POOLstats - History of the Town's Club
The History of the Town's Club
The club that paved the way for United
1881 West Hartlepool Amateur Football & Athletic Company Limited formed, the first major footballing force in the area. The club would remain in business for almost 30 years with reasonable success in the Amateur football.

A history of West Hartlepool as well as league tables can be found here.

The Early Years
29th April 1908 West Hartlepool Rugby Club folded, rumours of a professional football club to take West's place are vociferously denied.

1st June 1908
View image 1
View image 2
View image 3
A limited liability company was registered under the name 'The Hartlepools United Football and Athletic Club Company, Limited' Formed with 4,000 shares worth 10 shillings each.

R. Martin and W. Paterson (former vice-presidents of West Rugby Club) along with W.J. Coates, W.G. Sudbury, A.T. Battersby, H.C. Howe and Henry Flewker sit on the board of Hartlepools United.

Majority of public opinion considered that, since the club was founded in and will play at West Hartlepool, it should carry the West name. The company, however, considered the club should represent the two Hartlepool boroughs, and be distinguished from the amateurs of West.

16th June 1908
View image
The club take over the lease at the Victoria Ground, former home of the former rugby club, there was almost ten years remaining of the rugby clubs contract. The new company buy the stands and buildings around the ground for the princely sum of £180.

The Ground was built in 1886, by order of the officials of West Hartlepool Rugby club, the ground is named after Queen Victoria, as it was completed in her jubilee year.

1908-09 The club offer West Hartlepool the chance to ground share at the Victoria Ground, after the amateur club lost their Park Road ground. Local people see the offer as an appeasement between the professional and amateur sides of the game.

Fred Priest is elected as first manager and captain, A former amateur at South Bank and professional with Sheffield United and Middlesbrough, where he was assistant coach before coming to the Vic'. During his playing career Priest earned an England cap, won a League Championship and a F.A. Cup winners medals with Sheffield United.

The club 'poached' a number of players from West, most notably the Hegarty brothers, Hewston and Brown.

2nd September 1908
View image
The club play their first game, a friendly against a strong Newcastle United 'A' side featuring a number of first team players who finished 4th in the Football League the previous season and who would be league champions in 08-09. Newcastle looked jaded against the new Hartlepool team. The club wearing the new club colours of white shirts, royal blue shorts and socks ran out 6-0 winners, causing much interest in the town for their first competitive game to be played on the following Saturday.

5th September 1908 The club play their first competitive match, against Hebburn Argyle in the Northern League. The game ends in a 2-2 draw, with Joshie Fletcher scoring both goals for the away side. The teams that day were:
Pools: Mearns, Priest, R.Hegarty, Tweddle, Hand, Smith, Hewston, Fletcher, Edgley, Lenaghan, Seal.
Hebburn: Pattinson, Stephenson, English, Stevenson, Jennings, Sprot, Bell, Niblo, White, Graham, Franklin.

12th September 1908 The club play their first competitive home game, a 0-0 draw against Seaham White Star. The team that turned out in front of a 3,000 crowd were:
Pools: Mearns, Reed, R.Hegarty, S.Tweddle, Hand, Brown, F.Tweddle, Fletcher, Edgley, Lenaghan, Seal.

3rd October 1908 First meeting between Hartlepools United and West Hartlepool in the F.A. Cup first qualifying round. The professionals triumph 2-1.

A crowd of 7,000 see West dominate the first half, forcing Mearns to make some good saves. Pools dictate the game in the second half, short, crisp passing causes West's defence problems, Brown scores and West lose concentration, falling further behind when Smith scores. West pull a goal back late on through Pailor and hit the post as the whistle goes.

Pools: Mearns, Priest(c), Smith, S.Tweddle, Hand, Ledger, Fletcher, F.Tweddle, Edgley, Brown, Roberts.

27th March 1909 A 3-2 Final victory over Seaham White Star at Stockton is enough for Pools to lift the Durham Senior Cup. Brown, Hand and Edgley score for Pools.

Victories over Tow Law, Spennymoor United, Bishop Auckland and a 5-1 result over Stockton in the Semi-Final help give the club their first trophy at the first time of asking.

8th April 1909
View contract
Fred Priest is offered a contract with a weekly wage of three pound per week. The contract was due to end in May of 1912, at which time Priest will leave the club and Percy Humphreys takes over as manager.

17th May 1909 The club embarks on a tour of Germany. This was an ambitious and risky venture for a club outside the Football League or Southern Leagues. The tour was, however, a great success and opponents SV Hamburg & Bremen warmed to Pools' skillful football.

20th April 1910 The club win 12-0 over a shell shocked Workington. James Hogg scores 9, Joshie Fletcher grabs a hat-trick and McIver even has time to miss a penalty! Both the scoreline and Hogg's total remaining scoring records to this day.

April 1910 The club retain the Durham Senior Cup, with a 3-2 victory over South Shields at Bishop Auckland, following victories over Darlington and Spennymoor United in previous rounds.

June 1910 Assets and liabilities of the defunct West Hartlepool Amateur Football & Athletic Company Limited taken over by Hartlepools United.

Summer 1910 The club petitions the 40 Football League clubs to ask for support in the clubs first election bid to the Football League. Representatives visit 26 clubs, the other 14 are petitioned by letter, signed by Councillors Patterson (club president) and Martin (honourary secretary). Unfortunately, the club only receive two votes, and fail in their attempt. The letter mentions that the admission fee into the Victoria Ground is 6d.

August 1910 Due to the demise of West Hartlepool there is now only one resident at the Victoria Ground. The club decides to create a reserve side, the 'A' team competes in the Wearside League, finishing third out of thirteen teams, winning 14 of their 24 games.

