‘Hopefully we have something to celebrate’ – Dave Challinor on the return of fans to Victoria Park
Hartlepool United’s National League match against Maidenhead United this weekend is set to be the final match at Victoria Park this season without fans – there is light at the end of the tunnel!
Pools fans are set to return to The Vic in limited numbers for the final match of the 2020-21 league campaign against Weymouth on May 29 (12:30pm kick-off).
It will be the first time in well over a year that fans will be allowed to attend a competitive game at Victoria Park – though some have already made their voices heard in recent weeks.
Hartlepool’s last two home wins over Chesterfield and Notts County have seen small groups fans gather outside the ground on Clarence Road to demonstrate their support as the club mounts its first serious promotion charge in 14 years.
Chants of ‘Challinor’s blue and white army’ could be clearly heard live on BT Sport last Saturday after being Chesterfield 3-1.
And the Hartlepool manager has reiterated that the lengths fans have gone to without being allowed to attend matches has not gone unnoticed by the players and staff at the club.
"It’s the first time we’ve experienced people being at the ground or outside the ground as such with players leaving and supporters being there this season,” he said.
“It’s the first time it’s happened but that will certainly bring home to the players the sort of impact they’re having on the community and the supporters of the football club which is great.
"Right at the back end of the season we get to play a game with them in the ground against Weymouth and see where that takes us. Hopefully we have something to celebrate for everyone at the football club.”
Poolies helped raise over £30,000 towards Challinor’s playing budget this season and the squad has continued to be strengthened throughout the campaign.
Over 1,000 season tickets have already been snapped up for the 2021-22 campaign with fans also volunteering to help get Victoria Park ready for the official return on May 29.
Hartlepool currently sit fourth in the National League table, a point off Stockport County in third and six points behind leaders Torquay United going into this weekend’s match.
It's still all to play for, but Pools have to be faultless from now on.