A FAMOUS son of Hartlepool paid tribute to an adopted Poolie and the people of the town on a whistle-stop visit home.
Jeff Stelling was the guest of honour at the Ritchie Humphreys testimonial dinner in Seaton Carew on Saturday night.
And the TV personality and journalist said it was fitting at the end of a tumultuous week for Hartlepool United that the Mayfair Centre should be packed to the rafters for one of the events marking Humphreys’ 10th anniversary at the club.
“It’s fantastic and if anyone deserves this, it’s Ritchie,” said the Soccer Saturday and Countdown host, who marvelled at the fact Pools had sold 5,674 season tickets
“It was fabulous to see him have a full house at the Mayfair. But I think it also shows that the town has got a real passion for our football club.
“They want to support the club – we’ve seen how the season ticket sales have gone.
“That says everything about the people in the town.
“They do want the football team to do well and here’s someone who has been a tremendous success for them and been a great representative of Pools and the town.
“It’s fantastic they’ve come out to support him.
“I, for one, hope he’s part of the set up at Pools for a long time to come whether it be in playing, coaching or managerial terms.”
Team-mates, present and past, were among the audience, as were his wife, Amanda, and daughter, Eliza, plus parents, Jean and John.
But it was an appearance on stage with sister, and West End musical performer, Melissa Jacques, which was one of the highlights of the night.
Ritchie and Melissa performed Abba’s I Have a Dream, before keen guitarist Humphreys and big pal and former Poolie Jon Bass bashed out a couple of Oasis and Libertines numbers.
And, fittingly, the former Pools team-mates finished with Poolie anthem, Two Little Boys. It brought the house down.
The highlight of Humphreys’ testimonial year takes place on Tuesday, August 2, when Steve Bruce brings Sunderland to Victoria Park to play Pools.