Hartlepool United facing a potential 260-mile round trip over festive period
The National League’s Boxing Day and New Year’s Day double header will be one of the first things teams and fans look out for when the fixture list is announced on Wednesday.
Local rivals are pitted up against one another for two huge matches in the space of five days.
For the past two seasons, Hartlepool have made the short journey north to Gateshead on Boxing Day - bringing a bumper away following of 3,662 over the two matches at the International Stadium.
But following the Heed’s demotion to the National League North, Pools now face the prospect of a 260-mile cross country round trip to Barrow on either Boxing Day or New Year’s Day.
Harrogate Town will be the preferred candidate as the closest side geographically to Hartlepool at just 63 miles down the A19.
But Town’s proximity to Halifax could see the league schedule the two Yorkshire sides against each other as they did last season.
Barrow hosted AFC Fylde on Boxing Day 2018 but promotion to the division for fellow North-West outfits Chorley and Stockport County is sure to complicate things.
Seasons prior to Hartlepool’s relegation to the National League saw Barrow face Gateshead over the festive period so a similar arrangement could be made involving Craig Hignett’s side.
The Pools boss said: “It’s going to be a nightmare for us now without Gateshead because you’d think Harrogate and Halifax would play each other and Chorley and Stockport would probably play which leaves us with Barrow.
“We’ve been at Gateshead the past two years so it’s devastating for us because it’s a derby and we’ve lost the occasion and the crowd it will generate.
“We always have a big crowd here and always take a lot of people up to Gateshead so to miss that is a bit gutting but we’ll just have to get on with it.”
Pools’ previous visit to Holker Street was a 1-0 defeat on their final away day of the 2018/19 campaign.
Around 1,200 Poolies made the journey to Cumbria in medieval knight fancy dress in what was a memorable day out off the pitch.