Ex-Hartlepool United favourite reveals how he played on with a broken ankle, his vital role in Great Escape and memories of the dramatic final day

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“I remember the whole day.”

Saturday, April 25, 2015, will live long in the memory of every Hartlepool United fan - and Scott Fenwick.

And while Pools provided an unforgettable journey during their well-renowned Great Escape, Fenwick, fresh from the fifth-tier of non-league with Dunston UTS, had also been on his own and unique journey that season.

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Describing it as the greatest day of his football career, the striker pinpoints exactly how he put United ahead on the quarter-hour mark in the 2-1 win over Exeter City.

Scott Fenwick in his Hartlepool United days.Scott Fenwick in his Hartlepool United days.
Scott Fenwick in his Hartlepool United days.

“I remember just shrugging the defender off and seeing the goalkeeper,” Fenwick recalls.

”He tried to stay big for as long as he could but I kind of just shimmied once and then I saw him lean one way. I knew I just had to slide it the other side of him and it just nestled into the bottom corner.”

Graham Cummins’ quick equaliser for the Grecians briefly killed the home side’s momentum but Jordan Hugill made sure that today we can talk about one of the greatest revivals in Football League history.

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But let’s rewind the clock back to November 2014. Pools are rock bottom of League Two with just 12 points from their opening 16 games. Paul Murray is in caretaker charge following Colin Cooper’s exit a month earlier but is struggling to turn the club’s fortunes around.

Scott Fenwick in his Blyth Spartans spell. Picture by Bill Broadley.Scott Fenwick in his Blyth Spartans spell. Picture by Bill Broadley.
Scott Fenwick in his Blyth Spartans spell. Picture by Bill Broadley.

A Gateshead lad, previously on the books at Newcastle United, Sunderland and Middlesbrough is plucked out of non-league.

Fenwick says: “I originally went on trial with Sheffield United, who were in League One at the time, and they offered me a one-year contract but Paul Baker, then head scout at Hartlepool, just said: ‘Look, it’s a local club, it’s League Two, it’s a great level and great step up. I did really well here as a player, you’ll get looked after and you’ve got a chance to make a name for yourself’.

Make a name for himself he did, but his first few weeks and months in the professional game were far from straightforward.

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“The club was obviously rock bottom of League Two and it was all doom and gloom when I first arrived. There was a lot of lost hope and I think some of the lads were preparing for the season after.

“It was a bit mad making my debut and then a week later we played Blyth in the FA Cup, which I had already played in with Dunston UTS that season, and Blyth knocked Hartlepool out. It led to the manager (Paul Murray) that signed me getting the boot.

“In football, everyone knows managers come and go, so I didn’t really pay much attention to it. He left and I spoke to him (Paul) over the phone. He explained that he didn’t just sign me for the sake of it and he knew I could play at League Two level.”

With Murray’s final words ringing in Fenwick’s ears, the striker was determined to prove himself under Ronnie Moore.

Fenwick soon felt he was beginning to lay down his marker.

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He scored in Moore’s first win in charge at the fifth attempt - the club’s first win since October - in a 2-0 home win over Cheltenham Town before making it four goals in six matches at Tranmere Rovers, Plymouth Argyle and Stevenage.

Indeed, this proved to be the start of his own little journey.

“I had an accident in training on the Friday when I went over on my ankle after doing a shooting drill and we heard a big crack. I started the game at Tranmere with an injection and a really, really heavy strapping.

“I continued with the injection for a few weeks and played against Plymouth, Portsmouth and Stevenage.

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“In the end though, the pain was excruciating pain and it wasn’t until I got a scan on my ankle until I realised that I had actually broken it.

“Ronnie got rid of a lot of players and brought in his own but I was still managing to play every week. I was doing really well - I think I hit a bit of a goal trail, so it was just about the worst possible time to get injured.”

As Pools’ Great Escape hit full stride with Moore managing to overturn, which at one stage, a 10 points deficit and lift themselves out of the League Two relegation places, Fenwick was being advised by his surgeon to give up on his hopes of playing again in 2014-15.

With Fenwick refusing to take the surgeon’s advice, Hartlepool’s legendary physio Ian ‘Buster’ Gallagher made a promise: ‘Scott, I’ll do everything I can to get you back fit.’

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Buster, to no surprise, stayed true to his word. Fenwick gradually built up his fitness in games versus York City, Accrington Stanley and Luton Town before Exeter visited Victoria Park.

“I remember the whole day. I remember waking up and not really speaking to anyone in the house - I didn’t even tell my Mam and Dad that I was starting. I was just pretending that we hadn’t found out the team yet!

“I remember the manager speaking in a meeting after training on the Friday before and said: ‘One of you can become a hero tomorrow’. I just wanted to go on the pitch and give absolutely everything and know when I come off the pitch that I can’t do anymore.”

And as they say, the rest is history for the lad who would not have played in the most memorable game of his career had he taken the advice of the surgeon or not had the support of Buster.

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“Buster promised to do everything he could to get me back and he did. So when I scored and ran to him, it was a big hug to say thanks for getting me back. He is a diehard Hartlepool fan himself so I think he meant a lot to him when I did score.

“Things don’t come close to that day. The magnitude, the importance of the game, the fact it was a sellout crowd. The place was rocking.”

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