Sunday feast served up by Pools in this 1974 thriller

If ever there was a case for Sunday football in the Fourth Division, this was it.

Friday, 26th January 2018, 10:00 am
Sunday football arrived in Hartlepool and this is how the Mail reported it, in 1974.

A crowd of 5,747 turned out to see Pools play a rare game on the Sabbath, but the change seemed to have been justified. The attendance was more than 2,200 up on the previous best for the season and three times the size of the average crowd.

Those who did come along were not disappointed. Pools put on a show of hard work, skill and organised dominance which was a treat to behold.

The only downside was the fact that 5,747 weren’t there each week of the season as Pools had been serving up that sort of fare for weeks.

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But Hartlepool were in the mood to keep the run going and they weren’t about to ease up with a huge crowd to watch them.

Apart from a slip by Pools from which Stockport should have scored early on, Pools had total control of the first half.

Yet their first goal came at a point when it seemed there wouldn’t be a breakthrough. Jimmy Shoulder swung in a teasing cross which Kevin McMahon only had to nudge gently into the net after the ball evaded all the visitors defence.

It put Pools one up on 37 minutes and the fans only had to wait five minutes for a second.

McMahon and Stockport centre half Ian Lawther wrestled for the ball as it dropped into the visitors’ penalty area, when it appeared to hit Lawther’s hand. The referee was unsure whether to give the penalty but, after talks with a linesman, who was 40 yards away, he pointed to the spot.

Up stepped leading scorer Alan Gauden to give Pools a 2-0 lead.

Stockport fought back valiantly but just as they looked to be getting their own foothold on the game, a Pools free kick from George Potter was headed on by McMahon and Malcolm Dawes sneaked in unmarked to fire in, just inside the right-hand post.

The Hartlepool Mail reporter at the time said: “There was a lot of team effort from everybody and, just like in the other recent matches, it could possibly be considered unfair to single out individuals for praise.

“There was some strong defence; good tackling, running and distribution in midfield; and much-needed sharpness up front.”

The win stretched Pools’ unbeaten run to nine games and the entertainment factor had been good.

But our reporter summed up: “Perhaps more important than all these individual bonuses was the fact that they all happened together.”