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INTERVIEW: Keep going and building on the good things

Paul Huntington on togetherness, positivity and stepping up

8 September 2023


INTERVIEW: Keep going and building on the good things

Paul Huntington on togetherness, positivity and stepping up

8 September 2023

Defender Paul Huntington was handed the captain’s armband for the 2023/24 season and it was choice that came as little surprise to a fan base that has got used to his calming influence over the last 12-months or so.

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The experienced centre back was typically measured when we cornered him for a catch up earlier this week.

“It was a really good result and a really good performance, and it felt as though it’s been coming,” he said. “We’ve obviously missed chances or we haven’t put the ball in the back of the net, but I don’t feel as though we’ve been far away in any of the games.

“We should probably be stood here with a lot more points than what we have for our performances, but it’s just really pleasing to have got that win. It was nice to have a nice weekend and actually have a smile on your face through Saturday night and into Sunday.”

And it was one of those days where it felt like the shackles had come off as soon as the ball hit the back of the net for the first time.

“We felt it and, like I say, that’s kind of been the difference through the first few games,” he commented. “The first goal is big, especially in this league, but also in most leagues, to be fair.

“I felt as though we probably should have been 2-0 up by half time, but we weren’t, so it was a case of just keep knocking on the door. We did that, we got a good delivery from the corner and the ball going over the line was just what we needed.

“We’d actually been talking about the fact we needed one to go in off someone’s backside, or anything, so it was good to get it.

“I thought we thoroughly deserved to win and possibly even by more goals, but the other thing we’d talked about was making sure we put together a full 90-minute performance and I thought we did that. That was the best we’ve played across a whole game so far.

“It’s been frustrating, and all you can do is keep working or work even harder. We had a really good collective meeting early last week and I feel as though that helped.


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“I know everyone is working and pulling in the same direction and we’re really together as a group. I feel as though that will give all of the group good belief going forward.”

And with that armband in mind, is it when we’re on a frustrating run that the more experienced players have to step up?

“With the experienced lads in terms of talking in the meetings, and things like that, it is important to speak up and be heard,” he agreed. “But it’s all well and good saying things, you’ve got to go out there and do it on the pitch.

“Having said that, the performances haven’t been terrible, they’ve been fine, and even though I won’t say we’ve played better than we did on Saturday, we’ve played similarly and been on the wrong side of a one-goal game when we probably didn’t deserve that.

“I don’t feel as though there’s been a massive deal wrong but it’s obviously been that putting the ball in the net part of it and keeping it out at the other end in those key moments.

“That’s where the concentrating throughout the 90 minutes comes into it, and that’s been the only difference. We put it all together last Saturday against a decent side, which was good.

“The other thing that’s obvious is that you get punished for mistakes, even more so than last season. We’re facing better players, better teams, and different ways of playing. I know you get that across the leagues, but it is a better standard.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say it’s taken us time to get used to it, but I would say that’s just been the difference. We’ve missed a couple of really good chances, there’s quite a few that come to mind, and maybe the other team hasn’t, or we’ve drawn when we should have won.

“That can happen, but we’ve kept going, we’ve got that first win, and I’m sure we’ll see the confidence from that this week leading up to another tough game in the league on Saturday.”

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A big part of last season’s ultimate success was the togetherness in the dressing room, on and off the pitch.

“I think it has been tested a bit because when you’re used to winning games, like last season, everything is rosy and everyone feels upbeat,” he told us. “Don’t get me wrong, we weren’t winning all the time, we had setbacks and we drew a few last year, as well as winning, but we were definitely questioned at certain times and we responded really well to it all.

“I said it earlier, but we have been frustrated that we haven’t got the points we feel we probably should have, but it’s a case of keeping going and building on the good things.

“I know at the same time that there are no easy games and we’re going to have to play like that and take our chances to give ourselves a good chance of doing well this year.

“The good thing is that the fans are definitely doing their bit. I thought they were brilliant on Saturday. They really responded to a couple of good tackles that got them involved, and I think if we can do things to keep them involved it’s a really good advantage for us.”

“It still all feels exciting,” he added. “With the new signing on deadline day it lifted things, and we have to remember that some of the lads are still bedding in. You haven’t seen a lot of some of the new signings, so there is a lot more to come.

“The more we get to know each other the more we’ll build those relationships, and that was something else we spoke about last week. That’s not just on the pitch, it’s off the pitch as well.

“We have to be trusting each other as we get to know each other and I think if your relationships are good off the field they tend to be even stronger on it.

“We’ve got a lot to build on, still things we can be better at, but we’ve seen plenty of pleasing stuff and it shows what we can be capable of. It’s now about doing that consistently.

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“And there’ll be different players used for different reasons along the way. We’ve had Jokull in goal for the last couple and he’s a confident lad, and I’m pleased for us all that we got the clean sheet.

“He’s still getting used to us, we’re getting used to him, and sometimes it can just click, whereas other times it takes a while to build those relationships. The more we train together, the more we’re around each other and the more we play together I’m sure that not just that relationship, but across the board, it’ll be for the better.

“It’s a squad game, it’s a long old season, and I know the manager speaks a lot about everybody being needed. It’s difficult at times because I’ve been there myself when you’re not in the squad and you feel like everything is kind of against you.

“Knowing the lads we’ve got in here I think they’ll keep working hard and they’re the ones that push the rest. They can be even more important than the ones who are starting sometimes. Things in football can change very quickly and we know we’re all going to need each other.

“What we’ve all done is enjoy last weekend, enjoy the three points, and I know the supporters gave us a good reception when we came off at full time.

“They really backed us but I feel as though they have in every game here, last year and this year. That’s going to be important again, so we do have to keep building on it.

“We can’t look too far ahead, there’s a long way to go in this season, but I think we’ve shown in the games we’ve played so far that we’ve been competitive and unlucky in some games, but on Saturday I thought we got our rewards.”

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