BRISTOL, ENGLAND - JUNE 20: Nicky Featherstone and Ryan Donaldson of Hartlepool United lift the Vanarama National League Trophy during the Vanarama National League Play-Off Final match between Hartlepool United and Torquay United at Ashton Gate on June 20, 2021 in Bristol, England. (Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images)

One year on: Hartlepool United's National League promotion success against Torquay United

It’s a day which will be forever ingrained into the history of Hartlepool United.

By Joe Ramage
Monday, 20th June 2022, 12:37 pm

At the fourth time of asking, Pools had the chance to end their misery in the National League and make a return to the Football League.

Times were hard. With the COVID-19 pandemic still troubling the world it meant little over 3,000 supporters could make the trip to Bristol City’s Ashton Gate stadium, but it was a trip that will live with those supporters for a lifetime.

The scores were level in terms of victories between Pools and Torquay United that season after Dave Challinor’s side avenged a Halloween horror show with a clinical 1-0 victory at Plainmoor in March.

But neither side could muster up enough to dislodge Sutton United from the National League title as both would have to settle for a spot in the play-offs.

Pools brushed aside Bromley at the Suit Direct Stadium before a hard-fought win over Stockport County booked their spot in the final.

And when Luke Armstrong gave Pools a first half lead, supporters began dreaming of a return to the Football League.

But in the most dramatic of circumstances, Torquay goalkeeper Lucas Covolan grabbed a 95th minute equaliser to send the tie into extra-time before, ultimately, a place in the Football League would be decided by a penalty shootout.

Step forward Brad James and the rest, as they say, is history.

But just in case you needed reminding, here are some of the best pictures from a truly memorable afternoon at Ashton Gate as Pools clinched promotion.

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