The day we beat Palace - Hartlepool United legend recalls famous day and looks ahead to FA Cup rematch

Hartlepool United legend Brian Honour has looked back on the famous day the team beat Crystal Palace – and assessed the current team’s chances of doing it again in the FA Cup.

Thursday, 13th January 2022, 2:56 pm
Updated Friday, 14th January 2022, 10:01 am

The classy former Pools midfielder reflected on that memorable day in January 1993 when the Match of the Day film crew came to town and watched Steve Coppell’s Palace side get dumped out of the prestigious competition.

Now, as Pools get ready to lock horns with the London outfit once more in the cup’s fourth round, Brian reflected on a memorable game when the Vic was bouncing after Andy Saville’s late if controversial penalty winner.

Brian had an inkling it was going to be a special day long before kick-off.

Former Hartlepool United footballer Brian Honour.

A crowd of more than 6,000 fans were keen to roar Pools home in icy conditions and what followed was a pulsating encounter which was in the balance until the very end.

After the Premier League visitors started as the better team, Hartlepool, who were challenging for promotion themselves at the time in the third tier, took over with Lenny Johnrose close to giving them the lead.

Horden-born Brian remembered: “The Mill House paddock was baying for blood.”

Time was running out until Nicky Southall fell after a disputed challenge from Richard Shaw and the ref pointed to the spot.

Hartlepool United striker Andy Saville steps up to score from a penalty during the FA Cup match at the Victoria Ground.

Up stepped Andy Saville.

Palace keeper Nigel Martyn dived the right way but the spot kick went beyond his reach to give Pools a 1-0 win.

Brian admitted the penalty itself was a tough call on Palace but he added: “Truth be told, we deserved to win.

"We got stuck in to them and the best team won on the day. We were the team which fancied it the most. We were boys with a big heart.”

Brian Honour in action against Crystal Palace.

The 2022 encounter will be tougher because Pools are away from home but Brian said: “Every round throws up a banana skin. This is a game where we have half a chance especially on a cold February day.”

Just like in 1993, Pools have good footballers in the team.

Brian said: “Nicky Featherstone is a fantastic footballer and he will relish playing on the big stage and so will some of the others. This is a free hit for Pools.”

Pools, of course, have another FA Cup glory day to reflect on against Palace, having beaten them at home in 1978 with a Bob Newton double after Palace had taken the lead in their third round tie.

Brian, now 57, was a schoolboy who was in the crowd that day and remembers: “I was in the Rink End and it was a proper FA Cup atmosphere. The place was bouncing. Pools were talented, just like us in 1993.”

These days, Brian is passing on his football expertise to another generation of potential players.

He does a lot of one-to-one individual coaching and teaches youngsters the finer arts of the game in schools.

His work means he probably will miss Hartlepool’s FA Cup tie in London at the start of February.

But Pools is the first result he always looks for. “I will be with them in spirit,” he said.

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