Hartlepool Utd legend Ritchie Humphreys to play his final game at The Vic?

Ritchie Humphreys
Ritchie Humphreys

HARTLEPOOL United cannot boast many true legends.

Yes, a few outstanding performers and numerous fans favourites have worn the blue and white stripes.

But legends?

Ritchie Humphreys falls into that category after a career spanning 13 memorable seasons with Pools.

But the 37-year-old will tomorrow make almost certainly his last appearance on Victoria Park ... in the colours of Chesterfield.

He has already played against Pools, having been in the Spireites team which drew 0-0 with Colin Cooper’s side at the Proact Stadium on Boxing Day.

No other Pools star has played more minutes on the Vic and he told SportMail he is excited at the prospect at getting another 90 tomorrow.

“Hartlepool was a big part of my career and I think everyone knows how I feel about the club and the town,” he said.

“It’s nice to go back there.”

An inspired free transfer signing by Chris Turner in the summer of 2001, Humphreys served Pools in every area of the field – apart from goalkeeper.

He won two promotions, played in the 2005 League One play-off final, was twice the Player of the Year, as well as being named Player of the Decade AND Player of the Century.

In total, the former Sheffield Wednesday striker played 544 times for Pools.

“It may be strange initially, coming as an away player to a place I love and which was my home ground for a long time,” he said.

“But I am coming as a Chesterfield player and I will be coming to do a professional job and that is to try to win a game of football

“I have no feelings of apprehension or anything like that

“I’m looking forward to it, meeting old colleagues, old friends, the people I enjoyed working for and with over many years.

“It will be nice to play in front of the supporters who were great to me the whole time I was with Hartlepool.”

But tomorrow, for all the emotion, it will ultimately be purely business for a man who has always prided himself on being a consummate professional.

Chesterfield are closing in on promotion - they currently lie third behind Rochdale and Scunthorpe.

But Humpheys insists it is not a done deal.

“It’s been a good season, but we have not done it yet,” he said.

“It is going to come down to the next few matches.”

The Spireites should do it – they have been one of the stand-out teams all season.

And Humphreys has been one of their stand-out performers, playing week-in, week-out.

His move to Chesterfield looks like proving just as inspired as that switch to the Vic in 2001.

Yes, it was a wrench leaving Pools, but it’s been some time for the left-back whose wife, Amanda, gave birth to a son.

“It had to end at some point [at Hartlepool],” he said.

“But it couldn’t have gone better for me this season.

“I’ve found myself a new club and it’s quite close to home, especially having just had a new baby.

“When they signed me I think they saw me as an experienced player who’d won a couple of promotions and be able to pass on my experience.

“To be honest, I wasn’t sure how many games I’d play, so to play 45 matches has been amazing.

“When I joined Chesterfield they were hopeful of being up there and they made some great signings.

“I was just happy to be on board.”

Humphreys has followed Pools fortunes closely and believes they have had a good season.

“Until five or six games ago it was looking like they could be in the mix for the play-offs,” he said.

“But they have done well.

“It is hard when you have been relegated - sometimes the next season can be difficult.

“But the young players have done great – Luke James has had a brilliant season and scored a lot of goals.

“Brad Walker has come into the team at the age of 17 and been fantastic.

“I saw him at the Football League awards night and congratulated him on his award and his season.

“Pools have brought in some good young players on loan as well and they’ve blended in well with the experienced players at the club.”