Hartlepool United supporters prepare for end of season tradition at Scunthorpe United as Graeme Lee, Michael Nelson and former Bradford City, Carlisle United and Walsall defender share their views

It’s been almost three years since Hartlepool United supporters were last able to take part in their end of season tradition.

By Joe Ramage
Thursday, 28th April 2022, 4:45 pm

You’re never quite sure what you’re going to get when the fixtures come out each year and Pools are able to identify their final away game of the season opponents.

Near or far it does not matter as Pools travel in their numbers and are often the talk of whichever town or city they grace.

And this weekend it will be Scunthorpe for Pools supporters who prepare to welcome back their end of season fancy dress tradition.

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Hartlepool United fans dress up as smurfs during the League One match between Charlton Athletic and Hartlepool United at The Valley on May 5, 2012. (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)

Who can forget the famous images of Pools fans en masse in the capital dressed as smurfs heading to the Valley to see their side take on Charlton Athletic?

Or the fleet of Stormtroopers who made the trip to Plymouth Argyle’s Home Park in 2016 and their most recent outing as Knights who made the trip to Cumbria against Barrow in 2019.

This weekend, the Sands Venue Stadium will see over 1,500 Poolies dressed as doctors and nurses to pay homage to the phenomenal efforts of the NHS over the last few years throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

And Pools boss Graeme Lee, who will return to the dugout this weekend having recovered from COVID-19 himself over the last fortnight, admits he’s looking forward to what should be another memorable occasion.

Hartlepool United supporters have sold-out the away end at Scunthorpe United for their final away game of the season. (Credit: Federico Maranesi | MI News)

“I thought about whether we should put on a little white suit on the sideline,” said Lee.

“I’ll put Sweens in the nurses outfit,” he joked.

“But I think it’s brilliant, and touching for the NHS. I imagine there’s going to be some funny sights in the stand because knowing the Poolies it won't all be just straightforward doctors and nurses outfits, there’ll be some exciting ones so I’m looking forward to it.

“It’s an amazing thing they do each year. It’s fantastic and it gets everyone talking about it.

Gary Liddle is hoping Hartlepool United can reward supporters in their final away game of the season at Scunthorpe United. Picture by FRANK REID

“I remember seeing them in the smurf outfits and thinking it was amazing so this one will be another enjoyable moment.”

Lee is not the only one to comment on Pools’ end of season trip to Scunthorpe this weekend with assistant manager Michael Nelson also suggesting it will be a great occasion and one he hopes the players will mark by rewarding what will be a sold-out away end in Scunthorpe.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing them,” said Nelson.

“It’s a great time of the year when you see all the supporters. I still remember the pictures of the smurfs on the escalators in London and you see them travelling hundreds of miles to go and watch the team all dressed up so yeah it’s going to be a great day.

“Hopefully we can put a great performance on for them and get a great win for them.

“As regards to the outfits, we drew lots and with the gaffer being off we drew his lot out for him and unfortunately he got the nurse and I got the doctor so I think he’s getting that ready over the next couple of days.”

Pools defender Gary Liddle, who hopes to be available for selection once again having missed last week’s home defeat against Swindon Town, has also commented on the Pools supporters who will be making the trip to North Lincolnshire sharing his admiration for this year’s theme.

“It’s a big one. The fans haven't been able to have the fancy dress theme for a few years now with COVID so it’ll be a great day out for them and it’s a great gesture with the theme with what they’re going with,” said Liddle.

“I think it’s going to be a sell-out as well so it’s great. Hopefully we can get the result on the day as well for them.”

But while there is sure to be plenty of enjoyment in the stands prior to the game, Pools supporters will be hoping their side can deliver a performance on the field to end a poor run of form in recent weeks.

Lee’s side have not tasted victory since their standout win over Newport County in mid-March but face a Scunthorpe side without a win in 14 games stretching back to early February.

The Iron have won just four league games all season, conceding 82 goals, and will finish bottom of the table ahead of their relegation to the National League.

But Keith Hill’s side were able to take a point from Pools in the reverse fixture at the Suit Direct Stadium in a low-key affair which ended goalless.

Pools will be hoping for an injury boost after failing to fill their substitutes bench for the third game in a row against Swindon.

Liddle missed out with a calf strain while fellow defender Neill Byrne is hoping to recover from an ankle injury.

Bryn Morris is another who could be in contention after Pools erred on the side of caution over his fitness last weekend.

Nicky Featherstone and Joe Grey remain more problematic with their injuries despite Pools’ assistant boss Nelson refusing to rule either out for the season.

Timi Odusina and Jamie Sterry both completed their returns from injury against Swindon and should be in line to continue at the Sands Venue Stadium this weekend while striker Olufela Olomola could return to his former club having been recalled from his loan spell with Yeovil Town and handed a starting berth in that defeat to Swindon.