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Flashback - Reliving the dream ~ Brian Clough


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Brian awoke in a cold sweat; he had what could only be described as a nightmare. The dream or nightmare, had Brian believing it was 1965 and he was back in charge of Hartlepool United but the place looked far better in the dream than he remembered. Shrugging it off, he put on his dressing gown and slippers and made his way downstairs. His wife had a cup of coffee ready for him, sat next to the mornings papers. He was an ardent reader of the daily telegraph, he picked up the paper and turned to the sports pages when suddenly his jaw dropped Clough back where it all began was the headline. Rubbing his eyes he read the article from top to bottom three times, not believing what was written he asked his dear wife what on was going on… â€Has the paper gone mad dear?â€

Not that I know of, what’s the matter?â€

â€I, I, I am supposedly the new manager of Hartlepool again, I never agreed to this, did I?†he asked with a bemused look.

â€Yes of course you did, we have been discussing this for weeks. Your friends as FMS helped organise everything. You wanted to get back into football and know you have the chanceâ€

Brian suddenly realised his nightmare was in fact reality, was he starting to lose his mind, or memory for that matter?

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Brian awoke in a cold sweat; he had what could only be described as a nightmare. The dream or nightmare, had Brian believing it was 1965 and he was back in charge of Hartlepool United but the place looked far better in the dream than he remembered. Shrugging it off, he put on his dressing gown and slippers and made his way downstairs. His wife had a cup of coffee ready for him, sat next to the mornings papers. He was an ardent reader of the daily telegraph, he picked up the paper and turned to the sports pages when suddenly his jaw dropped Clough back where it all began was the headline. Rubbing his eyes he read the article from top to bottom three times, not believing what was written he asked his dear wife what on was going on… â€Has the paper gone mad dear?â€

Not that I know of, what’s the matter?â€

â€I, I, I am supposedly the new manager of Hartlepool again, I never agreed to this, did I?†he asked with a bemused look.

â€Yes of course you did, we have been discussing this for weeks. Your friends as FMS helped organise everything. You wanted to get back into football and know you have the chanceâ€

Brian suddenly realised his nightmare was in fact reality, was he starting to lose his mind, or memory for that matter?

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Once reality had set in, the move up north went smoothly and Brian was soon settled into his new home.

The new season was almost upon us and pre-season was the first thing on Brian’s mind. He very rarely attended the training sessions in the years gone by, most of the time he left it to his coaches. This year was to be different, mainly due to the fact that he had little confidence in the staff he’d inherited.

Backroom staff looked a little like this:

Martin Scott - Assistant36 years old and relatively unknown. Seemed to enjoy working with outfield players but really lacks the discipline to go much further.

Paul Stephenson - Coach Again, Paul is 36, with mediocre ability. Brian needed to bring someone in to support him.

Mark Owen and John Murray made up the physio positions and Brian had no worries with the magic sponge boys.

Anthony Richardson and Tommy Miller were the two journeyman assigned to travel the length and breadth of the country to spot new talent. After a chat with these chaps, he soon realised they couldn’t spot a Zebra in Tesco’s.

The playing staff did not seem to look much better, with only a handful of players worthy of keeping but as Brian now knew there was no money to spend, most would be kept on the books.

He had a sit down with Martin and went through all players in the 1st team squad. Brian had a reputation for taking no carp, any flash players in this squad would soon be finding themselves heading down the A1.

Playing Squad

Keepers

Provett 21, a lot to learn. Martin rates this youngster highly but with poor aerial ability and strength, he needed to grow and visit the weights.

Dimitrios 25, rubbish

Winter 19, good prospect, would be sold to bring cash in.

Defence

Westwood 27, funny hair. Very good physically and in the air. Would be the mainstay of the defence for the forth coming season

Barron 29, experienced, professional right back but will play 2nd fiddle to Ross

Ross 28, excellent player, thought very highly of throughout the club. Takes no prisoners.

Craddock 19, always injured, would rot in the reserves.

Nelson 21, young meathead, starter.

Robertson 29, left back and new skipper.

Midfield

Tinkler 29, defensive midfielder, uncompromising, starter

Strachan 25, not as good as his dad

Richards 18, good prospect, just not ready for the ventures of 1st team football just yet.

Robson 19, not as good as Richards, maybe Richards will start after all.

Warner 19, another prospect, nothing else to say

Humphreys 26, seems like he has been around forever. Fat, lacks pace, my sort of player.

