Pools legend Brian Honour reflects on the FA Cup triumph over Crystal Palace in 1993 following Saturday night's reunion of the giant-killing squad.
Hello everyone and welcome to my latest Blog here on the Official Website.
On Saturday night it was brilliant to be able to catch up with some old team-mates and friends at the reunion of the 1992/93 squad which was organised by the Supporters’ Trust at the Catholic Club.
The night was all about celebrating that famous day when we knocked Crystal Palace out of the FA Cup at The Vic and it was fantastic to see so many of the players who I hadn’t spoken to in about 25 years. The likes of Steve Jones, Phil Gilchrist, Nicky Peverell – these are lads I’ve not seen since the end of that season.
Of all of them from that era I am probably closest to Andy Saville and Paul Olsson but it was good to see all of them – even though some of the hairlines were a little thinner and waistlines a little thicker than they were 25 years ago!
It’s a big contract to the money that is in football nowadays. I mean, there are some working in offices, a postman, lorry drivers. You hear about the millions of pounds in the game now but these lads are having to get a real job, for want of a better term, to make ends meet.
As for the Palace game itself, I remember it quite clearly. We’d actually played them in the League Cup the previous season over two legs – we got done 6-1 at Selhurst Park but I managed to score in a 1-1 draw at home. I think it was a warm night, early in the season when the pitch was good so it suited them better and I always thought that the following year wouldn’t be as easy for them, coming up here in January when it was cold and wet.
I knew that in a one-off game like the FA Cup, in the middle of winter, we would have a chance. My thoughts were cemented when I walked from the changing rooms at 1.30pm to go and look at the pitch. As I was heading up the corridor, a group of Palace players were coming back in. Chris Armstrong and Richard Shaw were among them and they couldn’t believe the game hadn’t been postponed. “The referee has said it’s on!” they were complaining.
I had driven in from Blackhall and there was nothing wrong with the weather so I was wondering if there had been some freak snowstorm in the fifteen minutes I had been sitting in the dressing room! It was 2nd January so the pitch was bone hard. It was uneven and there were divots all over the place – we were used to playing in those conditions but I could tell they didn’t fancy it and I felt like we were 1-0 up already. It was a leveller, there’s no doubt about it – but nobody could say we didn’t deserve to win that cup tie.
Looking back at the game it was a soft penalty decision, in fact I think we’d have been going mad if it had been given against us. But you take anything you can get against a Premier League team and I honestly don’t think even the staunchest Palace fan would have begrudged us our win given the way the game panned out.
It was quite strange because it was so close to the New Year that I think everyone was still hungover so the town wasn’t awash with parties to celebrate, if anything it felt a bit flat. I went home and just had a quiet Saturday night and watched Match of the Day – it was pretty surreal to see us on there because we obviously rarely made it on to the television. I remember Alan Hansen saying we deserved the win – he was right too!
Overall it was just a strange season. It started with such optimism as we played Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup – including the whole Carlton Palmer incident – and then we played Sheffield United in the next round of the FA Cup after beating Palace.
However, we weren’t getting paid for chunks of the season and obviously had that long goalscoring drought which I think still stands as a record when we went 13 games without scoring. It was a big celebration when Andy Saville scored to end that run at Blackpool but we ended up losing our best players, Alan Murray got sacked and we only stayed up by the skin of our teeth.
Talking of strange seasons, the current one is up there as well. I think Saturday gave us more hope with the way the lads played and that kind of hard work and determination has to be a given in our remaining games now. The Hartlepool public will forgive a lot if you put your all in to a game and on Saturday they definitely did put a shift in so that has to continue.
We maybe had a helping hand from Lady Luck at times because Boreham Wood missed some good chances but the saying is that if you work hard you earn you luck and we certainly did that. The performances are better but we did only get one point from six so now we have to try and bridge that gap. A scrappy win would do right now.
It will be tough this weekend because AFC Fylde are scoring goals for fun and have emerged as one of the surprise packages of the season but if we can put in the same effort then we can go there with confidence and hopefully get a positive result.
We certainly need to start picking up points because some teams are picking up and it’s getting tight down at the bottom. I wouldn’t fancy going in to the last few games needing wins like we have in previous years so we need to get some points on the board and hopefully we can relax in the closing weeks of the season this time around.
Obviously it’s been a strange season off the pitch as well with worries about money and about people losing their jobs. I don’t know the ins and outs of what is going on but hopefully there can be some good news soon so we can finish the season strongly and start preparing for next year.
Never Say Die.