Hartlepool United Football Club was formed as a professional club in 1908 from a successful Amateur Cup-winning team, and joined the League in 1921.
Through two minor name changes, Hartlepool United have spent all of their years in the lower two divisions of the Football League, but nonetheless have a fascinating if somewhat chequered history.
The Club moved past their Centenary year in 2008 and are currently enjoying one of the stronger periods since their formation.
In this section we take a leisurely four part look at the story so far.
Part 1 – 1881 to 1945: The Early Years
Part 2 – 1945 to 1968: Westgarth to McLean
Part 3 – 1972 to1995: From Triumph to the Brink and Back
Part 4 – 1997 to 2015: The IOR Years
Part 5 – 2015 to Present Day: JPNG Ownership
You can also buy the Club’s Official History Book which gives a detailed and unique insight in to the past of Hartlepool United.
The Club rose from the remnants of a previously successful amateur side in 1908, survived the now infamous bombing by a German zeppelin in 1916 and join the Football League in 1921.
A string of interesting characters pass through the Club’s books over the years, both on the playing and managerial side, and this period is no exception.
West Hartlepool Amateur Football Club was formed.
Became founder members of the Durham FA.
West Hartlepool Rugby Football Club buy land from the North-Eastern Railway Company, once part of a limestone quarry, now covered with allotments. The club cleared the land and the new ground was named the Victoria Ground in Queen Victoria’s Jubilee Year. 1889 The Northern League is formed and West Hartlepool join soon afterwards. playing at various venues in the town. 1905 West Hartlepool Amateur Football Club win the FA Amateur Cup, beating Clapton 3-2 at Shepherd’s Bush in London.
The Rugby club folds due to financial difficulties leaving the Victoria Ground in need of repair. On May 2nd a newly-formed association club was announced which would go forward on professional terms and had applied to join the North Eastern League.
On June 1st 1908 a limited liability company was registered under the name “The Hartlepools United Football Athletic Company Limited” with 2000 £1 shares offered to form a professional club. The shares are not fully subscribed, as there are doubts about professional sport, but Messrs R Martin and W Paterson, former vice-presidents of the rugby club and W J Coates, a former committee member formed the Board of directors of the new company. Although playing at the Victoria Ground, situated in West Hartlepool, the team is named Hartlepools United against public opinion as the company believe it should represent the two Hartlepool boroughs (Hartlepool and West Hartlepool).
On September 2nd 1908 a Newcastle United team were the opposition as Hartlepools played their first game at Victoria Park. The Magpies outfit were put to the sword as goals from Smith, Fletcher, Edgley, Seal and Lenagahan (2) meant a 6-0 win for the hosts.
The amateurs of West Hartlepool continue to play in the Northern League but ironically need to share the Victoria Ground with the professionals, having lost their Park Road ground. Hartlepools United’s first captain is Fred Priest, formerly a professional with Sheffield United, and they poach players from the amateurs and join the North-Eastern League. The ground share does not last long, as in June 1910 the amateur team folds and their assets are taken over by the professional club.
United embark on a tour of Germany, an ambitious venture for a team outside of the powerful Football and Southern leagues.
27th November 1916
A German Zeppelin on a bombing mission to the Teesside industrial area under attack from a Royal Flying Corps pilot jettisons it’s load onto the Victoria Ground, destroying the main stand. A “temporary” replacement is built . which lasts until the eighties! The ground is also damaged by a German naval bombardment of the town. The club pressed the German government for compensation, but never received a penny.
United took part in the Northern Victory League along with Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Newcastle United.
United put their case for election to the new northern Section of the Football League at a meeting in Manchester. They need to finish in the top half of the North Eastern League to qualify, which they do.
Workington transferred one of their players named Forman, for a fee reputed to be £10 and a box of kippers.
27th August 1921
United play their first ever League game away to Wrexham. The team is Gill, Crilly, Thoms, Dougherty, Hopkins, Short, Donald, Kessler, Mulholland, Lister & Robertson. United win 2-0 with goals from Mulholland and Lister. United finish a creditable fourth with seventeen wins and eight draws.
Egyptian Tewfik Abdallah, the first non-European to wear the club’s colours, signs from Derby County, making 11 appearances at inside right and scoring one goal. He had previously played for International SC (Cairo) and Cowdenbeath and later coached in the US.
