Kelly’s eye on Hartlepool United: Christian Burgess boost for charity

DOING THEIR BIT FOR CHARITY: Hartlepool United players wear charity event shirts before their game against Dagenham &Redbridge. Picture by FRANK REID
DOING THEIR BIT FOR CHARITY: Hartlepool United players wear charity event shirts before their game against Dagenham &Redbridge. Picture by FRANK REID

CANCER is a horrible disease. Forgive me for stating the obvious, but you know what I mean.

I don’t think there is a family out there who has not been affected by it.

It was devastating to learn of the death of Nigel Walker, who lost his battle with cancer at the tragically-young age of 54.

Nigel, born in Gateshead, played two seasons at Hartlepool United, making 92 appearances between 1985 and 87.

He’d started his career with Newcastle United, making his Magpies debut in the First Division and going on to play 81 times.

Walker moved to the USA to play for San Diego Sockers for a year and on returning to England, he turned out for Crewe, Chester and Blackpool and, blink and you’d miss him for Sunderland.

Some of his best times came at Pools after being signed by Billy Horner in 1985.

I never knew Nigel personally, but watched him during his two seasons at Pools and after this week seeing him described as a ‘traditional winger’ I don’t think I can come up with a better expression.

Quick and tricky, he could beat his marker and was a good crosser.

In his first season, Pools had Nigel down the right and the effervescent Brian Honour, another new signing, down the left.

Both were in stunning form, so much so that Pools were second in November after a run of nine wins and a draw from 12 matches.

It looked odds on that Pools would challenge for promotion but the weather and fate played a crucial and cruel intervention.

The weather wiped out a clutch of fixtures and Pools saw the Vic’s capacity slashed to just 2,100 when the roofs at the Town and Rink Ends were declared unsafe and demolished.

The season fizzled out, not surprisingly, but Pools, after years of strife and struggle, actually looked the part and Walker’s brilliance had much to do with the stunning form of Horner’s team.

Walker left after his second season and became a teacher while playing for Blyth Spartans.

Honour described him as “absolute quality” and a “genuine lad”. Well said Jackie.

How fitting therefore that Pools players wore a special warm-up t-shirt at Dagenham & Redbridge to back an amazing charity venture which will raise money for Cancer Research UK and the NSPCC.

Scotty Emmons and Lucie Barney are planning to run 40 marathons in 40 days, from John O’Groats to London, a total of 1048 miles.

The pair are friends of Pools defender Christian Burgess who wanted to publicise their great run which has been labelled 40in40uk.

“Obviously this challenge is going to be very tough but I just wanted to support them in any way I could so I’m delighted the club and my team-mates are able to help out,” Christian said.

All money raised from the venture will be split directly between Cancer Research UK and the NSPCC and those wishing to donate can visit www.virginmoneygiving.com/team/40in40uk.

Well done to the runners, but well done to Christian for doing his bit.

Log on and pledge a few quid and think of a great Pools player in Nigel Walker as you do it.