Luke James says he’s even more excited about the new season now the fixtures are out and has backed Pools to get off to a flying start in 2014/15.
The teenage hotshot finished last season as the Club’s top scorer and landed both the Fans and the Players’ Player of the Year prizes at our End of Season Awards Night.
James is confident that Pools can improve on last season’s 19th place finish in League Two but knows that making a more solid start this time around will be key to fulfilling their ambitions and he’s already eyeing three points at Stevenage on the opening day.
“I think the first game will be a hard start for us because Stevenage will want to impress after the season they’ve just had,” James told us.
“But I don’t see why we can’t go there and get the three points and if we do then it will give the players and the fans a big confidence boost.
“The earlier you can get the points on board the better so we want to go there and be positive and get a good start under our belts.”
During the opening nine weeks of the season James and his team-mates – as well as supporters – will cover the best part of 3,500 miles to fulfil their League Two fixtures.
The two longest trips of the year – to Exeter City and Plymouth Argyle – both fall in this opening period and James reckons it could be a blessing for Colin Cooper’s men.
“We’re so used to the travelling by now – and I bet our fans are as well!” he laughed.
“Even so, that is quite a distance to be covered in the opening few months but if we can get that out of the way and have some good points on the board then we’ll be laughing after that.
“It could be a real benefit to us to get those longer journeys out of the way early on, especially if we can go down to the likes of Exeter and Plymouth and get some good results.
“When you’re travelling back from journeys like that on the back of a win it makes the travelling go so much quicker too so we’ll be looking forward to those games with positivity.”
The Club are also well accustomed to hitting the road over the festive period and, incredibly, will play a SEVENTH successive Boxing Day fixture away from home during 2014/15.
Not since Leeds United visited The Vic on 26th December 2007 have Pools hosted a Boxing Day game on home territory and James says it’s par for the course for he and his team mates.
“It’s just standard being away on Boxing Day isn’t it?!” he joked.
“I know we’ve had Carlisle, Oldham and Chesterfield in the past but it’s good that we don’t have a lot of travelling to do over the Christmas period again – Mansfield isn’t close, but it’s not one of our longer journeys.
“There should be some good games too – Oxford and Morecambe both coming to The Vic over Christmas like to play football so they should be entertaining for the fans.
“It always seems like Christmas is enjoyable because everyone loves watching football over the festive period don’t they?”
Like supporters, James’ eye was immediately caught by the end of season trip to face Carilsle United at Brunton Park – with Pools fans traditionally dressing up for the last game of the campaign.
And with only ninety miles separating the two clubs, James reckons that the game against The Cumbrians could become one of the best days of the entire term.
“That Carlisle game will be absolutely brilliant – it could be the highlight of the season.
“Having a kind of local derby on the final day of the season will mean for a good following I would have thought – especially with the fans tending to get dressed up for the last away game!
“I am pretty certain both the fans and the players will love that game at Carlisle – it has the makings of being an incredible day.”
Having enjoyed a break during the summer, James says he’s now raring to go ahead of the new season – and being able to plot when we’re playing which teams has just added to his anticipation.
“I certainly get excited when I see the fixtures coming out,” he admitted.
“The break seems to have gone quickly but until the fixtures are revealed you don’t really feel like the new season is getting close so today is exciting.
“Now you know who you’re playing and you can plan in your head where you’re going to be, you can start to really focus on the new season.
“I can’t wait to get back in training now; you spend more or less every day with the lads during the season and then don’t get to see them during the summer so it will be good to get back in for pre-season.
“Hopefully we can get down to business quickly, have a really good season and then by the time that Carlisle game comes around we have something good to play for.”
Click here to see the full fixture list for 2014/15.