1910-11 Pools fail to win their third Durham Senior Cup in three years, after defeat in the final. Victories over Darlington, Annfield Plain and a 3-1 win at Bishop Auckland in the Semi-Final set up a final clash at Roker Park, Sunderland with South Shields, Pools narrowly lose 2-1.

Summer 1911 The club once again petition the Football League club for support in their election bid, unfortunately, the club again only receives two votes and fail in their second attempt to gain entry to the league.

The club's first three seasons were a success, of their 100 fixtures since inception the club had won 52, drawn 27 and lost 21, finishing fourth, third and third, in the North Eastern League, scoring 232 and conceding 114.

1911-12 In the clubs least successful Durham Senior Cup campaign in its brief history, they lose at Darlington in a second round replay.

Summer 1912 Fred Priest leaves the club, Percy Humphreys takes over as manager.

1912-13 Again the club falls at the second hurdle in the Durham Senior Cup, Seeing off Seaham Harbour 2-1, the team then loses by the same score at Birtley.

Summer 1913 Percy Humphreys leaves the club, Jack Manners takes over as manager.

1913-14 A crowd of 12,000, who produce record gate receipts of £350, watch a 1-0 defeat by South Shields in the fourth qualifying round of the F.A. Cup.

After victories over Southwick, Gateshead Rodsiley and Stockton, Pools are beaten 1-0 in a Durham Senior Cup fourth round replay against Sunderland 'A'.

The Great War
1914-15 World War One breaks out in August 1914, but the F.A. decided to continue with competitive football.
Club charges 3p admission fee, with soldiers being charged half the sum. The club records a loss of £500 over the course of the season.

27th February 1915 The club again lose to Sunderland Reserves in the Durham Senior Cup. This time they go down 5-2 at Roker Park in a second round replay. Pools goals come from Luke and Butler.

Summer 1915 All football suspended due to World War One. The Victoria Ground is occupied by the military, and remains so until October 1919.

27th November 1916 A German Zeppelin on a bombing mission to the Teesside industrial area under attack from a Royal Flying Corps pilot jettisons its load onto the Victoria Ground, destroying the main stand. The ground is also damaged by a German naval bombardment of the town.

1918-1920 The club plays in the Northern Victory League, taking players from the local area, these are mainly made up of footballers serving with the military.

Between The Wars
August 1919 As the military still occupied the Victoria Ground, club directors arranged for club to play at West Hartlepool Expansion's Foggy Furze ground. A temporary wooden stand is erected on Expansion's ground on Caledonian Road. The structure was moved to the Vic' when the club moved back, and it stood until the 1980's!

1919-20 As most of the Hartlepools United players were still awaiting demob from the military, a number of 'Guest' players were used for the start of the 1919-20 season.

30th August 1919 Pools play their first competitive game for four years, Ashington are the visitors to Expansion's Caledonian Road ground for a North Eastern League fixture. The game finished in a 1-1 draw, with Toward scoring a penalty for Pools, the team (with players own clubs) was:

GK: Means (the only Pools player in the team); FB's: Scott (Hearts), Shields (Coventry); HB's: Spinks (Newcastle United), Knowles (Manchester United), Topping (Army); Forwards: Toward (Glossop), Hewitt (Crystal Palace), Reed (Brighton), George Jobey (Bradford PA), Bryden (Hearts)

27th September 1919 The club play their last game at Expansion's Caledonian Road ground, again the game ends in a 1-1 draw, this time against West Stanley. Pools played three games at Caledonian Road, drawing two and losing 2-0 to Darlington in the other.

22nd October 1919 Pools lose 1-0 in a F.A. Cup Fourth Qualifying round tie at Bishop Auckland, but lodge an appeal to the F.A. soon afterwards on the grounds that the amateur side had fielded two players who had received payments for a Durham Senior Cup game between St Helen's Auckland and Darlington Forge Albion, the previous season. The appeal was thrown out and the result allowed to stand.

Summer 1920 Jack Manners leaves the club, Cecil Potter takes over as manager.

13th October 1920 In the first qualifying round replay of the F.A. Cup against Haverton Hill, Billy Short becomes the first Hartlepools United player to be sent off, he was sent to the changing room for fighting with a Haverton Hill defender named Boswell.

6th January 1921 United put their case for election to the new northern Section of the Football League at a meeting in Manchester. They are told that the club must finish in the top half of the North Eastern League to qualify. The club finish 8th in the league and are elected.

The Football League Dawn
May 1921 The North-Eastern League refused to accept the reserve side, into the league claiming that 'the prestige of the competition would be lowered if Hartlepools reserves along with the second string of Ashington and Durham City were admitted.' The reserve side compete in the Palatine League, playing the likes of West Hartlepool St. Joseph's, West Hartlepool Expansion, Trimdon Grange and a number of the North-Eastern league reserve sides.

18th June 1921 The club publish their financial statement for the season. The overdraft from the previous season had turned into a profit of £527. Gate receipts had totalled £10,356 6s 3d, £1,584 6s 11d had been paid to visiting teams, £2,806 17s 5d was spend on players wages and £1,156 12s 7d had been spent improving the Ground

27th August 1921 First game in the Football League in front of an 8,000 crowd at Wrexham. The game finished in a 2-0 win for United, goals coming from Mulholland and Lister. Seven days later Wrexham became the first league visitors to the Vic' leaving with the points after a 1-0 win.

July 1922 Cecil Potter leaves the club to take over at Derby County, David Gordon takes over as manager.

1923-24 Egyptian Tewfik Abdallah, the first overseas player to wear the club's colours, signs from Derby County, making 11 appearances at inside right and scoring one goal. He had previously played for International SC (Cairo) and Cowdenbeath and later coached in the US.

