Notts County: Gary Liddle's step-dad Derek could be Magpies' secret weapon
NOTTS County have a secret weapon to sink Hartlepool United – Gary Liddle's step-dad Derek.
Liddle will tomorrow return to Victoria Park for the first time since leaving Pools to join the Magpies on a two-year deal last summer.
The Middlesbrough-born lad spent six years at the north-east club, winning promotion with them in his very first season.
But he is determined to help the Magpies flush away his old club.
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And he has joked that his mum's bloke can help with a spot of sabotage in the home dressing room before the game as he is the club's plumber, like draining the radiators of water so it's freezing cold, turning off the hot water in the showers and blocking the toilets!
Derek is not the only one of Liddle's family that will be there either – most of them will be because Hartlepool have given them a posh box for the game.
Liddle played almost 300 games for Pools and they wanted to keep him, but he turned down a new deal there to move to Notts and has since shone in black-and-white stripes, playing every league game.
Asked if he will get a hero's welcome from Hartlepool fans, he laughed: "From some maybe, but I'm sure there will be a few fans giving me abuse on Twitter and I'm ready for it.
"I'm looking forward to going back.
"I had six good years there and it was a hard decision to leave after so long.
"But I hope we can go up there and win."
Hartlepool have been in League One ever since Liddle helped them win promotion from League Two back in 2007.
But their position in the third tier of English Football is under severe threat.
They are rock bottom of the table, with just 16 points, and look doomed to relegation back into the basement division.
It hurts Liddle to see they have plunged so far since his exit under new boss John Hughes and hopes they beat the drop – but he still wants to add to their woes by helping Notts inflict a tenth home league defeat on them.
"It's not nice seeing them bottom," he said.
"I've still got a lot of friends up there and it's disappointing to see them struggling.
"The lads I speak to say that the new manager has completely changed their style of play.
"They try and play like us, passing it out from the back.
"There are good footballers there so we'll have to be ready for a tough game."
A big day for Liddle could be made even bigger too, because he might finally be given his big chance in midfield as Magpies' captain Neal Bishop is banned, after being sent off in their 2-0 midweek win at Portsmouth.
Notts signed Liddle as a central midfielder, but he only got to play there for 13 minutes in the opening league game of the season at Crewe before being switched to the heart of the back-four because of an injury and he has been played in defence ever since.
Boss Keith Curle also has Joss Labadie and Gavin Mahon at his disposal during Bishop's three-game suspension, but has dropped a big hint it is Liddle's time in midfield.
Bishop was sent off for slapping Portsmouth's Johnny Ertl in the closing minutes at Fratton Park on Tuesday night, after Jeff Hughes and Francois Zoko had scored late goals to fire Notts to a 2-0 win.
Liddle says it was a big result on the south coast, coming just three days after the Magpies' long unbeaten away run was ended on 22 games at Leyton Orient.
It has lifted Notts up to ninth in the table, just five points adrift of the play-offs.
"We left it late, but I always felt we were going to win," he said.
"We missed a few good chances in the game, but we showed a lot of character to keep trying to make the breakthrough and not settle for a draw.
"We knew that if we got that first goal it would deflate them and it did and then we got the second and it killed them off.
"The sending off has took a bit of shine off it, but we went down there for the three points and we got them.
"It was vital to win it because we'd just lost that amazing away record and hopefully now we can go and win at my old club."