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League Two Lowdown: Hartlepool

26 July 2013

Our look at Pompey's 2013/14 opponents continues with United

Meetings with Pompey
The sides clashed for the first time on a Friday evening in August 1978, when Steve Davey’s injury-time equaliser stopped the Blues falling to the Division Four basement.

After defeats to Bradford and York, Davey’s goal not only spared Pompey the embarrassment of propping up the rest of the Football League, it also proved to be the catalyst for a seven-match unbeaten run.

The Blues romped to a 3-0 victory at Fratton Park in the return fixture, thanks to goals from Colin Garwood, Steve Foster and John Lathan.

There have been just six meetings between the sides, with Pompey unbeaten in their three visits to Victoria Park – including a gritty goalless draw back in February.

Just 17 days earlier, Hartlepool beat the Blues for the first time with a 3-1 victory at Fratton Park.

Pompey did the double over United in the 1979/80 campaign. Steve Bryant, John McLaughlin and Garwood scored in a 3-0 win at Victoria Park on the opening day, while Garwood and Terry Brisley netted in a 2-1 victory on the south coast.

The Blues won at Northampton to gain promotion on the final day of that season, while Hartlepool finished down in 19th.

Hartlepool history
When West Hartlepool Rugby Club went bust leaving Victoria Park vacant, the football club were formed as Hartlepools United.

Several applications to join the Football League were rejected, with the north-east already represented by Newcastle and Middlesbrough.

But Division Three (North) was formed in 1921 and Hartlepools were founder members, finishing fourth in the first season. They had to fight for re-election on several occasions, though, and generally struggled.

A couple of FA Cup runs in the mid-1950s were bright spots and they came from three goals down to level against Manchester United before losing by a single goal in 1957.

The introduction of Division Four saw more Football League survival battles and was where a young Brian Clough began his managerial career.

A year after his departure, Hartlepools finished third and were promoted to Division Three, dropping the ‘s’ at the end of their name.

But they were soon back in the basement, with more applications for re-election coming in 1969, 1971, 1977 and 1978.

They survived all of those and higher league positions quickly followed – as did the slaying of Crystal Palace in the fourth round of the FA Cup.

But an all-time low attendance of 790 for the match against 1984 – amidst financial troubles – and yet another re-election survival was perhaps the lowest point.

Things took a turn for the better in 1992 when promotion to Division Three was achieved and Hartlepool finished a respectable 11th in the higher tier.

But more financial difficulties were not far away and heavy defeats to Rotherham (0-7) and Plymouth (1-8) saw them relegated in 1994.

Hartlepool present
United were celebrating promotion back to the third tier in 2003 and achieved a play-off place the following season, losing to Bristol City over two legs.

They finished in the top six again in 2006 and dramatically defeated Tranmere on penalties after a 2-2 aggregate stalemate, but were beaten 4-2 by Sheffield Wednesday after extra-time in the Millennium Stadium final.

Hartlepool were relegated back to the basement in 2006, but instantly won promotion back to League One, thanks largely to a sequence of eight successive wins without conceding a goal.

They survived for the next few years – on the final day on a couple of occasions – but tumbled into League Two along with Pompey last term.

Information for Pompey fans
Away fans are housed in the covered 1,033-capacity Rink End Stand and the nearby North Sea means it can get very cold.

The Corner Flag supporters bar just outside the ground welcomes away followers, while the Millhouse Inn and Wetherspoon are located nearby.

Travelling by road
Postcode: TS24 8BZ
Distance from Fratton Park: 326.2 miles
Estimated drive time: 5 hours 52 minutes

Exit the A19 at the signpost for Hartlepool (A689). At the roundabout turn right (s/p Hartlepool A689) and continue on the A689 for 4.3 miles, through the village of Newton Bewley, to the roundabout by the Owton Lodge pub. Go straight on (s/p Town Centre A689) and follow Town Centre signs for 2.8 miles, over two roundabouts. At the traffic lights just past the Blacksmiths Arms on your left, go straight on. At the next traffic lights go straight on again over the bridge into the new marina complex and straight on again at the roundabout into Marina Way. This is the area for the Jackson's Wharf parking. To get to the ground itself continue to the next roundabout and turn left (s/p The North A179, A1048). Turn left at the lights into Clarence Road to the ground.

Travelling by rail
Hartlepool station is a 10-minute walk from the ground and the journey from Portsmouth station is around five-and-a-half hours, via Kings Cross. A standard adult fare is £145.50.

League Two fixtures
Hartlepool v Pompey: Saturday, November 30 (3pm)
Pompey v Hartlepool: Saturday, April 5 (3pm)

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