17th November 1923 United meet St. Peter's Albion of the Tyneside League in the fourth qualifying round of the F.A. Cup, Hartlepools scored in the 2nd minute and it was one way traffic from then on, after leading 8-0 at half time United run out 10-1 winner, their biggest win in the Cup to date.

May 1924 After finishing second bottom of Division Three (North) the club successfully appeal for their first re-election.

10th January 1925 United travel to cup holders Newcastle United to compete in the first round proper of the F.A. Cup for the first time, they come away with a 4-1 defeat.

25th October 1925 David Gordon leaves the club, Jack Manners takes the reigns for a second time.

23rd January 1926 After leading 5-2 at half time United record a 9-3 victory over Walsall, this would stand as the club's biggest league victory until 1959. Hartlepools then concede 5 in each of their next four games.

August 1927 Jack Manners leaves the club, Bill Norman takes over as manager.

1927-28 Bill Robinson scores 28 goals in 24 league games, which still stands as a club record, although Joe Allon equalled Robinson achievement in 1990-91.

May 1928 After finishing second bottom of Division Three (North) the club successfully appeal for re-election.

Winter 1929 With the Victoria Ground covered in a blanket of snow, and the temperature just above freezing, Bill Norman, United's manager ordered players to strip for training. When they complained about the conditions, Norman stripped naked and rolled in the snow. The players were amused, but did as they were told.

April 1931 Bill Norman leaves the club, Jackie Carr, previously player-coach at the club takes over as manager.

9th September 1931 Johnny Wigham makes his debut for United after leaving hometown club Hebburn Argyle, Wigham would go on to score 106 goals for Hartlepool, a record he shares with Ken Johnson.

Summer 1935 Jackie Carr leaves the club to take over at Tranmere Rovers, Jimmy Hamilton, the Gateshead player-coach, takes over as manager.

4th January 1936 United draw a first division team at home in the F.A. Cup for the first time. A crowd of 15,064 see United hold Grimsby Town to a 0-0 draw, a heroic effort from United who play part of the game with only 10 men after Mittel the goalkeeper is carried off, Hardy takes over in goal and Mittel returns to play on the wing with three stitches in his hand. Pools lose the replay 4-1 at Blundell Park.

Summer 1936 Former Irish international centre-forward Sam English joined the club - he had previously played for Rangers and Liverpool.

May 1939 After finishing second bottom of Division Three (North) the club successfully appeal for re-election.

August 1940 Jimmy Hamilton leaves the club. The club stays managerless until August 1943.

The Second World War
1939-45 War again caused normal competitions to be suspended and a North-Eastern Division formed and later the Football League North. Various guest players (usually stationed nearby) played for the team. Famous names such as Raich Carter and Bill Nicholson play for the club.

1943-45 Albert Stubbins seemed to take a particular liking for Pools' defence, scoring 18 goals against them in 10 games over two seasons. Stubbins' picture appears on the cover of the Beatles' Sergeant Peppers album.

August 1943 Fred Westgarth becomes manager he previously worked for as chief scout. Fred Westgarth's term as manager (1943-57) is unlikely ever to be equalled in the modern game. He brought stability and success to the club, almost got them into the second division and enjoyed cup success too.

The Post War Era
31st August 1946 Pools play their first post-war game wearing blue & white striped shirts and black shorts, drawing 1-1 with Barrow - Leo Harden scored the goal. The team was: Heywood, Brown, Gregory, Spellman, Lambert, H Jones, Copeland, Moses, Price, McMahon and Harden.

15th March 1947 Atrocious weather greeted the arrival of most of the New Brighton team to the Vic', however two players including their regular goalkeeper, were stuck in the inclement weather. Manager Neil McBain signed Nicol Evans, son of United reserve-team manager and played himself in goal. He earned himself the record for the oldest player, at 52 years and 4 months, to play in the Football League. New Brighton lost the game 3-0 but the 5,844 crowd gave the keeper a standing ovation.

June 1948 Club Chairman J M Stathers installs new terracing at Victoria Ground, with the aim of increasing average attendances for the first team to 10,000 and the reserves to 4,000. At the time the first team were averaging 7,500 and the second string a respectable 1,500.

6th November 1948 Watty Moore makes his first appearance for the club, he would go on to make 472 appearances for his hometown club. The former Oxford Street Old Boys player score on his debut but only found the net two more times in the next 11 years!

31st December 1949 Ken Johnson scores on his debut in a 3-0 win over Bradford City, The Hartlepool born forward would score 106 goals for United, a record he shares with Johnny Wigham.

23rd March 1951 A comprehensive 6-1 victory over Darlington features a hat-trick of penalties, scored by Jon Willetts. The first and so far only time this feat has been achieved.

12th January 1952 Pools are drawn away to then First Division Burnley in the FA Cup Third Round. Hartlepool is a ghost town as thousands travel to Turf Moor to swell the crowd to 38,608. Pools push them all the way, but eventually lose 1-0 in a classic cup-tie.

7th January 1956 Pools lose 1-0 at home to Chelsea in front of a crowd of 16,862.

5th January 1957 Hartlepool play in what is possibly the clubs most famous game - the FA Cup 3rd round tie against Manchester United's Busby Babes. In front of 17,264, Pools eventually lose 4-3 in what Matt Busby later described in his autobiography as "the most exciting match I've ever watched."

Spring 1957 Manager Fred Westgarth falls ill and steps down from his post after serving the club for a record 14 years. Unfortunately Fred dies before the season is over.

27th April 1957 A 2-0 victory at home at Bradford Park Avenue sees Pools finish second in the Third Division North, but miss out on promotion as only champions Derby were promoted.