With the Victoria Ground covered in a blanket of snow, and the temperature just above freezing, Bill Norman, United’s manager ordered players to strip for training. When they complained about the conditions, Norman stripped naked and rolled in the snow. The players were amused, but did as they were told.
Jack Howe was transferred to Derby after signing forms on a Lincoln railway station. He later played for England and won an FA Cup medal in 1946.
Former Irish international centre-forward Sam English joined the club – he had previously played for Rangers and Liverpool.
War again caused normal competitions to be suspended and a North-Eastern Division formed and later the Football League North. Various guest players (usually stationed nearby) played for the teams. Albert Stubbins seemed to take a particular liking for Pools’ defence, scoring 18 goals against them in 10 games. Stubbins’ picture appears on the cover of the Beatles’ Sergeant Peppers album.
The position as Manager of Hartlepool United FC has been filled by a few interesting characters over the years . and indeed by a greater number of people than at most clubs!
Fred Westgarth’s length of tenure is unlikely to be beaten in the modern game – neither will his practice keeping hens at the ground.
Brian Clough cut his managerial teeth at the Victoria Ground, arriving in May 1966. He turned around a club in the doldrums and instilled a sense of pride. Along with Peter Taylor his assistant, he built a side which went on to gain the first promotion in the Club’s history under Gus McLean
1943 – 1957
Fred Westgarth’s term as manager is unlikely ever to be equalled in the modern game. He brought stability and success to the club, almost got them into the second division and enjoyed cup success too.
31st August 1946
Pools play their first post-war game wearing blue & white striped shirts and black shorts, drawing 1-1 with Barrow – Leo Harden scored the goal. The team was: Heywood, Brown, Gregory, Spellman, Lambert, H Jones, Copeland, Moses, Price, McMahon and Harden.
Club Chairman J M Stathers installs new terracing at Victoria Ground, with the aim of increasing average attendances for the first team to 10,000 and the reserves to 4,000!
12th January 1952
Pools are drawn away to then First Division Burnley in the FA Cup Third Round. Hartlepool is little more than a ghost town as thousands travel to Turf Moor to swell the crowd to 38,608. Burnley are expected to win easily, but Pools push them all the way, and eventually lose 1-0 in a classic cup-tie.
7th January 1956
Pools lose 1-0 at home to Chelsea in front of a crowd of 16,862.
5th January 1957
Possibly the most famous game in Pools’ history – the FA Cup 3rd round tie against Manchester United’s Busby Babes. In front of 17,426, Pools eventually lose 4-3 in what Matt Busby later described in his autobiography as “the most exciting match I’ve ever watched.”
27th April 1957
A 2-0 victory at home at Bradford Park Avenue sees Pools finish second in the Third Division North, but miss out on promotion as only champions Derby were promoted.
Having finished in the bottom half of the previous season’s Third division north, Pools find themselves in the newly formed Fourth Division.
25th October 1958
Visitors Aldershot take the lead through Albert Mundy in six seconds and go on to win 3-0. 4 April 1959 Pools record their record league victory – a stunning 10-1 home win over Barrow which sees each of the five man forward line score.
Goalkeeper Ken Simpkins signs and wins Welsh Under-23 international honours. However he is possibly best remembers for his last season where he was pressed into action as an emergency centre-forward and scores the winner in a 3-2 victory over Port Vale.
Brian Clough appointed manager and brings in Peter Taylor from Burton Albion to help him. The legendary manager famously visits every pub and club in the town to raise funds for the club and builds one of the most successful teams in the club’s history.
21st May 1966
Clough gives a debut to John McGovern, then still attending Henry Smith School, at the age of 16 years 205 days – a club record.
Having built a successful team, clough and Taylor move on to Derby County and are succeeded by Angus ‘Gus’ McLean.
6th May 1968
Pools win 2-0 at Swansea and gain promotion for the first time in the club’s history. A crowd of 11,011 see them celebrate promotion in their final home game – also against Swansea.
10th August 1968
Hartlepools United gain promotion, but it is “Hartlepool AFC” who play in the Third Division after the amalgamation of the two boroughs of Hartlepool and West Hartlepool. Pool fall 2 points short of survival and are relegated in 22nd place after just one season out of the bottom flight.
