RITCHIE Humphreys will tonight thank the “incredible” Hartlepool United fans who have supported him over the past 10 years.
The club legend has called on the Pools faithful to pack Victoria Park for the visit of Huddersfield Town when he will show his appreciation for their backing during a record-breaking 473 appearances.
Humphreys wrote his name in the history books on Saturday as he overtook Watty Moore’s 51-year record during the 2-1 victory at Exeter City.
That feat was achieved in front of just 65 visiting fans at St James Park, and that is why Humphreys is hoping to see a bumper crowd inside the Vic this evening.
“For the supporters who were there on Saturday to see it I’m so thankful,” he told SportMail, “I applaud each and every one of them for making the trip down and applauding me off at the end, it was an emotional day.
“Hopefully tonight I can show my appreciation to all of the home supporters who couldn’t make it.
“Their support over the years has been incredible and I’d love to thank each of them individually.
“But if we get a big crowd tonight that would be fantastic.
“We also want the right result and hopefully that will make it a fabulous occasion.”
Humphreys admits he never dreamt he would become such an integral part of the club fabric when he signed for Chris Turner’s side back in 2001.
He added: “I wouldn’t have believed people if they’d said I’d go on to play 473 games when I first signed because you never know in football – sometimes you move on yourself or you get moved on because you’re not wanted anymore.
“But that’s been a big part of it – the fact the football club have always offered me a new contract and I’ve always been glad to sign them.
“Being wanted is a big thing in football and I’ve just got such an affinity with the club and I don’t think that will ever leave me.”
The man whose record was surpassed, former centre-half Moore, spent the entirety of his 12-year career with Pools and, like Humphreys, was club captain.
And Humphreys is well aware of his predecessor’s legendary standing in the town.
“I was on the radio a couple of weeks ago and a member of Watty’s family rang to speak to me and that was really nice,” said the 33-year-old.
“A couple of older people who still work at the ground I’ve spoken to and they remember him playing and he was obviously a club legend.
“So to equal and then pass his record is a proud moment given the esteem he is held in up here.”