As we welcome Port Vale to the Suit Direct, Jacob Hackett looks at a few double agents who have featured for both sides!
Current Valiants boss Darrell Clarke spent six years playing for Pools between 2001 and 2007. Hartlepool secured Clarke’s services on a free transfer, under the Bosman ruling, but still had to fork out £70,000 to his former side Mansfield Town as he was under the age of 24.
The midfielder scored seven league goals during his first campaign with the club, including a hat-trick in a 7-1 win over Swansea City, then went on to bag another seven in the following season which saw Pools promoted to the Second Division.
A knee injury in the 2004/05 season prevented Clarke from appearing for Hartlepool, instead being loaned out to Stockport County where he would make just one appearance before the injury reoccurred.
The following season he was sent on loan to Port Vale, but featured for just two minutes as a late substitute. He was sent on loan to Rochdale in 2006 before being released in 2007.
Another to make the loan move from Victoria Park to Vale Park was Ritchie Humphreys, although his 500 or so appearances for Hartlepool are perhaps more notable.
The utility man signed for Pools in 2001, where he would stay until 2013, after former manager Chris Turner offered him a deal following a successful trial period with the club.
Humphreys won promotion to League One twice with Hartlepool, being a part of both the 2002/03 and 2006/07 sides that finished runners-up in League Two. He also featured in three Pools play-off campaigns during his time with the club, none of which ended in promotion; a Third Division play-off semi-final in 2001/02, a League One play-off semi-final in 2003/04 and a League One play-off final in 2004/05.
He scored 34 league goals for Hartlepool in total.
Humphreys spent a month on loan with the Valiants in 2006 where he made seven appearances for the club before returning home, despite Port Vale’s best efforts to extend his deal.
Making almost 480 league appearances across his spells with Pools and Port Vale combined, Sam Collins is a household name amongst both sets of supporters.
The centre-back plied his trade with the Valiants for four years between 2002-2006. His inaugural season at the club saw him collect their Player of the Year award, a campaign in which he appeared 45 times and scored on five occasions.
He spent a period on loan at Hull City in his final contracted year at Port Vale before he signed permanently for the Tigers in 2006. He spent two years there, including a short loan spell at Swindon Town, and then signed for Hartlepool.
Collins made over 240 league appearances for Pools between 2008 and 2015, scoring six times. The former captain took part in numerous League One and League Two campaigns with the club before retiring in 2015.
Not just lacing his boots for Hartlepool, Collins was appointed assistant first and reserve-team coach in May 2014 whilst still part of the playing squad. He also spent time as caretaker manager on two occasions, once alongside Stephen Pears in October 2014 and again by himself in January 2017.
A graduate of the Valiants’ academy, Billy Paynter made over 140 appearances for his boyhood club between 2000 and 2006.
The striker recorded 30 league goals for Port Vale and won the clubs’ Player of the Year award in 2005 prior to his departure.
Eight years passed before Paynter made the switch to County Durham, during which he spent time with Hull, Southend United, Bradford City, Swindon, Leeds United, Brighton & Hove Albion, Doncaster Rovers, Sheffield United and Carlisle United.
The striker officially signed for Pools on a free transfer ahead of the 2015/16 campaign and was immediately appointed as club captain by Ronnie Moore. Paynter scored 15 times in 35 appearances, making him the club’s top goal scorer and convincing new manager Craig Hignett to trigger a contract clause keeping him at Hartlepool for another year.
An achilles injury sidelined Paynter for a portion of the following campaign and he ended up as one of three players, Stuart Parnaby and Ian Gallagher being the other two, to assist caretaker manager Matthew Bates for the final two games of the season which ultimately saw the club relegated to the Conference.