Craig Harrison hails fans’ fund-raising efforts as Hartlepool United live to fight another day

Picture by Gareth Williams/AHPIX.com; Football; Vanarama National League; Woking v Hartlepool United; 30/09/2017 KO 15.00; Laithwaite Community Stadium; copyright picture; Howard Roe/AHPIX.com; Nicky Featherstone shoots
Picture by Gareth Williams/AHPIX.com; Football; Vanarama National League; Woking v Hartlepool United; 30/09/2017 KO 15.00; Laithwaite Community Stadium; copyright picture; Howard Roe/AHPIX.com; Nicky Featherstone shoots
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Craig Harrison has hailed the “special” Hartlepool United supporters for their fund-raising efforts as the financially stricken club battles on.

Pools, who host Woking at Victoria Park tomorrow (3pm kick-off), will be able to fulfil their remaining February home fixtures thanks to cash raised by fans from town and further afield.

Pools manager Craig Harrison

Pools manager Craig Harrison

Fan Rachel Cartwright launched the online fundraising drive by setting up a Just Giving page after the club’s dire financial situation was laid bare before Christmas.

An incredible £85,190 was raised to financially support National League Pools.

Earlier this month, Pools paid their overdue tax bill to the HMRC – totalling around £48,000 – with money from the Just Giving pot with the remaining funds being used to allow the club to continue trading in the short term and to fulfil its February home fixtures.

Pools’ longer-term future remains perilous, but Harrison has hailed fans for their efforts in saving the club – in the short-term at least.

Harrison said: “The effect supporters have had and what they have done is amazing.

“I said in the past that when I first came here I know, as a North East lad, this club isn’t as big as Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Newcastle, but it is a special club with special supporters and I don’t want to dramatise things, but they have saved the club.

“With the crowd for the Wrexham game, the money raised online and by Rachel Cartwright, the fans can be proud of what they have done to keep this club going in the last few weeks and months.”

Harrison is trying his best to remain upbeat despite the dark financial cloud hanging over the club.

“What’s going on off the field doesn’t disrupt my work with the football team and the players. It just adds to my workload,” added the Pools boss.

“I would never allow it to interfere with my work, I do that on-field work first, and then look at the other things.

“I have to concentrate on the team and that is how it is prioritised. It’s my job as manager to keep every one positive and I’m an optimistic person.

“I see things as a learning curve, a positive to take from things as a life experience.

“Everyone in the football world is lucky to work in it – it’s a fantastic sport and I’m happy to be working in football.

“There’s times when it catches you out, but I don’t let it affect me when possible.

“I have a good family and a very understanding wife who knows what it means financially too. She is very supportive and we moved here lock, stock to Durham when I came to the club.”

By the time 3pm tomorrow comes round it will be the first competitive action for Pools for three weeks after last week’s postponement at Barrow.

Harrison added: “It’s been a strange situation not to have a game for three weeks, surreal really.

“Over the last 10 days, there’s been a good feeling in the dressing room and the lads were genuinely gutted not to play at Barrow. It’s been a long few weeks without a game in the middle of the season.

“We had the transfer window to deal with and that was a busy day, fighting fires and speaking to players and clubs, but we have moved on.

“None of the players here will be moving to a Football League club now, so that’s a line in the sand drawn.

“I gave the lads three days off the weekend we didn’t have a game scheduled because of the FA Trophy.

“‘Clear your heads, come back and work’. Since then, the lads have been spot on and trained well, with a good feeling around the place.

“Woking come here and they will try and play football from the back, they have a lot of young, bright players and a young manager with a philosophy about playing football.

“It’s about us now, we have had a good 10 days and moved on from the negativity off the pitch.”

Pools, 19th, are just four points above the relegation zone ahead of the game with Woking, who are 14th in the National League.