Ah, Hartlepool United – a team we could usually depend on for a point or three after we came up to the Football League. In fact, we quickly got into our stride with a run of 10 games unbeaten against Pools. That streak was capped by a hefty 6-1 tonking we dished out at the start of the 2016-7 campaign. And it’s worth it to see Jeff Stelling squirm in his Soccer Saturday chair if nothing else! And yet we lost our unbroken, unbeaten run against Pools that same season; a 2-0 defeat at their place ruining our dominance. It didn’t even count for anything either. The end of the campaign saw them relegated to the National League.
Still, they’ve now made a happy return to the Football League. And, for as long as we’re around, we’d like to keep coming away with those points please lads…
A name change or two is nothing new when you’re dealing with clubs who have been around a bit. It’s no different as far as Pools are concerned. But their name changes feel like little more than window dressing. Let’s start back at the beginning; the club formed in 1908 as Hartlepools United. Are you noting the weird ‘s’ at the end of their place name there? To be fair, there is also a theory that some of the club’s origins date back to 1881 and the creation of the West Hartlepool Amateur Football Club. It’s up to you to dig deeper into that one.
The first years of the club’s existence saw them take part in the North Eastern League. In 1921, this changed after the Football League elected them in as founder members of Division Three North. And there’s not actually much of note to report in the years after this. In the 1950s, they finished second in the division; a feat not rewarded with promotion at the time. Two years later, reorganisation saw them go into Division Four. Still, they did get their long-awaited first promotion in the 1960s. It’d come under the leadership of Brian Clough in his first managerial role too.
In 1968, some local administration ended up in the club dropping that weird ‘s’ – and United too; going under the new name of Hartlepool. One year later, they went back down to Division Four. Coincidence?. What we do know is the club really missed their United suffix. So, it was put back on the end of their name in 1977. We’re guessing that it wasn’t a thing to celebrate the Queen’s jubilee that year? Would it lead to an instant return to the third tier? Well, if by “instant” you mean 21 years, then yes; Pools promoted to Division Three in 1991.
Why do we know Pools?
Pools were back in the fourth tier midway during the 1990s. As the 20th century gave way to the 21st, the club came close to promotion on three straight occasions. Yet, each time, they were denied in the playoffs. It would be, however, a case of fourth time lucky. The 2002-3 campaign saw them come second to secure promotion. This was a period of real strength for them too. The next two seasons saw them reach the playoffs in Division Two (which became League One at that point in time). But disaster would then strike.
From 5th in 2004-5 to 21st in 2005-6, they went from knocking on the door of the Championship to crashing through the gate of League Two. Luckily, they didn’t live with this shame too long. They won their spot back in League One at the first attempt. There’d be no playoff bids this time. Instead, they were found primarily around the lower end of the table – but not even having three points deducted in 2009-10 quite did for them. They hung on long enough for the arrival of a surging Boro’ side in 2011. And that’s where it all starts for us and them…
How to get to Hartlepool United – Travel Information – Distance: 224 miles
From Stevenage, head north on the A1(M) and A1 for some considerable amount of time. It won’t be until you reach Junction 49 after around 175 miles that you will be exiting onto the Thirsk-bound A168 for nearly eight miles.
As you travel around the outskirts of Thirsk, the A168 will become the A19 and you will need to continue on for more than 29 miles. Exit the A19 for the eastbound A689 towards Bishop Auckland, Durham and Hartlepool, taking the third exit at the roundabout.
After 5.3 miles, take the second exit and follow the A689 Belle Vue Way for Hartlepool town centre. Continue over the roundabout past Hartlepool College of Further Education on the right and M&S on the left. Bear left onto Clarence Road and the ground is on the left.
If you’ve successfully followed the route above, you will end up on the edge of a large car park at Victoria Park behind the Mill House Stand. However, Raby Road – the left before you bear onto Clarence Road – will have street parking.
Services to: LONDON KINGS CROSS (not STEVENAGE)
This seems to be a limited service on Saturdays. But it’s the most direct, with just the one change at London Kings Cross.
Hartlepool station is not far from the ground and can be reached on foot in 10 minutes. Exit by turning right along Lynn Street and turn right again onto Church Street. You will come out towards the A689; this needs to be crossed as Clarence Road is more or less straight ahead. Continue past the long stand on the left for the away end.
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