Ritchie Humphreys says he is “not surprised” to see the people of Hartlepool rally behind the town’s club.
Pools look set for a 7,000-plus crowd for this evening’s must-win League Two clash with Doncaster Rovers at the Northern Gas & Power Stadium.
Humphreys spent over a decade at the Vic, where fans named him the Pools Player of the Century.
The 39-year-old was twice a promotion winner with Pools and a member of the side which took the club to the 2005 League One playoff final at Cardiff where they were within eight minutes of a place in the Championship.
Now, Pools could be just 90 minutes away from falling into the National League, unless they beat Rovers this evening AND Newport fail to defeat Notts County at Rodney Parade.
“I spent a long time in Hartlepool, of the best and happiest years of my career,” said Ritchie who now combines being a player at Chesterfield with being chairman of the Professional Footballers Association.
“The fans were always brilliant, to me and the team.
“I am not surprised to see them come together now for the club and look to play their part.
“My first four seasons at Hartlepool, we reached the play-offs three times and were promoted in the other year.
“The fans always turned out in their numbers home and away.
“When we were in League One we had some really good seasons and even after relegation, we came straight back up and then had a long run in that division.
“It was disappointing to leave after we were relegated but I’ve been able to continue playing at Chesterfield.
“It has been sad to see Hartlepool struggle in recent years.
“I remember 12,000 fans going to Sunderland in the FA Cup but the people don’t just go in the good times and they are going to be there too in large numbers for the match with Doncaster.”