THEY say players perform better on the pitch when they’re happy off it.
Which perhaps goes to explain why Stephen Crainey is Blackpool’s Mr Consistent.
Happily married and now a dad of three following a recent addition to the family, Crainey couldn’t be more settled.
It perhaps didn’t seem that way at times during the summer, when the left-back was linked with just about every club in the Championship – notably tomorrow’s visitors Bristol City – and a few Premier League teams to boot during a contract stand-off with Blackpool.
But the 30-year-old wasn’t really interested in going anywhere else.
The Scot said: “I am a big family man. It’s a big part of my life and that was a massive part of why I stayed in Blackpool.
“My family are settled and my kids are at school. I live in the Blackpool area, close to the club.
“I was just delighted to get everything sorted out over the summer and I’ve never been happier in my career.
“My wife gave birth to a son a couple of months ago, so I’ve now got two girls and a son. I am over the moon about that.
“I’ve had a few sleepless nights but I can’t complain – it’s part and parcel of being a parent.
“My girls are eight and four – old enough to come and watch me play. They are at every home match to cheer me on and it is great to have that kind of support.”
There are few nicer blokes than Crainey in the game. He is also a manager’s dream. He trains as he plays – gets on with things, without the merest hint of a complaint, and never lets his team-mates down.
He is also a man who wants to succeed and that’s why he thinks the Seasiders can improve on their start back in the Championship.
“We are satisfied with the way the season has gone so far but we can do better,” he said.
“I think we’ve been a little unlucky, because we’ve lost or drawn games in which we’ve played really well and not got our just rewards. We’ve played well enough to have won more than we have.
“Portsmouth sticks out as a real kick in the teeth. I thought we did quite well there. “We kept the ball well and missed a couple of good chances that on another day would have gone in.
“Then to lose to a last-minute goal was really disappointing, especially away from home, because any point away is a good point.
“But we just have to look forward to the next game now. And as long as we keep playing the way we have been, I think the points will come.”
Crainey believes the experience of playing in the top flight last season will stand Pool in good stead.
He added: “Obviously you gain more experience playing against better players, so I think I’ve improved from playing in the Premier League.
“I think that goes for the lads in general. We have all gained a lot of experience.
“We just have to take that forward now, take it game by game and get as many points on the board as we possibly can.”
“It is good that Gary Taylor-Fletcher and Keith Southern have signed their contracts because everyone is done now and we can all concentrate on the footie.
“I’m delighted that the core of the team have all signed again. That is important and long may it continue.”