Golden shot gave Pools second chance in FA Cup

Hartlepool United's Tommy McGuigan and Eric Wildon pictured in action against Darlington at the Victoria Ground in January 1955.

Hartlepool United's Tommy McGuigan and Eric Wildon pictured in action against Darlington at the Victoria Ground in January 1955.

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Leo Harden once again proved a lion on the pitch - as he roared in to save Hartlepool’s chances in an FA Cup tie on January 8, 1955.

A goal by Darlington in the 13th minute ”knocked the rhythm” out of Pools during the Third Round match at a water-logged Victoria Park.

Victoria Ground in January 1955.

Victoria Ground in January 1955.

But Harden – whose goals had given Pools a festive league “double” over the Quakers – put them back in the Cup with a golden shot in the 56th minute.

“Darlington then weathered an all-out onslaught by a rejuvenated Pools, who kept pegging away until the final whistle,” reported the Mail.

“Harden always looked like the danger man, at least as far as the crowd was concerned. At any rate, his efforts resulted in a replay.”

The path of Pools to the FA Cup Third Round had been a relatively easy one, with a 1-0 victory over Chesterfield and a 4-0 drubbing of Aldershot.

Leo “The Lion” Harden always looked like the danger man, at least as far as the crowd was concerned. At any rate, his efforts resulted in a replay.

Hartlepool Mail, January 8, 1955.

But it was the North East derby between old rivals Pools and Darlington on January 8 which created the most excitement, with 17,000 tickets sold.

“The queue of ticket-holders stretched from the Victoria Ground past the greyhound stadium and half way along Museum Road,” the Mail stated.

“But it was a good-natured crowd and, inside the ground, Pools fans were liberally garlanded in blue and white rosettes and scarves.

“Bugles, rattles, bells and other contraptions were much in evidence too. It was a typical cup-tie atmosphere – tense, taut and expectant of thrills.”

Pools won the toss, much to the delight of the home crowd, and a kick towards the town end was the first action of the match.

Linacre and Johnson managed to gain a corner for Pools within seconds, but it was cleared hurriedly away by Quakers goalie Dunn.

“Most of the pressure in those first few minutes was directed towards Darlington’s end, until Moore slipped and let in a Quaker player,” stated the Mail.

“Newton tried to rescue the ball, but it swung to the left, where Houlihan cracked in a shot. Thankfully, goalie Brown saved it.”

A goal-mouth scramble at the Darlington end quickly followed but, after 13 minutes, Houlihan managed to snatch the ball and smack it into the Pools goal.

“The goal was a shock for Pools and a morale booster for Darlington. Thankfully, following half time, things picked up for Pools.”

l The 1-1 scoreline paved the way to a replay, which ended 2-2. Pools won the next 1-0, but lost to Notts Forest in the next round.