The highs and lows of Hartlepool United’s amazing 2015

Ronnie Moore celebrating with Hartlepool United fans at the end of the game against Carlisle United. Picture by FRANK REID
Ronnie Moore celebrating with Hartlepool United fans at the end of the game against Carlisle United. Picture by FRANK REID

2015 will live long in the memory of Hartlepool United fans.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, it was a year of painstaking lows and ultimately unbelievable highs.

From the sublime to the ridiculous, it was a year of painstaking lows and ultimately unbelievable highs.

Richard Mennear

For large periods of 2014-15 Pools looked doomed, seemingly destined to be relegated from the Football League for the first time in the club’s history.

Yet somehow, under the guidance of experienced boss Ronnie Moore, they survived - with a game to spare.

The summer brought new owners, a dozen new players and fresh hope of a brighter future.

It hasn’t quite panned out that way, so far.

We look back at six highs and six lows from a year supporters will never forget:

Low: Awful football in a season-long battle against the drop

For the most part, the 2014-15 campaign was miserable for Pools fans.

Three managers, Sam Collins named caretaker boss on two occasions, a raft of players and some awful football on display.

Pools were dreadful most of the season, bottom and looking doomed from October until Spring when they finally sprung into life.

The Great Escape will never be forgotten but the football on show for the majority of the season already has been.

High: Somehow, Pools pull off THE Greatest Escape

Before the trip to Morecambe in March, Pools were nine points from safety and staring relegation in the face.

Yet from nowhere they strung together four consecutive wins in March to climb out of the drop zone never to return.

It propelled Pools out of the danger zone for the first time in five months! Amazing.

Low: Hartlepool 0 Burton 1 felt like the end

A late goal in March snatched all three points for Burton to leave basement side Pools stranded.

It felt like the end for many fans. There looked no way back.

What followed was a remarkable four-game winning streak.

High: Game of the season beating Exeter City 2-1

April 25. The day survival was confirmed.

Scott Fenwick and Jordan Hugill with the goals to send The Vic into raptures.

The passion on show, both on the pitch and in the stands and the jubilant scenes that followed will live long in the memory.

Tranmere Rovers and Cheltenham were relegated.

Low: Prolonged takeover collapses

TMH 2014 (The Monkey Hangers), led by Peter Harris, had been announced as the new owners in December 2014 - subject to Football League approval.

But by February 5th, after weeks of speculation, the takeover had collapsed.

Pools were in a mess, both on and off the pitch, with the team bottom of the Football League.

At the time the failed takeover from long-term owners IOR seemed a lowpoint, but with major concerns over TMH 2014’s plans who knows what the future would have held for Pools?

High: New owners are finally revealed

JPNG, led by chairman Gary Coxall, are announced as new owners in June with IOR and Ken Hodcroft making way.

Russ Green stays on as chief executive as the club enters a new chapter in its history.

As part of the major summer re-building plans, 12 players are signed, nine released plus Ronnie Moore and Sam Collins sign new long-term deals.

A fresh start for Pools.

Low: Downhill since August as injuries harm Pools’ progress

Hopes were high of a much-improved 2015-16 campaign after four straight wins in August.

But injuries to key players including Billy Paynter and Michael Woods, who has been in and out of the side, have hampered progress.

Pools have again had to rely on loan signings which has resulted in disjointed and inconsistent team selection and performances.

Aside from the FA Cup run, which sees Pools host Derby County in early January, it has been downhill since August.

High: Helping develop young loaness

The likes of Aaron Tshibola and Jordan Hugill benefited hugely from their loan spell last season.

As did the club, with the pair playing a major role in keeping Pools up.

Both have now gone onto play for their parent clubs Reading and Preston North End, respectively.

David Mirfin, although older, was a big success story too last season during his loan spell from Scunthorpe United.

Low: Pools’ own youngsters not kicking on

More was expected from the likes of Brad Walker, Dan Jones and Scott Fenwick in the second half of 2015.

The trio all played a big part in helping keep Pools up last season.

They will point to lack of game time - with Fenwick only just back to his goalscoring best after getting a regular run.

But more is needed from Walker, who is the subject of interest from the Championship.

Jones too hasn’t made an impression this season.

High: Goals that will live long in the memory

One from last season, Michael Duckworth’s stunning long-range strike away at Carlisle United on the last day of the season.

And Billy Paynter’s sublime effort away at York City at the start of this.

Both sublime finishes and a real highlight.

As was the Bob Marley-inspired carnival atmosphere at Carlisle on the final day.

Low: Over reliance on loan players

An ongoing frustration - and reality - of being a lower league club is the over reliance on loan players to help bolster small squads.

Pools have loaned nine players so far this season, it was a similar story last.

Fans want nothing more than a team full of their own players, rather than loanees who come for a month, promise the earth and deliver little.

Some excel, many do not.

High: Trevor Carson a real plus

The Northern Ireland international has quickly established himself as a fans favourite since joining in the summer.

It was time for Scott Flinders to leave after a long time as the club’s No 1.

But Carson has more than filled his gloves, the energetic and passionate shot-stopper producing some fine saves.

Others have struggled though, namely Jake Carroll and Kudus Oyenuga.