Hartlepool United 1v3 Newcastle United
17th July 2007
Revisiting Ground No.37 - first visit 14th August 1984, Hartlepool Utd 2v4 Newcastle Utd, Pre-season friendly.
Football’s back (was it ever away?) and my return to spectator action started at a ground where we are always made welcome, Hartlepool United, who on my list of football priorities come in fourth spot with obviously Newcastle and Gateshead first and second, “Have sunderland lost? third, then “Did Hartlepool win?” fourth.
The grounds origins began in Queen Victoria’s Jubilee year of 1886, when West Hartlepool Rugby Club purchased land from the North-Eastern Railway Company, by 1908 the rugby club folded and a new football club Hartlepools United were formed taking up the vacant land, top amateur side West Hartlepool initially ground shared with United after losing their Park Road ground until they too folded in June 1910, with the professional club then taking over that clubs assets.
Pools were the perennial survivors of the Football League, surviving re-election on a record 14 occasions, as well as its host, the ground itself is a great survivor, during World War One German Zeppelins on a bombing raid targeting the surrounding steelworks and shipyards flattened the main stand, it also took a hiding by a German Naval attack on the town, the clubs vain attempts to receive compensation from the German Government fell on deaf ears, they even had the cheek to have another go at the ground during the Second World War, but luckily this time, not unlike the German football team, missed their goal.
A temporary main stand was built after the original was destroyed in that attack in 1916, it stayed right up until 1986 with the only improvements made being patching up work on the leaky roof with congregated iron, the Clarence Road end of the ground lay flat and exposed until finally the ‘Nice one Cyril Knowles Stand’ was opened in 1995, this has a range of blue and white seats with the directors box in the middle of three sections, it also has the players tunnel and executive boxes at the top of the stand.
The north end of the ground is the away section, the Rink End has covered seats which were installed in 1992, opposite is the Town End terrace which is also covered and of a similar size which gives the stadium an equal balanced look.
The Millhouse Stand now renamed the Camerons Brewery Stand has a cantilever roof separated into two tiers, divided into seats in the upper with standing underneath, the ground still has the classic tall floodlight pylons which were installed belatedly in 1968 after a young up and coming manager named Brian Clough led Pools to promotion to Division Three.
Residents of Hartlepool have throughout the years been giving the tag ‘Monkey Hangers’ after the legendary tale of the hung monkey, thought to be a spy, when a French warship was washed up on the Hartlepool coast during the Napoleonic Wars, I think once upon a time the local folk may have took offence at this, but now it’s all taking in jest, the clubs mascot and former town mayor is H’Angus the Monkey, who was also in action earlier in the week, finishing second in the Mascot Derby to some Hippopotamus from Stoke City.
Hartlepool v Newcastle has become quite a regular pre-season fixture in recent years, the last appearance from the Toon was in 2004, a 6-0 win which included an Alan Shearer hat-trick, my personal last visit was in 2002 where I was to witness the United debut of a one Titus Bramble, who on that evening reminded me of that big plasticine man Gillespie from Tony Harts Morph, the great lummox had a nightmare start to his Toon career and set the trend for the next five years.
Again there were new debutants at this years fixture, Joey Barton and David Rozehnal had very impressive starts and of course it was Big Sams first game in charge, starting with a win with hopefully many more to come, but the top man on the night was Shola Ameobi, complete with a new hip, he was like a modern day Steve Austin, rebuilt and ready for action, it could be a big season for the Nigerian from Walker, Shola grabbed a brace on the night with a Michael Owen goal sandwiched in between, amazingly only the second goal I’ve seen from the England star in a black and white shirt, this was after Pools took a shock lead from James Brown (he felt good!)
Overall it was a very entertaining game, which didn’t lose any of its flow considering all the substitutions that were made, both teams can be pleased with their nights shift, again I enjoyed another revisit to Victoria Park and hope Pools have a good 2007/08 campaign and a long and successful stay in League One and beyond.
Revisiting Victoria Park Web album (25 pictures)
Links-HUFC Match Report
NUFC Match Report
Update May 2008 - Another false dawn with 'Big Sam' and as far as Shola Ameobi is concerned, his season peaked with this good performance v Hartlepool, he never impressed when giving his chance, and was finally loaned out to Stoke City in the January transfer window.