HARTLEPOOL United legends Brian Honour and Rob McKinnon have backed the current crop of players to mirror their achievements at the club and gain promotion.
The tenancious winger and marauding full-back teamed up – this time off the pitch – for a fundraising event at Victoria Park.
The popular duo may have lost their pace but they haven’t lost their ability to entertain and kept fans engrossed with their tales from the late 1980s and early 1990s – which included the 1991 promotion season under Cyril Knowles and Alan Murray.
And Honour believes there is no reason why Colin Cooper’s team can’t emulate their success.
He said: “I would like to think Pools will be there or there abouts come the end of the season.
“I haven’t seen every team but I’ve seen some of the so-called top teams and we have beaten them.
“Is there anything to be frightened of? I don’t think so.”
The Horden-born winger has pinpointed current right-back Michael Duckworth as one to watch.
Honour said: “I love Duckworth.
“He has come from non-league and is hungry and apparently paid all his own way in the summer and didn’t get petrol money while he was on trial.
“That is a sign of a lad that really wants it and I have been very impressed.”
The duo, with more than 500 Pools appearances between them, gave a colourful insight into the management skills of Cyril Knowles and chairmanship of Garry Gibson.
Other highlights included memories of the 6-0 hammering of Manchester United in pre-season 1988, promotion and their colourful team-mates.
Flying Scotsman McKinnon, signed on a free transfer by then boss Billy Horner from Newcastle United, became one of the club’s greatest-ever full-backs.
Not only could he defend, his talent going forward was also recognised by Motherwell, Dutch side Twente Enschede, Hearts and Scotland.
Glasgow-born McKinnon, 47, said: “You look at the set-up here now, the lounges, board room and hospitality, that was unheard of back in our day.
“The club has come on leaps and bounds and it has to keep up and raise revenue to buy players just to compete at the best level that they can.”
Honour was another inspired bit of business by Horner.
Released by Darlington, the tenacious winger and local hero became a crowd favourite with Pools thanks to his play down both flanks.
Honour, who retains links and commentates on match days, said it was an “honour” and “privilege” to be asked to meet with fans.
The pair remain good friends and Honour joked the full-back used to eat him out of house and home when they lived together but they remain the best of pals. McKinnon is godfather to Honour’s children, Sarah, 25, Laura, 24.
The 49-year-old said: “My high at Pools was the promotion season of 1991 and my low was having to finish with a knee injury.
“The rest of my body was okay but my knee was absolutely butchered. It broke my heart.
“My favourite player was Robbie – without a doubt.
“We are good mates and he is god father to my two daughters, he is more than just a team-mate.”
McKinnon’s high was also the promotion season but he was denied being an ever-present that season when he was sent out for a trail match as the club were looking to cash in on their prize asset, missing the 5-1 demolition against Aldershot, which still rankles 22 years later.
McKinnon said: “There are games that stick in your mind that will stay with me forever.
“The only negative was missing that game to be ever present against Aldershot.
“I was on a trial at Leeds United instead. I just wanted to play in the game and be part of the team.”
And the best player he ever played with?
McKinnon added: “The best for skill, determination was the wee man Brian, closely followed by Paul Dalton.
“Brian could switch over to the left, Dalts couldn’t really go over to the right hand side although he did on occasions.
“But when either of them played in front of me it was just a pleasure, a real joy.”
As part of the evening there was an auction which included a signed copy of Hartlepool Mail Sport Editor Roy Kelly’s book, Up The Pools, eventually going for an impressive £130. All of the money raised went towards the club’s youth development fund.
Honour also named his all-time Poolie Dream Team: Manager Cyril Knowles, Coach Pop Robson. Team: Martin Hodge, John MacPhail, Rob McKinnon, Paul Haigh, David Linighan, Dean Emerson, Paul Olsson, Brian Honour, Paul Dalton, Andy Saville, Joe Allon.
Subs: Kevin Poole, Keith Nobbs, Don Hutchinson, Paul Baker.