Bournemouth legend Steve Fletcher labels Hartlepool’s Great Escape a ‘miracle’

Hartlepool-born Steve Fletcher, Bournemouth AFC legend
Hartlepool-born Steve Fletcher, Bournemouth AFC legend

FORMER Hartlepool United striker and Bournemouth legend Steve Fletcher believes Ronnie Moore has pulled off a “miracle” in keeping Pools up.

And he believes they should take inspiration from Bournemouth’s success in getting promoted to the Premier League by targeting their own promotion push next season.

Pools fought back from being 10-points adrift with less than two months of the season to go to secure their Football League status with a game to spare.

There are similarities between the two clubs, the south coast side were themselves one game away from going out of League Two just six years ago before an incredible rise through the divisions.

Fletcher, 42, started his career at Pools under Cyril Knowles before moving to Bournemouth where he went on to become a club legend.

“What an amazing achievement Hartlepool staying up is, it really is nothing short of a miracle,” Fletcher told SportMail.

“I have spoken with [assistant manager] Sam Collins and I’d said to him when they were 10 points adrift with a handful of games to go, I couldn’t see them getting out of it.

“It is probably better than what we achieved in 2009 because they had less games to do it in and Ronnie Moore has done an incredible job.

“He is loved by the fans and it is a remarkable achievement.

“You just never know what the future can hold, look at Bournemouth.

“With the right manager and the right backing there is no reason why Pools can’t get promoted themselves next year,” added Fletcher, who made more than 800 appearances.

Bournemouth’s turnaround has been a remarkable one given were the Cherries were in 2009, said to be just hours away from liquidation.

Now they are set to grace the Premier League after securing the Championship’s second automatic promotion slot with third-placed Middlesbrough three points and 19 goals worse off ahead of the final game.

Fletcher added: “We are ‘little Bournemouth’ but we really deserve to have our chance in the big time.

“Six years ago we were one game from going out of the Football League but everyone involved in the football club has proved it can be done.

“It has been done properly from the foundations up and it helps having people who have been here a long time still around - it is like a family.

“The manager has a love for the football club and we are certainly going in the right direction.

“The football has been superb and all the plaudits reflect that,” added Fletcher, who is hoping they can put the “cherry on the cake” with the title this weekend.

But despite pipping Boro to automatic promotion, he still wants to see the Teessiders go up.

Fletcher, head of UK recruitment and club ambassador at Bournemouth, said: “I am from Hartlepool and a North East lad and I have more affection for Middlesbrough than the other teams in the play-offs.

“I’d like to see Middlesbrough go up and I hope they can.

“The teams are all good sides though and I don’t envy them, as they are all capable of beating each other.

“I wouldn’t relish being involved in that and it is a massive relief Bournemouth are not involved in the play-offs.”