May 1957 Ray Middleton takes over as manager.

25th October 1958 Visitors Aldershot take the lead through Albert Mundy in six seconds and go on to win 3-0.

1958-59 Having finished in the bottom half of the previous season's Third Division (North), Pools become founder members of the newly formed Fourth Division.

4th April 1959 Pools welcome Barrow to the Victoria Ground and after leading 7-0 at half time Pools continue in the same vein and run out 10-1 winners, a victory which is still a record of United.

November 1959 Ray Middleton leaves the club after a bad run of results, Bill Robinson, the assistant manager at West Ham United takes over as manager.

27th May 1960 After finishing bottom of the Football League for the first time ever, the club present themselves for re-election at the Football League's annual meeting, they are successful in their first appeal since 1939. They will re-appear at the meeting in each of the next four years.

3rd March 1962 United travel to Wrexham for a league game, Davies, Ambler and Barnes all score hat-tricks as Wrexham win 10-1, still a record defeat for Pools.

May 1962 Bill Robinson leaves the club after a disastrous season.

July 1962 Allenby Chilton takes over as manager, he previously managed Grimsby Town and Wigan Athletic.

April 1963 Allenby Chilton leaves the club, Bob Gurney takes over as manager. The former Sunderland star scored nine goals against Hartlepools United Reserves in 1926-27

November 1963 Hartlepools sign Ambrose Fogarty from Sunderland for a, then record, fee of £10,000. Fogarty would later win a cap for the Republic of Ireland, the first player to win a full international cap while at the club.

January 1964 Bob Gurney leaves the club, Alvan Williams takes over as manager.

Spring 1964 An 'all-star' United team take on Sunderland in a benefit match for Ken Johnson and Tommy Burlison. A crowd of 11,000 saw a 6-3 win for the United team, in the team were Alf McMichael, Newcastle's Northern Irish international; Ken Chisholm, a former Sunderland inside-forward; Wilf Mannion, the great Middlesbrough and England inside-forward along with a number of other great North Eastern footballers.

March 1964 Goalkeeper Ken Simpkins signs and wins Welsh Under-23 international honours. However he is possibly best remembered for his final season where he was pressed into action as an emergency centre-forward and scores the winner in a 3-2 victory over Port Vale.

17th April 1964 Chesterfield travel to the Victoria Ground for United first ever Friday night game, Pools run out 1-0 winners.

June 1965 Alvan Williams leaves the club, Geoff Twentyman takes over as manager but will only last four months.

The Clough/McLean Years
October 1965 Brian Clough appointed manager and brings in Peter Taylor from Burton Albion to help him. The legendary manager famously visits every pub and club in the town to raise funds for the club and builds one of the most successful teams in the club's history.

21st May 1966 Clough gives a debut to John McGovern, then still attending Henry Smith School, at the age of 16 years 205 days - a record which stood until Steven Istead turned out for the club in 2002.

May 1967 Having built a successful team, Clough and Taylor move on to Derby County and are succeeded by Angus McLean.

6th May 1968 Pools win 2-0 at Swansea and gain promotion for the first time in the club's history. A crowd of 11,011 see them celebrate promotion in their final home game - also against Swansea Town.

10th August 1968 Hartlepools United gain promotion, but it is Hartlepool AFC who play in the Third Division after the amalgamation of the two boroughs of Hartlepool and West Hartlepool.

1968-69 Unfortunately after only one season out of the basement, Hartlepool are relegated back to the Fourth Division.

The Seventies Strugglers
20th February 1970 The club are in the midst of a financial crisis due to attendances under 1,500. The chairman, John Curry, announces that the takings from the home game with Scunthorpe amount to £264, £200 of which is guaranteed to the visitors, leaving the club with £64 to pay wages and expenses.

24th April 1970 Angus McLean leaves the club, club trainer John Simpson takes over as manager.

May 1970 The club finish 23rd in the forth division and are forced to appeal for re-election for the ninth time, they were successful, but Bradford Park Avenue were not, Cambridge United replace the Yorkshire club for the 1970-71 season.

1969-70 Centre-back John Gill scores a record five own-goals in his 41 appearances.

February 1971 The Board of Hartlepool AFC meet with the Council Finance Committee to discuss the club's application for financial help. Chairman of the committee, Alderman J.A. Pounder, expresses sympathy for the club and shortly after the club receive £10,000 in aid from the council. Had this not been granted, then it was well known that the club would have gone out of business.

6th March 1971 John Simpson resigns from his post, Len Ashurst takes over as player-manager, during his reign he would adopt a number of roles, player, trainer, coach and manager.

15th March 1971 Brentford travel to the Victoria Ground and play out a 0-0 draw. The fixture is the one-millionth game in the Football League since it's inception in 1888.

February 1972 Hartlepool players travel to a Tyneside studio to record the single, Never Say Die / Who Put Sugar in My Tea. it was hoped that the sale of the record would raise much needed cash for the beleaguered club. Sadly, the release fails to reach the charts.

4th June 1974 Len Ashurst and trainer Tony Toms leave the club for Gillingham, Ken Hale becomes the 20th man to take charge of the club.

1974-75 An excellent League Cup run sees Pools beat Workington, Bournemouth (in a third replay), Blackburn Rovers (again in a replay) before going out in yet another replay at Aston Villa. Villa go on to win the cup, playing fewer games than Pools' nine cup-ties.

3rd January 1976 Hartlepool travel to Maine Road to face Manchester City in the third round of the F.A. Cup, Pool are 3-0 down at half time and end up on the wrong end of a 6-0 defeat. Late in the game George Potter kicks Dennis Tueart who then breaks Potters cheekbone with a head butt. Both players are sent off, Potter leaves on a stretcher.

