Word Of Honour: Memories Of Chorley

Hartlepool United line-up in the 1987/88 campaign

Pools legend Brian Honour reminisces about the Club’s only ever previous meeting with Chorley – a game he played in at Victory Park back in November 1987.

This weekend’s fixture conjured up all kinds of memories for me because I was in the Pools line-up the only other time we’ve played Chorley in a competitive fixture – a cup tie back in 1987.

I can remember it was a November afternoon in winter and it was the First Round of the FA Cup.

My memory is of us parking up behind the goal and then having to walk round the side of the ground to get in to the dressing rooms. Obviously I don’t know if it’s still the same now, I presume it isn’t, but it was a little run-down and quite dark, with all respect to the club at the time.

I remember also that it was an extremely physical encounter. It was a proper roll your sleeves up and get stuck in kind of afternoon. The kind of day where you know that if you don’t they will run over the top of you because their team was full of Mancs and Scousers!

Thankfully, we had a real backbone to our team at the time and we stood up to the challenge but I do still recall just how physical an afternoon it was.

It’s weird what sticks in your head but I remember there were loads of flags around the ground from the likes of Manchester United, Manchester City and probably Bolton Wanderers – they are from that area and the fans from the teams around them all came out to support them against us.

It was a heavy pitch on a bit of a slope and they did everything to try and unsettle us and knock us out of our stride – even the tea was cold. In fact, that’s just reminded me – when we first got there they brought a pot of coffee in and John Bird shouted, “F****** coffee!?” and made them take it away and bring tea instead! Haha!

We knew then it was going to be a test and it was quite intimidating if I am being totally honest. But with John Bird and Alan Little as our management team they wouldn’t have accepted up not standing up to the fight – they simply wouldn’t have allowed us to be any other way.

Years later I can remember reading in one of the Match Programmes in a column Phil Dunn wrote about the game, that their defender took a swing at me in the game and if he’d caught me fully it would have decapitated me! And he only got a ticking off from the ref for that!

Then you’ve got Keith Nobbs behind me in the right-back shouting things like “Go on, just mosey up that touchline, baby.” It was alright for him standing at the back out of the way while I got kicked all over the place further up the wing! “I’m right behind you, brother.” Haha!

I remember our fans in the stand all in fancy dress. It was a tradition to go in fancy dress back then if we were drawn away in the First Round of the FA Cup so there was Arabs, Sheikhs and all sorts in the stands!

It’s ironic because the game down there was only a couple of months before the infamous win at Sunderland when I scored the goal direct from a corner – but I actually hit the bar from a corner at Chorley. It was a bit windy and I took a corner from the same left-hand side but it hit the bar and came out to safety.

So whenever people come up to me and ask if the goal at Roker Park was a fluke, I always tell them that “of course it wasn’t – I practiced that at Chorley!”

Anyway, if you’re getting along to Victory Park this weekend then enjoy the game – let’s hope we can get another three points on the road.

Never Day Die.