Pools star Trevor Carson found plenty to keep him busy during the summer months but last season’s double Player of the Year has admitted he was more than ready for a return to training.
Carson and his team-mates reported back for pre-season on Wednesday morning as preparations began for the start of the 2016/17 campaign.
Craig Hignett has been busy in the transfer market since the end of last term and Carson was delighted to meet the new recruits and catch-up with some familiar faces at the Club’s training base in Durham.
“To be honest, I think the summer has dragged a little bit and the last couple of weeks I have been wanting to get back at it!” he insisted.
“For me, they could shorten down the summer and bring a winter break in because eight weeks is far too long – but some of the other lads might not feel the same.
“It’s great to be back and see all the lads – and there are a couple of new faces in as well so everyone is buzzing to get back at it.”
Carson came close to earning a call-up for the Northern Ireland squad for Euro 2016, training with the national side in Manchester in the week after the League Two season came to a climax.
After narrowly missing out on making the cut, the 28-year-old returned home to complete his UEFA B Licence before making plans to be in France to support Michael O’Neill’s side.
“For the first two weeks I didn’t really get a break.
“I was away with Northern Ireland training and then when I was dropped from that squad I decided to go and do my B Licence so that was another two weeks of not switching off from football.
“After that I went out to support the national team, I had a charity 10k to complete and I’ve seen my daughter a lot and been back to Belfast too which has been good, enjoyable summer.
“I was never not going to go to France and support Northern Ireland but it was just uncertain about whether I was going to make the squad.
“I had to wait so in the end I think I paid about ten times what everybody else did for flights because I was so last-minute.
“It was the best three days away of my life – I have been on some nice holidays in the past but those three days slumming it in Paris with my mates was by far the stand out.
“After the Germany game when we qualified I was due to fly back the next morning early but me and the lads were out late and I got it in my mind I wasn’t coming home.
“I was just going to stay out there because there was a good chance Northern Ireland would be playing in Paris which is where we were.
“I didn’t even set an alarm for the morning but by chance I woke up in time and I took that as fate that I should get on the flight back home so I did.
“I did even think about going back out for the Wales game but these airlines are no mugs are they? The flights were extortionate so I watched it in the pub with a few mates.”
Despite his packed schedule, Carson was also able to squeeze in a charity 10k in Whitley Bay, raising money for his sister-in-law Melanie Hartshorn who suffers from a rare condition known as Ehlors Danlos syndrome.
The 26-year-old suffers multiple seizures every day due to the condition, which causes all of her joints to dislocate, particularly in her spine and neck.
“The 10k was fantastic – I really enjoyed it,” Carson told us.
“I did it with my ex-partner (Melanie’s sister) and it was a good challenge – I could probably have gone a bit quicker but we helped each other out on the way around.
“It was quite a cold day so going in the sea was hard and we ended up mucked up to the eyeballs but it was all good fun.
“There’s always one bloke out the front isn’t there? You know, the one who has trained all year for it and thinks it’s the London Marathon but mainly people were there to have fun!
"It was over bails of hay and bouncy castles – and a load of people doing it for different charities so it was brilliant to see all the good causes that were being supported.
“I think since I got involved I have raised about £2,500 which is unbelievable and I have to give big thanks to the Hartlepool fans because they’re a big part of that.
“Melanie’s page has taken off and she’s been on This Morning on ITV and she definitely feels that it’s been down to Hartlepool helping to get the word out there.
“She’s getting more and more calls, getting prizes sent to her for raffles and auctions so it’s been fantastic to see that.
“She’s still a long way off what she needs but we’re a lot closer than we were when we started so we’ll keep on going.”