Well played, John ...

Former Hartlepool United staff member John Breward.
Former Hartlepool United staff member John Breward.

YOU can’t have missed the torrents of warm praise and affection for the late John Breward in your Hartlepool Mail recently.

 I was proud to count John as a friend over many years and there is no doubt that his passing will leave a huge gap in Hartlepool life.

 When I first heard the news, I spent a long time on the phone with another good friend, Paul Gough, and John would have been pleased to know that we spent much of the time in gales of laughter sharing memories of the man who has been rightly described as a Hartlepool United stalwart.

 I worked with John on the testimonial committee for Micky Barron back in 2006 and that was an experience.

 We got the job done really well, and the standard of humour around the committee table was superb.

 I remember Micky along with other great jokers like Brian Honour trying to take the mick out of John, but they were outclassed at all times!

 John was way ahead of even the typical footballer’s sense of humour and it’s a pity that some of his pre-match team talks in the Pools dressing room were not recorded for posterity.

 That testimonial year for Micky was typical of John’s determination to do the best for a friend, and I’ll never forget the smile on his face when the two biggest events came together so well.

 The big dinner at the old Mayfair Centre in Seaton Carew was a fabulous night and, while I was interviewing the late Sir Bobby Robson and Micky Barron on stage, I kept catching a glimpse of a huge satisfied grin on John’s face.

 We followed that with the testimonial match against Leeds United and that was a day that John never forgot.

 The passing of John is the sad end to a chapter which saw some really talented blokes working their socks of to keep the commercial side of Pools alive when conditions were difficult, to put it mildly.

 Along with unforgettable characters like Frankie Baggs and Albert Kelleher, John was part of a team that got deep into the heart of the town and managed to get money and support from apparently impossible sources.

 A football club is much more than the players on the pitch and, for many of us then and now, the Three Musketeers of John, Frankie and Albert were a key part of Pools history.

 John actually called them the Three Stooges, or worse, but I think Musketeers isn’t bad – a team who fought hard and won.

 One final memory from a night out in hazy memory.

 After keeping us in stitches for ages after a hard day, John slid under the table and fell asleep.

 He popped up about half an hour later and enquired “Whose round is it then?”

 I’ve just seen a news story about a Premiership footballer who is apparently being offered £200,000 A WEEK to stay with his club.

 John Breward would often sweat blood to bring a fraction of that back to his beloved Victoria Park.

 Whatever Pools do in the future, the ground will always echo to the laughter of the real legends like John, Frankie and Albert.

 Well played John Breward – man of the match.