MEMORY LANE: Pools throw it away against Swansea

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SPORTMAIL’S headline said it all: ‘Players let Pools down.’ Hartlepool United took the lead against Swansea City at Victoria Park, only to see all their hard work go to waste.

Match of the Day: Wednesday, 16 October 1996

Pools 1 Swansea 1,

HARTLEPOOL’s players had been warned.

Their places were up for grabs after the 1-1 draw at Victoria Park with Swansea City left management duo Keith Houchen and Mick Tait bouncing.

Pools would quite happily settle for a point at home to Swansea these days, although given the Welsh side now ply their trade in the Premier League and Pools in the fourth division that would take some doing.

But back then, Tait and Houchen were fuming their side had let victory slip from their grasp.

Pools reporter Damian Spellman described the action and said a “dreadful second-half showing dismantled the work of a solid first 45 minutes and very nearly gifted three points to the barely-adequate Welshmen.

Houchen had watched the game from the corner of the Rink End alongside chairman Harold Hornsey.

His side went ahead in the 29th minute through Stephen Halliday’s second goal in as many matches but it was all downhill from there.

Angry Tait said: “We asked the lads to give us a good 45 minutes because that’s what we’ve been missing lately, and they did that all right.

“But they switched off for the second 45.

“It’s very annoying to say the least. The second-half performance was disgraceful – it just wasn’t good enough.

“The crowd got on their backs and they were totally justified. The players got a standing ovation at half-time and then were booed off at the final whistle. That can’t happen too often.

“It was very quiet in the dressing room after we’d had our say. It depends now how they react to it.”

Playing in goal for Pools at The Vic that day was current goalkeeper coach Stephen Pears.

Pools: Pears, Ingram, McAuley, Clegg, Barron, McGuckin, Beech (Howard, 82), Cooper, Mike (Allon, 82), Halliday, Hislop.

Attendance: 1,310.

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The 36-year-old and his wife Georgie needed 15 minutes to make their way through arrivals at Heathrow airport as they were mobbed by 300 cheering fans on his return.

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On his arrival back home, Hill stopped to talk to fans who waved flags and clamoured for his autograph.

Hill said: “I am very happy to be home, it was a fantastic reception.

“I just want to thank everyone for turning up and making it so fantastic.”

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Goals from £21m front pairing Les Ferdinand and Alan Shearer at least gave Kevin Keegan’s side hope of making it through to the third round.

Boss Keegan said: “Peter Beardsley said to me in the dressing room that if Alan Shearer’s late goal had stood we’d only need a goalless draw at St James’s Park.

“I replied, ‘When is the last time we played out a goalless draw?’

“Certainly David Batty can’t remember one since he arrived!”

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