When Christian Burgess used to cheer on Marlon Harewood from the terraces at Upton Park, the defender never dreamed he’d one day line-up in the same team as his West Ham favourite.
Burgess was born in Barking, within three miles of the Hammers’ stadium, and he and his mates were regulars at home games having been brought up on all things claret and blue.
If they weren’t playing football they were watching it, so when it came to light that Harewood was going to be joining Burgess at The Vic, the on-loan centre-back’s mobile was red hot.
“I was buzzing when I found out about the signing yesterday,” he told us, after training with Harewood for the first time on Tuesday morning.
“I was winding all the lads up saying that I was going to come in to training in my full West Ham kit – but I didn’t follow through with that threat in the end!
“I was surprised as well as delighted because I used to go and watch him every week when I was back at home and he was playing for West Ham in the Premier League. The hot dogs were terrible but Marlon was good so it was okay!
“He’s a bit of a hero down that way so when I heard he was coming here I was really looking forward to it really. The lads I know back home were buzzing as well – all my friends are West Ham fans and there are loads of us so when they found out I got a lot of text messages!
“I’ve not cornered him to talk about West Ham just yet, I thought I’d give him a couple of days to settle in first but it will come I’m sure!”
Ironically, Burgess’ finest memory of Harewood’s time at West Ham is one that hurt his parent club Middlesbrough as well as Pools boss Colin Cooper who was on the books at the Riverside at the time.
“I remember going to the FA Cup semi-final against Boro at Villa Park in 2006,” he recalled.
“Marlon scored the only goal that day and got us to the Final – it was probably one of the best days I have ever had as a West Ham fan, I have fantastic memories of that goal and the game as a whole.
“I was quite a lot younger then obviously, out of Academy football and just playing on a Sunday but I remember looking up to the likes of Marlon, especially after he scored that day!”
Burgess is confident that Harewood can help provide the extra fire power Pools need to recover from consecutive home defeats at the start of the New Year.
And even after only one training session alongside his new team-mate, he’s convinced that he can make a difference as Colin Cooper’s men prepare for the trip to Fleetwood Town this weekend.
“He’s a strong lad and he’s got a bit of pace too; he’s been around some top clubs and played at the highest level and knows his way around the pitch as he’s shown when we’ve trained with him this morning.
“He has a wealth of experience and I don’t think you’d fancy it as a defender if you looked at the opposition line-up on a Saturday and saw him coming up against you would you?
“I read something yesterday saying that we need that extra edge going forward and I think that’s fair comment because in some of the games the way we’ve played hasn’t been reflected in the scoreline.
“We’ve had good away form generally and we definitely need another good result after the last two home games so hopefully we can put it right this weekend.”