The Club’s first spell out of the bottom division lasted just one season, and it took them another twenty years of often soul-destroying struggle before they enjoyed their next promotion.
Cap in hand visits to the Football League AGM were the order of the day to plead the case for re-election and “one more chance”.
Thankfully the days of automatic relegation to the Conference were a long way off. Former Spurs full-back Cyril Knowles built the squad which won our second promotion but sadly didn’t live to see them achieve success and Alan Murray takes the team up.
They enjoy two good seasons ending mid-table but the third ends in relegation and financial crisis forces the dismantling of what many say was one of our best line-ups.
The darkest hour was the winding-up order served on the Club in the High Court. However local businessman Harold Hornsey saved the day and re-built the Club on solid foundations.
Pools release a single – “Never Say Die / Who Put Sugar in My Tea” – sadly it fails to reach the charts.
An excellent League Cup run sees Pools beat Workington, Bournemouth (in a third replay), Blackburn (again in a replay) before going out in yet another replay at Aston Villa. Villa go on to win the cup, playing fewer games than Pools’ nine cup-ties.
Billy Horner appointed manager replacing Ken Hale. The 7 year stint is Horner’s first of two as full time manager and numerous in a caretaker role.
20th August 1977
Pools kick off the new season as Hartlepool United, having dropped the “Hartlepool AFC” appellation.
28th February 1978
Pools go down 4-1 at Ipswich Town in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup, having beaten Tranmere, Runcorn and Crystal Palace on the way.
2nd October 1982
United lose 3-2 at Torquay and after Roy Hogan is sent off, Kevin Johnson and Rob Smith are dismissed . for squaring up to each other!
The temporary wooden stand on the Clarence Road side, erected as a “temporary” measure after the Zeppelin bombing, is demolished following new safety concerns after the Bradford City fire tragedy.
23rd October 1986
Middlesbrough FC are locked out of Ayresome Park, having been declared bankrupt, and play their opening fixture of the new season at Victoria Ground immediately after our opener against Cardiff City.
9th February 1988
On a windswept night at Roker Park, a Brian Honour goal direct form a corner seals victory over Sunderland in the Sherpa Van Trophy and a Northern Area Semi-final against Preston. Black Cats’ manager Dennis Smith describes the defeat as a “stigma”.
24th August 1988
Pools beat Manchester United containing Viv Anderson, Paul McGrath, Mike Duxbury, Lee Sharpe and Chris Turner 6-0 in a pre-season friendly.
Cyril Knowles is appointed manager and builds a promotion-winning side, but sadly a terminal illness means he doesn’t see his side gain the reward.
11th May 1991
A 3-1 home victory over Northampton Town wins automatic promotion in third place. Joe Allon scores 28 league goals and equals Bill Robinson’s 1927-28 tally.
2nd January 1993
An Andy Saville penalty seals a 3rd round FA Cup victory over Crystal Palace in a game broadcast live all over the world by the BBC. Pools then go a League record 1,227 minutes without scoring – Saville finally breaking the hoodoo at Blackpool on March 6th.
23rd January 1993
Pools play at Sheffield United in the 4th round with a High Court winding-up order hanging over the club.
Local businessman Harold Hornsey rescues the club from the hands of previous Chairman Garry Gibson, who had taken the club on a roller-coaster ride which included the heights of the second division but almost into oblivion.
25th July 1995
Harold Hornsey fulfils his promise to build new East Stand. Cyril Knowles’ widow Betty officially opens the stand named in his memory.
A new covered terrace at the town end of the ground is built in partnership with local company Expamet. Hornsey renames the stadium “Victoria Park” to reflect the transformation of the facilities.
Harold Hornsey took the Club as far as his resources would allow, then took everyone by surprise when selling out to an Aberdeen-based oil company.
Many fans were sceptical as to the intentions of a company with no other obvious links to the town, or indeed football.
Building on their predecessors’ foundations IOR have won over the doubters with their progressive investment in the Club both on and off the pitch.
Aberdeen-based Increased Oil Recovery Ltd (IOR) buy the club from Harold Hornsey and set about building on the solid base now in place. New Chairman Ken Hodcroft keeps Harold on in a paid consultancy role and as a Director. The other Directors are replaced.
