Hartlepool United F.C.

Hartlepool United F.C.

Football club infobox |

fullname = Hartlepool United Football Club
nickname = Monkey Hangers
founded = 1908 (as Hartlepools United)
ground = Victoria Park
capacity = 7,691
chairman = flagicon|England Ken Hodcroft
manager = flagicon|Northern Ireland Danny Wilson
league = League One
season = 2007-08
position = League One, 15th

Hartlepool United Football Club are an English football team from Hartlepool playing in League One. They won promotion to League One in the season 2006-07. Hartlepool play their home games at Victoria Park, which is situated on Clarence Road near the town's coastline.

The most famous person to be associated with Hartlepool United is Brian Clough, who went on to achieve managerial glory with Derby County and to an even greater degree Nottingham Forest. He began his managerial career at Hartlepool in October 1965 before moving on to Derby two seasons later.

Another famous ex-manager is Cyril Knowles, who took over as manager in December 1989 and the following season helped them win promotion to the Third Division.

Hartlepool are managed by former Northern Ireland international Danny Wilson. Wilson joined the club in June 2006 after leaving MK Dons and led the team to promotion in his first season in charge. The club famously staged a Middlesbrough game in the 1986-87 season after Boro had been locked out of their own ground, Ayresome Park, by the bailiffs.

Their main local rivals are considered to be with League Two side Darlington. Geographically, Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Newcastle United would also be considered as rivals but because Hartlepool have never been in the same division as any of these teams their meetings in a competitive match are rare. The most recent one was Sunderland winning 1-0 in the FA Cup 3rd round at The Stadium of Light (2003/2004 season). Alex Robson, an executive from the club, recently quoted "The staff and the players are fully prepared for any enounters with Darlington. The club feels it has reached a high peak within the last few months, and is ready for any challenges in the following season."

Early years

The amateur team West Hartlepool F.C. were formed in 1881, being the town's only club up until the formation of United. In 1905, West Hartlepool won the FA Amateur Cup which at the time was considered second only to the FA Cup. Partly as a result of this the Football League however their proximity to Sunderland, Newcastle United and Middlesbrough led to these applications being rejected.

In 1920 the Football League decided to form a third division. However this was based almost entirely in the south, as the new division was created by absorbing virtually the entire top division of the Southern League, with Grimsby Town the only northern representative. This was rectified the following season when a Third Division North was created with Hartlepools being one of the founder members. [cite web | title=Part 1 - In the Beginning .. PoolsOnline.tk - Unofficial Hartlepool News and Views | work=Sport Network | url=http://www.sportnetwork.net/main/s84/st38154.htm | accessdate=2006-05-17]


Under Ashurst, the team slowly began to revive. The 1971–72 season saw a welcome improvement to 18th, and possibly saved the club; Barrow, who had finished bottom for the previous two years, were voted out in favour of Hereford despite having improved to 22nd. The club once again avoided the re-election zone in 1972-73, finishing in 20th place, but with four successive finishes either in or not far above the bottom four and strong challenges coming from non-league sides, the club needed to show signs of improvement. Ashurst did precisely that, finishing in 11th in 1973–74; he then left the club to manage Gillingham.

Ken Hale took over and guided the team to 13th and 14th over the next two seasons and also reached the League Cup 4th Round in 1974–75 (still a club record). However, 1976–77 saw a return to the doldrums; Hale was sacked after failing to win any of the first nine games (including two cup matches) at the start of October. His successor Billy Horner couldn't stop the rot either, and the team finished in 22nd place. Again there was a strong challenger from non-league in the form of Wimbledon; however, as the club was seeking re-election for the first time in six years, it was Workington—bottom for a second successive year and making their fourth consecutive re-election application—that made way. Over the close season the team's name was changed to its current form of Hartlepool United.

A marginal improvement to 21st the following year again saw the club applying to stay in the league; and again a strong non-league challenge, this time from Wigan, was enough to dispose of Southport. It seemed to be only a matter of time before Hartlepool United followed the same way.

Once again then, it was a huge relief for the supporters that Horner managed to make considerable improvements the following season. A large part of this was due to the strike partnership of Bob Newton and Keith Houchen; the latter would be the club's leading scorer in each of the following four seasons. There was also relative success in the FA Cup, with Crystal Palace being defeated at the Victoria Ground thanks to two goals from Newton as the club made the 4th Round.

1978–79 saw a finish in 13th place; 19th the following season was still enough to stay clear of the re-election zone, and then 1980–81 saw the team produce its best season in over a decade, never being out of the top 10 and looking promotion contenders for a long spell before falling away to finish 9th. Keith Houchen was top scorer with 17 league goals, with Newton also making double figures.

