JEFF Stelling has labelled Hartlepool United’s 2-0 defeat to Newport County on Friday a “temporary set-back” and has backed Pools to bounce back quickly, writes Richard Mennear.
One of Hartlepool’s favourite sons was in the crowd at Rodney Parade to watch Colin Cooper’s side beaten thanks to goals from Harry Worley and Conor Washington.
The star of Sky Sports’ Soccer Saturday is a huge Pools fan and took advantage of a rare Friday night match to watch his favourite team.
And he believes Pools will bounce back quickly from the temporary set back and has given his backing to friends Colin Cooper and Craig Hignett.
Pools-born Stelling, who drove two-and-half hours from his Hampshire home to South Wales, climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in the summer with the Pools management team for the Finlay Cooper Fund.
Stelling, who is known for his celebrations whenever Pools score while presenting his Saturday afternoon football scores show on Sky Sports, said: “It was a good opportunity to watch Pools with the game being on a Friday night and we only had a short show on Saturday because of the international break.
“The outcome was disappointing. We had our moments in the game but not enough of them.
“Newport play in a particular way and do it really effectively, not necessarily the way I would want my team to play football,
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but you can see why so many teams go there and get beaten, and well beaten.
“Three games in six days took its effect on Pools as well with two of those games against League One sides.
“Luke James got taken off and he got a battering and a bruising.
“I view it as a temporary set back and I think the boys have done great recently.
“In patches on Friday you could see the type of football we are trying to play and long may that continue, because that is the way I think we all want to see the game played.”
Cooper organised the arduous climb of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania in aid of the charity he founded in memory of his son Finlay who died in a tragic choking accident.
He was joined by right-hand man Hignett and Stelling along with 10 other supporters and the June adventure helped raise a whopping £100,000.
Former Mail reporter Stelling remains close friends with the Pools management duo and believes they are doing a great job at Victoria Park.
The 58-year-old, whose family still live in Hartlepool, added: “Colin and Craig are a great pair of boys, I knew that from going up Mount Kilimanjaro with them.
“I didn’t have any doubts because they are both very different characters, very articulate, know the game inside out and I am really pleased for them.”