Hartlepool United remembers local heroes lost during Covid-19 pandemic ahead of big play-off match
Five Hartlepool football figures who have passed away during the Covid pandemic have been remembered ahead of one of the club’s biggest games in years.
BBC Radio Tees presenter Paul ‘Goffy’ Gough has penned special tributes to four former Pools players and one respected referee for the club after being approached by chairman Raj Singh.
They feature in the club programme for Sunday’s play-off clash with Bromley and come at the end of the week when Hartlepool United marked its 113-year anniversary.
Paul fondly remembers the contributions made by players Ernie Phythian, Ronnie Hold, John Rowlands and Eric Tunstall, and referee Tommy Harvey.
He said: “Raj contacted me and said he wanted people to know that the club were thinking of those players, partners and fans that had been lost through this challenging period.
"He felt it special to dedicate part of the programme to pay a club personal tribute and reflection.”
Ernie Phythian, half of one of Pool’s best ever strike partnerships with Jimmy Mulvaney under Brian Clough and Peter Taylor, passed away last August aged 78.
He scored 51 goals in 124 games and was part of the history-making 1967/68 squad that went on to win promotion for the first time.
Ernie left Hartlepool to pursue his career in South Africa.
Paul says: "I was able to chat to Ernie for my radio show and he recalled how much he loved his spell here and that wonderful partnership he shared with Jimmy Mulvaney.”
Hartlepool-born Ronnie Hold, a big strong centre forward, also left us during the pandemic.
His only game for Pools was in the FA Cup at the Vic in November 1968 before a crowd of over 6,500.
Paul recalled: “Ronnie would later go on to play local football for many sides and he was often seen (minus his few front teeth) on Grayfields and on the Rec at Rift House on a Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning.”
John Rowlands, signed by Ken Hale in 1975 played as both centre forward and also centre half.
His career at Pools lasted until 1977 playing 49 games and scoring 10 goals. John, who played his football all over the world, died in Holyhead, Wales last April aged 73.
"He had a massive presence on the pitch,” said Paul.
Eric Tunstall, who played for Pools in the 60s, died just before the pandemic in January last year aged 69.
Newcastle United Manager Joe Harvey was so impressed watching Eric play for Pools youths that he paid £3,000 after seeing him play at St James' Park.
After his professional career ended Eric played football for Reeds Cases where he worked.
Paul also pays tribute to Hartlepool referee Tommy Harvey who passed away aged 86 on Good Friday last year.
Tommy dedicated over 50 years to developing grass roots football, encouraging many others to become referees and played a major role in establishing girls’ football in the region.
Paul said: "He was always a real life joy to meet in town and his knowledge of the game was of the very highest order.
“He helped HUFC in many ways – waiving his refereeing fees for games and helping the club with his endless book of contacts down the decades.”
See Sunday’s programme for Paul’s full article.