As Saints approach another Big FA Cup Game against a former league side, here are ten things you need to know about Hartlepool United.
- Brackley and Hartlepool may not have too much in common but there is one link. Midfielder Ebby Nelson-Addy who featured in 2013-14 and 2014-15 for Saints also played for Hartlepool, moving to Victoria Park from Brackley in March 2015. Ebby made his debut for League Two United in the 3-0 defeat at Luton Town on 18 April and made three further appearances before eventually returning to non-league football with Worcester City.
- Hartlepool United have played under a variety of names including Hartlepool, Hartlepools United and currently Hartlepool United. The name Hartlepools United marked the coalescence of the neighbouring communities of Hartlepool and West Hartlepool.
- West Hartlepool RFC remains well known in rugby union circles. Nicknamed “West”, in the 1990s the club enjoyed a spell in the premiership before dropping through the divisions. Former players include Scotland captain and British Lion Ron Wainwright and England international and British Lion Tim Stimpson.
- Hartlepools United were founding members of League Division Three North in 1921-22 and spent the next almost 100 years playing league football until relegation to the National League for the 2017-18 season. They finished 15th and 17th in their first two seasons in the National League and are currently 16th.
- Residents of Hartlepool are affectionately known as Monkey Hangers. Legend has it that in the early 1800s during the Napoleonic Wars, a ship was wrecked off Hartlepool. All were lost except for a monkey who somehow made it to shore. Having never seen a monkey, residents believed the poor creature to be a French spy and promptly hanged it there and then on the beach. The name has stuck and, in somewhat macabre fashion, a hanging monkey has even become the club’s emblem and mascot.
- The story of the hanging monkey goes further. In 2002, Stuart Drummond, a life-long supporter in a monkey costume was actually elected as town mayor. Drummond, aka H’Angus the Monkey, was re-elected twice more before the position of directly elected mayor was abolished after a referendum.
- ‘Pool have always played in a combination of blue and white, sometimes with black. In 1987-88 a red stripe was added to the shorts and cuffs/ collar of the shirts but this was a short-lived innovation as was a snazzy chequered shirt by Bukta that cunningly combined all the shades of blue from previous seasons. It lasted only for the 1991-92 season. The current strip is all royal blue with white trim.
- Former managers include a young Brian Clough who brought in Peter Taylor and earned a first ever promotion for the club in 1968 before moving onto greater things at Derby County and Nottingham Forest. Former Spurs star Cyril Knowles was also once at the helm at the club, tragically passing away two months after stepping down through illness as his side won promotion from the fourth division in the 1990-91 season. One of the stands at the club’s stadium is named after Knowles.
- Well known ‘Pool fans include Sky Sports Soccer Saturday presenter Jeff Stelling, former local MP Peter Mandelson, actor Christopher Timothy, film director Ridley Scott, and from the world of rock music, Meat Loaf and Iron Maiden’s Janick Gers.
- ‘Pool play at Victoria Park, “The Vic” to the locals. Opened in 1886 it stands close to the town centre. Used as a temporary home by Middlesbrough who were threatened with liquidation, the ground once hosted two league games on the same day! This was on the opening day of the 1986-87 season when first Hartlepool took to the field in an early kick-off, duly followed by Middlesbrough contesting their League Division Three fixture, drawing 2-2 with Port Vale. More recently Gateshead made temporary use of the ground when flooding at The International Stadium, Gateshead prevented them playing there.
The ground has undergone extensive improvements over the years. Away supporters are housed in an all-seater stand behind one goal, The Rink End, close to The Corner Flag, a popular pub for fans on match-days.
The record attendance at the ground came in 1957 when Matt Busby brought his Babes to Victoria Park for a 3rd FA Cup tie, The Red Devils winning 4-3 in front of 17,264. Busby commented in his biography that the game stood out for him as one of the most exciting in his managerial career. The current ground capacity is 7,856.