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Word Of Honour: The Great Goal Drought

6 March 2015

Brian Honour blogs on Pools' record-breaking spell without a goal in 1993 and reveals how he and his team-mates celebrated the end of it.

Hello and welcome to my latest Blog here on the Official Website.

It’s been brought to my attention that it’s 22 years ago today since Andy Saville scored that infamous Pools goal at Blackpool to bring our record-breaking drought to an end.

For those too young to remember, we’d basically pulled off a shock result to beat Crystal Palace in the FA Cup at the start of 1993, only to then go thirteen games without scoring a goal – or 1,227 minutes if you prefer!

I remember the time vividly because it was national news in the lead-up to the Blackpool game but, to be honest, it was all becoming a bit irritating for the players. I mean, it’s one thing to be setting record but you prefer them to be good ones!

As every minute of every game passed by the frustration grew and it wasn’t just on the pitch that things weren’t going well because off the pitch the players weren’t getting paid. The Club was a bit of a shambles to be honest, we were hardly training and turning up on a Saturday to play.

Mentally, the run was really starting to affect the players; it was on the news all the times that we weren’t being paid so people in the street would should “have you scored yet?” or “have you been paid?” – it was a horrible time.

The build-up to the Blackpool game was quite intense; I think Viv Busby’s team-talk was that one of us was going to make the headlines by scoring the goal to end the drought. I suppose, in some ways, the pressure was off because everyone knew we weren’t even getting paid and it was a ready-made excuse for the players.

I remember the moment of the goal, I had a hand in it I am pleased to say. I cut in from the right and laid it in to the path of Andy Saville and he stuck it in the net. It was like we’d won promotion. There was a famous photo going round at the time showing all the players diving on top of each other in front of the big away end, packed with Pools fans going absolutely wild! I think the relief and what it meant to everyone was clear.

Back in those days of course, it was a different game. I remember that when the fixtures came out at the start of the season we all picked out Blackpool and a few of us suggested staying down there after the game for a Saturday night out!

Obviously with everything that was going on surrounding the game in the end, there was plenty of interest and lots of supporters went down – everyone wanted to be able to say they were there when we finally scored a goal! There was even a minibus of my mates went, though I think they were more interested in the night out than the football!

So we’d decided we were out – win, lose or draw. Me, Dean Emerson, Ryan Cross and Paul Olsson were among those who booked to stay in a boarding house on the Saturday night. It wasn’t an issue back then – you just told the gaffer you weren’t going home on the bus and you’d see him Monday and there was no problem!

It was pandemonium when we got in to the dressing room after the final whistle; everyone was patting each other on the back and we were looking forward to a great night on the town. It would have been better if we’d won 1-0 but we’d scored a goal and got a point so spirits were pretty good.

There was a social club over the road from Bloomfield Road in those days called The Tangerine Club I think. It doubled up as the players’ bar so we all went in there for a few drinks. The fans bought a round and then Garry Gibson bought one too – “never mind about your wages, lads – come and get a pint2”. You couldn’t make it up.

After a few beers, the team coach left and we went to get across to our boarding house but when we got to the foyer of the club someone had stolen Dean Emerson’s kit bag! So all he had left was his Hartlepool tracksuit and his wash bag. He thought we were winding him up and someone had hidden it but all we were bothered about was getting out so none of us had done anything!

When we got back to our digs, Deano had to borrow some gear and ended up wearing a pair of size 10 Dr Martens (I think he was about a size 7!), a pair of jeans two sizes too big that one of the lads had been wearing at the game and a Stone Island overcoat. And he had to wear that for two days until we got back to Hartlepool. Thankfully, when he came looking for gear all of my stuff was too small for him!

Fantastic memories.

Going back to the present day, I would like to end today’s Blog by sending my best wishes to Michael Woods after he suffered such a bad injury in last weekend’s game against AFC Wimbledon.

I got on really well with Woodsy during the spell I had coaching alongside Sam Collins and I see a lot of similarities between us. He started out at a league club before dropping in to non-league – just as I did – and now he’s trying to re-build his career back in the league.

I know he will come back from the injury stronger and I just wish him all the very best, as I am sure every Pools fans will be doing too.

Listen out for me on Pools Player’s live commentary on Saturday afternoon – we’ll be live from 2.50pm so click here now for information on how you can join us.

Never Say Die.

Brian.

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