"I'm an ambitious player" - New signing Jack on the hunt for more success with Shaymen

Midfielder Jack Hunter believes his move to FC Halifax Town will help him progress to the next level.

By Tom Scargill
Thursday, 30th June 2022, 9:52 am

The 24-year-old joined Town this summer from Gateshead, agreeing a one-year deal and becoming the first signing of the Chris Millington era.

Hunter says he wants to progress as far as he can in the game and feels being at Halifax will help him do just that.

"That's part of what my decision was, I want to come out of my comfort zone and I'm obviously going to be moving down to Halifax," says the north easterner.

Jack Hunter

"To get out of my comfort zone and take that leap will maybe push me onto the next level, that's what I want to keep doing is just get onto the next level and the next level, and just see how far I can progress."

Hunter says his discussions with Town boss Millington only encouraged him to join the club.

"We had really positive chats, his vision for how the team wants to play and where the club wants to be were important," he said.

"I'm an ambitious player, I like winning, I had a taste of winning the league last season and I just want to push on and win as many games of football as possible.

"I'm not content to just stay at the same level I'm at now, I want to push on to higher level and I feel like at Halifax it's a good place for me to be able to do that.

"I feel like I can play higher. I've obviously done a full season at this level when I first left Newcastle at Gateshead, so I know what the level's like.

"I back myself to do well at this level and hopefully levels above that in future."

When asked what he feels he will bring to the Shaymen, Hunter said: "Leadership qualities, I feel I've got a calmness on the ball, I feel like I read the game well.

"I'm a pretty good team-mate for the rest of players, I'll do the stuff that maybe doesn't get noticed much but I like a tackle, I'm quite good in the air, I like to play out, I can mix it up both ways.

"Just an all-round solid midfielder who loves winning really."

Hunter is also versatile, having played in defence as well as midfield for Gateshead.

"I played quite a lot last season at centre-half, I think I played about eight or nine times at centre-half, so I'm comfortable playing at the back in a four or a five," he said.

"I can play as a holder in midfield, probably as an eight as well, so I'd like to think I'm quite versatile."

Hunter played for Wallsend Boys Club as a child and was then scouted by boyhood club Newcastle United, staying there until he was 20, playing for their under 23 side for three seasons and captaining the team.

"All my family were Newcastle fans too so to get the chance to play for your boyhood club, I just loved my time there," he recalled.

"I could walk to training every day, it was a two minute walk from where I lived.

"To be able to play for the team in the same city you grew up in - I grew up with a lot of the players that played there.

"I went to primary school and secondary school with a few of them so it was like playing with your mates for Newcastle, it was a privilege really.

"I finished school, had two days and then I went full-time at Newcastle.

"I've been in that professional environment for all my career really, and I'd like to think that's taught me really good habits.

"I like to think of myself as quite a professional player who does the right things, but that did give me a really good platform for going forward in my career."

Hunter trained and played alongside some star names during his time with The Magpies.

"Hatem Ben Arfa stood out to me when he was there, the skill he had, but you had players like Cabaye, Loic Remy, Cheick Tioté, Coloccini," he said.

"I played with Shelvey when he dropped down for a game or two, I played quite a lot with Adam Armstrong, Ivan Toney. There's a lad called Ľubomír Šatka who plays for the Slovakian national team, so the team I played in was a really, really high standard.

"I had Sean Longstaff and Dan Barlaser, who is at Rotherham, in midfield with me, and there was Cal Roberts, who's at Notts County.

"Playing and training with these sorts of players every day obviously improved me and took me to a good level."

Hunter added: "I was captain of most of the Newcastle youth teams growing up, captain of the under 23s and I was captain at Blyth for quite a lot of the matches I was there.

"I do see myself as a leader in the team, whether I'm captain or not, it doesn't really matter to me, I'd like to think I'm always a leader on the pitch."

Hunter's dream of making the grade at Newcastle was ended though when he was released in 2018.

"For me it was quite a bit of a shock at the time, I was playing quite well, I was captain, I hadn't really had a chance to go out on loan so I kind of expecting to have that opportunity," he said.

"So at the time I wasn't as prepared for it. It's obviously a shock to the system at the start but you've got to try and process it, deal with it and realise it's not the be all and end all.

"You've got to pull yourself together and progress in your career really, just try and improve day in, day out, and that's what I've done since then.

"And obviously you like to prove people wrong, I think that's part and parcel of football.

"So going forward for the rest of my career, I'll try to prove people wrong and get to the highest level I possibly can."

Hunter joined Gateshead in the National League after leaving Newcastle, but the club was demoted at the end of a tough campaign beset by financial difficulties.

"I was left in limbo by that, I was without a club and I actually came down and trained with Halifax in the summer of 2019 for a couple of weeks," he said.

"I really liked the set-up. The gaffer now was the assistant then, and I got a really good feel for the club, the training ground, the staff.

"That probably played a part in my decision to join now because I knew the set-up and what it was going to be like.

"I took a non-contract deal at Blyth to get some games because the season had started by then, I played half a season there and then went back full time with Gateshead."

There will be one very familiar face for Hunter at Halifax in fellow north easterner Kieran Green, who he trained with for around six months.

"When he was at Blyth he trained at Gateshead," Hunter explained.

"I've seen Greeny play a few times, and I think he's come to watch me play a few times as well, so we know each other and I'm looking forward to seeing him when we start pre-season."

After achieving one promotion last season with Gateshead, Hunter is targeting another this time round with The Shaymen.

"It's got to be, that's got to be the aim," he said.

"We do want to be pushing to get promoted.

"Personally that's where I want to be and I think it's where the club wants to be as well. Hopefully we can do that.

"I looked at Halifax over the last few years and how they've been building, it's a big club so it was quite an easy decision to make to come here."