MEMORY LANE: Pools’ promotion chances almost blown away

Hands off: Exeter goalkeeper John Shaw claims the ball as Bob Newton of Pools threatens the visitor's goal during the match on March 23, 1986.
Hands off: Exeter goalkeeper John Shaw claims the ball as Bob Newton of Pools threatens the visitor's goal during the match on March 23, 1986.

A STRONG wind almost blew away Hartlepool’s promotion chances in a match against Exeter at the Victoria Ground on March 23, 1986.

But, luckily for United, they managed to claim a point from the goaless draw - in a game which Pools manager Billy Horner called “the worst at home this season”.

We have never been in this position for years, so why should we worry about it - we have got nothing to lose.

Billy Horner, Hartlepool United manager

“The only winner after 90 minutes of trying to master the awful weather was the wind. It ended all hopes of a good game - neither side getting to grip with it,” stated the Mail.

“Pools had more of the ball and more of the chances but, at the end of the day, they could be grateful that the wind hadn’t played a cruel trick on them and given Exeter three points.”

It was obvious from kick-off that the wind was going to dictate the match - much to the disappointment of the 2,480 crowd - many loudly chanting “You’re all a load of rubbish”.

Hartlepool’s first chance came in the fifth minute, when Alan Shoulder was beaten to a header, but Alan Little managed to find striker Bob Newton - who “cannoned it skywards”.

David Linigham came close to putting Pools in the lead in the 16th minute, when he headed a Nigel Walker corner just wide of the left hand post, but the scoreline was to ramin 0-0.

Indeed, it was the feeling of fans and critics alike that Pools could feel grieved they hadn’t secured the full three points when they had a 72nd minute penalty appeal turned down.

Jim McNichol brought down Pools’ Alan Little and, though it looked like an obvious foul, it was not classed as a penalty. Instead, referee Colin Trussell awarded Exeter a goal kick.

“If we had got that penalty we would’ve got a win and we could’ve forgotten the game,” said Horner, who was in his second term of manager - a post he would hold until November.

“But it was very, very difficult in the conditions. The only thing I can complain about is the lack of shots. But you’d need a stepladder to get the ball; it was in the air most of the time.

“But we have never been in this position for years, so why should we worry about it - we have got nothing to lose.”

* Hartlepool eventually faded to seventh place by the end of the 1985/86 season. Hopes of promotion the following season were dashed after 14 games without a win in 15 matches.

Also in the sporting news in 1986

• Chelsea became the first winners of the Football League’s new Full Members Cup - after beating Manchester City 5-4 at Wembley.

It was a hard-fought game, with City clawing the deficit to a single goal in the final five minutes - after being 5-1 down for much of the match.

• Hartlepool drew their first four games of the 1986/87 season, the lost the next four. Their first win came in the ninth game - against Lincoln City.

A further six games without a win were enough to see Pools slip into an automatic relegation position. Horner departed in November and was replaced by John Bird.

• The 1986 World Cup was placed in Mexico. Argentina defeated West Germany 3-2.

• Liverpool beat Everton 3-1 to win the FA Cup. Oxford beat QPR 3-0 in Milk Cup.

• The New York Mets baseball team won the World Series after beating Boston Red Sox.

• Mike Tyson knocked out Trevor Berbick to become youngest World Heavyweight champ.

• Greg LeMond became the first cyclist from the US to win the Tour de France.

• Golfer Jack Nicklaus became the oldest Masters winner at the age of 46.

• West Tip won the Grand National and Dawn Run the Cheltenham Gold Cup.

• Alain Prost of France won the F1 Championship.

• The 92nd Five Nation Cup was shared by France and Scotland.

• Boris Becker won Wimbledon.