Winter 1975 Another cash crisis for the club leads to the resignation of chairman John Curry, former chairman Ernest Ord takes temporary charge until Vince Barker replaces Ord three weeks later.

17th April 1976 Hartlepool travel to promotion chasing Northampton Town, they lose 5-2 but the game is remembered for the Northampton goalkeeper, Starling, scoring a penalty to ensure that every member of the first-team squad scores during the season.

October 1976 Billy Horner appointed manager replacing the dismissed Ken Hale. The 7 year stint is Horner's first of two as full time manager and numerous in a caretaker role.

4th January 1977 The club attempt to buy the Victoria Ground from the council for £24,000. The offer was rejected and proved to be the start of the 'Victoria Ground saga' which ran for a number of years

20th August 1977 Pools kick off the new season as Hartlepool United, having change name from Hartlepool AFC after nine seasons.

October 1977 The council propose that the club buy back the ground for £60,000 on a 99-year lease. The club accept and negotiations begin, the wrangling continued for four years.

28th January 1978 Pools go down 4-1 at Bobby Robson's Ipswich Town in the Fourth Round of the FA Cup, having beaten Tranmere, Runcorn and Crystal Palace on the way.

2nd February 1978 Brighton & Hove Albion offer £60,000 for Malcolm Poskett. The fee, a record for Pools, was quickly accepted and the weak Hartlepool strike force is depleted even more.

The Financial Problems
March 1982 The Inland Revenue demand payment of £60,000 in respect of PAYE contributions. Keith Houchen is sold to Orient for £25,000 and the fans chip in with £4,000 to gain a stay of execution.

September 1982 A section of fans form the 'United Supporters Action Group' and is openly critical about the way the club is run and the lack of communication between the club and the fans.

2nd October 1982 United lose 3-2 at Torquay and after Roy Hogan is sent off, Kevin Johnson and Rob Smith are also dismissed... for squaring up to each other!

January 1983 The Supporters Group voice concerns over the clubs future, with rumours of take-over bids and debts still owing to the Inland Revenue. By late January the group were distributing leaflets at games. Surprisingly the reaction was 'let the club die in peace.'

12th February 1983 Fans were greeted by a 'new-look' emergency edition of the match-day programme, as the suppliers had pulled out after the previous game 'due to loss of revenue because of poor sales'.

1st April 1983 Billy Horner leaves the club, John Duncan takes over as manager.

April 1983 The Inland Revenue take the club to the High Court for the outstanding debt of £51,000. The club came very close to extinction, but was saved at the last by chairman Vince Barker.

27th April 1983 It is reported that the players strike due to unpaid wages, putting the weekend's fixture in doubt, however the issue is resolved 24 hours later. The fans made their feelings known at the next home game as only 804 people pass though the turnstiles, a record low home league attendance.

June 1983 John Duncan leaves the club, Mick Docherty takes over as manager.

July 1983 The club apply for yet another re-election, a thirteenth attempt. Luckily for Hartlepool it proves to be successful.

December 1983 Mick Docherty is fired following a bad run of results the club, Billy Horner takes over as manager for a second time.

January 1984 The club hit another financial crisis with the club reportedly having debts of £61,000, with a hearing at the High Court on the 30th January the future looked bleak. United earned a reprieve and in the same week two new directors joined the board, Peter Mulcaster, owner of a roofing company, and John Smart, managing director of a public works company.

11th February 1984 The club win 3-0, against Halifax Town at the Vic' in their first game wearing shirts with a sponsor's name, John Smart's company 'New County'.

May 1984 Leeds United sign central defender, Andy Linighan, for £60,000. The money is thought to be the difference between staying in the league and losing its status.

8th June 1984 The club successfully apply for re-election for a fourteenth time, thankfully for the club and the hearts of the dwindling numbers of fans this time, was the final time that the club had to go through the anguish of the re-election process.

The Smart Years
June 1984 Vince Barker is deposed as chairman by John Smart. Smart joined the board only five months earlier.

Autumn 1984 Deposed chairman Vince Barker, still on the board of the club, enlists support of two fellow board members in an attempt to oust new chairman John Smart. Barker claimed that the club owed him £82,000 and was given leave by the High Court to applied for a winding-up order on the club, if successful the 76 year history of the club would have come to an end. The matter was resolved without any High Court judgement and Barker ended his association with the club.

December 1984 For the first time in over a decade the club was debt free, with John Smart and his board clearing over £100,000 from the balance sheets.

Summer 1985 The wooden stand on the Clarence Road side, erected at Expansion's ground in 1919 and moved to the Victoria Ground as a 'temporary' measure after the Zeppelin bombing during the First World War, is demolished following new safety concerns after the Bradford City fire tragedy. Portakabins were placed on the cleared ground, to serve as temporary changing rooms and the boardroom.

Summer 1985 J.W. Camerons sponsor United to the tune of £40,000. This was despite the council drawing up plans to build a hypermarket on the site of the ground, there was suggestions that the club would relocated to a new stadium on Brenda Road, at the southern end of town. Both proposals appeared to have been abandoned when the new season began.

July 1985 Billy Horner improves his squad by bring a number of players in including defensive stalwart Keith Nobbs,, the biggest transfer of the period was the purchase of Bob Newton for his second spell with the club. The transfer fee is a club record £17,500.

November 1985 In his role as commercial manager, former player, Alan Stevenson launched several money making schemes, the most successful of these was the 'Pools on the Move' lottery.

February 1986 Both the stands and crush barriers of the Rink End and Town End are declared unsafe by health and safety officials. The emergency closure of both ends of the ground reduced capacity below the current average of more than 3,000 spectators per game. Middlesbrough generously offered use of Ayresome Park for the period of the upgrade, however the club officials decided that it wouldn't be right playing away from the Vic' and the offer was turned down.

