Pride, passion & promotion: The story of an incredible weekend Hartlepool United fans will never forget as Pools secure Football League return

Sheer joy.

Sunday, 20th June 2021, 6:09 pm

Utter elation.

When Brad James tipped Matt Buse's penalty onto the bar, 120 minutes of sheer endeavour, commitment, passion and pride came pouring out from the stands.

Pools fans raced onto the pitch to join in the celebrations with the Pools players as they raced towards them.

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Hartlepool United fans outside the ground.
Hartlepool United fans outside the ground.

This season has lasted a full year and it went to literally the final kick, absolute elation.

The stadium announcer was pleading with supporters to leave the pitch so the presentation could take place.

They did eventually but only once they'd enjoyed their moment.

And a moment they deserved so much.

Never Say Die t-shirts, Pools strips, scarves, banners, you name it, they were decked out in it.

The 3,100 travelling army sounded and looked so much more.

Pools fans are at the heart of this proud North East club and they are now back where they belong in the Football League.

The party had started on Saturday evening.

You could hear the chanting half a mile away as you walked through the streets of Bristol city centre.

'Allez, Allez, Allez' roaring into the evening sky.

'Poolies!' 'Never Say Die'.

The fans singing loud and proud, going through their full set list.

Hundreds of Pools fans had headed down to Millennium Square and gathered in the rain, the wet weather not dampening spirits.

If anything, it added to the atmosphere.

The odd flare blowing in the wind. Crates of lagers and beers, groups of pals and families who had made a weekend of it.

Spirits were high. Hopes were high. Pools fans will always have hope.

Police were keeping a watching brief from a distance but they didn't stay long, it was good natured, fans laughing, singing, hugging their pals.

It was what everybody needed after the past 12-months and the ongoing pandemic.

Coronavirus has seen people forced to stay home, worried about their health and friends and families. This weekend was a moment of celebration, to come together.

There was little social distancing as fans rejoiced with each other but they were outside, in the fresh air, Poolie chants filling the air.

Given the distance needed to travel to the game, Bristol City's Ashton Gate pitch is one of the few across the country yet to be ripped up and reseeded hence why the ground was selected, with a big rugby game taking place on the same pitch on Saturday.

The Pools fans spent the night in the square and full credit to them, tidied up afterwards as well.

We walked past the square later on that evening and it was spotless.

After 10 days of glorious weather, rain and dark clouds filled the Bristol skyline on matchday as well but it wasn't dampening the mood.

Pools fans have waited a long time for this moment.

Never underestimate what it means to a fanbase that has been through the mill in recent seasons, four years outside the Football League, the club - at one stage prior to Raj Singh's takeover - on the brink of going altogether.

These have been tough times, difficult times. Fans feel like they have their club back.

This weekend was a moment for celebration, to reflect on a superb campaign with the chance to win promotion back to the Football League just 90 minutes away.

Before kick-off the fans were everywhere, blue and white stripes, scarves and Never Say Die t-shirts. The team coach arrived two hours before kick-off, applauded in by supporters. The players waved and cheered back.

Hopes high.

Former players could be seen all over over, Liam Noble had come to support his pal Ryan Donaldson, complete with Donaldson facemask.

Adam Boyd doing the co-commentary for the club, looking sharp in his suit, as sharp as he was around the six-yard box.

Inside the ground, the atmosphere was even better, both sets of supporters determined to do all they could to inspire their players.

It was breathtaking stuff. It was electric. The Pools fans facing the tunnel as the players emerged, inspired no doubt by what they were witnessing in front of them.

Pride Passion. Thousands of Poolies cheering them on. And there would have been more too if it wasn't for the Covid-19 restrictions limiting the attendance.

Ahead of the game, Pools tweeted they had an extra special shirt hung up in the dressing room, 'Shurmer 43', a classy tribute to Danny Shurmer - a huge Pools fan - who would have been here this afternoon, he sadly passed away earlier this week.

There was a moving minute's applause as well to Danny in the 43rd minute, fans from both the Pools and Torquay ends of the ground joining in as one.

His picture was beamed on to the big screen at Ashton Gate. 'One Danny Shurmer' could be heard around the ground. A moving an emotional moment.

It felt like half of Hartlepool had come down for the game, familiar faces every which way you turned.

In the end, this was the best way to win and the best way to win promotion.

The memories from this will live long for those Pools fans lucky enough to get one of the Golden Tickets.

The final had everything, drama, late goals, penalties, it was utterly enthralling and utterly draining.

But my word, what a party there will be in Hartlepool to celebrate.

And the League Two fixtures are out on Thursday.

That sounds good doesn't it? Pools are back in the Football League.

Never Say Die.

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