Pools legend Brian Honour on the season so far, an exciting trip to Leyton Orient and why he reckons Rob McKinnon would have been a world-beater these days.
Hello everyone and welcome to my latest Blog here on the Official Website.
It’s looking like a big occasion down at Leyton Orient this weekend as two teams are in form go head-to-head in front of what seems set to be a big crowd at Brisbane Road.
If we’re being honest, it’s probably two teams who will be expected to be competing near the top end of the National League table this season. It’s a great pitch, a lively atmosphere and a full house so from a players’ point of view it’s the kind of game you’d be looking forward to.
We might go there as underdogs, I guess, but that could be a positive for me. Perhaps for the first time in a little while the pressure will be off and the lads can go there, relax and play their normal game. It is certainly one to get excited about.
I think it’s been a good season so far; I’m happy with the performances and the results. I think plenty of people were saying before the season started they would be happy with us finishing halfway up the table but I honestly think we have too many good players to settle for that and we’ll be there or thereabouts.
The way we ground it out against Boreham Wood on Saturday pleased me enormously. At times during the season we have undoubtedly played much better but not got the three points. It wasn’t smooth football or anything but we rolled up our sleeves and got the result – and that puts a smile on my face.
Come of the end of the season we might reflect on the battle to get three points off Boreham Wood as being crucial to getting us where we want to be. It’s not always going to be pretty football, particularly with the winter months coming up, pitches getting worse and teams often playing defensively against us.
That’s why the way we grafted for a result on Saturday made me so happy – and I was ever so pleased for Captain Marvel, Andrew Davies getting the two goals. Though I have to say I was a bit disappointed for him he didn’t finish with a hat-trick! Haha!
The FA Cup draw took place this week and that always stirs plenty of memories for me both as a fan and as a player. As a fan I have watched us play Crystal Palace and Leeds United, my brother played in the competition against Man City and I’ve been involved in big ties such as the win over Palace and the game at Bournemouth.
I’ve also had the other side of the coin where we’ve lost at home to Macclesfield and Frickley in what were shock results so it’s a special competition and to get on a run this season would be amazing because I know the whole town would get cup fever.
I saw an old photo floating around recently of us getting on the bus at The Vic and it was actually taken before we set off for an FA Cup replay at Bournemouth back in January 1989. We’d actually been in front in the first tie because I scored the goal but then Paul Baker gave a penalty away and Luther Blissett scored to take it a replay.
The way it worked then, the draw for the next round was already made by the time we went down there for the replay – and the winner was going to play Manchester United at home! There was even talk that if we got through the game could be switched to St James’ Park for safety reasons so it was a very exciting prospect.
We went away on the Monday for the Tuesday game and I remember getting on the bus and speaking to the driver, Benny. He had his own company and was saying that all of his buses were taken because there were so many fans going to the game from Hartlepool.
It took us nine hours to get there on the Monday so I didn’t think there’d be many fans making that trip but then we went to warm-up and there were a good few hundred in the ground! And by the time the kick-off came I’ve never seen anything like it – I don’t know the exact crowd but there must have been 1,500 Pools fans. At Bournemouth. On a Tuesday night.
Sadly, we ended up losing the replay 5-2 – and I think Bournemouth might even have gone on to beat Man United in the next round if memory serves. We’d beaten Wigan and Notts County away to get to that stage and it was a magic time – it’s always great to get on a bit of a cup run.
It’s funny looking back at that photo of us getting on the bus now because you realise how skinny and athletic we all look, particularly Rob McKinnon at the top of the steps. I don’t know how mind, because the amount we ate around matchdays in those times was incredible.
If we had an overnight stop we’d train on the pitch on the Friday and then there’d be 25 fish and chips orders in at Don Bee’s at Seaton Carew before we set-off on the coach. Then we’d have a three-course meal at the team hotel before going back to our rooms and eating chocolate, sweets, selection boxes, the lot! We’d then be up early for a fry-up on the morning of the game!
It’s amazing really because I never remember any of the players going down with cramp or anything like that but it’s a different world from professional football nowadays with the focus on nutrition and sports science.
I would have loved to have seen how good Robbie would have been playing in this day and age with all the development on that side of things – he’d have been a world-beater, no doubt. He had a taste of it when he went to Holland because he told me he would go to training at 9am and not get home until 5pm over there even at that time over twenty years ago. We were finishing training at 12 and going straight to the Square Kitchen for a fry-up!
And I haven’t even mentioned the case of Cameron’s lager we would have on the way home from away games!
Anyway, I’ll leave it there for now but – as ever – if you have any questions for me or memories you’d like to share then send them through to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll mention them in my next Blog.
A safe trip to all the Poolies heading to Orient this weekend – and good luck to the team.
Never Say Die.