IOR use their oil business connections to bring Norwegian International Jan Ove Pedersen to the Club on loan from Brann Bergen for three months. He is widely acclaimed as the best player of the modern era to have worn the club’s colours.
The Club start up their own Centre of Excellence to bring through their own young stars for the future. History turns full circle as West Hartlepool Rugby Club commence a planned three-year ground share at Victoria Park as they play in the Allied Dunbar Premiership. However the deal ends after one year and West suffer successive relegations out of National League rugby.
2nd January 1999
England legend Peter Beardsley makes his debut and scored in the 2-2 draw with Cambridge United.
Former Sunderland and Manchester United goalkeeper Chris Turner is appointed manager, with the immediate task of saving the club form relegation. He does this, with full financial support from IOR, despite being three points adrift at the bottom with only four matches left, and begins the task of building a strong side which is soon fighting for promotion.
Turner brings in Colin West as his assistant.
31st October 1999
Club mascot H’Angus the monkey makes his debut at the !st Round FA Cup victory over Millwall at Victoria Park.
Taylor Report improvement work starts on Victoria Park with the first phase being completed early 2000.
Chris Turner’s side qualify for the Play-offs in a thrilling 3-0 away victory over Hull City, but lose the semi-final over two legs to Darlington. Midfielder Tommy Miller is leading goalscorer and finishes second behind Kevin Phillips but ahead of Alan Shearer in NE Football Writers’ Player of Year.
Pools go on a record 21 match unbeaten League run, beginning with a 1-0 home win over Southend United and ending with a 2-1 defeat at Southend. Jan 2001 Turner’s achievements earn him the Division 3 Manager of the Month award.
Pools qualify for the play-offs, winning their last three matches to confirm fourth place, three points behind Chesterfield, but lose out to Blackpool.
The Club invest £100,000 in a new pitch including, for the first time, a full drainage system. Second phase of Taylor Report improvements work begins at Victoria Park, featuring improvementsto spectator facilities including turnstiles, catering outlets and toilets. The £1,360,000 cost takes the total spent on the ground during IOR’s tenure to the £2 million mark.
Chairman Ken Hodcroft reports a loss of £917,000 for the financial year to 31 Dec 2000, fully funded by IOR.
A late run takes us into the Play-offs for the third successive year, but after a superb performance in the second leg at Cheltenham we suffer the heartache of losing a penalty shoot-out.
With the team at the top of the Third Division table, Chris Turner and Colin West leave to join Sheffield Wednesday; former Blackburn and Everton striker Mike Newell becomes the new manager.
Another former Evertonian, Kevin Sheedy joins Newell as Assistant Manager.
Promoted to the 2nd Division as runners-up. Mike Newell’s contract is not renewed.
Neale Cooper is appointed as the new manager and former Youth Team Coach Martin Scott promoted to Reserve Team Manager.
A crowd of 40,816, including 10,000 Pools fans sees Sunderland edge an epic FA Cup 3rd round tie 1-0 at The Stadium of Light. April 2004 The Reserves win Pontins Holidays League Division 1 East, finishing ten points clear of nearest rivals Newcastle. The Youth Team win the Under 19 Group at The Dallas Cup, winning all of their games and beating the Metrostars 4-1 in the final.
Finish 6th in Second Division and reach play-offs for fourth year out of five but again miss out on Cardiff as Bristol City come back from the dead to score twice in last five minutes.
The Youth Team follow up the previous season’s Dallas Cup triumph with a third-place finish in the prestigious USA tournament’s Super Group section. After qulaifying as Champions from their Group phase, they are beaten in the semi-finals but win the play-off against Mexican side Tigres.
The Youth Team win the Durham Challenge Cup with a 3-0 victory over Dunston Federation Brewery. Two goals from James Brown and one from David Foley hand Pools the win in front of a bumper crowd at Durham’s New Ferens Park.
Manager Neale Cooper leaves the Club by mutual consent. Martin Scott steps up to take charge of First Team affairs on a temporary basis.
Meanwhile, the First Team finish their season on a high by squeezing in to the play-offs with a point at Bournemouth. They face Tranmere Rovers in the semi-final and Adam Boyd scored twice in the first leg to hand Pools the advantage going to Prenton Park for the second leg. Rovers come back in to it with two late goals, but Pools go through to Cardiff after a tense penalty shootout – Ritchie Humphreys buried his Cheltenham demon with the winning spot kick.