Clarke 26, Attacking midfielder would play on the right.

Strikers

Porter 25, pace and can finish

Wilkinson 19, reserves at best

Boyd 22, flash, transfer listed, worth a few quid

Williams 28, main striker, looks very sharp

So there he had it, the team he was aiming to bring back some glory to. Brian knew he had some work to do and so he set about it……

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Pre season was now rapidly approaching, training was going well but Brian still knew he needed to bring some players into stand any chance of challenging for promotion. The one headache he had was Boyd, the lad looked sharp and knew where the goal was, unsure of what to do, Brian went back to his office and sat down to ponder.

He made a few calls to tempt interest in the youngster and Stockport County were very interested. A few minutes had passed when there was a knock at the door:

â€Come in†Brian bellowed

It was Boyd.

â€Hi boss, can I have a chat please?†he asked nervously.

â€I wish for a transfer, I’ve been with the club since junior days and feel I need to leave to further my career and developmentâ€

Brian now had the chance to bring some money in, with Stockport willing to part with £200k of the queens finest.

â€That’s fine Adam, in fact Stockport have already made an enquiry if you are interested?â€

Boyd was very interested, later that day he left the club. Brian wished him well in the future.

With money now in, a few older professionals could be drafted in.

A whole 2 days embedded in his office had seen some vast improvements. Deals were struck for 2 players:

Eoin Jess Coming to the end of his career which never really took off. A fantastic talent, even at the ripe age of 33. Forest happily released him on a free for the man known as god at the City Ground.

Dale Watkins Again, coming to the end of his career. Clough found him lurking in the depths of Kings Lynn, a quick phone call to Peter Morris and Dale was let go on a free also.

Brian couldn’t believe his luck; he had not spent a penny of Boyd’s kitty and had two new players to bring life to the attacking side of the team.

He still had an eye on a few players but patience was going to be needed.

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Pre-season came and went in a flash for Brian, bringing in a few headaches along the way. Looking to bolster his backline saw failed attempts to bring any quality defensive players to Victoria Park. Knock backs were received by Defendi, Doriva , Bramble, Mullins and Chambers to name but a few.

4 Friendly matches had been arranged, all to be played away from home. The reasons behind this were simple, last season saw pool lose only a couple at home but with only 4 wins away, something needed to be done.

Visits to lower league opposition of Aldershot, Harrogate, Grays and Burton saw 4 wins in 4. 7 goals scored and 3 conceded meant happy hunting for Pool.

The 1st game of the season was rapidly approaching, still short of anymore new signings and none in sight, Brian decided to give the lads a chance to prove themselves before he dipped into the transfer kitty.

Brentford away was to be the 1st game, a daunting trip down to Essex. The game was a non starter, comprehensively beaten and a poor team performance saw Pool go down 1-3.

Williams scored a late consolation

3 days later and Pool were entertaining Colin Hendry’s Blackpool. They had triumphed 3-0 against Bournemouth on the opening day.

Brian picked an attacking side, knowing home form was not a problem.

2 goals from Williams and a couple from Porter and Watkins saw out a 4-2 victory and the 1st points of the season.

3 more league games were left in August and a league cup visit to Reading sandwiched in between.

Bristol City away and a Williams goal on the stroke of half time was enough to take the points in a fairly comfortable game.

The next home game saw the visit of title favourites Hull City. Danny Allsopp secured the points for the visitor’s midway through the 1st half.

Reading were the next visitors to Victoria Park for the league cup clash. A hard faught 2-2 draw took the game to Penalties and Reading took the tie 4-2. Jess and Watkins got their 1st goals for the club.

The last game of the month was a trip to Yorkshire to Face Barnsley at Oakwell. A hard faught 1-1 draw being the final outcome.

Williams gave Pool the lead on 31 minutes but Barnsley fought back and equalised on the stroke of half time. A dull 2nd half ensued.

The players now had an 11 day rest period before the visit of Luton. Brian took this time to get to know the players a little better and organised a golfing trip to La Manga, Spain. It was an excellent team building experience, with Tinkler winning the Golf over the 3 days, Brian coming 2nd.