Financial issues were however making waves off the pitch and in particular the ownership of the ground. The Town Council were approached by the club with a view to buying the ground in January 1977, and although this was initially turned down negotiations continued. In February 1978, a deal seemed to have been agreed; however chairman Vince Barker accused the council of delaying the deal when it was not complete 12 months later. Barker would accuse the council of trying to renege on the deal in July 1980, and even threatened to move the club out of the town amidst rumours that he was prepared to sell up and allow the club to be moved to Scarborough. As of February 2007, the ground remains in Council ownership.

1981–82 saw the team finish in 14th place despite both Houchen and Newton scoring 18 goals, but their partnership was drawing to a close and with it four seasons of relative success. The club was running into financial difficulties under Vince Barker, and both forwards would be sold the following season for fees that failed to reflect their value to the club but allowed bills to be paid. The team suffered, and finished in 22nd—back in the re-election zone. Billy Horner handed over his duties at the end of March to John Duncan.

Duncan's time at the club was limited to say the least. Having been appointed on 1st April, just nine weeks later he left to take over at Chesterfield. Hartlepool appointed Mick Docherty, son of the legendary Tommy Docherty; however after six months and with the team struggling, he too left the club. Even for Hartlepool, four managers in the space of eight months was somewhat farcical; the fact that the decision was made to re-appoint Billy Horner (initially as a temporary measure, although he would actually remain in charge until November 1986) made the situation even worse.

Dissatisfaction with the club's board grew; attendances fell; performances remained poor. An eventual finish of 23rd, and a club record low attendance of 790 for the game with Stockport on 5th May 1984, showed a club that looked to be going nowhere. The application for re-election was again successful, with the club once more polling the lowest figure of the League clubs, the result was secured on the back of an agreement being made amongst the Club Chairmen to enter into meaningful dialogue over direct promotion and relegation with the Alliance Premier League. Many felt that without that agreement being made, Hartlepool would have been voted out because of their perennial re-election applications.Maidstone United were the unfortunate Non-League champions to have the Football League door slammed in their faces for the second year running. During the close season Chairman Barker left the club, John Smart taking over.

Once again though Horner managed to produce an improvement, to 19th, before making a team that looked capable of winning promotion. After a shaky start to 1985–86, the team climbed into the top 3 by mid-October; were still in a promotion spot in early March; and eventually faded slightly to finish in 7th place.

Any hopes that Horner might lead the club to promotion faded shortly after the start of Season 1986–87. After drawing the first four games of the season, Pools then lost the next four before finally recording their first win against Lincoln in the 9th game; a further six games without a win were enough to see the club looking in serious danger of being the first club to be automatically relegated from the Football League and saw Horner depart. He was replaced by John Bird, a former player at the club. Form improved slightly, but although the team eventually finished in relative safety in 18th, they were only three points ahead of Lincoln who suffered relegation.

One peculiarity of the season concerned Middlesbrough; the financially struggling Teessiders had been locked out of their ground Ayresome Park, but were due to play a home game on the opening day of the season. Had they not fulfilled the fixture they would have been expelled from the League; Hartlepool stepped into the breach and offered the use of the Victoria Ground. After Hartlepool's draw with Cardiff in the afternoon, Middlesbrough played their game with Port Vale the same evening. Days later the two clubs met in the League Cup - as of season 2006-07, the two legged tie remains the only occasion the teams have met in a senior competition.

The following season saw an improvement to 16th place, this time comfortably above relegated Newport County and in fact only 11 points from the Playoff Places; however a poor run of form towards the end of the season (four points from the last 10 games) cost the team any hope of promotion. Notable events from the season included both Paul Baker and Andy Toman scoring 20 or more goals in all competitions, and beating neighbours Sunderland in the Associate Members Cup.

Bird had however made something of a name for himself as a manager, and when early season form saw Hartlepool United in 2nd place at the end of September 1988, he left the club to join York City. Former Newcastle United Captain Bobby Moncur was appointed to succeed Bird, but failed to inspire the team; results suffered, and the eventual finishing position of 19th could even have been worse with the team as low as 22nd late in the season.

His period in charge continued to be little short of a disaster. Five successive league defeats opened the 1989–90 season, and Moncur eventually resigned in November with the club rooted to the bottom of the table having taken just nine points from 18 games with 46 goals conceded. New Chairman Garry Gibson had initially turned down Moncur's request, but accepted it at the second time of asking.

Recent success

The new manager appointed though would become a legend at the club. Cyril Knowles had been a distinguished player, and had a growing reputation as a manager; with the addition of several new signings, he achieved a remarkable turnaround. From having 9 points from 19 games, Knowles lead the side to 55 by the end of the season - and a safe 19th place in the table.

