MEMORY LANE: Late winner sent Pools fans home happy
They were up against a rival called Ernie Phythian.
And as end-of-season Pools played one of their final matches of the 1964-65 season against Wrexham, they got to see the £5,000-rated centre forward up close in a close-fought match at Victoria Park.
Pools had already tried to sign him and he was the main threat on a day when goals were hard to come by.
By the end of the 90 minutes, United had secured a hard-fought victory which put them level on 43 points with their Welsh rivals.
And goalscorer Peter Thompson had so impressed Pools chairman Ernest Ord by netting his 20th goal of the season, he got a well-earned pat on the back.
For long periods, though, this game had all the hallmarks of a Springtime stalemate until Thompson’s 87th-minute breakthrough with a flashing header.
There were some noteable starters in the game.
Part-timer Bobby Brass passed a late fitness test and lined up at right-half for Pools in their final league game of the season.
Barry Ashworth, who lead the line for Pools against Darlington in the Durham Senior Cup earlier in the week, stayed at No 9. And Alan Fox was the home team’s captain against the club he used to play for.
At the opposite end, Phythian was pulling the strings for Wrexham who also brought in 17-year-old amateur David Campbell at outside left for his league debut.
Typically, the heavens opened in time for kick off and kept on raining.
All the early dominance was Hartlepool’s, but Wrexham were playing a canny offside trap.
Our reporter Sentinel said: “Phythian was trying hard to get his colleagues moving up front.
“On one occasion, he put Griffiths through but the ball ran too fast for the former Arsenal inside right and rolled over the byline for a goal kick.
The best attempt of a first half dominated by the midfield was a fizzing effort from Bradley which went “whizzing into the side netting,” said Sentinel.
But it was Simpkins in the Pools defence who kept the match at 0-0 by half-time when he had to block both Butt and Phythian from busting through.
The start of the second half saw Phythian shine once more, and it was only some last-ditch clearances which kept Pools level, especially from Simpkins.
And as time passed by, it looked very much like the game was going to peter out, with Pools not looking like scoring, and the home defence managing to hold firm.
Sentinel added: “Three minutes from time and suddenly the ground burst its seams with excitement.
“The ball floated onto Bannister’s head at the edge of Wrexham’s penalty area and when he sent it across goal, Thompson hurled himself through the air to beat Fleet with a flashing header.”
And so Pools’ fans got to go home for the summer with a win to remember.
Hartlepools United; Simpkins, Storton, Marshall, Brass, Fox, Harrison, Bannister, Wright, Ashworth, Thompson, Bradley.
Wrexham; Fleet, Smith, Holland, Powell, Jones, Johnson, Butt, Griffiths, Phythian, Webber, Campbell.
Referee; Mr H. P. Hackney (Barnsley).