“We’ve done it”: Fans rejoice as victorious Pools reach National League final
Pools could now be just 90 minutes away from a promotion after winning against Stockport County.
The town is ecstatic after Pools emerged victorious from the National League play-off-semi-final at Edgeley Park.
Hartlepool United kicked-off their biggest game of the season at lunchtime on Sunday, June 13.
Football-lovers gathered in pubs across the town for the momentous match, followed by England’s first game in European Championships against Croatia.
And fans’ patience and support paid off as Pools took the lead with 15 minutes to go when Rhys Oates scored a winner from 20-yards with a fine, low strike at ‘76.
Winning means Pools have now reached the National League play-off final against Torquay United next Sunday afternoon at Bristol City.
A victory next Sunday will bring Hartlepool back in the Football League after a four-year absence – and life-long fans have hailed the result.
Pauline McSweenie, secretary of Hartlepool United Supporters’ Club, said: "It’s amazing. We’ve done it. One more game.
"We did the job exactly as we should. It was great.
"Great that we’ve got the final, but disappointed it’s not Wembley. But if we can get back in the Football League, that’s all that matters.
Pauline, who says she has supported Pools for ‘many, many years’ has described watching the game as ‘absolutely nerve-wracking’ and added: “You can’t explain it to people who don’t follow football.”
Speaking of the late winner, she said: “That gives them less chance to get back. That’s a positive.
"We played very well. We never looked like losing this game.
"We’ll certainly party on now.”
Retired PR manager Alistair Rae, 60, followed the match closely as well.
Alistair, who has been a Hartlepool fan since the age of five, said: “I thought it was a fantastic performance.
"I thought Hartlepool were in control of the match for most of the game.
"Everybody was amazing really.
"Hats off to the goal keeper who made that safe in the end. An absolutely amazing safe.”
Alistair continued: “A fantastic performance. To go to a place like Stockport with no away fans and to get a victory is absolutely outstanding.”
The Hartlepool born and bred fan admitted he jumped off his seat when Rhys Oates scored.
Describing it as an ‘unbelievable occasion’, Alistair said: "I leapt off my seat.
"My daughter was listening to music on her headphones outside and she heard me.
"The dog started barking because he thought there was an intruder in the house.
"It was unbelievable really and credit to all of the players, and the manager and the full team behind him.
"An absolutely outstanding performance today and a great afternoon.
"I’ll be celebrating for the rest of the day. I’ll be cracking open a bottle of champagne, getting ready for a trip to Bristol next week.”
The super football Sunday coincided with the hottest weekend of the year so far, with temperatures reaching highs of 26°C in Hartlepool on Sunday.
The heat wave is set to come to an end though with a yellow weather warning for thunderstorms in place from Wednesday till Friday next week.