Even better was to follow the next season. With the partnership of Paul Baker and Joe Allon working well in attack, the team were in the Top 10 for much of the season and in with a good chance of reaching a playoff place. Then, tragedy struck: Knowles was diagnosed with a Brain Tumour] and had to step down from his duties. Knowles died at the end of August 1991; one of the stands at Victoria Park is named in his honour.

The surprising choice of former Middlesbrough player and Hartlepool Chief Executive Alan Murray to take over proved to be a master stroke; under Murray, the team's form improved further and the club went into the final day of the season as one of several clubs that could win not just promotion but the title. A 3-1 win over Northampton was enough to secure promotion in 3rd place; Allon scored 35 goals, and Baker and Paul Dalton also reached double figures.

Although Allon signed for Chelsea over the close season, Murray was able to retain the majority of the squad, and also signed players such as Andy Saville and Lenny Johnrose as the club finished in a highly respectable 11th in Division 3.

1992-93 saw the club playing in Division 2, as the formation of the Premier League caused a re-labelling of the divisions. With Murray having brought in players such as Dean Emerson, John Gallacher and Ryan Cross the club got off to a great start - by October the team was in 2nd, level on points with leaders West Brom.

The club remained in the playoff hunt until New Year, and then achieved one of the best results in its history when beating Crystal Palace 1-0 in the FA Cup 3rd Round - the first time that Hartlepool had beaten a top division side. However, this would prove to be the end of the club's success for several years. It was revealed shortly after the cup win that the club were in financial difficulties. To make ends meet, a number of players were released or sold, and the club set an unenviable record by going 1227 minutes without scoring. During this run Murray was sacked and replaced by Viv Busby. The club eventually escaped relegation, finishing 16th.

The following season was an unmitigated disaster. With no money to bring in players, the team struggled all season. Busby was replaced in November 1993 by John MacPhail, but he could do little as the team remained in the relegation places from November until the end of the season. Relegation was assured following a 7-0 defeat at Rotherham; the final day of the season saw the team thrashed 8-1 by Plymouth at the Victoria Ground.

The next five seasons saw constant struggle and a succession of managers. Gibson finally sold the club to local Businessman Harold Hornsey, who at least was able to financially stabilise the club; but with little money available for players times were hard. MacPhail left early in 1994-95 and was replaced by Dave McCreery; he was replaced towards the end of the same season by Keith Houchen, who had returned as a player. Houchen was in turn replaced after 18 months by Mick Tait. Meanwhile the club finished in 18th, 20th (twice) and 17th. There was also a change of ownership in 1997: Hornsey sold the club to a company called IOR, with Ken Hodcroft becoming Chairman.

Matters came to a head in 1998-99. Tait's side were struggling, and even the signing of former England International Peter Beardsley hadn't changed the club's fortunes. Tait was sacked in January 1999, and Chris Turner was appointed; despite being four points adrift at the bottom of the League at Easter, Turner was able to prevent the club being relegated. Under Turner, matters improved drastically. In 1999-2000 they reached the playoffs, but were beaten by local rivals Darlington in the semi-finals. In fact qualified for the play-offs for next two seasons as well - though on both occasions they were again defeated in the Semi-Finals.

In 2002-03 they finished in second place and won automatic promotion to the Football League Second Division once more. Turner had however left to take over Sheffield Wednesday part way through the season; Mike Newell replaced him but was surprisingly released over the close season, Neale Cooper taking over.

After an exceptional campaign in 2003-04, which included an 8-1 victory over Grimsby Town, they finished 6th and made the playoffs. However, they lost to third placed Bristol City after two games after holding them to a draw on the first leg. This season also saw Eifion Williams called up to the Wales squad and looked set to become only the second Hartlepool player ever to win an international cap while at the club; however an unfortunate injury in the Playoff Second Leg forced him to withdraw.

The club finished sixth in the league again in the 2004-05 season, despite the shock departure of Cooper just before the end of the season. In the play-off semi-final, they defeated Tranmere Rovers 6-5 on penalties after the sides had each won their home leg 2-0. The club couldn't win promotion though, as in the final however they lost 4-2 to Sheffield Wednesday after extra time. Hartlepool had been leading 2-1 with 8 minutes of regular time to go, but a controversial penalty decision in the 82nd minute which also saw Chris Westwood sent off allowed Sheffield Wednesday to level the scores making it 2-2 at 90 minutes. Hartlepool missing a key defender struggled in extra time and conceded two goals. Following this achievement Cooper's assistant Martin Scott was appointed as Manager.

