A POOLS season ticket holder was tricked into going behind enemy lines at the weekend to mark his 30th birthday.
Shaun Peterson is a regular at Victoria Park, but often goes along the A66 to Darlington to see his pal, former Pools defender Paul Arnison, playing for The Quakers.
Shaun turned 30 last week, and to mark the occasion, Paul and some other friends arranged for the bank worker to watch Darlo’s game with Newport County from an executive box at the Darlington Arena rather than taking in Pools’ clash with Sheffield Wednesday from his regular spot in the Cyril Knowles stand.
Unknown to Shaun, who lives in Intrepid Close in Seaton Carew, his cheeky mates had also arranged for him to be the club’s mascot for the day – meaning the strapping six-footer got the honour to lead the team out before the game.
To add to his embarrassment, Poolie Shaun was kitted out in a full Darlington kit just to make sure he didn’t look out of place ahead of the Conference clash, which ended 2-0 to the Quakers.
Shaun, a NatWest Bank worker in Hartlepool who lives with wife Kate and three-year-old daughter Emily, took the wind-up in good spirits.
He said: “We had a nice meal before the game, and I had no idea what was coming.
“It was about 2.30pm when I was taken downstairs to the dressing room area and handed a bag with the kit in. By that time, it was too late to bottle out!
“I led the teams out with Graeme Lee, who used to play for Pools and is now Darlo’s captain, then I had to go along the line of players and shake hands.
“The other Darlo mascot was a kid aged six, and I was getting a few strange looks from the Newport players!”
“It was a good day though, full credit to the lads for a good wind-up, and I must admit I was actually quite pleased Darlo won because it was an important game for them and I didn’t want their manager or anyone to think I was just there taking the mickey.”
After the 2-0 win, Shaun was quick to return to home soil with his mates, though his exploits hadn’t gone unnoticed by sections of the Darlington crowd.
He added: “One Darlo fan got in touch with me on Twitter thanking me for bringing them some good luck.
“He offered to buy me a season ticket and said he would come and give me a lift from Hartlepool to every home game!”