Hartlepool United fan writes book about club's 'Roy of the Rovers' title win

A lifelong Hartlepool United fan is seeking help to produce a book featuring one of the club’s forgotten triumphs.

Thursday, 4th March 2021, 5:21 pm
Dave Sutheran with documents and photos he is using as part of his research for a new book about Hartlepool United's former intermediates teams
Dave Sutheran with documents and photos he is using as part of his research for a new book about Hartlepool United's former intermediates teams

Dave Sutheran aims to chart the history of Hartlepool United’s intermediates side, which were the equivalent of a youth team today, from their foundation in 1977 to 1989.

The as yet untitled book will spotlight how the under-19 team defied the odds in winning the 1981 Northern Intermediate League while up against larger clubs such as Newcastle United, Leeds United, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United.

Dave’s late dad, Kenny Sutheran, was manager for most of this 12-year period while juggling his role with family commitment and full-time employment as a mechanical fitter.

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The late Kenny Sutheran.

Dave, 59, who lives in Hartlepool, said: “The late 70s and 80s was a great era for Hartlepool United’s intermediates side with many of the players going on to carve out successful careers in the professional game.

"When they won the league title in 1980-81, it was typical Roy of the Rovers stuff fending off several top first division sides at the time.

“Most of the other clubs had full-time apprentices on their books, whereas all of the Hartlepool lads were at college or had jobs and trained just twice a week on a night.”

Kenny ended up running the intermediates team he helped found after playing for the club’s reserve side towards the end of his local league career.

Back, left to right, Stan Lewis (coach), S Gaunt, Kenny Lowe, Jeff Mansfield, Andy Linighan, Trevor Ramshaw, John Gollogly, Paul Staff, D Smith, I Crockett, Kenny Sutheran (manager) and Steve Smelt (physio), Front, left to right, Ian Brooksbank, Paul Dobson, Dave Howard, Tony Duncan (captain) and Barry Stimpson.

The club’s finances at the time meant he had to secure sponsorship from local firms to help fund the initial £50 registration fee.

When the team wasn’t playing or training, he would also travel around County Durham and North Yorkshire scouting potential signings.

Dave, who is a self-employed engineer, said: “Dad got involved when Ken Hale was manager of the first team and along with Bobby Lumley, Stan Lewis, Albert Kelleher and Ronnie Harrison this heralded the beginning of the club’s youth system.

“Over the years, they enjoyed some great successes and had some fun along the way and it is this which I feel needs recording in the book.

“Dad sadly passed away in 2005 and I think the book would be a great tribute to him, the fantastic team he had around him and the success they achieved.

“I’ve already made contact with lots of people, including former players, but in particular I am appealing for old photographs, press cuttings, programmes and anecdotes to help make the book an interesting read.”

Players who were part of the 1980-81 title-winning side included Andy Linighan, who went on to play for Arsenal and scored the winning goal in the 1993 FA Cup final, and Kenny Lowe, who played for Birmingham City and managed Australian side Perth Glory.

Others who played across the 1977-89 era included Andy’s brother, David Linighan, who went on to captain Ipswich Town, and Keith Houchen, who scored a famous diving header for Coventry City to help defeat Spurs in the 1987 FA Cup final.

Anyone who can help Dave can contact him by emailing [email protected] or by ringing 07511 014769.

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