Pools legend Brian Honour gives his take on an extraordinary couple of weeks and draws comparisons with the Fans United game at Brighton in 1997.
Hello everyone and welcome to my latest Blog here on the Official Website.
What a week it’s been! Big thanks to everyone involved at the forefront of the fund-raising from supporters; Rachel, Mike, Tony and everyone else have been brilliant in helping to make a contribution in these very difficult times.
It’s been truly astonishing to watch unfold, amazing. Money is tight all around the country, we know that, but it just seems like the nation and, dare I say it, the rest of the world has come together to make contributions to try and put things right. Seeing fans of different clubs from all over supporting the Club has been very humbling.
I have seen numerous ex-players coming forward to help us out and they have gone out of their way to do their bit so it’s been heart-warming to watch.
It’s going to be an incredible day on Saturday with Victoria Park bursting at the seams. It reminds me of the Fans United game at Brighton over twenty years ago when we just happened to be the oppositions.
I was on the coaching staff alongside Mick Tait at the time back in 1997 and it was a time when Brighton had been really struggling on and off the pitch. They put a Fans United day on which was very similar to what has unfolded here this week – the whole country was behind Brighton and I have never seen such an atmosphere.
The fans were their 12th man that day and we got battered 5-0. It was strange because we actually went there confident of winning the game. Brighton were in a bad run and the form book was on our side but the atmosphere was electric and everyone was willing them to do well from all angles so it was tough.
It’s quite uncanny that almost 21 years on we now have the supporters of other clubs getting behind us in the same kind of way this weekend. Everyone is backing us this time so I just hope the players turn up because we could do with a result on Saturday. They need to play, as much to show their gratitude for the support as anything, but also because a lot of the fans who are there might enjoy the game and just think about coming back in the future too. We need to hang on to as many as we can. From a players’ point of view it will be a great game to play in.
I have played during some tough times for the Club. Back in 1993 we didn’t get paid for weeks on end. People say that Viv Busby was a bad manager but, in all honesty, his hands were tied. We would literally be waiting for a phone call in the morning to let us know if there was any money – and if there wasn’t we couldn’t even afford to gather for training.
We were under an obligation to fulfil our fixtures for games but then we were queuing outside the main office afterwards to get paid in pound coins whatever the Club could afford. We were literally stood there waiting for an envelope, that’s how bad it got.
At one point I had to borrow money off my father-in-law who had just been made redundant from the pit. My wife was going out to work when she could because we had two children to look after. Sometimes you’d get a call saying there was a little bit of money and could we go in to training – but some of the players lived as far away as Scarborough so couldn’t put petrol in their cars without reassurances.
There were other times when things were cut back a little later in the 1990s too. When Harold Hornsey came in the only overnight stays the team were allowed were in Exeter and Torquay – all the rest we had to go on the day.
We did the likes of Orient, Barnet and Aldershot on the day, just stopping at a Little Chef or a Wimpey for pre-match food. At the time we had a player called Scott Sloan who was a posh Geordie – I think he was from Northumberland or somewhere. He used to call is brunch which most of the lads had never even heard of. “It’s not pre-match or breakfast, it’s brunch,” he would tell us. I will never forget one day he nudged me during one of our Wimpey stops and said: “Brian, can you pass the preserves please?” I just looked at him because I thought he meant pass the Reserves. I’m having bacon and eggs and he’s going on about the players who aren’t in the team! Of course, he meant the jam and that but I had never even heard of preserves! Haha!
I know the football is a little secondary in people’s thoughts at the minute but let’s hope we can turn the corner and get a result on Saturday. The players have had a little break and been taken out of the firing line with a blank weekend which probably came at a good time so they should be refreshed and ready to go. It will be an electric atmosphere so hopefully that can rub off on them and we can go out and get a result.
Keep an eye out for details about a talk-in I'm going to be doing with Peterlee Round Table. The venue and date are yet to be confirmed but all money made from it will go towards the fund-raising efforts so hopefully as many of you as possible can be there.
I’ll be at The Vic early on Saturday and meeting supporters in the Centenary Lounge from 1.15pm. If you want to come along then I’ll be happy to answer some questions and give you a few more stories from my time in the blue and white shirt. I’ll see you then.
Never Say Die.