Hartlepool United will finally be represented at Wembley this season – by the club’s most famous fan.
Jeff Stelling has spoken of his love for Pools ahead of his 10-day journey to the national stadium from his beloved Victoria Park in March.
The Soccer Saturday host will walk 10 marathons in 10 days in aid of Prostate Cancer UK, visiting 31 football clubs in the process.
The first walk will kick-off at Jeff’s beloved Victoria Park on March 21, while the last will end at Wembley on March 30.
Pools have never played at the national stadium, and Jeff will be joined on the walk by the club’s chief executive, Russ Green.
He said: “Part of the motivation for doing the challenge is taking Hartlepool to Wembley.
Part of the motivation for doing the challenge is taking Hartlepool to WembleyJeff Stelling
“It’s a journey none of our players have ever made, so I’ll be the man who’s making it, along with their chief executive Russ Green.”
Jeff’s love of all things Pools is well-known, and he has described Victoria Park as his ‘field of dreams’.
He watched his first game there aged seven with his sister, and watched Pools beat Workington Town 3-1.
The 60-year-old added: “I thought, ‘Well this is great, this is how it always is.’ Then we didn’t win for 19 games after that, and then I realised it isn’t how it always is.
“I have to be honest, in those days, we could barely ever win a game.
“They call these places Fields of Dreams. It wouldn’t be many people’s field of dreams but it is mine. It’s where a lot of my fondest memories come from.
“The only reason you’re going to support Hartlepool, generally speaking, is if you were born here and that was me.
“I’m a one-team man, born in this town. They were always my club, and always will be till I die.
“The great thing about a smaller club is you do have special memories. Brian Clough cut his managerial teeth here. I remember that vividly, with Peter Taylor by the sidelines.
“In more recent times I remember we beat Crystal Palace here in the FA Cup in the early 1990s. Palace were flying high at the time.
“I’ve seen some good players here as well. What people forget is even at the lower levels there are some darn good footballers around.”
Jeff is motivated by the prospect of raising money for Prostate Cancer UK.
He said: “It’s great that the clubs and their supporters are all rallying round this cause.
“Although more women now go to matches, it’s still a stronghold of male life.
“A lot of these supporters at some stage in their life may get prostate cancer.
“The more they understand that the better, the more we can help beat it. For them, and for their friends and families.”
To support Jeff, and find out more about his challenge, visit menunitedmarch.org.