GUTTED town leaders say they hope Hartlepool United will emerge stronger after relegation to League Two was confirmed.
Oldham Athletic’s 1-0 win over Yeovil Town on Tuesday night confirmed Pools’ demotion to the fourth tier of English football after six seasons in League One – a club record.
Victory moved Oldham eight points clear of John Hughes’ side who have two games left to play, including Saturday’s televised game against Brentford at Victoria Park.
Disappointed fans and town leaders have all been quick to give their reaction.
Mayor Stuart Drummond said: “Relegation has been on the cards since well before Christmas and the last few months have been like a painful death.
“They gave us a little bit of hope, but unfortunately could not carry that form on.
“If you’d asked me before Christmas I would have said I was very concerned about whether this team could even stay in League Two, but the players have shown that they are capable of challenging if they apply themselves all the time.
“My biggest worry is keeping the fans on board and keeping the gates up.”
Mayor Drummond added: “Last time we were relegated we managed to come straight back up so we have proved we can do it in the past.”
Hartlepool MP Iain Wright said: “As a season ticket holder it is extremely disappointing that we are going down to League Two.
“The one statistic that really sums up this season is that we have only scored 36 goals, the lowest in the whole of the football league and that is the challenge facing the club.
“But with determination, team spirit and support from the town, the club will emerge even stronger.”
Pauline McSweenie, secretary of the Hartlepool United Supporters’ Association, said: “After the Oldham game I think fans knew this was coming, but it doesn’t make it any easier and we are still depressed.
“The writing was on the wall quite early on and the fact that we only had nine points when John Hughes came in says it all but we did give it a good go.
“The frustrating thing for me is that these players have shown what they can do but not consistently enough.
“We are desperate for a bustling centre forward who can score goals but we also have some good kids coming through and they are the future.
“I think we can rebuild, start again and hopefully come straight back up.”
l Mail view: Page 8