Who remembers the day when Hartlepool hosted a rugby union ‘international’ in 1995?
It happened at West’s Brierton Lane ground and the game was fought out between the Fire Brigade teams of England and Northern Ireland.
It was a typical winter time battle royal.
It was wet, it was muddy and it was freezing cold but, as our reporter at the time said: “Everyone had a great time.”
Brierton Lane was described as flooded but that never stopped these hardy players from giving their all in a game where they were often splashing through water.
A Hartlepool Mail report said: “Firemen are accused of working with water and it did not dampen the enthusiasm of the players and the crowd which numbered several hundred.”
Conditions were cold, wet and muddy for the big Fire Brigade day out at West Hartlepool but everybody had a great timeHartlepool Mail reporter, 1995
The England team featured two players with West Hartlepool links and they were Phil Lancaster and his former Brierton Lane colleague Craig Lee who had moved to Stockton.
Cleveland Fire Service provided some of the team for the Northern Irish side. John Fincken and John Whitecross were brought in for the Irish.
As for the match itself, it was Craig Lee who helped England’s cause when he scored the first try of the match.
Others followed for the English from Ashbridge, Lee Smith who bagged two and Jerry Chadwick who also kicked a conversion as well as two penalties.
For the Northern Irish, there were two tries and they came from Julian Boyd and Brandan Moore.
Our report at the time added: “Both teams and Durham referee Alan Hughes, who gave a fine display with the whistle, were given a rousing cheer by supporters after the game.”
In the end, it finished as a 33-10 victory to the English but everyone who braved the conditions was a winner.
And speaking after the game, Craig Lee said: “It was hard work in these conditions but I enjoyed it.”
The international connections to West did not end there in 1995.
Two of the West Hartlepool team were called up for Scotland duties. Flanker Rob Wainwright and Derrick Patterson, on the bench, both represented their country in the Five Nations encounter with Wales at Murrayfield.
Who remembers when the international fire brigade match came to Hartlepool and were you there in the wind, rain and the mud?
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Let’s share the memories.