Mark Shelton has been an integral part of this season’s promotion winning Hartlepool United squad where he and the rest of the players are celebrating later today in an open top bus parade.

The Pools squad will be parading the trophy right the way through the town before they knuckle down to prepare for the League Two campaign.

Shelton, 24, has featured 39 times this season and scored three goals.

He started alongside the self proclaimed ‘wolfpack’ in the middle alongside Gavan Holohan and Nicky Featherstone in Sunday’s final in Bristol and the trio will be commemorating their midfielders union in the middle on the park later today. More on that later. 

One of the biggest contributions Shelton made on Sunday was scoring the first penalty of the shootout for either side as Pools and Torqauy missed their first two spot kicks each.

“I didn’t feel pressure one bit” Shelton admitted.

“I don’t know why. In the week leading up to the game, we’d done penalties in training and we did it properly so we had one ball and all the lads stood on the halfway line, you’d walk and then you’d come back. I felt more nervous doing it at ECD (East Durham College) than I did doing it in the play-off final.

“I’ve never took a penalty before in my life, by the way. Never in a game. I don’t think I get put on them in training. I’m just nowhere near them.

“The gaffer said after extra time ‘does anybody not want one?’ Nobody put their hand but I was thinking there’s a few who people who definitely don’t want one.

“The gaffer had a pick of everyone and I think he’d already wrote down the five that he wanted to take them.

“He read them out and I was third and I was thinking ‘I’m in there’ which I was happy with because obviously there is a lot of confidence from the gaffer to want to pick me which is credit to him really.

“I was happy with it because I was confident to take one. I didn’t want sit there really confident and someone who wasn’t as confident as me was there to take one, so I was happy it was me.

“I felt like I was going score and their keeper was trying to give me a bit walking up.

“I think there’s a video I’ve seen of me putting my arms where he’s trying to talk to me and he said to me ‘I know where you’re going’.


“I said ‘you don’t know where I’m going because I don’t even know where I’m going, there’s no way you can know’.

“He’s like ‘are you going down the middle’ and I said ‘I think so, yeah, I think I’m going down the middle’. My plan was just to watch the keeper. I’ve ran up to the ball, half looking at the ball, half looking at the keeper. I was hoping he’d go early so I could put it the other way.

“Obviously he’s stood still so I’ve put it to the right. I was thinking ‘that’s because I told him I was going down the middle.

“I didn’t know he was giving it to the lads as much as people were saying. I watched the game back with the lads in the house, you could see on the tele he was proper going for it. He’d had a bit of confidence so he was going for it.

“That stuff in football is all part of it. I’ve been probably been guilty of saying things to players at times to put people off.

“It probably makes it a bit more sweet that we went and did it in the end.”

The penalty shootout was won and Pools were heading to League Two after a famous day in Bristol. 

The midfield trio of Shelton, Nicky Featherstone and Gavan Holohan have been a heavy feature of Dave Challinor’s side this season.

As the Pools players look forward to sharing further celebrations with the fans, the three have something else to prepare themselves for.

The three will be getting tattoos later today in honour of their midfield association known as the 'Wolfpack'.

“Gav Holohan text me saying he’s sorted it” says Shelton.

“Nicky Featherstone made a group chat of me, Gav and himself and he’s called it ‘Wolfpack Tattoo’.

“It’s happening apparently. I think Friday we’re doing it. I keep putting in ideas in the group and I keep getting told to shut up.

“Gav’s got a sleeve though. I can’t handle the pain. I’ve got four now and I cry every time.

“Gav wanted it shading and that and I said ‘no way, I’m getting a little one’.

“Obviously me, Gav and Feath have played with each other most of the season and we call ourselves the wolfpack.

“We do hunt people down. It started last season when I came on loan so I said if we go up we’ll get the tattoo.”

The Northern Echo: Hartlepool players including Shelton (right) lift the trophy. PICTURE: MARK FLETCHERHartlepool players including Shelton (right) lift the trophy. PICTURE: MARK FLETCHER

After today, the players knuckle down for the season ahead and Shelton was reflective on how they managed to achieve promotion to the Football League.

“I’ve been at clubs before and you’re not going to get a togetherness like we’ve got here.

“It helps when you’ve got people like Buster (Ian Gallagher) and Sweens (Antony Sweeney).

“Even the lads that have not been playing like Josh MacDonald, Luke Williams has obviously had a tough year, he’s had quite a few.

“Just having them people around the place knowing that they’re not going to play and that the only thing they can contribute on is in training.

“To have them so positive, the way they are around the lads, even on matchdays – it’s a credit to them.

“It’s not easy, I’ve been in teams where I’m not playing or I’m not getting on the bench and I’ve probably been guilty of being a bit sulky at times and not being myself around the place.

“These little one percent things are helping the lads go and do well so credit to people like that.”