June 1986 The clubs horizon was still clouded by financial troubles as a reputed £26,000 police bill remained unpaid, the club had rumoured to be paying £250 per week in order to pay off the bill. Worse was to come when County Court bailiffs removed and impounded the goal posts as a settlement to a former director who was owed money by the club. Thankfully the matter was resolved a few weeks later.

23rd August 1986 In the close season Middlesbrough declare themselves bankrupt and only a last minute rescue bid saves them from going out of existence. However the takeover is too late to play their season opener at Ayresome Park, Pools offer the use of the Vic' for their game. Middlesbrough take the field to play Port Vale immediately after United host Cardiff City. Both games end in draws.

2nd October 1986 Following Hartlepool's 5-0 by Crewe Alex. manager, Billy Horner is sacked. His assistant and former player John Bird takes the job on a seven match trial.

4th November 1986 John Bird confirmed as manager following a successful trial period. The club had won 2 drawn 3 and lost 2 of the seven games since Billy Horner was fired.

November 1986 The local Council announce that it was not prepared to sell the ground back to the club. As a result United are only entitled to a 50% grant from the Football Grounds Improvement Trust, and the club cannot afford the ground improvements planned for covering the Rink End and Town End.

February 1987 The club announce plans for an £8.5 million stadium and leisure complex, the plans include a greyhound stadium, squash and tennis courts, social club and restaurant. The money, it was hoped, would come from local businesses and sponsorship, however the plans were not followed with action and the idea fizzled out.

11th May 1987 John Smart states that United's 1986-87 season was abysmal and calls for a new manager to replace John Bird who, in Smart's eyes, lacks ambition. At a subsequent board meeting his proposal is outvoted, to show his disapproval Smart resigns as chairman. Less than a month later Smart returns and announces 'clear the air' talks with John Bird.

9th January 1988 Pools feature in the third round of the F.A. Cup for the first time in almost a decade. First division Luton Town scrape past United 2-1 in front of 6,056 fans.

9th February 1988
Read Poem
opens in
pop-up window

Pools good cup form continues in the shape of the Sherpa Van Trophy. After victories over Doncaster and Carlisle, United travel to Roker Park to take on Third Division leaders Sunderland in the Quarter Final. In atrocious conditions, United win by a single goal scored by Brian Honour direct from a corner. Mackem boss Denis Smith describes the defeat as a 'stigma'. A word that will follow him around for decades afterwards. A poem was penned by Spider to honour the event.

Summer 1988 Work begins on a roof over the Rink End terrace. The cover, sponsored by Cecil M Yuill, is completed by the beginning of the 1988-89 season.

24th August 1988 United's pre-season campaign ends with an attractive fixture against Manchester United. The Red Devils team includes Paul McGrath, Mike Duxbury, Viv Anderson, Lee Sharpe and Mark Robins as well as future Pools player Paul Dalton and future boss Chris Turner. Pools' outplay their illustrious rivals and quickly run up the scoreboard, at half time the score is 3-0 in Pools favour. Hartlepool double their advantage in the second half running out 6-0 winners thanks to a hat-trick from newly signed Kevin Dixon and goals from Andy Toman, Simon Grayson and Keith Nobbs.

3rd October 1988 With the season only 7 games old, and United sitting in a lofty second position John Bird resigns as manager to take up the vacant position at York City. Following Bird to York were coach Alan Little and hero from the Manchester United game, Kevin Dixon.

2nd October 1988 The club announce that former Newcastle United captain Bobby Moncur will become the 27th manager of Hartlepool United.

February 1989 Pools reach the 4th Round of the FA Cup after three home wins against higher league opposition. The North-East's only 4th round contenders fall to a replay defeat at Second division Bournemouth which denies Pools a home tie with Manchester United.

May 1989 Paul Dalton, who ended the season on loan at the Vic' signs a permanent deal from Manchester United for a club record £20,000.

The Gibson Era
November 1989 After a protracted power struggle Wheatley Hill property developer, Garry Gibson takes over as Chairman.

27th November 1989 After a disastrous start to the season, which saw Pools take just 9 points from 18 games, manager Bobby Moncur's resignation is accepted at the second attempt.

9th December 1989 Former Darlington boss Cyril Knowles is appointed manager. Just before his first game in charge - a 4-2 defeat to Maidstone - three first team players are injured in a car crash. Knowles quickly brings in fresh faces. Paul Olsson and Ian Bennyworth joined from Scarborough as well as Garry MacDonald and Steve Tupling who Knowles had signed during his time at Darlington, Pools form is turned around.

May 1990 Pools finish the season in 19th place with 55 points, 12 points ahead of relegated Colchester.

September 1990 Pools win a League cup tie for the first time in eight years and are rewarded with a tie against a Tottenham Hotspur side featuring Gascoigne and Lineker. The offer of vouchers for the big match produces Pools biggest league crowd for 10 years, 5,725, against Rochdale. Spurs win the tie 7-1 on aggregate thanks to 4 Gascoigne goals at White Hart Lane. The home game, which finishes in a respectable 2-1 defeat, produces a sell-out crowd of 9,631, the biggest at the Vic since the Leeds cup-tie 12 years earlier and earns the club record gate receipts.

Pools' teenage midfielder Don Hutchison's Man of the Match performance in the second leg encourages Chairman Garry Gibson to send the video of the game to the top teams in England. Just over a month later Liverpool sign him for a then Pools record fee of £175,000. Hutchison goes on to play for Scotland.

