Peter Hartley has enjoyed one of the best spells of his career with the Steelmen – and he’s hoping for similar experiences with the Men of Steel over in India.
The former Motherwell captain is moving to the Indian Super League to work with another former Well man in Owen Coyle this term. He’s joined Jamshedpur FC on a one-year deal as he targets the ISL title.
It’s an ambitious move for an ambitious person – and Hartley says he can’t wait to get over to India in order to try out a brand new footballing experience.
“I had an incline that I wanted a new challenge,” Hartley told NTOF. “I’ve played in England and Scotland and if the right opportunity to play in Scotland came up again I probably would have taken it. But unfortunately it didn’t. I had spoken to a few clubs but having spoken to Owen Coyle, my mind was made up straight away.
“His enthusiasm for the game, he’s ambitious and so is the club, I’m going from one ambitious environment to another. I’ll be like a duck to water, obviously in different circumstances, country and style of football. But it’s something I’m excited about.
“You’ve got to trust the process. I’ve been with the same agency for 10 years and I class my agent as one of my best friends. He knows what challenges I like. We’ve signed a very exciting group of foreign players; we’re building a nice team.
“There’s not a lot of room for error, I think the season is around 18 league games. You’ve got to be prepared, you’ve got to be organised. Positivity oozes out of him (Coyle), I like the way he sounds and hopefully I enjoy working with him. He’s managed at the highest level and it’s another opportunity to hopeful grow as a player and a person.
“I’ve put myself in a good training regime. I’ve mapped out my 6-8 week regime going into pre-season. I’ve tried to get into the mentality of being a professional athlete. I’ve kept myself ticking over but I’m now trying to tick all the boxes so I’m ready to rumble when I get to India.”
Counting your goalkeeper blessings
Of course, Hartley has kept tabs on the side he represented 65 times between 2017-2020, captaining the team for two of the seasons he was at the club. One quick glance at his social media and you’d struggle to tell the difference between former captain and diehard supporter.
He’s watched on with pride as Motherwell progress through Europa League qualifying. Whilst committed elsewhere during their second round qualifier against Coleraine, he got back just in time to watch his mate Trevor Carson pull off penalty shootout heroics. The Northern Irishman saved three penalties as the Steelmen won 3-0 on spot kicks.
Carson had to play second string to now Newcastle goalkeeper Mark Gillespie last term following a comeback from a DVT diagnosis. Whilst he’s in no doubt last season’s Fir Park number one could lay a claim to becoming Newcastle’s just now, Motherwell’s this term deserves huge praise for coming back from the brink, proving his ‘elite’ status again.
“The game completely slipped my mind but when I seen it was 2-2 I dialed straight in,” Hartley said. “I thought Trevor Carson was on a different level. It’s a measure of the man, I’ve known him since I was 15. I knew when he got into that mindset he got in against Coleraine there was only out outcome and that was to get his team through to the next round.
“He’s been through the mill in his personal life but to come back to find this level of performance now, it just shows the mental strength and the type of person Trevor is in the changing room. You’re never happy not playing, I had my stint at Motherwell where I wasn’t playing but you put that aside because you’re a leader in the dressing room.
“Trevor has did that perfectly and he’s got back to the level he is at now, which is elite in my opinion. I think he’s going to get better and better. Mark’s another great keeper, I really enjoyed playing in front of him last season.
“He’s very demanding, he’s a fantastic shot-stopper and he fully deserves the move he got. I have no doubts he can challenge for the number one spot with Karl Darlow at the minute with the other keeper (Martin Dubravka) being injured. Mark is mentally strong as well.
“Motherwell have been blessed with good goalkeepers throughout the years so we were blessed to have those two goalkeepers as they would have probably got in any side outside the top two in the league last year. And we had them fighting for one spot!
“The only thing that will affect Trevor is his performances. He’s got longevity on his side and he’s getting better every game. If he keeps concentrating I have no doubt he’ll get to the Championship and Northern Ireland’s number one, competing with Bailey Peacock-Farrell. He’s had a lot of bad luck so to be where he is, it’s a credit to himself.”
Hoping for the best
Motherwell are a club that have stayed with Hartley. He’s enjoyed a distinguished career, plying his trade at some big clubs down south like Sunderland and Plymouth Argyle. But few have stuck with him like the Steelmen.
They are now the first result he looks out for on a weekend, keeping in regular contact with those still at the club. Ahead of a massive Europa League third round qualifier against Hapoel Be’er Sheva in Israel this week, Hartley says such success is what the Fir Park club deserve.
“Ultimately in cup games all that matters is getting through to the next round,” explained Hartley. “I have no doubt the manager will tell them exactly what he thinks of the performances but as a collective everyone is happy, regardless of how they played.
“If you have that mentality it breeds success. It’s difficult because for two or three seasons Motherwell have had lots of ins and outs in terms of the players. So credit to the manager, Keith Lasley, Maurice Ross, Martin Foyle, what they are doing is absolutely phenomenal.
“This is where performances do matter because you could literally be backs against the wall before a ball’s even been kicked. When you come up against these better teams, you need to stay in these games to win them. Hopefully we can do a job against Be’er Sheva and pick points up in the league.
“I’ve got no doubt confidence is already there in the team but the results are coming with performances and we can give whoever it is a good game if we get past Be’er Sheva. It’s nothing more than the club deserve. Good things happen to good people.”