RONNIE Moore deserves a statue, the freedom of Hartlepool and a ten-year contract after masterminding football’s ‘Great Escape’.
Hartlepool United supporters are still on cloud nine after seeing their side secure Football League status on Saturday.
A 2-1 victory over Exeter City, coupled with defeats for Cheltenham and Tranmere Rovers, means Pools are safe from the dreaded drop into the Conference.
It’s been an incredible revival under Moore, and fans were quick to sing his praises after the rescue act.
Phil Dunn, spokesman for Hartlepool United Supporters Trust, said: “It was an absolutely brilliant day. I couldn’t sleep the night before, I think I managed about one hour’s kip thinking about what might be.
“The atmosphere was phenomenal but those two and a half minutes waiting for the Cheltenham result to come through felt like two and a half hours!
“It was an amazing feeling, it was like winning promotion. Some people say there’s nothing to celebrate but it’s such a feeling of relief.
“I can remember going away to Northampton earlier in the season and seeing us lose. I got to Wetherby that night and just thought ‘What am I doing?’
“You question your own sanity but days like Saturday are why you support them.
“Fans of Manchester United and Manchester City cannot get the feeling we had on Saturday, the feeling that comes from being a lifelong fan of a little club - but we’re the biggest little club in the world!
“Mistakes were made this season but next season can be brighter for us. And we can now go to Carlisle and have a real party.
“Hopefully the club now give Ronnie Moore a ten-year contract and the freedom of Hartlepool. And they should build a statue of him too!
Former mayor - and mascot - Stuart Drummond said he watched the second-half of Saturday’s nailbiting win “through his fingers”.
He added: “For two thirds of the season it looked like we were going down without a fight and that was the hardest thing to take.
“Pools fans have known poor times in the past but teams have always battled. Thankfully Ronnie Moore came in and instilled a fighting spirit.
“He has done an inspired job, all credit goes to him. Hopefully we can keep him and he can build his own team.”
Pauline McSweenie, HUFCSA secretary, described Saturday as one of the most intense in 40 years watching the team home and away.
She added: “To go out of the Football League would have meant losing our status, which is an immense thing not just for the club but for the whole town.
“Being a member of the Football League gives the club and town a higher profile. People know who you are, we need that.
“It was one of the most intense days I’ve had as a fan. We were celebrating winning a game but it was so much more than that. It feels like we’ve been given a new lease of life and now we can build on that.
“I think Ronnie Moore has done an incredible job. He knows what the fans think about him - they should build a statue!
“We were written off by so many people but the Great Escape was ready for an update and it had one on Saturday!”