When Fergie’s Manchester United were hit for six by Hartlepool United

Hartlepool United fan Phil Dunn pictured with the Hartlepool United versus Manchester United programme.
Hartlepool United fan Phil Dunn pictured with the Hartlepool United versus Manchester United programme.

IF you told a young Hartlepool United fan today that the mighty Manchester United were once stuffed 6-0 by Pools then they would probably laugh in your face or have you medically examined.

But today marks 25 years since that unlikely result 
really did occur.

The date was August 24, 1988, and a Manchester United team led by a fresh-faced Alex Ferguson and containing internationals such as Norman Whiteside, Viv Anderson and Mike Duxbury made the trip to Fourth Divison Pools for what was supposed to be a pre-season walkover.

Yet what unfolded in front of nearly 2,000 fans was anything but as John Bird’s side demolished the Red Devils with striker Kevin Dixon helping himself to a hat-trick past future Pools boss Chris Turner in the visitors’ goal.

For spectator Ron Harnish, the 25th anniversary is even more special given that it falls on his 61st birthday.

Ron, a retired chemical worker and lifelong Hartlepool supporter, of Belmont Gardens, Hartlepool, said: “It was a lovely summer evening and I remember Dicko scoring three against Ferguson and Manchester United. That was unbelievable.

“Once we saw their team we expected them to show us a little about football. But from the first minute Pools were at them and we never let up, we just kept at them all the time and it was brilliant.”

Pools legend Brian Honour set up several of the goals.

The former winger recalls: “We just got off to a flying start in the first half and it just seemed to go on from there. It was one of those games where everything we seemed to do went right.

“The Victoria Ground was a ramshackle sort of place at that time and I think that worked in our favour a little because when their lads came down and saw the portable changing rooms and the barbed wire on the fences we were probably three goals up already.”

Fellow Pools stalwart Keith Nobbs, a substitute on the night, said: “Right from the off we started really well and positive, and I think from there it was just one of those games where everything goes right for you.”

The former defender added: “It was almost like a cup final for the players and it really panned out that way.”

Spectator Phil Dunn, 48, a Portakabin manager who lives in Oakland Avenue, Hartlepool, said: “We didn’t actually go out there and thrash the pants off them.

“What happened was that we had six chances and we scored six goals, everything that came to us we put in the net. I think Man United were a bit shell-shocked.

“It was just one of those surreal, once in a lifetime nights, where everything just turned out right.”