Pools fall at the last hurdle as Sheffield Wednesday defeat them in the Play-Off Final at The Millennium Stadium. Goals from Eifion Williams and Jon Daly saw Pools come from behind to lead but nine minutes from time a dubious penalty was awarded against Chris Westwood who was then sent off. The spot-kick was converted and The Owls made their man advantage pay in Extra Time scoring twice to win promotion to The Championship and condemn Pools to another season in League One.
Martin Scott is named permanent Manager in a Victoria Park Press Conference. He quickly appoints former Barnsley and Sunderland midfielder Steve Agnew as Reserve Team Manager.
Martin Scott leaves his post as First Team Manager after discussions between himself and the Club. With Reserve Team boss Steve Agnew also leaving the Club, Youth Team Coach Paul Stephenson is handed control of First Team affairs on a temporary basis, while former boss Chris Turner arrives in the capacity of The Director of Sport.
Pools are relegated from League One after three seasons following a home draw with Port Vale.
Danny Wilson is appointed First Team Manager with Ian Butterworth joining the Club soon after as Reserve Team Manager.
Boss Danny Wilson takes the League Two Manager of the Month prize for September following a goal-filled month. Wins over Boston, Mansfield, Peterborough, Grimsby and Wrexham were enough to see Wilson handed the award.
After being on the shortlist for the Manager of the Month award in the two previous months, it was a case of third time lucky for Danny Wilson. He was named League Two’s top boss for the second time in the season after a perfect month of five consecutive victories, including wins over Swindon and Walsall.
Danny Wilson makes it a hat-trick of awards when he nets the League Two Manager of the Month prize for March. Wilson had led his team to three wins and two draws as they made their way onwards to promotion.
A diving header from Richard Barker secured all three points at Wycombe and finalised Pools’ automatic promotion back to League One.
Pools are defeated at home by Bristol Rovers on the final day of the season meaning they miss out on the League Two title but take the runners-up spot.
The Reserves finish top of the Pontins Holidays East League Division One, meaning they qualify for the end of the season play-offs. However, they are beaten by Nottingham Forest at Billingham Town.
Pools finish 15th in their first season back in League One.
June 1st 2008
The Club celebrates 100 years of football by officially reaching its 100th birthday.
Danny Wilson leaves Hartlepool United and Director of Sport Chris Turner takes temporary charge of First Team affairs.
Despite defeat at Bristol Rovers on the last day of the season, Pools survive in League One. They finish 19th with 50 points – just one point above the drop zone.
The Club launch the brand new Official History of Hartlepool United – a book which charts every major event in the Club’s history since its inception in 1908.
The Club are deducted three points by the Football League after playing Gary Liddle in an Easter Monday fixture with Brighton when he should have been serving a suspension. Pools reveal their dismay at the decision and announce plans to appeal against the deduction, which plunges them back in to a relegation battle with just one game of the season remaining. On a tense final day at Brentford, Pools secure their League One status with a 0-0 draw against The Bees. With Tranmere and Exeter both winning, they climbed above Pools in the table but it was Gillingham who slipped to relegation after a dismal 3-0 defeat at Wycombe Wanderers. It means the Club will play League One football for the fourth consecutive season – a record.
Mick Wadsworth arrives at the Club as Assistant Coach following the summer departure of Colin West.
Chris Turner resigns from his position as Director of Sport with immediate effect, and Mick Wadsworth is handed responsibility for the First Team. He is to be assisted in the role by Youth Team Coach Micky Barron and Club Captain Ritchie Humphreys.
Despite some terrible weather, Pools take points from visits to high-flying Huddersfield and Bournemouth, while also moving past Yeovil Town in the FA Cup. The string of impressive performances results in Mick Wadsworth being named League One Manager of the Month and Sam Collins celebrating as Player of the Month.
Pools finish the season with a 0-0 draw at Charlton Athletic which leaves them in 16th position in the League One table.
Mick Wadsworth is relieved of his duties as Head Coach after a record-breaking run of seven successive home defeats.
