Gary Coxall’s decision could herald new era for Hartlepool fans

Gary Coxall
Gary Coxall

Hartlepool United might change managers as often as some people change socks.

But chairmen? You would need just one hand to count the men who have ruled Pools over the last three decades.

Not counting the ill-fated and extremely brief ‘ownership’ of TMH in 2014-15, there have been just five at the helm over the last three decades – John Smart, Garry Gibson, Harold Hornsey, Ken Hodcroft and Gary Coxall.

Number six has just begun her tenure, Pam Duxbury, following the dramatic resignation of Coxall last night.

Duxbury has already got down to work, having had a meeting with the Hartlepool United Supporters Trust, a body of Pools fans, at the Corner Flag Social Club.

Coxall has decided to stand down “for the good of the club” following a turbulent season and one which could end up with Pools relegated from the Football League this Saturday.

The Londoner’s decision certainly negates what could have been a difficult situation should things go wrong in the match with Doncaster Rovers, a game Pools must win, while hoping Newport fail to beat Notts County.

At the last home game, against Barnet, fans chanted against Coxall, manager Dave Jones AND the players.

The sacking of Jones has removed that area of fury while the players have won the fans over again following their spirited effort at Cheltenham on Saturday.

Coxall’s exit means the chances of any flashpoints with the supporters have receded greatly.

And the departure of Coxall and appointment of Duxbury could herald a new era for Hartlepool United after the outgoing chairman stated his ambition of Pools having a significant fan ownership, hence the dialogue between Duxbury and HUST.

Coxall, to many fans, was a breath of fresh air when JPNG bought Pools from Increased Oil Recovery in the summer of 2015.

Bright, breezy, full of cockney charm and wit, he was the polar opposite of Hodcroft.

Bar his programme notes, the IOR man was a man of few words publicly, but Coxall engaged fans via social media as well as in person.

But the wheels began to fall off this season, late wages led to problems on the field and unpaid bills led to troubles off it as the club received a winding-up petition or three at the High Court.

Financial strife was eased by investments from Sage Ltd, who are understood to have cleared the debts and now have a significant share in the club.

Duxbury joined Pools midway through the season and it is believed she and an unnamed business associate have also invested in the club.

While still pretty much unknown to Pools fans, she has operated as the finance director and was set to be named as chief executive, a position which has lain dormant since the summer departure of Russ Green.

That leaves Coxall and JPNG as still the major shareholder, his recruitment firm have, it is understood, just short of a 50% stake in Pools.

The supporters turned on Coxall at the Barnet defeat last month, when Pools dropped into the relegation zone as the wheels came off under boss Dave Jones.

After sacking the 60-year-old to end a disastrous three-month period, the chairman held up his hands and said he’d got the wrong successor to Craig Hignett.

When this reporter interviewed the Eastender recently, the events seemed to have taken a toll on this normally-ebullient of souls.

He is not quite saying to fans put your money where your mouths are, but he is certainly opening a door to HUST who issued a statement to say “a working partnership is now established between the fans and the club.”

It is a case of watch this space, but Coxall’s decision offers the potential of greater transparency at the club we all love.