanted to use was important, the simple things such as team bonding were equally as important. So, there have been a lot of non-football activities going on, also.

Taking over at this club has been a challenge, but one that I am very much enjoying. Whilst the results haven't always met what I would want during pre-season, I'm not too worried. Pre-season is simply a time to get everything in order, so I'm not disheartened by the odd defeat. Simply get those out the way now and ensure we get off to a winning start in our National League campaign.

With that said, here are the results in full:

Altrincham 2-1 Hartlepool United
Hartlepool United 1-2 Doncaster Rovers
Hartlepool United 0-0 Bury
Billingham Town 0-4 Hartlepool United
Worcester City 0-3 Hartlepool United
Middlesbrough 3-0 Hartlepool United
Stockton Town 1-4 Hartlepool United

There are a lot of positives to take from those results, with plenty of goals being scored, despite those being against lower league opposite (ignoring the goal vs Doncaster). No matter the opposition, it is always a positive to see a goal scored, as the strikers keep that consistency up and therefore the confidence of that individual is there to be seen. There is nothing worse, as a striker, than having a barren spell without a goal to your name.

Also, there were plenty of clean-sheets to boast of. The most impressive of those coming against League Two side Bury. We limited the visitors well and, like the strikers, they can take confidence from performing their duties well on the day. All-in-all, confidence is an extremely important factor in football. Without confidence, it can often lead to errors and as a result, a string of losses.

However, we now look forward to the National League season ahead. It is something I have been relishing for a while now and I can't wait to welcome the travelling fans, at Maidstone. Let's f*cking go.


Replies


SoA: I'm glad you're enjoying it mate. Hopefully we can enjoy a good season!
Great that you've taken the time to do some character work ... your media writing style is enviable and this is a strong start, which is what we've come to expect from you!

Season Preview: Hartlepool United


Manager: Jacob Jones
2017/18 finish: 15th (56pts)

After a turbulent first season in the National League, the Pools' head into the 2018/19 season under new ownership. Raj Singh was quick to appoint inexperienced manager Jacob Jones, who will lead the club into their second ever season in the fifth tier.

The former Middlesbrough trainee takes his first join in management and will be working alongside Director of Football and former Hartlepool boss, Craig Hignett.

With a number of important players leaving the club, following doubts over the club's future during the previous twelve months - United have been forced to recruit a fresh new squad. One such signing is the return of academy graduate Luke James.

James made 90 appearances over a three year interval, making his debut in 2011. He has since spent time with the likes of Peterborough and Forest Green Rovers, amongst numerous loan spells. Despite scoring seven goals in 17 appearances for struggling Barrow last term, Rovers opted against renewing his contract, allowing Jones to snap up the 23-year-old.

However, the departure of Michael Woods is likely to hurt the North-East outfit. The 27-year-old left Victoria Road to rejoin former side Harrogate Town, having joined Hartlepool from Town in 2014. After making over 130 appearances for the Poolies, a void is very much left to be filled.

With a real overhaul, both on and off the pitch, it is bound to be an interesting first few months for Jones and his side.

Hartlepool United: Next six games
Maidstone United (A)
Harrogate Town (H)
Ebbsfleet United (H)
Braintree Town (A)
Maidenhead United (H)
Dagenham & Redbridge (A)

Replies


Tenthreeleader: Thanks a lot mate. I try my best to get a range of styles going, with a narrative behind everything I do. Although I'm still very envious of your writing! :P

Report: Maidstone United 0-3 Hartlepool United


In what proved to be a fantastic start for new boss Jacob Jones, Hartlepool began their Vanarama National League campaign in style, with a 3-0 victory over Maidstone United.

Luke James, Cameron James and substitute Nathan Arnold all got on the score-sheet, in a rather routine victory for the visitors at the Gallagher Stadium.

The squad travelled to Maidstone on Thursday, as they sought to prepare for the test of playing on the Gallagher Stadium's 3G surface. The Kent outfit are one of three clubs who play on an artificial pitch, alongside Sutton United and Bromley in the National League.

However, the surface provided few problems for the Poolies, as they attacked with real authority and controlled the ball well, having 57% of the possession.

It took 28 minutes for the visitors to take the lead, however, with Luke James capturing his first goal since returning to the club. Ryan Donaldson's deep cross met the determined run of the attacker, who comfortably finished past Maidstone goalkeeper Dion-Curtis Henry.

