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Once in a Lifetime: Hartlepool Report

By: Tony Butcher
Date: 13/09/2003

WHAT you are about to read is based on a true story. A pleasant, windless autumnal evening with just a hint of a soupcon of a suggestion of a chill in the air, with around 350 jumpered and jacketed Town fans gathered together in the "Rink End" (as seen to your right on the television).

Home > 2003-2004 Season > Reports > Hartlepool (a)

Hartlepool United 8 Grimsby Town 1
12 Sep 2003, Nationwide League Division 2

What a difference a decade makes, for both the town and the ground have been transformed from dull-eyed suburban housewives into stars of stage and screen. Well, sort of. Everything is new and shiny, but tastefully done, comfortable and not anodyne. Dining al fresco with our pommes frites and avocado dips, it was a salutary experience for the visiting Grimbarians. Once Hartlepool used to make Grimsby look glamorous, now it’s the other way round.

Town lined up in what has often been described as a 4-4-2 formation, as shown. Everyone played in the position you’d think they would, with Hockless starting at left wing. Nimmo amongst the subs? A startled throng of Town fans stared at unknown soldier and, of course, called him Derek.

There was nothing of any note in the pre-match warm ups. No embarrassing singing and/or dancing. No terrible hair, no ridiculous routines. Just blokes kicking the ball about. Delving into the programme we saw that a picture of Stuart Campbell was titled "Iain Ward". In the Doncaster programme Campbell was "Paul Smith". Is this going to be a running gag through the season? I do hope so. And Town’s manager is Paul Fraser. Is that a prediction? The programme was full of pictures of Paul Robinson, including a gurning poster portrait of the former loanee flopster. Yeah, yeah, we know the immutable law of the ex is about to hit us. And Marco Gabbiadini, like Flash Gordon, is still alive. He’s 89 and got all his own teeth in a jar by the door, you know.

A pigeon fluttered into the rafters of the stand holding the Town support, causing much contemplation about where to sit to avoid collateral damage. Or perhaps this is the Grimsby (Evening) Telegraph’s replacement for Stuart Rowson, training at any away game. Sports coverage via the medium of pigeon post.

On with the show.

1st half

Town kicked off away from the massed ranks of the travelling Wilby’s coach party and other animals. The ball was rolled back to Barnard who simply wellied it upfield straight to their ‘keeper. As he’s been absent for two weeks with Wales, and we’d never seen that nonsense before, we can only assume that this is what international coaches teach their charges.

Shall I skip over the minor details? Perhaps, we’ll see, for it is the little things that are important, like Hockless. The first quarter of an hour was even, interesting and relatively hopeful, for Town were passing it around nicely, creating moments of danger, if not chances. Hartlepool flapped around a lot, with Gabbiadini doing the Bump on the nearest Town defender and Robinson a perpetual motion machine, so let’s relax a little, eh? Cas surged past two defenders and dribbled a weak left foot shot straight at the goalkeeper. Boulding twisted by the ‘Pool supporters, near the left hand corner of the penalty area, rocking and rolling past the wrestling defender. His cross was sliced away for a corner.

Croweyellow card
Rowangoalyellow card


Nimmo61 mins
Soames76 mins


Scott Mathieson


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The report continues in Part Two.

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