Well, we are just hours away from the HUST match against Micky Barron’s Hartlepool United Legends at Seaton Carew – let’s hope that it is great day and raises the sort of money that the effort warrants – for both HUST and the Hartlepool Youth Academy. And if the game is anything like half as good as last Saturday’s match against Yeovil then it will be truly awesome! Yeovil were a decent side, we had a good referee and Pools looked up for it – an entertaining afternoon with a memorable finale.
HUST: Micky Barron’s Legends team vs Pools fans, Hornby Park Seaton Carew, Sunday 13th October, Kick off 2 pm. Entry on the gate is just £2 for adults and £1 concessions. We look forward to seeing you all there to help us raise funds for two important causes.
Anyway, back to The Legends. The group of players which Micky has pulled together is awesome – and each one of them brings back special memories.
Memories of a time when we’d go home and away with an expectation of a win – and a good game to boot.
Memories of watching football with a smile on your face – and of smiles on the faces of most of the players – especially if the likes of Darrell Clark was on the pitch. Between 2001 and 2006 Trigger struggled through numerous injuries but his constant running (and grin), accurate passing and 27 goals made him a Terrace Favourite. I’m looking forward to seeing if Trigger’s knees still let him jiggle around the opposition on Sunday.
Another player to struggle with injuries, but who delivered 46 goals and numerous lung bursting performances between 1999 and 2003 was Kevin Henderson. Kevin scored seventeen goals during the 2000 – 2001 season, when we reached the play-off semi-finals for the second successive year, and was, to my eye, a real grafter who could make things happen – for whatever reason he never seemed to really feature under Neale Cooper and was allowed to join Carlisle on loan in September 2003. And guess who had sponsored Kevin’s shirt for the 2003 -2004 season?
And so, with two of the young Ashtons in tow we went along to the Vic to collect Kevin’s shirt before the match against Wrexham on 30 September 2003 – sure Pools won 2-0 with both goals coming from Trigger. But my abiding memory of that afternoon was of the great late Neale Cooper taking my kids onto the pitch to have their photo taken with him and Hendo’s shirt – the sort of classy act that Neale Cooper was renowned for. And then I remember that moment that all Fathers dread – when you realise that your little girl is growing up! For me this happened when Eifion Williams jogged onto the pitch for the pre-match warm up and my fifteen year old stuttered the word ‘lush’.
Eifion will be forever remembered for those two Sunday afternoon strikes at the Darlington Arena – and that goal at Cardiff. Why the club saw fit to release him in 2007 has always beggared belief. Anyway, 63 goals from 263 appearances between 2002 and 2007 put Eifion definitely into the Legends class! And, not only were Eifion, Trigger and Micky Barron playing for Pools against Wrexham on that September afternoon, but so were Sir Ritchie and Tinks.
Mark Tinker was one of the classiest (and hardest) players that I have had the pleasure of watching play for Pools. Between 2000 and 2007 he played in successive play off and promotion seasons and scored some truly brilliant goals – he netted 38 in total and would surely have scored more had his last two seasons not been hampered by injuries.
What does one need to say about Ritchie Humphreys other than – Player of the Year, Player of the Decade, Player of the Century, a true Poolie Legend. And I’m afraid that I’m expecting him, with his recently gained ‘iron man’ status, to be the major threat to the HUST midfield – and if anyone gets close to Ritchie then I’ll be waiting for Tinks to thunder in……………
Chris Westwood also played in that Wrexham match and had displaced Micky Barron from his centre back spot – a consistent and classy defender he played throughout our most successful period, reaching the Division 3 play offs three times before being promoted in 2002-03 – he then endured the nightmare of Cardiff. And it wasn’t a penalty and he should not have been sent off.
And, then moving on with a shimmy and a jiggle, Ooooooooh, we have the one and only Mr James Brown. Yet another class act who saw his career blighted by injuries, but will, I’m sure, crack home a few belters on Sunday. Few who watched James in his pomp will not have memories of some wonderful goals – his goals ranged from the sublime to the outrageous and, he like Trigger, was one of those players who brought a smile to your face as he glided down the right wing.
And the legends – and memories – keep on coming – Tommy Miller! Pools got £750,000 for him from Ipswich Town – and that sort of says it all. And then we have Tony Sweeney – another player to have tweaked the ‘heart strings’ of my youngest daughter – this time during the warm ups for a pre-season friendly at Gretna – remember them? And it is good to see Sweens is still associated with the club and one would like to think that his career will continue for many years – as Pools climb back up the football ladder.
Does this Legends team need a strong defence given that they’ve got such a powerful midfield in front of them – and great keepers at the back? Given the pre-match training that the HUST team have been doing then maybe – just maybe – the Legends will be put under some pressure. So, who better to add to a defence including Westy and Micky Barron than the almighty Micky Nelson – who can forget that goal in his first appearance for Pools – a very hot afternoon in Peterborough with Neale Cooper orchestrating things from the side-lines?
Micky Nelson in defence – or powering up for corners – he was another who never let the team or the fans down. Wouldn’t it be great if younger versions of these guys were available to play for Pools at present? The stuff of dreams – and future memories.
Now I appreciate that these are all personal memories – but I’m sure that all long-term Poolies have similar recollections – and won’t it be great to see these Legends wearing the colours again? And the fact that they are doing it to raise funds for two great causes just makes this truly amazing – so again, thanks to everyone involved, both on and off the pitch – and thank you Micky Barron – you are a true legend.
Righto, this is the final Terrace Thoughts – you’ve now had a year of my frequently mindless witterings and so deserve a break. I’ve talked about the financial difficulties facing the wider football family, I’ve upset fans such as those of the oldest club in the known universe, I’ve exposed the lycra fetish of Ronnie Harnish and I’ve frequently walked down my own, somewhat blinkered, memory lane.
What I have aimed to do is to keep the topic of the future of the club which we all adore high in people’s thoughts – so we don’t forget how close to failure we have been, to cherish what we have, and to applaud and respect the work of those involved in HUST. HUST – the Plan B which we hope that we will never need.
So, with absolutely no apology for repeating myself.
Have you renewed your HUST membership? If not please do it now.
Have you set up a standing order for the monthly lottery? Come on now, you know that it makes sense!
Have you bought your HUST Dubai trip raffle tickets yet? Why not get yourself down to Seaton on Sunday, watch the Legends and buy some raffle tickets? Support Pools and get a holiday in Dubai! Genius!
To quote the late Stuart Adamson at the end of his last Big Country concert, “I have XXXX all left to say.” And I haven’t.
HUST: On behalf of all at HUST a massive thank you to John for his thoughts over the past year. How time flies! You can catch up on every one of John’s columns which look at all aspects of football finance issues, the great work of Supporters’ Trusts across the country, Poolie memories from on and off the pitch and much, much more here. You can also win copies of his books in the HUST monthly lottery draw and buy copies via our online shop with all proceeds to HUST.