It says something when the opposition manager pays such a heartfelt tribute.
But that is exactly what Ipswich manager Bobby Robson did when he praised the Hartlepool United fans who made the 260-mile long trip for the FA Cup Fourth Round.
He told the Hartlepool Mail at the time: “I wish we had supporters like that. If we could get 20,000 of those to our home games, we would have a crowd that would sound twice as big.”
He wasn’t the only one issuing plaudits.
Pool chairman Vince Barker said: “Their behaviour and fantastic support for the team was an example to all football fans throughout the country. If they were all as good as our fans, we would never have riots and trouble at football.”
He praised them as excellent ambassadors for the town.
Two special trains had taken Pools fans to the match. Bee-Line coaches had laid on buses as well. Excursion manager for the firm Ron Lowe said at the time: “There were no reports of any kind about trouble.”
The Mail reporter said: “The home fans, in fact, were often outshouted by Pools supporters as they tried to will their team towards a Cup shock.
“Every member of the Hartlepool team paid tribute to the supporters and when they arrived at the ground an hour before the kick-off a lot of them were deeply moved by the sight and sound of the fans gathered behind one of the goals.”