Experienced Matthew Bates became Pools’ first signing of the summer in 2014 when he joined the Club following his release from Bradford City.
Bates had spent time training with Pools during 2013/14 and then-boss Colin Cooper was keen to bring him to The Vic when he was freed by The Bantams.
Stockton-born Bates came through the ranks at Middlesbrough where he was a key part of their FA Youth Cup winning side in 2003/04 before going on to make his senior debut just days after his 18th birthday in December 2004.
A short loan spell at Darlington helped him build his First Team experience before he returned to the Riverside where he played alongside Gareth Southgate in the heart of The Teessiders’ defence.
A terrible run of bad luck on the injury front saw him sidelined by two serious knee injuries before he returned to action in 2009 and did enough to earn a new three-year deal with Boro.
The respected defender came back from another serious knee injury in 2009/10 and was handed the captain’s armband by then boss Tony Mowbray and a good run in the side was only halted by another untimely injury.
Bates showed his versatility by playing much of the football in his first season at the Club in midfield but returned to defence during last term where he became a virtual ever-present during the second half of the campaign.
His form not only saw him in the running for the 2015/16 Player of the Year awards but also netted him a new contract with the Club which he signed in May 2016.