Report and video: Thousands turn for Hartlepool United's promotion parade
Hartlepool defied the gloomy weather to hail its promotion heroes as Hartlepool United toured the town during a open-top bus parade.
Thousands of people braved the damp conditions to salute manager Dave Challinor and his squad during the Friday tea-time celebration.
The event was organised by Hartlepool Borough Council following the club’s dramatic return to the Football League last weekend after they defeated Torquay United in the National League play-off final at Bristol City’s Ashton Gate ground.
Speaking before the team set off on the planned two-hour tour, the Mayor of Hartlepool, Councillor Brenda Loynes, said: “The promotion is fantastic for the town.
"We had the election first and now this. It’s really putting Hartlepool on the map.
"I think the diehard fans will turn out and I’m sure it will a great afternoon for everyone.”
More than 3,000 diehard supporters made the lengthy trip to Bristol at the end of a season where spectators were largely banned from matches because of the ongoing coronavirus crisis.
With the start of the National League delayed because of the pandemic, the club’s 2020-21 campaign continued until mid-June with the players due back for pre-season training early July.
Among the spectators who decided to join the celebrations was Carl Gorse, 41, who said: “I think it will do the town well especially after Covid.
"I think it will be different this year but I’m sure people will still come out to support the team.”
Rob Stubbs, 70, a fan for more than 25 years, added: “It’s been brilliant. I’m hoping to get my programme signed by the players.
"I go to all the home games when we can and they’ve had a great season. It’s been fantastic.”
PC Geoff Coggin, from Hartlepool Neighbourhood Police, who was also watching the start of the parade, said: “I’m absolutely delighted, I’m actually quite tearful. I’m just so proud.
"I’m overwhelmed and it’s a huge positive for the town.
"I’m Hartlepool born and bred so it’s been unbelievable.
"The passion of the team and the fans has been brilliant.
"Nobody has ever given in.”
The parade’s first port of call was Coronation Drive, in Seaton Carew, with the bus scheduled to visit all 12 council wards before finishing its tour in Truro Drive.