Hartlepool’s new honorary president Jeff Stelling backs Ronnie Moore

Jeff Stelling at the end of the game against Northampton Town
Jeff Stelling at the end of the game against Northampton Town

“We’ve got Dagenham & Redbridge, Barnet, Crawley and Wimbledon in the next four games,” came the quote.

“That’s what we’re looking at now, let’s have a nice haul of points from them.”

Not the words of Hartlepool United manager Ronnie Moore nor skipper Billy Paynter.

It was a rally-call or perhaps even the first order from ‘el presidente’.

This was Jeff Stelling facing the media rather than fronting it as he spoke to the Fourth Estate following the 2-1 defeat at Northampton Town.

‘Sir’ Jeff was at Sixfields not as a celebrity Pools fan but as the club’s honorary president.

It made for uncomfortable viewing at times, as he admitted, but the Sky Sports presenter senses better days are around the corner.

He has witnessed an improvement in Pools and thinks Moore is a couple of players away from fielding a side top compete in the right half of the division.

“Massive,” was the one-word assessment from Stelling when looking at the transformation from this time last year to now.

“It’s the third time I’ve seen us this season.

“We won at Fleetwood in the cup and that was really impressive, we lost narrowly at Wycombe where we could easily have come away with something.

“We came here and first 20 we wobbled like crazy, then got back on an even keel again.

“In the end, we didn’t really look like nicking anything, but it was testament to how well we battled that they were holding the ball in the corner for the last five minutes.

“Northampton had run out of ideas.

“I don’t think we are that far away.

“Ronnie knows he probably needs one or two more players, it’s getting them through the door.

“If anyone can do it, he can.

“I know Ronnie and Russ are working really hard to bring in a couple of players and I think that’s all we need.

“The jigsaw is not complete but we’re not that many pieces away.”

For Stelling, to become Pools president is what he called “an impossible dream” from a proud town man who has been supporting the side since the age of seven.

Given he’s a fan at heart, he was honest in his assessment of the Pools performance at Sixfields.

“After 20 minutes, it could have been any score, we were very vulnerable defensively,” said the 60-year-old journalist.

“There were some great balls coming in from out wide and Marc Richards is a handful for anyone at this level. He’s the sort of centre-forward that anyone in this division would want.

“Rakish Bingham’s goal changed the game.

“I thought Northampton lost their pattern a little after that, but have I any complaints after 90 minutes? Not at all, we battled hard but we didn’t create anything in the second half.

“We’ve got Dagenham & Redbridge, Barnet, Crawley and Wimbledon the next four games.

“That’s what we’re looking at now, let’s have a nice haul of points from them.”

Stelling, typically, made a joke about being the new Pools signing but the feeling of pride shone through.

“I bet most supporters would rather have a new centre-half or midfielder or striker, rather than a short, fat club president,” he smiled.

“I used to play full-back in my playing days but that’s only because I was too slow to play anywhere else.

“It’s fantastic, a thrill. I’ve known the guys at the club a long time

“I grew up standing on the terraces supporting Pools.