We catch up the popular former Pools star to find out how life is treating him back Down Under.
Hello to all the Pools fans out there; I hope you’re all well and are looking forward to some good Christmas and New Year celebrations.
I’ve written this Blog because it was pointed out to me that it’s just over ten years since I scored my first goal for Hartlepool United and it was against this weekend’s opponents Burton Albion.
Unfortunately it’s all too easy for me to believe that it was ten years ago because I am turning 35 in a few weeks and the body is definitely feeling it! I can’t move like I used to anymore!
The goal was the winner in our FA Cup tie against Burton back in December 2003 at their old ground Eton Park. I can pretty much remember everything about the whole day to be honest, but with the goal I remember Tinks (Mark Tinkler) beating the offside trap down the right hand side and me running in to the box to receive a pass in to an open goal. I can still see it coming to me in my head and I can remember thinking I just had to try and keep it down because it came to my right foot. Thankfully it crept in just underneath the cross bar – and as they say, a goal is a goal!
To be honest, before coming to England I had only ever watched the FA Cup Final on television and I wasn’t really aware of the process and the importance that the competition has for lower league clubs.
I think it struck me after the game when we were all waiting for the next round opponent and when we drew Sunderland everyone was so excited. I didn’t realise why but obviously closer to the next round and in the lead-up to the game you realise what a big opportunity it is to play against better teams in bigger stadiums and in front of bigger crowds.
It was a great experience to play at Sunderland and from then on the FA Cup games were always very important for me to try and get through to the later rounds again.
Since leaving Pools I had three years in the A-League in Australia but unfortunately I got injured toward the end of my contract and I’m still trying to get back fit at the moment. In the meantime, I have moved back to my home town of Adelaide and become Assistant Coach as West Adelaide Soccer Club. In the season just gone we went thirty games undefeated and got promotion in to the top league.
I have also now become assistant with the Adelaide United Women’s Team. They play in the W-League in Australia so it’s great to be involved with that and we’re hoping for some success.
Personally, I’m still hoping to play again next year but I will just have to wait and see how the fitness progresses and how my body holds up!
I am hoping to further my coaching career and continue down that line of work in the future but there are not as many opportunities in Australia as there are in England unfortunately. Maybe one day, Hartlepool could be an option for me to help out but I am a long way off having enough experience for that as yet.
I still keep an eye on the results at Pools and probably don’t email as many of the lads as I should to keep in touch! I am always checking and praying that the boys are still getting results, and it’s great see some names that I coached in the Under 14s getting First Team opportunities. It’s very exciting to see the names of Luke James and Josh Rowbotham in there – though it must mean I am getting old!
Finally, I just want to say that my family and I miss the town, club, fans, team-mates, friends and staff all the time and I remember all the good (Cardiff, promotion, friendships) and bad (relegation and injuries) memories that happened at the Club on a daily basis. I thank all of you who made my Hartlepool the best six years of my life.
Up the Pools!