Pools legend Brian Honour reflects on his sensational double the last time Pools played Maidstone ahead of this weekend's meeting with The Stones.
Hello everyone and welcome along to my Blog here on the Official Website.
It was brilliant to see the lads get their first win of the season on Monday at Guiseley. I was watching the results come in on Sky Sports and was texting a few people who were at the game for updates and I was thinking ‘here we go again’ when it got to half time 0-0 and I’d heard they’d hit the bar.
But then I think there was just a sense of relief and happiness when the text came through to me to say that Jonathan Franks had scored the goal. Hopefully now, that’s the monkey off the back for the players and we can really get that anxiety put in the past and settle everything down.
There’s no doubt about it that the performance against AFC Fylde wasn’t good enough. Nobody hid from that, least of all the Manager, so it was great for him and all the staff, the players and the fans to get it out of their systems with the win on Monday.
I remember at the start of the 1987/88 season we lost five on the belt and then went to Carlisle and got the win – then ended up winning five in a row! That’s how quickly things can change in football. We haven’t been battered in any game, we’ve not been a million miles away so hopefully the confidence is returning now because I would say 80% of playing football is between the ears.
The result has to be the catalyst for us now. By all accounts it was a battle and everyone rolled their sleeves up and it was a bit backs to the wall at times. I saw the Manager say that sometimes it’s not about pretty football and tactics and he’s right. I am actually more pleased that we got the result in that manner than if we’d gone there and won it with silky football because it shows that the players have the battling qualities they’re going to need to do well at this level.
All Hartlepool folk ask from the players is that they put the effort in. They’ll forgive a stray pass, a bad tackle or a missed chance as long as you give your all as a player and as a team. You saw that over the weekend with the atmosphere at the end the defeat to AFC Fylde then fast-forwarding 48 hours to them cheered from the pitch at Guiseley.
This weekend is a fixture that sparks many memories for me – and probably for plenty of people who were watching Pools the last time we played Maidstone. It was a game in the promotion season of 1990/91 when I believe we played them down there at Dartford’s ground and I scored two very memorable goals on the way to three important points.
If you ask anyone who was there I am sure they’ll remember it. The pitches were just starting to firm up and get a bit bobbly and spring was in the air.
It was weird because both the goals I scored were quite similar and they both happened within two or three minutes of each other. The first was a clearance to me in between the box and the halfway line where I was waiting to just lump anything back in to the area. But as the ball came to me and the centre-back closed me down, I just flicked it over his head and it fell really kindly for me to volley it in the bottom corner.
Then, literally about two minutes later, the ball came out to me again and did the same flick over a midfielder’s head this time and then some space opened up for me to wriggle in to the box and then knock it in to the bottom corner of the net again.
was a total freak occurrence to score two like that so close together. I never scored a goal like that in my career and then scored two in two minutes. Happy memories. I know my goal against Stockport from the halfway line gets talked about a lot but I think those goals at Maidstone were the best ones I have scored. Apart from maybe a certain corner…
We’d beaten Aldershot 5-1 a couple of weeks earlier and we gained confidence from that and suddenly we felt like we could win every game. Alan Murray had come in and basically told us “You’re good players, go and play” which was music to our ears and me, Paul Dalton, Joe Allon and Paul Baker had the freedom to do what we wanted on the pitch.
It just highlights my point from earlier about how massive confidence is in the game. Once we got winning it was usually just “same team, same subs” and we went from probably the bottom half of the table to automatic promotion on the back of an unbelievable run of results. Confidence is so important.
I actually dusted off the boots myself again on Sunday for a charity game raising money for my old club Horden who are literally starting out again. We organised a special Pools All Stars v Horden game to raise money for them and I have to say it was a fantastic day.
We got players from all kinds of different eras at Pools, players who had all played under different managers all came out and played and the craic in the dressing room was brilliant before and after the game. Some of the lads might not have known each other because they didn’t play together but I think I have been associated with the Club for that long that I was the link and everyone got on great.
I have to give a special mention to Rob McKinnon because he drove down from Glasgow, played in the game and then drove back up all in the same day and he didn’t ask for a single penny in expenses. He never does, Robbie is always the first one there when it comes to reunion dos or talk-ins – he just loves to do anything connected with Hartlepool United. It was funny actually because he was literally the first one there on Sunday and was phoning me from the changing room to ask where I was. I live five minutes down the road and he’s driven four hours from Scotland and beaten me there!
It was a good day though and although some of the hairlines were thinner and waistlines thicker, it was a really enjoyable occasion. And Tommy Miller still looks fit as a fiddle and should probably still be playing pro! It’s just a shame so many of us were driving because we went back to the Cricket Club for a drink afterwards and we could have been there all night reminiscing about times gone by at Pools.
I want to thank all the supporters who turned out to back the cause as well. I know that it was a Bank Holiday and there would have been plenty of things to do but I was delighted and humbled by how many of you came along so many, many thanks.
Right, that’s me done for another Blog – I will be at The Vic on Saturday on Pools PlayerHD’s live commentary so let’s hope I have plenty to shout about!
Never Say Die.