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Hartlepool United FC Staff Profiles

Craig Hignett

Craig Hignett
Manager

Craig Hignett was appointed as the new First Team Manager at Victoria Park on 10th February 2016 following the departure of Ronnie Moore.

It was Hignett’s third spell at The Vic, having previously played two games for the Club at the end of his career in 2007 before returning as Assistant Manager to Colin Cooper in 2013.

A talented attacker during his playing days, it was back in October 1988 when Hignett first burst on the scene when he graduated from Crewe Alexandra’s famed youth system to make a senior debut at just 18-years-old.

He quickly became a key member of the team at Gresty Road and went on to score an impressive 57 goals in 150 appearances which was enough to earn him a move to Premier League Middlesbrough in 1992.

An enjoyable six years on Teesside saw Hignett win two promotions and also appear in both the FA Cup Final and the League Cup Final during an incredible 1996/97 campaign under Bryan Robson.

Hignett also secured a place in Boro folklore when he became the first players to score a goal at The Riverside Stadium in a 2-0 win over Chelsea at the start of the 1995/96 season.

He spent a year north of the border with Aberdeen before returning to England to sign for Barnsley in 1999 and he paid back every penny of the £800,000 transfer fee by scoring twenty goals at The Tykes won promotion to the top flight in his first season at Oakwell.

An eye-catching 35 goals in 66 outings for Barnsley prompted Blackburn Rovers to stump up £2.2million to take him to Ewood Park in 2000 and he helped them regain Premier League status before also celebrating a League Cup triumph when they beat Spurs in 2002.

He rounded off an illustrious playing career with short spells at Leicester City, Darlington and Pools before taking on a coaching role at Middlesbrough alongside a role as summariser for their games on BBC Tees.

His big break in coaching arrived in the summer of 2013 when Colin Cooper brought him to The Vic as Assistant Manager and he helped oversee a successful start to the season before Aitor Karanka took him to Middlesbrough in a similar capacity.

He left The Riverside in December 2014 but retained a burning desire to become a manager and Pools were delighted to give him that opportunity in February.

Curtis Fleming

Curtis Fleming
First Team Coach

Curtis Fleming was appointed as First Team Coach in February following the arrival of Craig Hignett as the new Manager at Victoria Park.

The former Republic of Ireland international defender played alongside Hignett during their Middlesbrough days and they have also worked together since in their coaching academy.

Fleming enjoyed a successful career as a full-back, moving to England with Swindon Town in 1989 before arriving at Middlesbrough in the summer of 1991.

He went on to become a cult hero with The Teessiders having played almost 300 games over the next decade, during which he also earned ten caps for his country.

The defender left for Crystal Palace in 2001 before a short spell at Darlington and back in Ireland with Shelbourne before retiring and going on to enjoy a successful career in media with Setanta Sports.

However, Fleming always wanted to move in to coaching and he was employed in a youth role at Middlesbrough before moving north of the border to assist Mark Proctor at Scottish outfit Livingston.

In the summer of 2012 Fleming returned to former club Crystal Palace as a Development Coach before being promoted to assist former Eagles team-mate Dougie Freedman with the First Team.

He then followed Freedman to Bolton Wanderers where they spent a further two years working together before their departure in October 2014.

Sam Collins

Sam Collins
Under-21s

Sam Collins extended his playing contract at Victoria Park in May 2014 but then boss Colin Cooper was keen to bring the experienced defender on board with his coaching staff.

As a result, Collins agreed to step up to the role of Assistant First and Reserve Team Coach as well as remain a part of the playing squad at Victoria Park.

It was a role Collins continue upon the appointment of Paul Murray in November 2014, before stepping up to be Assistant Manager when Ronnie Moore came in as boss in December 2014 and helped him achieve a remarkable escape from relegation.

In February 2015 when Craig Hignett was appointed as Moore’s successor as First Team Manager, Collins accepted a new role to work with the Club’s Under-21 players.

The defender joined Pools from Hull City back in January 2008 and has since made over 250 appearances for the Club, with the majority being as captain.

During 2013/14 Collins had already been assisting Academy Manager John Hewitson with the Reserve Team, working both on match days and in training with the Club’s young players. 

He also played a big part in the shift away from the League Two relegation zone, featuring heavily in the final 18 games of the season, leading by example with some impressive performances.

Cooper was quick to reward Collins for that hard work and loyalty by giving him the opportunity to join the coaching staff for 2014/15.

Tony Caig

Tony Caig
Goalkeeping Coach

Tony Caig joined the Club as Goalkeeping Coach at the start of June 2015, leaving a similar role at Carlisle United to link-up with Ronnie Moore at Victoria Park.

He brought with him a wealth of experience in the game having been in a coaching role at Carlisle for the previous five years after an extensive and successful playing career.

Caig spent his formative years at Brunton Park and went on to make over 300 appearances in The Cumbrians’ goal between 1990 and 1999 before moving on to Blackpool.

A brief spell with Charlton Athletic was followed by a two-year stint with Hibernian before he returned to the region to sign for Newcastle United in 2003.

Caig also played abroad with Canadian outfit Vancouver Whitecaps and in America for Houston Dynamo before rounding-off his playing career back in England with Chesterfield and non-league Workington.

He began his coaching role back at Carlisle in 2010 under Graham Kavanagh and also acted as joint caretaker manager upon Kavanagh’s departure but decided to move on at the end of 2014/15.

Ian Gallagher

Ian Gallagher
Head Physiotherapist

Ian Gallagher – known to everyone simply as Buster – has a long-running affinity with the Club which stretches back to his childhood and has been on the books in one capacity or another for over twenty years.

In 1992 he was signed on schoolboy terms as a central midfielder, progressing on to a scholarship in 1994 before being offered a professional contract with the Club in 1996.

A lifelong Pools fan, Buster went on to make two appearances for the First Team but a knee injury forced his early retirement so he turned his attentions to physiotherapy and he was kept on as part of the Club’s medical staff while he studied for the required qualifications.

Now a Chartered Physiotherapist with an FA Diploma in Treatment Management of Injuries and an FA Advanced Resuscitation and Emergency Aid certificate, he took over as Head Physiotherapist in 2012.

Craig Hubbard

Craig Hubbard
Strength & Conditioning Coach

Craig began work as the Club’s Strength & Conditioning Coach at the start of the 2014/15 campaign in conjunction with Durham University.

A qualified sports therapist, Craig also has a Level 1 Certificate in Strength & Conditioning as well as a Level 4 qualification in Personal Training.

During three years of studying, he built up experience with various personal training positions before taking up the role at Durham University and Pools.

He has played semi-pro for Blyth Spartans in the past and is currently registered with Whitley Bay though his work with Pools restricts the amount of games he plays for them

Martyn Brown

Martyn Brown
Kit Manager

Martyn has been working for the Club since 1998 when he joined in the role of Assistant Groundsman, working with Head Groundsman Dave Brown.

However, in October 2010 he was installed as the Club’s new Kit Man when he succeeded Peter Darke who had left to go to Middlesbrough.

As well as carrying out his duties for Pools, Martyn also plays Sunday League football for Murton Park View where he is comfortable in defence or attack and describes himself as “a young Paul Warhurst.”