Neale Cooper is appointed as First Team Coach, to be assisted by Micky Barron in his role as Reserve Team Coach.
Neale Cooper leaves his role as First Team Coach after Pools picked up just one win in 14 attempts in League One. Micky Barron takes temporary charge of First Team affairs.
John Hughes joins the Club from Livingston to take up the role of First Team Coach, with Micky Barron continuing as Reserve Team Coach.
Pools are relegated to League Two, finishing the 2012/13 season in 23rd position in League One.
It is announced that John Hughes and Micky Barron are to leave the Club following relegation. The search for a new Manager concludes at the end of the month when Colin Cooper is unveiled in the hotseat to be assisted by Craig Hignett.
Assistant Manager Craig Hignett leaves the Club to take on a similar role at Middlesbrough.
Ten man Pools come from behind to defeat Morecambe 2-1 at Victoria Park and secure their Football League status. A run of defeats had dragged the Club close to the bottom two but the gutsy turnaround against The Shrimps was enough to allay any fears of relegation. Pools go on to finish the season 19th in League Two.
Stephen Pears is unveiled as the Club’s new Assistant Manager and Goalkeeping Coach. The former Middlesbrough and Pools keeper linked up with the squad for the first time when they spent a pre-season training week in La Cala, Spain.
After a 3-0 home defeat to Carlisle United, Colin Cooper decided to call time on his spell as boss at Victoria Park. Cooper had been in charge for 16 months but resigned immediately after the game against The Cumbrians with Sam Collins placed in temporary charge.
On 23rd October, Pools’ search for a new boss came to an end when Paul Murray was unveiled as the new man in charge to be assisted by Willie Donachie. Murray had been popular with the fans during his time as a player with the Club and had been working as First Team Coach at Oldham Athletic prior to interest from Pools. He took charge for the first time when Pools were beaten 2-1 at Cambridge United.
Following a humiliating FA Cup defeat to non-league Blyth Spartans at Victoria Park, Pools made the decision to relieve Paul Murray and Willie Donachie of their duties. The defeat was made all the more painful by the fact the game was televised live on BBC – Pools letting a one-goal lead slip in the second half to be dumped out of the competition.
Pools acted swiftly to identify Murray’s successor and Ronnie Moore was appointed as the new Manager on 16th December. His first act was to hand Sam Collins the Assistant Manager position.
After a 1-0 defeat at Wycombe Wanderers on Saturday 3rd January, Pools were left ten points shy of safety at the bottom of League Two and with one foot in the Conference.
A sequence of four successive victories (over Morecambe, Oxford United, Mansfield Town and Cambridge United) lifted Pools out of the bottom two and rekindled hopes of a Great Escape.
While Pools struggled to maintain their improved form, they did manage to stay out of the bottom two going in to a crucial final home game of the season against Exeter City. Scott Fenwick scored an opener but the visitors quickly equalised before Jordan Hugill smashed home what proved to be the decisive goal. A crowd of nearly 5,000 created an incredible atmosphere and sang along to the Great Escape theme when it was confirmed that other results had gone Pools’ way and the 2-1 win was enough to safeguard their Football League future.
Pools came from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 in the final game at Carlisle United a week later, finishing 22nd in the table.
Following survival in League Two, owners Increased Oil Recovery completed talks with recruitment firm JPNG taking the reins at Victoria Park. Gary Coxall was appointed as the new Chairman of Hartlepool United, replacing Ken Hodcroft with immediate effect.
Ronnie Moore’s first pre-season in charge saw him take his new-look squad to a local army camp for an intensive week of fitness training. It seemed to pay-off because the team won its first five games of the new campaign, including an excellent cup win at Fleetwood Town and a first away triumph at York City since the 1980s.
Pools came to the attention of the national media when they were paired with Salford City – run by a group of former Manchester United stars – in the Second Round of the FA Cup. Moore’s men needed extra time in a Victoria Park replay to squeeze through but both games were televised live to add to the coffers going in to the New Year.
Results in the league had been hit and miss to say the least since before Christmas and a 2-1 home defeat to Stevenage prompted a change in the dugout. Ronnie Moore left the Club by mutual consent and Chairman Gary Coxall moved swiftly to appoint Craig Hignett as his successor. Curtis Fleming also came in as Hignett’s assistant at The Vic.
