I FEEL physically sick.
I have had a very bad weekend.
I sat for two hours on the afternoon of February 14 watching my team being sent into oblivion, and there is nothing I can do about it.
I have even offered my professional services free of charge to the club but have not even had a response.
What on earth is happening there?
Does anyone care?
The first Hartlepool game I saw was against Gateshead in 1953.
I was sitting in the old stand, a five-year-old with his uncle.
Does anyone remember Gateshead now?
Has anyone seen them play during the last 50 years?
These are questions that must be asked as the current players take us to that ocean of lost football clubs, the Conference.
During the 62 years I have been watching Pools we have had bad times, very bad times, re-election worries, bad teams to watch.
But we have also had good times.
Cloughy giving us excitement, McLean giving us promotion, Garry Gibson and, 10 years ago, IOR also taking us up.
We have seen arguably the best centre-forward duo ever in Ernie Phythian and Jimmy Mulvaney, 40-odd goals between them in 1967.
I have seen Pools take on Manchester United’s Busby Babes, Spurs with Gascoigne, Newcastle’s famous cup team, and other high fliers, to the very edge of defeat.
Some, like Crystal Palace, to that defeat.
I have travelled the country to cold, dark, rainy places like Newport, Torquay and Rochdale.
I have seen Cyril Knowles’s great team split up and record fees come into the club; Joe Allon do well and young Houchen go on to make a name for himself.
Even a great spell in Division One recently gave hope, but ...
As Pools supporters, we have had many ups but many more downs.
We have suffered, but still been there to hope and pray we will one day become a top team, like some of our old adversaries have done.
Swansea, Wigan, Bournemouth, Watford, Brentford, Rotherham all punching way above what used to be their weight.
But now we stare into the abyss.
We look into that hole where once Darlington looked, and where are they now?
Through this letter I hope to hit a piece of each current player’s heart.
Maybe hit a spot that they did not know they had.
For you lads our oblivion will mean nothing – just onto the next club, play for someone else, and play the game you love.
But for us, the people of Hartlepool and district, this means the end to all our dreams, small as they are.
It means the end to our Saturday afternoon hopes and prayers.
But most of all it means the end to our club, and that end is unbearable.
Please lads, lift up your chins, put some strength into your game, give to Hartlepool Football Club what it deserves and to the town what it needs.
Please lads, fight the good fight for us now till the end of the season – and start winning.
Keep football at Victoria Park for us and football in your hearts for you.
Dr A Bell, CPsychol MRS,