TODAY marks the anniversary of a memorable Hartlepool United triumph at neighbours Darlington.
GAVIN LEDWITH recalls the victory and the celebration that accompanied the late winner.
IT may well be that this column has covered this particular game before.
For one week only, who cares?
We all need cheering up after Hartlepool United’s inevitable relegation was finally confirmed on Tuesday night.
So let us travel back in time 16 years to one of the club’s most memorable derby victories at Darlington.
With injury time looming Hartlepool United were in trouble. Big trouble.
Loan signing Michael Brown had opened the scoring from a free-kick on eight minutes with what would be his only goal for his home-town club.
But Darren Roberts equalised just before half-time after Pools defender Richard Lucas had been caught in possession.
While a 1-1 draw at your neighbours does not seem like a poor result, it would have left Pools just one place from non-league oblivion with two games to play.
Step forward club legend Joe Allon.
Although his second spell at Pools was nowhere near as prolific as his first, the 1991 promotion hero still knew where the back of the net was.
The substitute reacted instantly to poke the ball into the corner of the net after his first effort had been blocked following a free-kick from midfield veteran Mark Proctor.
Cue mayhem as Allon celebrated by taking off his shirt and whirling it around as he sprinted past the desconsolate home fans.
“That one’s for you Harry!” was the headline on the back page of the Hartlepool Mail two days later.
Damian Spellman’s interview with Allon told how the striker dedicated the goal to chairman Harold Hornsey.
Hornsey had sanctioned the arrival of six new players, including Brown and Proctor, as the March transfer deadline loomed.
Allon, then 30, said: “It’s probably the most important goal of my career.
“I’m absolutely delighted, especially for all those people in Hartlepool who support us.
“I’m delighted for Harold Hornsey, the chairman. He can have that one.
“We’re not out of the woods yet but Hartlepool needs a football club and I think everybody in the town realises that.”
Allon’s late strike lifted Pools one place up the table to 22nd an opened up a four-point gap over bottom-placed Brighton.
Safety was confirmed the following weekend when the Washington-born forward scored twice in a resounding 4-0 victory over Barnet.
Pools, managed by Mick Tait, would finish the season in 20th place with Brighton escaping on the final day by drawing at Conference-bound Hereford.
Allon himself was forced to retire through injury the following year after scoring 86 goals in 205 starts across two spells.
•A FORTNIGHT ago this column asked if anyone knew Bill Younger’s place in Pools’ history.
He is the last player alphabetically to play for the club.
Darlington: Speare, Oliver, Barnard, Brydon, Hope, Reed, Atkinson B, Lowe, Roberts, Shutt, Naylor.
Pools: O’Connor, Knowles, Lucas, Davies, Bradley, McGuckin, Beech, Proctor, Howard, Halliday, Brown.
NEXT WEEK: Seven-goal Seventies thriller.