The 2005-06 season saw the side slip down the division to the relegation places helped in part by poor management, an indecisive board room and key player injuries. Manager Martin Scott was suspended after an alleged fight with a player in the changing rooms, which resulted in his dismissal. Youth team coach Paul Stephenson was put in charge until the end of the season and despite remaining undefeated in his first five games in charge, he could not prevent the club being relegated into the fourth tier in May 2006. Some felt that Hartlepool's relegation was unfair given that Rotherham United had escaped administration, and therefore a 10 point deduction and relegation, by delaying a CVA meeting until after the season had ended.

On June 13, 2006, Danny Wilson was appointed manager. Wilson was unable to save fellow strugglers MK Dons from relegation to League Two at the end of the 2005-06 season, and he was sacked on May 10, 2006. On 1 January, 2007 Hartlepool United equalled the all-time Football League record of consecutive wins without conceding a goal. The 1-0 win at Mansfield Town was the 8th straight win without conceding. The record was also held by Barnsley F.C. and Wigan Athletic. However, the record was then broken by Stockport County on March 3, 2007 when they recorded their ninth successive win without conceding. The club went on to complete a 23 match unbeaten run which finally ended against the team they last lost to - Barnet.

Hartlepool bounced back to League One at the first time of asking, finishing second behind champions Walsall. This was the club's second promotion in four years and they maintained their League One status for a second successive season by finishing 15th in 2007-08. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/eng_div_2/default.stm]

Carling Cup

Season 2008-09


:"As of 4 October 2008."cite news
title = Profiles
url = http://www.hartlepool.vitalfootball.co.uk/squad.asp?cat=1619
publisher = Vital Hartlepool
accessdate = 2008-07-31

Current squad

Out on loan

Retired numbers

25 – flagicon|England Michael Maidens, midfielder, 2004–2007 [cite news|url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/teams/h/hartlepool_united/7067462.stm|title=Pools retire Maidens' number 25|publisher=BBC|accessdate=2007-10-29]

Notable former players

*flagicon|England Peter Beardsley
*flagicon|Norway Jan Ove Pedersen
*flagicon|England Michael Brown
*flagicon|England Steve Harper
*flagicon|England Steve Howard
*flagicon|England Andy Linighan
*flagicon|England Tommy Miller

Famous fans

*Jeff Stelling, presenter of Sky Sports show Soccer Saturday. [cite web | title=Your Vote: Hartlepool's Most Famous Fan | work=Vital Hartlepool | url=http://www.hartlepool.vitalfootball.co.uk/article.asp?a=111729 | accessdate=2008-08-04]
*Meat Loaf, American rock singer
*Phillip Middlemiss, actor
*Stuart Drummond, Mayor of Hartlepool who used to be the club mascot
*Janick Gers, guitarist from Iron Maiden
*John Ashton, best selling author of Dinner with Mandelson

Mascot elected mayor

In 2002 the team's mascot "H'Angus the Monkey", aka Stuart Drummond, was elected mayor of Hartlepool as an independent, under the slogan "free bananas for schoolchildren", even though his candidacy was just a publicity stunt. Stuart has since been re-elected after throwing off his comedy image and identifying himself increasingly with the Labour group on the council.


* [http://www.mfc.premiumtv.co.uk/page/News/NewsDetail/0,,1~886543,00.html| Middlesbrough FC Official Site - Article on using the Victoria Ground in 1986]
* [http://www.poolstats.co.uk/timeline.htm Timeline of Events from Pools Stats]
* [http://www.soccerbase.com/manager_history.sd?teamid=1190| Manager History from Soccerbase]
* [http://www.inthemadcrowd.co.uk/cgi-bin/itmc_view_seasons.asp Season by Season record] from * [http://www.inthemadcrowd.co.uk In the Mad Crowd]
*Law, Ed, Hartlepool United, (Derby; Breedon Books, 1989), ISBN 0 907969 57 7

External links

* [http://www.hartlepoolunited.co.uk/ Official Site]
* [http://www.pooliebunker.co.uk/newbunker The Poolie Bunker, The main fans forum.]
* [http://hartlepoolunited.rivals.net/teams/pgclubhome.aspx?clubid=37 Hartlepool Rivals On The Net - News stories and supporters forum]
* [http://www.hartlepoolvitalfootball.co.uk/ Vital Hartlepool - The number one Hartlepool United news source on the web]
* [http://www.eightminutes.co.uk/ EightMinutes.co.uk - News, reports, previews and forum]
* [http://www.inthemadcrowd.co.uk/ In The Mad Crowd - Comprehensive unofficial Hartlepool United site]
* [http://www.frankreidphotographer.co.uk/hufc/ Hartlepool United Photographs]
* [http://hartlepool.blogsfc.com Hartlepool 24/7 Blog] - unofficial en icon

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