The rise of a star in Hartlepool

Action from the Pools 1981 match against Stockport.
Action from the Pools 1981 match against Stockport.

The Victoria Park wind, a late late winner, and a debut for a player who would make a big name for himself in the game were the highlights of this March 1981 encounter.

Pools were up against Stockport County and went into this one on a losing streak. But that would all change 90 minutes later.

Barry Stimpson.

Barry Stimpson.

It was the visitors who were not prepared for the howling gale which particularly bit in the second half. It was one of the game’s dominating factors, as well as Andy Linighan who shone on his debut.

Sadly, he had to do it in front of Hartlepool’s lowest crowd of the season but he and fellow debutant Barry Stimpson were both impressive.

Pools got off to the better start and were playing into the wind. It only seemed to help them and they had two chances in the first minute. First, Houchen had a free header in the middle but the gusts of wind affected the ball and keeper Lawson’s save was an easy one in the end.

It was Houchen on the attack again when he rounded the keeper but his attempt to chip home from a wide angle meant Lawson had time to recover.

Pool’s first half show was certainly a promising one in the conditions. The wind was doing nothing to help them but, as often as possible, they kept the ball low and tried to play constructive football with short passing the main tactic

Hartlepool Mail reporter, 1981

The pressure was all coming from Pools and Kerr’s header across the goal only just failed to get a connection from the incoming Bird.

Our reporter at the time said: “Pool’s first half show was certainly a promising one in the conditions. The wind was doing nothing to help them but, as often as possible, they kept the ball low and tried to play constructive football with short passing the main tactic.”

The second half saw Pools with the wind behind them and a poor Stockport side had another problem to deal with. It pushed Pools on even more.

The only relief for Stockport came when Linighan fouled Sunlay. From the resultant free kick, Fowler crashed a shot off the Pools bar.

The breakthrough came on 83 minutes when Stimpson squared for Linacre who chipped forward for Harding. He took the ball on his chest, broke through the defence and hit a magnificent half volley into the roof of the net from 15 yards.

Harding also had the last shot of the game when his shot from the edge of the box hit Thorpe on the back.

Hartlepool: Richardson, Linacre, Stimpson, Lawrence, Bird, Brown, Kerr, Linighan, Johnson, Houchen, Harding. Sub; Hampton.

Stockport; Lawson, Rutter, Sherlock, Fowler, Hope, Sword, Park, Sunley, Bradd, Galvin, Smith. Sub; Coyle.

Referee: PJ Richardson (Lincoln).

Attendance: 1,928.