Richard Mennear: Ronnie Moore’s impact on Hartlepool United and the town should never be forgotten

Hartlepool United manager Ronnie Moore celebrates at the end of the lap of honour for Pools after the 2-1 win over Exeter City which saw Pools retain their Football League status last season. Picture by Frank Reid
Hartlepool United manager Ronnie Moore celebrates at the end of the lap of honour for Pools after the 2-1 win over Exeter City which saw Pools retain their Football League status last season. Picture by Frank Reid

Arms aloft, beaming smile, embracing his coaching staff at the final whistle of the final home game of last season.

That tense, nervy, dramatic 2-1 win over Exeter City meant Hartlepool United had sealed the ‘Great Escape’ and Ronnie Moore was hailed the Messiah.

As he walked around the pitch, alongside his coaching staff and exhausted playing squad, Moore could do no wrong.

He had pulled off one of THE biggest upsets in Football League history, by keeping Pools up against all the odds.

Yet, fast forward 10 months and Moore finds himself on the management scrapheap.

At the end of Tuesday’s 2-1 defeat to Stevenage, the contrast of emotions was stark.

Moore was alone and downtrodden as he trudged off the Victoria Park turf one last time after remonstrating with the referee at the final whistle.

He probably regretted it as those home fans that had stayed behind let Moore know their strong feelings – that his time was up.

But where did it all go wrong?

The statistics speak for themselves.

Pools find themselves third-bottom, four points above the drop zone with just seven wins from 26 games and worryingly only 24 goals scored – the lowest scorers in the division.

And while Pools have as many as five games in hand over some teams, the worrying form and performances meant chairman Gary Coxall simply had to act.

Moore knows more than anyone that this is a results business and results have been nowhere near good enough.

Injuries to Carl Magnay, Billy Paynter and Michael Duckworth haven’t helped, but it appeared that he didn’t know his best team, with weekly changes in team selection and formation.

The experienced 63-year-old also had a LOT of backing in the transfer market, with both permanent and several loan signings. There were no excuses.

In the end, Moore paid for it with his job.

Yet, despite the sour end to a relationship that initially seemed unbreakable, Moore should be forever cherished by Pools supporters for his efforts last year.

You cannot underestimate the impact he made after being appointed in December 2014.

As well as battling on the pitch he also had to cope with a failed takeover by Peter Harris’s TMH 2014 group off it.

A lot of fans had given up all hope, but he remained steadfast in his belief that he could keep Pools up.

His loan signings – Ryan Bird, Aaron Tshibola, David Mirfin and Jordan Hugill – proved key.

Popular among the coaching staff, he wasn’t always popular with his players.

The likes of Brad Walker and Scott Fenwick struggled to get into the team on a regular basis.

For our part, Moore was a dream to work with. He would never shy away from a question, always available for a chat and always had a smile on his face and an anecdote to go with it.

His straight-talking ruffled several feathers, but it was needed with the club’s future at stake.

He was adored by fans, too, for masterminding the escape – who could forget that infamous chant ‘Who’s the best manager in the Football League? It’s you Ron, Ron, Ron, it’s you Ron, Ron.’

Or the images of him wearing his Rasta wig at Carlisle on the final day of last season.

But, as it too often does in football, that strong bond between fans and manager quickly wore off as results dipped alarmingly after four straight wins at the start of this season.

His son, Ian Thomas Moore, tweeted: “Gutted for the old man,you won’t get a more hard working manager in football,never stops, loves the game,he’ll be desperate to get back in.”

He was certainly a grafter and put the miles in on the motorway as part of the endless search for new talent – remember him travelling all the way to Plymouth to watch a reserve game?

Okay, the loan signing of Marvin Morgan wasn’t a success, but it highlighted the efforts he’d go to, while the amount of contacts he has is unrivalled.

And I have no doubt Moore has one more job in him. He won’t want to go out like this.

He deserves that and he deserves the chance to reach 1,000 games in management.

Moore never got that statue erected to mark last season’s achievements but his impact on this club and this town should never be forgotten.

All the best, Ronnie.