AN EMOTIONAL Ritchie Humphreys admits he had to choke back the tears as he walked onto the pitch to a rapturous ovation at a packed Victoria Park.
Almost 6,000 Hartlepool United and Sunderland fans turned out to celebrate his 10 years at the club – which has seen him named Player of the Century and rack up a record number of 480 appearances.
Humphreys was “overwhelmed” with the support but has insisted it won’t be the last time that fans see him in a Pools shirt.
Humphreys managed 67 minutes in the 3-1 defeat to Premier League neighbours Sunderland.
He made sure his big night was a family affair as he took to the field with his one-year-old daughter Eliza.
Meanwhile, wife Amanda, dad John, mum Jean and other family members watched on with pride from the Cyril Knowles stand.
And Humphreys told SportMail today: “It was overwhelming and emotional and all of those things.
“It had been a long day but it passed over so quickly and I knew that it might do that so I wanted to try and enjoy every moment.
“From walking out with Eliza and seeing all of the players lined up I got a bit emotional.
“I looked at the lads and a lot of them in the team I have played with for a long time now.
“So if I wasn’t emotional enough I then put the little one down to clap the fans and she started clapping as well.
“I could hear the crowd all go “awww”.
“It was really, really nice and both sets of supporters were absolutely fantastic.”
Read the full story in Wednesday’s Mail ...