An upturn in form under Craig Hignett saw Pools drive away from the drop zone during March and an incredible 5-2 win at Morecambe the following month was one of the Club’s most memorable performances on the road for many a year. Sadly, the season ended poorly but the job had been done and Hignett began focusing on re-shaping his squad for the following campaign.
Pools spent time during pre-season at a state-of-the-art training camp in Tenerife which had previously been used by the likes of Manchester City, Liverpool and Everton. The players got through plenty of warm-weather training to prepare them for the start of the new campaign.
Things hadn’t gone as well as expected on the pitch and a 1-0 defeat at Crawley Town on Saturday 14th January proved Craig Hignett’s last in the Pools dugout. The Club turned to experience and later in the week named former Sheffield Wednesday, Wolves and Southampton boss Dave Jones as the new man in charge. His assistants were to be Alex Armstrong and Kevin Cooper. The new era began well with Sam Collins taking the lead for a solid 2-0 win over Stevenage with the new men tasked with a watching brief for the afternoon.
An abysmal run of form which had seen Dave Jones take 13 points from a possible 54 culminated in a 2-0 home defeat to Barnet which saw Pools drop in to the bottom two for the first time. Dave Jones departed the Club along with staff, allowing Matthew Bates to take temporary charge for the final two games, assisted by Billy Paynter, Stuart Parnaby and Ian Gallagher.
Chairman Gary Coxall announced that he was stepping down from the role with immediate effect and that Pam Duxbury would assume his duties and that of the Club’s Chief Executive.
Saturday 6th May 2017
Needing victory over title-chasing Doncaster Rovers in their final game to have a chance of securing their EFL status, a packed house turned up at The Vic to get behind Pools on an emotionally-charged afternoon. Pools knew that even a victory wouldn’t be enough if relegation rivals Newport County overcame Notts County in their game. However, after falling behind in the first half, Pools turned it around when 18-year-old Devante Rodney came off the bench to score twice to put the Club on the brink of safety. Celebrations were about to get underway when news filtered through of a late winner for Newport – a goal which condemned Pools to life outside the Football League for the first time in 96 years.
Saturday 26th May 2017
Former TNS boss Craig Harrison is unveiled as the new man in charge at Victoria Park, arriving in the hopes of steering Pools back to the EFL at the first time of asking.
Having completed consultation with supporters followed by two rounds of public voting, the Club unveils a new Club Crest.
Meanwhile, Chairman Pam Duxbury sets out a vision to “restructure the ownership of Hartlepool United”, removing any links to previous owners JPNG and Gary Coxall.
As part of the restructure, it was asserted that the Club would move towards partial Supporters’ Trust ownership alongside a consortium of individuals to be sourced.
A further statement is released from Pam Duxbury which claims a number of “legacy issues have consumed huge financial and human resources.” An appeal for new investment is made and solicitors are appointed to handle expressions of interest.
Pam Duxbury makes an appeal via the local press saying that the Club needs to find £200,000 to stay in business. Talks are still ongoing with potential investors.
Fan Rachel Cartwright sets up a Just Giving page to help raise much-needed funds for the Club and it gains nationwide interest. There is also a drive among supporters to boost the attendance for the upcoming home game against Wrexham, with fans of Middlesbrough particularly supportive in reaction to Pools’ offer of help to them back in 1986.
21st February 2018
After a 2-0 defeat at FC Halifax Town continued a poor run of results for Pools and a decision was made to part company with boss Craig Harrison. First Team Coach Matthew Bates was placed in temporary charge.
After long discussions, Raj Singh completes his takeover of Hartlepool United, a move which was formally ratified by the FA and the National League at the end of the month. As part of the deal, Craig Hignett returns to The Vic as Director of Football.
After overseeing an impressive end to the season and securing National League safety, Matthew Bates is appointed as the new Manager of Hartlepool United on a permanent basis. Ged McNamee and Ross Turnbull also sign contracts to become part of his backroom team.
Despite overseeing an encouraging start to 2018/19, a run of six defeats in a row led to Matthew Bates departing the Club at the end of November.
Bates’ successor was Richard Money but the former Walsall boss did not stay long in the Pools dugout and by January 2019 Craig Hignett had been appointed as Manager for the second time.