Hartlepool United hero Russ Green: Great Escape better than winning World Cup

Russ Green (right) welcomes Gary Coxall to the Vic after JPNG bought Hartlepool United
Russ Green (right) welcomes Gary Coxall to the Vic after JPNG bought Hartlepool United

Hero Russ Green has been at the heart of Hartlepool United but has admitted it was time for him to leave the club.

Green resigned as chief executive at Pools on Friday after 14 years at Victoria Park.

"It's been very emotional, I've shed a few tears since Friday and the calls I've been getting have been unbelievable," he said.

"But I think there comes a time in life when it's time to go.

"I could have walked in the bad times but I saw it through because I did not want to leave the club in a mess."

The long-serving club man, who joined Pools in 2002 as commercial manager before rising to chief executive, played a key role in the Great Escape.

Not only did he employ saviour Ronnie Moore, he worked magnificently behind the scenes to rescue Pools when then owners Increased Oil Recovery had second thoughts about selling the club to little-known consortium, The Monkey Hangers 2014.

And when IOR did end their era at the Vic last summer, Green played a key role in the hand over of power to JPNG, who retained Russ as chief executive.

"The Great Escape was better than winning the World Cup for me," said Green. "Every single person had written us off.

"Ronnie came in and lifted the place and everyone started to believe, belief got us through and it's an experience I'll never forget."

Green said he was pleased with his contribution to the club and its survival, but admitted the stress and strain had taken a "toll".

He feels he is leaving the club in a strong state and believes they have the right manager in Craig Hignett who is being backed to the hilt by chairman Gary Coxall.

"It's something I've been pondering for a while and I made the decision last Friday," he said in an interview with BBC Tees.

"The last few years have taken their toll, we've been through the mill, haven't we?

"We've had some good times but some bad times, we've been on the verge of relegation twice.

"That was quite traumatic, but we saved the club and we also got Ronnie in.

"I brought Ronnie in knowing he was the right guy and he proved me right, thank God. He perfomed a miracle.

"Last season things got tough and that's when we made a change and brought Craig in.

"I recommended him for the job and he hasn't let me down, he's done a great job.

"We've worked our socks off in the summer, Craig, Curtis and myself, and I think the team we've got now are capable of promotion.

"The owners have backed us with every single signing.

"They have backed us, whatever they've said they'll do, they've been a massive positive for the club and I feel Pools are in safe hands.

"I think it is the time for me to walk away."

On the subject of walking, Russ earned hero status again this season by taking every step with Pools president Jeff Stelling on the Men United March, in aid of Prostate Cancer UK.

The Man City fan walked from the Vic to Wembley, with Men United raising over £300,000 for the cause and raising awareness of prostate cancer.

Russ, clearly, is a man who makes every step count.