81 years of joy and despair for fan

Syd Miller with a letter from Hartlepool United to mark his 90th birthday. Picture by FRANK REID
Syd Miller with a letter from Hartlepool United to mark his 90th birthday. Picture by FRANK REID
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A VETERAN Poolie is looking forward to following his favourite football team for the 81st consecutive season.

Sprightly 91-year old Syd Miller could well be Hartlepool United’s longest-serving fan.

The passionate Poolie has followed his beloved team up and down the country for more than 80 years.

He might not be able to spend the hours on the motorway following the team away from home like he used to, but Syd still makes his way to every single home game to take his seat in the Cyril Knowles stand.

It’s been a topsy-turvy ride for the retired joiner, who has lived in the town since being just a few months old.

Relegations, promotions, re-elections, near-misses and of course that unforgettable trip to Cardiff – it’s no wonder Syd thinks he now has blue blood.

Syd, who lives in the Hart Lane area of town, admits the team’s performances in recent years have been among the best he’s seen and smiles as he reminisces on the changing nature of the game he loves.

“It’s certainly a completely different game now to when I first started watching,” said Syd, who sadly lost his wife of 57 years, May, around two years ago.

“The footballers are technically very different now, a lot more skilful, but they don’t have to kick around an old leather ball.”

In the 80 years spent on the terraces, Syd thinks there has been no-one better than inside forward Jonny Wigham to grace the Victoria Park pitch in the blue and white of Pools.

But he says he has been lucky enough to see many fantastic players over the years.

“Jonny Wigham was a fantastic footballer, a pleasure to watch,” he says.

“Kenny Johnson was very good as well and Watty Moore was the best centre half I’ve ever seen.”

In the modern era, Syd says he can’t see past Ritchie Humphreys as one of the club’s greats.

Club skipper Ritchie was part of the team who came so close to joining the second tier of English football at the Millennium Stadium in 2005, a day which Syd says he will never forget.

“What a day that was in Cardiff,” he added. “It was hard luck that day, we played so well and I really thought we were going to do it.

“I used to follow the team away from home quite a lot, but unfortunately I can’t get to those games anymore.”

Despite not being able to travel to away games, Syd remains very active and enjoys an early morning swim at the Mill House Leisure Centre, in Hartlepool, five days a week.

He goes to every home game with his dear friend Norman Fonder and his son Dave Fonder, who he says help him to his seat every week.

And his smile could have lit up the ground when his birthday was announced at half time during a recent league game to spark a blast of “Happy Birthday” from the crowd.

“That was a lovely surprise, I certainly didn’t expect it.” he said.

Hartlepool United media manager Mark Simpson said: “The football club is delighted to have such loyal fans.

“Syd must have seen some highs and lows over the years.

“We are thrilled to have such a loyal supporter with us for so long.”

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