March 1991 With Pools promotion campaign faltering Cyril Knowles is taken ill and stands down as manager. Gibson springs a major surprise by appointing Commercial Manager Alan Murray, a former Middlesbrough player, as caretaker-manager.

May 1991 Pools finish the season unbeaten in 14 matches as promotion is secured on the last day with a 3-1 win over Northampton Town. Joe Allon equals the club record with 28 league goals and is signed by Chelsea for a record £200,000.

31st August 1991 Cyril Knowles, the manager credited with building a promotion winning squad from the remnants of a side heading for the Conference, dies. Following a minutes silence his team picks up a point thanks to a 1-1 draw at Bradford City.

May 1992 Pools finish 11th in Division Three, their highest ever placing.

Summer 1992 The Rink End terrace becomes all-seater and now includes seating for the Directors. Other promised improvements to the ground fail to materialise.

2nd January 1993 Crystal Palace become the first team from the top-flight to be knocked out of the F.A. Cup by Pools after a controversial penalty gives Pools a 1-0 win.

January 1993 An unpaid bill for the construction of new dugouts leads to Pools being issued with a winding-up petition. This prompts a host of creditors to join the petition and Pools chairman Garry Gibson appears in the High Court. Pools enter into a CVA and are forced to sell most of the first team squad to cut costs.

Spring 1993 Pools set an unwanted record when they go 1,227 minutes, without scoring. No United player finds the net after Andy Saville converts a 87th minute of the Crystal Palace F.A. Cup victory until Saville scores in the 54th minute of the league game at Blackpool over two months, and 15 games later.

15th February 1993 In the middle of the scoreless streak Alan Murray is sacked, and replaced by Viv Busby.

May 1993 A late run of 4 wins in 7 maintains Pools place in the renamed Division Two for a third season.

November 1993 As protests mount against the perceived mismanagement of the football club, Pools are knocked out of the cup by non-league Macclesfield Town. Then, in the most shameful episode in the Gibson era, the cheque sent to Cyril Knowles' widow, Betty, containing the proceeds from a benefit match in Knowles' memory bounces.

24th November 1993 Garry Gibson sacks Viv Busby and replaces him with club captain, John MacPhail who takes over as player-manager.

March 1994 With Pools on course for relegation, the new club President, MP Peter Mandelson, brings future Prime Minister Tony Blair and Press Secretary Alistair Campbell to see Pools thrash Campbell's Burnley 4-1.

April 1994 Pools are hammered 7-0 by Rotherham and are relegated to Division Three. Pools final home game sees them thrashed 8-1 by Plymouth Argyle.

The Saviour Takes Charge
Summer 1994 Chairman Garry Gibson is finally bought out by local businessman Harold Hornsey. Hornsey, a long-time fan, sets about rebuilding the ground and improving the financial position of the club.

Autumn 1994 John MacPhail is fired by the club, David McCreery takes over as player-manager.

September 1994 Pools play at Highbury for the first time, as they lose to Arsenal 7-0 on aggregate in the 2nd Round of the League Cup.

April 1995 David McCreery is sacked, Keith Houchen takes over as player-manager.

May 1995 A miserable season for Pools is slightly lifted when a last-minute winner against Mansfield Town on the final day of the season means that they end the season above rivals Darlington. Pools average home attendance falls below 2,000 for the first time in almost a decade.

25th July 1995 The new east stand, which replaces the portakabins that stood since 1985, is completed and named in honour of Cyril Knowles. Betty Knowles, Cyril's widow, officially opens the stand.

August 1995 A new covered terrace is built at the south side of the ground, the construction is named the 'Expamet Town End' to observe the work undertaken by Hartlepool Expansion.

The newly developed ground is renamed 'Victoria Park' to reflect the transformation of the facilities.

2nd November 1996 Keith Houchen leaves the club, Mick Tait takes over as player-manager.

19th April 1997 An injury time winner from Joe Allon, in his second spell at the club, away at Darlington helps Pools to avoid relegation to the Conference.

The IOR Era

September 1997 Harold Hornsey sells Pools to Norwegian oil company IOR. Ken Hodcroft becomes the new chairman of Hartlepool United, but Hornsey remains on the board.

November 1997 IOR contacts in Norway help Pools to sign former Norwegian international Jan-Ove Pedersen on loan. Most fans consider the Scandinavian to be one of the finest talents ever to pull on a blue and white shirt.

January 1998 Mick Tait resigns over plans by IOR to scale down Pools Youth set-up. IOR relents and Tait remains in the hot seat.

May 1998 Pools small squad can't sustain a promotion challenge as Pools fall from 6th in January to finish the season 17th. Pools set a new League record for draws with 23.

Summer 1998 West Hartlepool Rugby Football Club sign a three-year groundshare deal with United at the Vic'. The Rugby club, whose predecessor folded in 1908 to pave the way for Hartlepools United's creation, ends the deal following relegation from the top flight.

September 1998 In an about turn from the start of the year, the club start up their own Centre of Excellence to bring through the stars of the future.

2nd January 1999 Pools sign former England legend Peter Beardsley until the end of the season.

18th January 1999 Two wins in 19, end Pools early season Play-off push and leaves then perilously close to the bottom. Mick Tait is fired and Brian Honour & Paul Baker take over as caretaker-managers.

IOR appoint Wolves youth team manager Chris Turner as manager with Pools third from bottom. He jokes that the last time he was at the Vic', in August 1988, he picked the ball out of the net six times when a Manchester United XI were humbled 6-0 by Pools in a pre-season friendly.

May 1999 At Easter Pools are four points adrift at the bottom of the league. However four wins in Pools final 8 games, keep Pools in the league.

October 1999 Chris Turner brings former Newcastle United striker Colin West in as his assistant.

