Relegation memory can drive us on, says Hartlepool’s former Sunderland defender Hartley

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PETER Hartley insists Hartlepool United should not forget about relegation.

Pools will kick off their League Two campaign at Rochdale on August 3 having been demoted to the bottom tier for the first time in six seasons.

Former Sunderland reserve defender Hartley – awarded the armband in the autumn – missed just three games during the dismal relegation campaign in which Pools were marooned in the bottom four from October onwards.

But, rather than bury the memory of that anguish, the 25-year-old believes Pools could use it as a motivational tool when they resume their league campaign.

“Some people might want to say ‘it’s gone, forget about it’ – but we can use relegation as a motivation,” Hartley said.

“I think you can look back to it and remember how we felt when we were relegated.

“It was horrible and something I don’t want to experience ever again.

“You can use that to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

“It can give you that fire in your belly.

“That’s what we have to do, not just bury it and never talk about it.”

Hartley also points to the setback of being released by Sunderland earlier in his career as evidence of his ability to bounce back from disappointment.

“There was a point at Sunderland where I was released but then I got another contract by Roy Keane, he said they’d made a mistake,” he recalled.

“But then when I was released after those two years I used that as motivation.

“When one door closes in football then another one opens.

“I came to Pools and I haven’t looked back, I’ve loved playing for my hometown team and feel I’ve improved massively as a player.

“You have to use those knocks to motivate you.”