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Hartlepool United – History

In 1905 the amateur team West Hartlepool F.C. won the FA Amateur Cup which at the time was considered second only to the FA Cup. Partly as a result of this the opportunity for a professional team arose in 1908, when West Hartlepool Rugby Club went bust leaving their stadium “The Victoria Ground” vacant. The stadium was bought and the current club was founded under the name “Hartlepools United Football Athletic Company”, representing both the town of West Hartlepool and the original settlement of Old Hartlepool.

The new team joined the professional North-Eastern league and West Hartlepool F.C. lost some of their players to the new professional side. West Hartlepool managed to continue for a few seasons however it wasn’t long before they broke up leaving Hartlepools United as the only team in town.

Hartlepools United made many early applications to join the Football League however their proximity to Sunderland, Newcastle and Middlesbrough led to these applications being rejected. In 1920 the FA decided to form a third division, however in practise this was simply achieved by absorbing virtually the entire top division of the Southern League, with Grimsby Town the only northern representative. This was rectified the following season when a northern third division was created with Hartlepool being one of the founder members.

Despite a promising 4th place finish in their first season Hartlepool failed to gain anything having to fight for re-election on many occasions. Hartlepool had a brief good spell in the mid 50s, in 1955 the FA Cup 4th round which is reached the best the club has ever achieved and in 1957 they narrowly missed out on winning the league. In 1958 following the death of their manager however things took a turn for the worse and Hartlepool finished in the bottom half of the table, this coincided with the FA ending regionalism and Hartlepool being forced to compete in the new division 4 the following season.

Hartlepool’s time in the 4th division included several re-election challenges, although their fortunes improved dramatically under the management of Brian Clough. In 1967/1968, the season after Clough’s departure, they managed to finish the season in 3rd place and won promotion to the third division for the first time in their history – they were only here for one season however before being relegated once more.

In 1977 the team’s name was changed over the close season to its current form of Hartlepool United, reflecting the merger of West Hartlepool with Old Hartlepool in 1967.

The 1985/1986 season’s introduction of the playoffs and the end of re-election was welcomed with open arms by Hartlepool with whom being relegated looked more and more certain every time they faced re-election.

In 1991 Hartlepool finished in third place and managed to gain only the second promotion in the club’s history. This stint in division 3 was longer then their last one however included the renaming of the league making Hartlepool a second division team for the first time in their history. In the 1993/1994 season however after 3 seasons in the of English football Hartlepool were relegated back to the third division.

Their first seasons back in the third division were marred by financial crisis and the team narrowly avoided relegation for 5 seasons in a row. In 1999/2000 however their problems seemed to be over and they reached the playoffs, they failed to win promotion however they kept trying reaching the playoffs for the next 3 seasons. In 2002/03 they finished in second place and won automatic promotion to the Football League Second Division once more. After an exceptional campaign, they finished 6th, making the playoffs. However, they lost to third placed Bristol City after two games after holding them to a draw on the first leg. This season also saw Eifion Williams called up to the Wales squad and looked set to become only the second Hartlepool player ever to win an international cap while at the club however an unfortunate injury ruined his plans for the time being. The club have finished sixth in the league again this season. In the play-off semi-final, they defeated Tranmere Rovers 6-5 on penalties after the sides had won 2-0 over each other. In the final however they lost 4-2 to Sheffield Wednesday after extra time.

In 2002 the team’s mascot “H’Angus the Monkey”, aka Stuart Drummond, was elected mayor of Hartlepool as an independent, under the slogan “free bananas for schoolchildren”, even though his candidacy was just a publicity stunt.

Address: Victoria Park, Clarence Road, Hartlepool. TS24 8BZ

Telephone: 01429 272584