ARGYLE’S trip to Hartlepool United on Saturday should see Peter Hartley...
...finally get a chance to start a game in very familiar territory.
The Pilgrims’ centre-back has experienced what many football fans would consider to be a dream scenario. After growing up around Victoria Park and supporting the club throughout his childhood, Hartley played for Hartlepool between 2009-2013, making well over 150 league appearances and taking on the captain’s armband in the process.
Now an experienced pro and a team leader at a different club, Hartley is looking forward to visiting some old friends on Saturday, including United’s assistant manager Sam Collins, but will certainly not be taking his eye off of what matters most: an Argyle win.
“This is the first time, hopefully – touch wood – that I’ll be starting a game against them at the Vic,” said Peter. “I’ve never played a full game at the Vic against my team, so I’m excited, but I want three points.
“It’s mixed emotions. I used to have a season-ticket for the club; it was my local club, my hometown club. But you go there and you’ve got a job to do. My mind is fully set on getting us back on track and getting three points.
“When I was a young boy like Nelse [Curtis Nelson] is now, I think Sam was ten years older than me, so he was coming towards the end of his career. He took me under his wing and really helped me along, helped me grow as a man, and he’s one of the first people I turn to, still, today, if I need any advice.
“If I’m going through a patch or doing well, he’ll text me; he’s just a friend, one of those people you meet in football who you become a genuine friend with.”
Hartlepool needed extra-time to see off Salford United in an FA Cup second-round replay on Tuesday night, but Peter is not reading too much into their cup exploits, and knows the Greens will have to be at their best to upstage the hosts on Saturday.
“Every professional footballer knows that, if you play an FA Cup game against a non-league side, it’s very hard to motivate yourself,” he said. "They’re actually not a bad team, but Salford made it very difficult for them.
“Every team that plays against us this season turns up, because we’re a big club in this league, so we’ve got to be on our toes. I think, if we match Hartlepool in regards to enthusiasm and work-rate, the game should take care of itself. We’ve got the players in that dressing-room to get the job done.
“The only thing I’ve got my mind on is three points for Plymouth Argyle. I’m always confident of a win, home or away, whoever it’s against. It doesn’t matter who we play: if we do our job as a team, the result takes care of itself. That’s standard procedure for us.”