Match of the day: Hartlepool United ‘sleigh-ride to victory’ in 1953

SNOW JOKE: Hartlepools v Chester in the 1950s.
SNOW JOKE: Hartlepools v Chester in the 1950s.

A FESTIVE match against Chester in December 1953 brought Pools fans much to cheer about.

Indeed, the Hartlepudlians gifted the happy crowd with a 2-0 final scoreline - without raising a sweat.

Nostalgia writer Sarah Stoner today looks back at the “sleigh-ride to victory”.

POOLS enjoyed an easy “sleigh-ride to victory” against Chester in 1953 in a 2-0 victory - despite playing in bitterly cold conditions.

MYSTERY MATCH: Hartlepools v Darlington in the 1950s - but do you know the date?

MYSTERY MATCH: Hartlepools v Darlington in the 1950s - but do you know the date?

Indeed, the Mail’s football pundit Sentinel was quick to praise the performance of the lads - but added that the “goal return” was still not satisfactory.

“It is difficult to believe that three or four seasons ago Chester were riding high for promotion,” he wrote on Monday, 21 December.

“On Saturday’s showing they only just had the edge on Darlington, the weakest team I’ve seen this season - with a shortage of ideas and lack of fighting spirit.

“Pools beat them without scarcely raising a sweat, and might have finished with the highest score of the day except for the old, before-goal weakness.”

Pools, according to Sentinel, were not getting the reward their mid-field work deserved - not only against Chester, but also against teams such as Northampton.

“They have the spirit and method, and all goes well till the penalty area looms. Blame (or credit) Jones to a large extent for checking the goal rush,” he said.

“But Pools’ shuffle-shuffle attack had enough other chances to provide the Chester keeper with the biggest back-bending job of the day.”

The two-goal margin of the match was, claimed Sentinel, a “poor indication of Pools’ superiority” - who easily “exposed Chester’s poverty in teamwork”.

“The brightest performance was by Tommy Wilkinson. His work was cultured and smooth, and he is keen to do well,” Sentinel added.

“But I’d be less than fair if I didn’t point out Tommy McGuigan’s twinkling work at inside forward, inside right and inside left. He was a marvel.”

** Can you help add names and dates to the mystery football photos published here? Email

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POOLS took on Chester several times during the 1950s - playing in everything from heavy rain, to snow, sludge, mud and sleet.

The first game of the decade, on January 14, 1950, was played away at Chester - and left Pools fans mourning a 3-0 drubbing.

A second loss followed later that year, with a 1-2 scoreline on September 16. Chester won the first game of 1951 as well - with a 2-1 victory on January 20.

But, on September 8, 1951, Pools fought back at home - celebrating a 2-1 win. A 3-3 draw followed on January 5, 1952 - then a 1-0 victory on September 27.

Other game Pools/Chester highlights of the 1950s included:

• A 1-0 away win for Hartlepools against Chester in the FA Cup on November 22, 1952.

• There was no hint of a massacre on Valentine’s Day 1953 - when the teams drew 2-2. December 19, 1953 saw Pools celebrate a 2-0 victory at home over Chester.

• Victory was again Pools’ on September 4, 1954 - after beating Chester 3-1 at home.

• The first loss to Chester in over two years saw Pools go down 1-0 on January 15, 1955.

• Pools won the next three matches against Chester, before drawing 2-2 on December 22, 1956.

The final five games of the 50s against Chester proved a mixed bag, with Pools’ last victorious game ending 2-1 on August 31, 1957.

Sadly, a 2-1 loss followed on December 28, 1957, a 1-1 draw on October 8, 1958, a 3-1 loss on January 1, 1959, and finally a 3-2 loss on September 5, 1959.