Word Of Honour: The Kevin Poole Game

Brian Honour, Hartlepool United

Hello everyone and welcome to my first Blog in a while here on the Official Website.

I have decided to make a comeback to the writing ahead of Saturday’s game because clashes with Stockport County bring back so many good memories for me – so I thought I would share some with you.

One thing I remember is that we always seemed to have Friday night game down at Edgeley Park back in my day and one in particular that stands out in my head is our Good Friday trip there at the end of March 1991. Or as I refer to it now, The Kevin Poole Game.

Our goalkeeper at the time, Brian Cox hadn’t been doing too badly in fairness to him; we were ticking over quite nicely and picking up some decent results. But the Manager, Alan Murray knew Pooley from Middlesbrough and when he became available he went straight in for him. He came in on the Thursday and then made his debut for us on the Friday at Stockport – and he was absolutely sensational.

It was a night game but it was just one of those nights where you sat back afterwards and though: “how well did he play? He was amazing!” We won the game 3-1 but Pooley was just superb in goal. Don’t get me wrong, it was a great team performance; Joe and Bakes up front were excellent and got the goals, and we were workmanlike everywhere across the pitch but Pooley was out of this world.

I think it was then, sat in the Edgeley Park dressing room at just after 9.30pm that we thought for the first time that we might have a shot at winning promotion. That was probably the moment where it seemed to be a possibility.

We were the only game that night so winning away at Stockport who were fourth in the table themselves did us the power of good and we jumped up to sixth place in the table and there was all of a sudden this big self-belief growing inside of us.

Confidence was high, we had improved the team with an exceptional goalkeeper and we’d just won away at a side riding high in the table – that was really the start of things and we didn’t look back very often from that point on our way to promotion.

The other real Stockport memory I have is from a couple of seasons later at the start of the 1993/94 campaign when we were drawn against them in the First Round of the League Cup, which was a two-legged affair in those days.

We drew 1-1 at Edgeley Park which was a decent enough result but Kevin Francis scored first at The Vic to give them the upper hand and time was creeping on as it looked as though we were going to be knocked out.

Then, with 85 minutes on the clock, Mick Tait scored with a header which brought us back to 2-2 on aggregate. We then shoved Ian McGuckin up front to try and get the winning goal and I remember he got a flick on at about the halfway line and it fell in to my path. I just hit it instinctively and it flew in to the net from about 45 yards.

It’s funny, I have been telling people for years that I had hit the shot from inside my own half but then in recent times some footage emerged and it’s well inside the Stockport half so I have had to amend the story! It was still a canny goal though – and in the very last minute to win the tie!

It’s one of my most memorable goals and, ironically, the Stockport manager that night was Dave Jones. I remember when he was appointed at Pools I was up at the training ground to see Buster when Dave walked in so Buster introduced me and said “This is Brian Honour who scored THAT goal in the League Cup against Stockport!”. Dave looked at me, said “I don’t remember it” and walked out. Fair enough, I guess and that was pretty much a sign of things to come with Dave!

We’ve had some Titanic battles with Stockport over the years though – Kevin Francis against John MacPhail wasn’t a clash for the faint-hearted. Their manager Jim Gannon was often in the engine room and they had a great lad from the North-East called Peter Ward in their team too. Good players and good men, it was always a decent game between the sides too.

In fairness, if you look back ten years this fixture was being played in League One or Two so it’s a shame we’re now playing it in the National League but hopefully both clubs are making strides in the right direction now.

Stockport will bring a few to The Vic, I’m sure, and we’ll have a good crowd on Saturday so I think it will be a smashing atmosphere – I’m really looking forward to it because it’s a proper football fixture.

As well as that, it’s a big game for both sides too. It’s actually not too dissimilar a situation to where we found ourselves in 1990/91 with this amount of games left. It’s the business end of the season and we’re only a few weeks from Easter so it’s a pivotal time. If we can hit a run now like our boys did in 1991 – and we can stop drawing 2-2 every week – then we aren’t too far away from those play-off places so you never know.

The Manager has acted quickly this week to bring in some fresh faces. I know there was disappointment that we’ve lost a couple but bringing in new recruits always adds that little spark so I am sure the fans are looking forward to seeing the new signings involved on Saturday and it just provides that extra bit of enthusiasm.

Enjoy the game, everyone!

Never Say Die.