Whilst United were unable to add to their lead in the first-half, there proved to be little threat from the hosts. John Still's men had six shots on target, but never really troubled Scott Loach.

With half an hour to play, the lead was finally added to. Luke Molyneux's corner was not fully dealt with by Aron Davies, who's header only went as far as Cameron James and the Colchester loanee blasted home. The central-defender marking his debut with a perfect strike from inside the area.

The Stones continued to drag their feet and their afternoon would only get worse with ten minutes to go. Ryan Donaldson's cross almost looped in, before it fell to Nathan Arnold, who was in the right place at the right time, to wrap up the game for Jones' side.

Following the victory, Jones was delighted with the way his team performed.

"I think that was the perfect performance. The 200 or so supporters who made the long trip down thoroughly deserved that win, and I'm delighted we managed to achieve it. It was important we got a positive result today and hopefully this will allow us to kick on."

"I'm particularly pleased with Cameron [James], who I thought was excellent. Not only did he find himself in an unfamiliar position by getting on the score-sheet, but he was absolutely brilliant at the back, too. I look forward to more performances like that from him.


Next, Hartlepool will play host to Harrogate Town, who won promotion to the National League by winning the National North play-offs last season. The visitors began their campaign with a 2-0 loss to Sutton United and will be hoping to get their first points on the board at Victoria Park.

Former Pools midfielder Michael Woods will also be making a return, following his move to Harrogate in the summer.
Beautiful first league game in charge mate! Could not have asked for much more than that from the boys, especially away from home. Harrogate will be a tough test as they always are but after that thrashing I'm more confident :D

Hartlepool United: A brighter future?


The talk of the town. Hartlepool United have enjoyed a fantastic start to life in the National League this time around.

With four victories from four games, there is very much a buzz around the town of Hartlepool once again. It's very much something that has been lacking in the previous few years, with relegation and threats of administration instead becoming the topic of concern.

There are still a few murmurs of discontent around these parts, with a large majority of supporters still needing to be won over by chairman Raj Singh. The owner was in part responsible for the problems faced by neighbours Darlington, when the Quakers saw their demise down the divisions. However, his appointment of the inexperienced Jacob Jones, has proven to be a stroke of genius, so far.

The 24-year-old has restored optimism to the supporters, with football that has brought both the necessary results, but has also entertained; something in which Jones promised when he first arrived at Victoria Park.

Scoring ten goals and conceding just once, the balance between attack and defence has definitely been met so far, with only Braintree managing to beat goalkeeper Scott Loach, who has started every game so far.

Singh is still very much understanding of the situation, however continues to promise that he will seek to only improve the football club. Both he and Jones took part in a fans forum event earlier this week, with the pair listening to any questions posed by supporters - in an event that Singh described as a "success."

It was clear in the questions that the doubt is very much there, but many outlined their pleasure in the early results and the quality of recruitment made by both Jones and Director of Football, Craig Hignett, praising the 53-year-old for the appointment of the duo.

He stated at the event, "It's very much still early days, but we are improving this football club every day. The finances are tighter than ever and the performances on the pitch continue to impress me and it's clear they are for you, the fans, also."

"The support has been tremendous and I encourage everyone to share the word. The more we share, the more people will come to this magnificent club and realise the work we have going on here. The future is only just beginning, let's make it as bright as possible."


Jones echoed his words. "Since arriving here, it's been fantastic to see the overwhelming support. The club has seen its dark-days recently, but we intend to ensure that those days are behind us. The results have been excellent and we'll continue to keep working hard to keep this run up for as long as possible."

"I have always said that the fans are at the forefront of what we do, and I continue to stand by that. You lot are the reason these players are able to do what they do. Keep showing your support because it's been amazing so far. We are all very thankful for that and hopefully, we can reward you on the pitch."


Hartlepool have three more fixtures remaining in August, with their next test at home to Maidenhead United on Saturday. The Magpies, managed by Alan Devonshire, are also unbeaten, with two wins and two draws to their name.

Replies


Jack: Thanks mate. Indeed, a truly great start to the season and exactly how you want to get the season off to. We certainly couldn't underestimate Harrogate, but I'm thrilled by the start we've had!
Yep, you're going up. I'd put a tenner on it right now. Four wins in four is champion form and Singh is slowly but surely winning me over, despite his flaws.

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