Hartlepool United legends speak of sadness at club’s plight

Former Hartlepool United player John McGovern during a visit to town back in 2012.
Former Hartlepool United player John McGovern during a visit to town back in 2012.
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Hartlepool United legends have spoken of their sadness at the club’s financial plight and their hopes that a “fairy godfather” can be found to take over.

John McGovern, who twice lifted the European Cup as Nottingham Forest captain, began his illustrious career at what was then the Victoria Ground and said: “I am very sorry to hear about the current problems.

John McGovern as a young Pools player.

John McGovern as a young Pools player.

“I owe a lot to Hartlepool United as they gave me my break in the game by taking me on as an apprentice.

“I just hope a fairy godfather or godmother comes along and get them out of this mess.”

Midfielder McGovern, now 68 and living in Nottingham, grew up in Hartlepool after moving from Scotland at the age of seven with his family.

He made his debut at the age of just 16 under rookie boss Brian Clough before later playing for the managerial legend at Derby County, Leeds United and Forest.

Legends John McGovern and Len Ashurst have spoken out.

Legends John McGovern and Len Ashurst have spoken out.

McGovern, a regular in Pools’s first ever promotion side back in 1968, said: “I got into the first team under Brian Clough and stayed until after he left and helped the club win promotion for the first time.

“They are still one of the first results I look for on a weekend. It may be a long time ago but they are still very dear to me.”

His hopes were echoed by former player-boss Len Ashurst, now 78, who masterminded a great escape of his own on the pitch when the club were struggling against possible relegation from Division Four in 1972.

Now living back in the North-East on the outskirts of Sunderland, who he later managed, Ashurst guided Pools to eight victories in 10 games to ensure they did not have to apply for re-election to the Football League.

He recalls: “The vital win came right at the end of the season when 5,000 of our fans went to Darlington to watch us win 2-1.

“I still go and watch the club. They are good people at the club and have made me welcome with a seat in the directors’ box.

“Not every begging bowl is bottomless, if you get my meaning, so I hope someone can be found with deep pockets to rescue the club.”