Craig Harrison has admitted that there’s nothing that can wipe the smile off his face after he was confirmed as the new man in charge at Hartlepool United.
After overseeing a trophy-laden and record-breaking period at Welsh Premier League champions The New Saints, Harrison has been given a shot at English football and he can’t wait to get going.
It may be a completely different challenge that he is walking in to at The Northern Gas and Power Stadium, with the Club seeking an upturn in fortunes following relegation to the National League.
But the 39-year-old is inspired rather than fazed by what lies ahead and has insisted that the hard work he’s put in during his time in Wales means he arrives at Pools fully prepared and hugely enthused.
“I’m stuck in a traffic jam surrounded by lots of red-faced angry people at the moment and I can’t wipe the smile off my face,” he laughed when we spoke to him on Friday afternoon.
“It is hard to leave TNS but I have worked very, very hard to get the opportunity to move to such a club like Hartlepool.
“It has been a long time coming and is something I must admit that, probably 15 years ago, I didn’t see coming after I had finished playing football when I went through a really tough time away from the game.
“Now I am obsessed with football again and I’m delighted to get the opportunity to come to a huge club like Hartlepool and hopefully play a part in getting them back in the Football League where they should be.
“I have had a fantastic time with TNS where we have been used to winning games and we had that winning mentality and now I want to bring that to Hartlepool both on and off the pitch.”
Born in Gateshead, Harrison made his name when he broke in to the First Team at Middlesbrough during the 1997/98 season and he’s delighted to be heading back a region famed for its passion for football.
“I have grown up not so far away and I played for Middlesbrough for a while - we used to play Reserve games at Hartlepool when I was first there.
“The region is steeped in emotion about football no matter where you are, whether you’re at the top of the Premier League or the bottom of a Sunday League.
“It is a hot bed for people who love football and I am no different to that and Hartlepool United are no different to that. For me, it just matches up perfectly.
“That’s why it’s going to take a lot more than a traffic jam to dampen my mood – I could still be sitting here in the morning and I would be smiling.
“I will enjoy the next day or two and then I will get back down to it and start to enjoy the hard work of the project in hand.”