31st October 1999 The club's biggest signing of the year makes his full debut before the F.A. Cup game against Millwall at Victoria Park. H'Angus the Monkey proves to be a big hit with the fans.

6th May 2000 A last day victory away at Hull City means that Pools qualify for the end of season Play-offs for the first time.

In two sell-out games, pre-season title favourites Darlington beat Pools 3-0.

May 2001 A 21 match unbeaten run, including a record-breaking run of 7 consecutive victories, sees Pools finish 4th and qualify again for the Play-offs. This time Blackpool are too strong winning 5-1 on aggregate.

Summer 2001 Previous season's top-scorer, Tommy Miller signs for Ipswich Town in a club record deal worth £800,000.

20th April 2002 With a remodelled side, Pools slow start to the season leaves them needing to win their last 5 games to make the Play-offs for a third time. Pools make it with a 2-0 victory at Exeter City on the final day. Defeat by Cheltenham Town in a penalty shoot out condemns them to another season in Division Three.

May 2002 The clubs mascot, H'Angus the monkey stands for mayor in 2002. The policy of free bananas for school children sways the voters and H'Angus wins the election. The mascots alter-ego Stuart Drummond takes office allowing the monkey to go back to work at Victoria Park.

November 2002 With Pools top of the league and playing some of the best football seen at the Vic Chris Turner leaves the club to take over at Sheffield Wednesday, Colin West takes over as caretaker-manager for two games before he joins Turner at Wednesday.
IOR make a surprise appointment by giving the manager's job to untried Mike Newell.

22nd February 2003 A 4-0 home win over Swansea City stretches Pools lead at the top of the table to 14 points.

19th April 2003 Mixed emotions as promotion is confirmed in spite of a 4-0 thrashing at Scunthorpe. Rushden & Diamonds move ahead of Pools after picking up 16 more points than United in the previous 10 games.

With just three wins in the final 13 games, Pools miss out on the title in a last match decider at Rushden. Needing to beat their championship rivals, United could only manage a 1-1 draw.

Pools crowds are at a 35 year high averaging 5,431.

28th June 2003 Mike Newell's contract is not renewed and he leaves the club. In another unexpected appointment, former Ross County manager Neale Cooper takes over as manager.

13th September 2003 Pools have a great start to their first Division Two season for 10 years and post their biggest win for 40 years - 8-1 against Grimsby Town.

7th December 2003 Pools win their first match on live terrestrial TV, when the BBC moves Eastenders to accommodate Pools' 1-0 F.A. Cup 2nd Round victory at Burton Albion.

3rd January 2004 Pools draw local rivals Sunderland in the 3rd round of the FA Cup. Over 9,000 Hartlepool fans make the trip and are part of the biggest crowd to watch a match involving Pools in their 96 year history - 40,816. Pools lose 1-0.

April 2004 The Youth Team win the U-19 Group at The Dallas Cup, winning all of their games and beating the NY/NJ Metrostars 4-1 in the final.

May 2004 A superb end of season surge see Pools make their highest ever finish in Division Two, 6th, and qualify for the Play-offs on the last day of the season. Two injury time goals in the semi-final second leg see Bristol City qualify and Pools miss-out on Play-off glory again.

4th May 2005 Neale Cooper agrees to part with the club with immediate effect on the eve of the final day of the season, due to off the field matters. Cooper's assistant Martin Scott takes over as caretaker for the crunch game at Bournemouth. A 2-2 draw means that United qualify for the play-offs at the expense of their hosts.

May 2005 Another season of great success finishes with Pools equalling their 6th place of last year and, as they had done the previous season, qualifying for the Play-offs on the last day of the season.
A penalty shoot-out win over Tranmere Rovers sets up the biggest game in the history of the club. Almost 60,000 people, at least 17,000 supporting Pools, travel to the Millennium Stadium and see Pools get with 8 minutes of playing Championship football. Unfortunately Sheffield Wednesday win the game 4-2.

Summer 2005 Martin Scott is confirmed as the club's 38th manager.

4th Feb 2006 Martin Scott is suspended due to an incident in the changing room after a 3-0 defeat at home against Blackpool. This on top of the club's disastrous first half of the season, which sees United languishing in the lower reaches of the division and being knocked out of the F.A. Cup by Tamworth, forces the board to fire Scott. Paul Stephenson takes charge until the end of the season.

May 2006 Less that a year after playing in the Play-off final Pools are relegated to League Two. As with almost every season since 1998, Pools go into their final game with plenty to play for, however unlike a majority of those years, Pools can't get the right result and end the season fourth from bottom, two points from safety.

June 2006 Former Bristol City, Barnsley and MK Dons boss Danny Wilson is named as the club's 39th manager.

May 2007 Records fall left, right and centre as Pools gain promotion back to League One at the first attempt.
Despite sitting in 16th place during November a record breaking 23 games unbeaten move Pools into the automatic promotion places with 8 games to go and hit the top spot early in April. Going into the final game, as usual, Pools have something to play for, a better result than Walsall's would mean that United would pip the Saddlers to the championship. Sadly Pools have to settle for second place due to a defeat by eventual Play-off winners, Bristol Rovers.

15th December 2008 Danny Wilson parts company with the club, he is named as Swindon Town's manager within a week. Chris Turner who is currently IOR's 'Director of Sport' is named as caretaker boss.

3rd January 2009 Pools' welcome Premier League Stoke City to the Vic' in the third round of the F.A. Cup. the top flight side are outclassed by an impressive United side who enjoy a 1-0 victory.
Pools are handed a home tie with West Ham United in the 4th round. A full strength Premier League side win 2-0 in a close game.

With thanks to ABM for the images linked to this page