There’s nothing quite like a derby victory for getting the fans going.
And this one certainly did when goals from Michael Brown and Joe Allon meant all the points were coming back to Hartlepool.
Yet this hard-fought encounter hardly got off to the perfect start.
Russell Bradley lined up in a strong Pools defence but he was out of the game within three minutes when he collapsed in agony after going up for a high ball.
Denny Ingram was drafted into the back three and Pools survived a couple of early scares before taking the lead.
Darlington were penalised for a hand ball just outside the penalty area and Michael Brown stepped up to take the free kick.
Proctor stepped over the ball and Brown curled a beautiful right foot shot past the helpless James Speare and into the corner of the netHartlepool Mail reporter, 1997
He curled it brilliantly past James Speare into the corner of the net.
Darlington piled on the pressure after that. Glen Naylor drove a shot towards the bottom corner but it crashed against the post. Michael Oliver’s follow-up attempt was scrambled away by the Pools defence.
Naylor went close again when he just failed to connect with a cross from Oliver on 25 minutes. And Adam Reed mis-hit a shot which looped onto the woodwork.
Our reporter at the time said: “The home side were threatening to run riot and although Pool were working hard, they were hanging on by the skin of their teeth.”
Darlington got the equaliser on the stroke of half-time when Roberts took his time before driving the ball into the roof of the net.
Pools keeper O’Connor was keeping his team in the game with a string of spectacular saves including one from Shutt which was described at the time as a “great reaction save.”
Shutt had got in front of his marker to get on the end of a Naylor lob, but O’Connor saved the point-blank header.
The home team was playing controlled football and had further opportunities through Shutt, Oliver, and Naylor.
But as the game moved towards full-time, Proctor crossed and Joe Allon fired towards goal. His first shot was blocked but he tried again while he was still on the ground.
And this time, the ball nestled in the corner of the net.
Darlington: Speare, Oliver, Barnard, Brydon, Hope, Reed, B.Atkinson, Lowe, Roberts, Shutt, Naylor. Subs; Carss, J.Atkinson, Twynham.
Hartlepool: O’Connor, Knowles, Lucas, Davies, Bradley, McGuckin, Beech, Proctor, Howard, Halliday, Brown. Subs; Ingram, Cullen, Allon.