How Hartlepool United went from relegation contenders to reach the play-offs

How the Mail reported Hartlepool United's 2-1 defeat at Rushden & Diamonds.
How the Mail reported Hartlepool United's 2-1 defeat at Rushden & Diamonds.

‘WID calls for fans’ patience’ screamed the headline in the Hartlepool Mail 13 years ago.

A frustrating 2-1 defeat away to Rushden & Diamonds was not what the 200 travelling fans wanted to see on a cold Friday night.

Another “fruitless performance” was how the Mail’s reporter Samantha Lee described the display from Chris Turner’s Pools side.

An own goal from defender Micky Barron in the 30th minute gave the Diamonds the lead before super Gordon Watson levelled just before the half-time whistle.

Sadly, it didn’t get any better for Pools as a 67th minute winner from Caleb Folan secured the three points.

It meant Turner’s side were again heading back home to the North-East empty-handed after collecting just one point from their past five away matches to send them bottom of the Football League.

Sadly, it has been a similar tale for Pools fans this season, with Hartlepool bottom of League Two going into the weekend trip to Exeter City.

Back in 2001, Turner knew his side had to turn things around quickly or face a relegation battle for the remainder of the season.

Thankfully they managed it and ended up going on an incredible run which saw them finish the season in seventh place – a play-off spot.

Reflecting on defeat that day, Turner told the Mail: “We sat down after the game on Friday and had an open discussion with the players about where we were going wrong.

“It seems simple but we have to cut out mistakes at the back and put away our chances.

“We are creating things and we look organised in defence but they need to focus for 90 minutes.”

Meanwhile, midfielder Tommy Widdrington pleaded: “I know the fans are a bit restless and expect us to be flying high but I honestly believe we will turn it around.”

He was right. Fans will be thinking, hoping and praying that the same can be achieved this season.

l Pools: Williams, Bass, Lee, Barron, Sharp, Robinson, Stephenson, Widdrington, Tinkler, Watson, Henderson.

Subs: Hollund, Easter, Boyd, Humphreys, Arnison.

Also in the news...

WEST Hartlepool beat Bedford Athletic 18-16 that weekend – a historic victory after 43 straight league defeats.

In SportMail, Roy Kelly wrote: “You are not looking at a misprint or dreaming. West Hartlepool have finally won a match.”

No longer were West rugby’s laughing stock after a heroic and dramatic victory over fellow strugglers Bedford Athletic at Brinkburn.

Since winning 23-15 at Orrell on December 11, 1999, West had suffered 43 straight league defeats.

However, the jokes and insults stopped at 4.32pm on Saturday, October 6.

IT was a busy sporting weekend in the North-East with Sunderland striker Kevin Phillips admitting he fears his England career may be over.

The only English winner of the European Golden Shoe award was not selected for the squad which faced Greece that weekend.

And while the rest of the nation cheered David Beckham’s-inspired qualification for next summer’s World Cup in Japan and South Korea, Phillips doubted he would make the plane.

He said: “To be honest, I get the feeling that I will never get into the squad as long as Sven Goran-Eriksson is manager.”

“ON top of the world.”

That is how SportMail described England’s 2-2 draw with Greece at Old Trafford which secured qualification for the World Cup finals in Japan and South Korea the following summer.

The point – and qualification – was secured thanks to David Beckham’s late, dramatic and iconic free-kick.

It was almost a year ago to the day that Kevin Keegan resigned in the wake of the lacklustre 1-0 home defeat by Germany at the old Wembley, with memories of England’s embarrassing early Euro 2000 exit still vivid.