‘A celebration for everybody’ – Dave Challinor urges Hartlepool United fans to make themselves heard on Victoria Park return against Weymouth
It’s been a long season without supporters at Victoria Park, but that will all end on Saturday afternoon.
Hartlepool United host Weymouth for their final match of the regular National League campaign (12:30pm kick-off) with just over 1,700 supporters expected to be in attendance.
The match may only have around half of Pools’ usual crowd due to coronavirus safety restrictions but it has still been a sell out.
And manager Dave Challinor has backed those in the ground to make their voices heard.
“Regardless of the situation, getting fans back into the ground is something that should be a celebration for everybody,” he said. “From a club, player, staff perspective, to thank fans in the flesh, some of them, is something we're really looking forward to.
Hopefully the fans can give players the support over 90-minutes and show their appreciation a little bit – I'm sure they will.
“Hopefully we don’t need them as such on Saturday but certainly when a play-off game arises and they’re in the ground, they’re going to be massively important for us.
“Our home record has been terrific and we started a run at the back end of last season when we had supporters in the ground and they were brilliant and a big part of that.
"We’ve continued that this season unfortunately with them not in attendance. I’m sure they’re all really looking forward to coming back and we’re really looking forward to putting on a show for them.”
Supporters have been volunteering to help get Victoria Park ready by helping with ground maintenance, cleaning seats, painting and general tidying.
“Nothing surprises you really,” Challinor added.
“People are massive supporters of the club not just on matchdays where they give up their money and time to support the players but with the stuff that goes on at the ground on a daily basis and the football club being the town and the people’s thing that plays a massive part in their lives.
"It will be great to have them back, as much as it’s a huge positive, there’s a tinge of disappointment that there’s only 1,700 there and not 5,000 which would have been great. Hopefully over the next couple of weeks and next season we get the opportunity to thank the fans properly, hopefully in a different division.”