Northern League to the Maltese Premier League: Ex-Hartlepool United ace reflects on THAT Great Escape and his new adventure

Scott Fenwick in action for Hartlepool United against Cambridge United. Picture by FRANK REID
Scott Fenwick in action for Hartlepool United against Cambridge United. Picture by FRANK REID

Saturday, April 25, 2015, is a day that will live long in the memory of Hartlepool United fans.

Goals from Scott Fenwick and Jordan Hugill saw Pools beat Exeter City 2-1 at a pumped-up Victoria Park to seal the greatest of all Great Escapes.

Scott Fenwick in action in Malta.

Scott Fenwick in action in Malta.

Pools were dead and buried in March but under Ronnie Moore’s guidance secured their Football League status against all odds.

Pools have since dropped into the National League while the heroes of that day have gone their separate ways, with Fenwick now playing professional football in Malta.

SportMail’s Richard Mennear caught up with Fenwick to discuss his Pools memories, new Maltese chapter and playing in searing temperatures.

“I remember the gaffer saying someone could be a hero today and in my head I was saying I want that to be me.”

Scott Fenwick is now playing in the Maltese Premier League.

Scott Fenwick is now playing in the Maltese Premier League.

Fenwick, reflecting on one of the most dramatic days in Hartlepool United’s history, can vividly remember every detail of one of the ‘best days of his life’.

His morning walk. Watching Soccer AM. Sitting with his earphones in to avoid speaking to anyone at home, such was his focus. The journey to The Vic.

Fenwick, who opened the scoring 15 minutes in, said: “I had been out a long time with my broken ankle so I was buzzing to be back involved; I’d trained well and was so ready.

“I’m just glad I took my chance when it came.

Hartlepool United manager Ronnie Moore celebrating with his staff at the end of the game against Exeter City which saw Pools retain their Football League status. Picture by FRANK REID

Hartlepool United manager Ronnie Moore celebrating with his staff at the end of the game against Exeter City which saw Pools retain their Football League status. Picture by FRANK REID

“I remember towards the end of the game and holding the ball in the corner and Marlon Harewood looked and smiled and shouted ‘You were unbelievable today son, unbelievable!’

“When the whistle blew, I raised my arms in the air and on came all the fans.”

Jubilation. Relief. An outpouring of emotion from all four corners of the ground.

In March that year, Pools were nine points from safety before four wins on the bounce saw them climb out of the drop zone, ultimately staying up thanks to victory over Exeter.

Fenwick had been plucked from Northern League Dunston by Paul Murray in the November. He didn’t look back.

Confident Fenwick quickly established himself, scoring six crucial goals along the way, enjoying life briefly under Murray and then Moore.

“I was a newcomer thrown in at the deep end and just thought to hell with it, I am going to show my personality straight away,” he added.

“I always knew that my first year would be a memorable story.

“I loved Ronnie, he was old school, told people exactly how it was and personally I was disappointed when he moved on.

“He did apologise to me one time and said I should have been given more opportunities and I was grateful to him for doing that.

“I will always be grateful to Paul Murray too for helping me achieve my dream. Pools will always have a place in my heart,” added Fenwick, who was stood in the Town End for the emotionally-charged final game of last season against Doncaster Rovers when Pools did drop out of the league for the first time in their history.

“I was absolutely devastated when Newport scored. Looking back, I wish things had worked out differently but everything happens for a reason and I want to come back some day.”

Fenwick topped Pools’ league scoring chart in the Great Escape season before being released by Craig Hignett at the end of the following campaign.

He played for York City then had a very brief stint at Darlington FC this summer before an exciting new opportunity arose - signing a pro deal with Naxxar Lions Football Club of the Maltese Premier League.

Fenwick added: “Football is a funny old game and I’ve signed for two years at Naxxar Lions - a new challenge, fresh start with a different culture of how football is played.

“It’s a lot different to England but I’ve hit the ground running and I am really enjoying my new lifestyle, I’m happy and enjoying my football which is the most important thing.”

The 27-year-old admits it was a tough decision to leave his beloved Newcastle and move abroad but readily accepts it was an offer too good to turn down.

And he regularly reminds his nearest and dearest about his new lifestyle with a steady stream of Snapchats from around the pool at his Maltese villa.

By his own admission, Fenwick is well looked after in Malta, though being referred to as a ‘foreign player’ takes some getting used to.

“Playing in the heat is madness, one game kicked off at 5pm UK time and it was 33C, I felt like someone was strangling me during the game, mind, my tan is looking good!

“I am having lessons in both Maltese and Spanish and there’s a very British culture left behind here from the second world war.”

Home now is Naxxar, in the northern part of the island. The football is a good standard and there is the potential of playing European football next season.

“It’s the top league in Malta with the top three teams and the cup winners qualifying for the qualifiers of the Champions League and the Europa league,” he added.

“The structure of everything over here is exactly like England, however the tempo and style of play is a lot different due to the heat and technicality of the game.

“We do double sessions most days whereas in England I was used to only training once a day.”

While his former club battle to regain their Football League status, Fenwick is enjoying the latest chapter in an adventure that has seen him go from the Northern League to Malta.

“If you asked me six weeks ago if I thought I would be playing in the Maltese Premier League, in the sun and trying to qualify for Europe I would have laughed. Football is a crazy game and constantly changing, I’m glad I came out here, who knows where I’ll end up next!”