HARTLEPOOL United defender Peter Hartley believes he achieved one of his pre-season goals by adding consistency to his game.
Last summer, the centre-back stressed the need to cut out the “silly mistakes” which had, on occasions, infiltrated his game.
Nine months on and Hartley has been Pools’ Mr Consistent over the course of the campaign, missing just two matches, both times because of suspension.
He has won plaudits from management, team-mates and the press alike in recent months, and has won the Hartlepool Mail’s Player of the Year award.
And the 24-year-old admits his prize shows how he kept good that summer pledge.
“It’s nice to get the newspaper award because that shows the consistency I’ve achieved this season,” said Hartley.
“I did an interview at the beginning of the season about consistency, and that was the biggest thing I knew I had to get into my game. I’m not a young lad any more and when you get to 23, 24 then you’ve got to start cutting out those silly mistakes.
“So I’m delighted to get this award.”
Hartley, though, admits he had a slight early-season wobble which coincided with the team’s dip in results, but he was soon out on the Maiden Castle training pitches in a bid to resurrect his form.
“I started the season like a house on fire really,” he reflected. “But after the Notts County game on TV (Pools lost 3-0) I had a bit of a bad patch. I had two or three games where I wasn’t quite myself.
“I was out on the training ground working on a lot of things and I managed to pick my form back up quite quickly. But I think I’ve been above average every game and that was my aim at the start of the season.”
Hartley was also bestowed with the Players’ Player of the Year prize last week, and that was especially pleasing for the Hartlepool-born former Sunderland reserve.
“It was nice to get that one off the lads I must admit,” he went on. “It’s a massive award for me because it shows how hard I’ve worked through the season and they’ve seen that.”