The Saturday soon approached and with Williams having picked up a shin injury in training. Watkins was given his 1st start. He wasted no time getting on the scoresheet, 19 seconds into the game and a 15 yard volley from Clarke’s cutback got Pool off to a flying start. Porter added a 2nd 5 minutes later and we were looking in control. 28 minutes gone, Luton pulled 1 back. Porter scored 26 seconds later and a 2 goal cushion was restored. That only lasted 10 minutes before the visitors struck again, deep in injury time and the visiting striker Howard completed his hat-trick and a brilliant come back. Half Time came and Brian laid siege at the players for letting the lead slip twice. The talk seemed to have done wonders though, Porter netting his hat-trick and Tinkler sealed the points on 60 minutes.

Another 2 home ties were to come, making it 3 in a row for Pool and the confidence was starting to flow. A couple of good results would see them right up there in the promotion spot.

Bournemouth were the visitors and a poor performance saw the visitors walk away with a 2-0 win.

Swindon were the next visitors and keen to avenge their defeat the week previous, Pool came out all guns blazing. A 34 minute Watkins hat-trick saw off the opposition in a 3-1 win. Watkins was certainly staking his claim for a starting position with Williams on his way back to full fitness.

Another trip to Yorkshire ensued 3 days later, this time visiting the McCain Stadium and conference side Scarborough in the LDV Vans cup. Brian took the opportunity to play some of the youngsters but it was Porter with 2 and a Thompson own goal that saw Pool through to the next round, running out 1-3 winners.

This saw the end of September and the busy period for Hartlepool. Sitting 9th in the league, Clough couldn’t complain too much.

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League Standings end of September

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

| Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 1st | | Swindon | | 8 | 6 | 1 | 1 | 17 | 9 | +8 | 19 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 2nd | | Sheff Wed | | 8 | 5 | 2 | 1 | 18 | 6 | +12 | 17 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 3rd | | Hull | | 8 | 5 | 2 | 1 | 13 | 6 | +7 | 17 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 4th | | Colchester | | 8 | 4 | 4 | 0 | 15 | 7 | +8 | 16 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 5th | | Chesterfield | | 8 | 5 | 1 | 2 | 17 | 10 | +7 | 16 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 6th | | Bradford City | | 8 | 5 | 0 | 3 | 19 | 13 | +6 | 15 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 7th | | Torquay | | 8 | 4 | 2 | 2 | 16 | 11 | +5 | 14 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 8th | | Luton | | 8 | 4 | 1 | 3 | 15 | 12 | +3 | 13 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 9th | | Hartlepool | | 8 | 4 | 1 | 3 | 15 | 13 | +2 | 13 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 10th | | Peterborough | | 8 | 4 | 1 | 3 | 13 | 11 | +2 | 13 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 11th | | Bristol C | | 8 | 4 | 1 | 3 | 14 | 16 | -2 | 13 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 12th | | Brentford | | 8 | 3 | 3 | 2 | 10 | 9 | +1 | 12 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 13th | | Bournemouth | | 8 | 3 | 2 | 3 | 7 | 8 | -1 | 11 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 14th | | Doncaster | | 8 | 3 | 1 | 4 | 17 | 14 | +3 | 10 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 15th | | Blackpool | | 8 | 3 | 1 | 4 | 16 | 18 | -2 | 10 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 16th | | Barnsley | | 8 | 3 | 1 | 4 | 7 | 9 | -2 | 10 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 17th | | Stockport | | 8 | 3 | 1 | 4 | 10 | 14 | -4 | 10 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 18th | | Oldham | | 8 | 2 | 3 | 3 | 10 | 11 | -1 | 9 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 19th | | Tranmere | | 8 | 2 | 2 | 4 | 7 | 10 | -3 | 8 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 20th | | MK Dons | | 8 | 2 | 0 | 6 | 5 | 11 | -6 | 6 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 21st | | Port Vale | | 8 | 1 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 14 | -9 | 6 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 22nd | | Walsall | | 8 | 1 | 2 | 5 | 5 | 12 | -7 | 5 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 23rd | | Huddersfield | | 8 | 1 | 2 | 5 | 5 | 14 | -9 | 5 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 24th | | Wrexham | | 8 | 0 | 1 | 7 | 1 | 19 | -18 | 1 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| | | | | | | | | | | | |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

</pre>

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Cheers pm

The team stayed in Yorkshire for the rest of the week, a trip to Donnie was next up. A hard fought game and another loss, this time the wrong end of the odd goal in 7. Watkins 2 and Porter with the goals.

Another away game followed, this time to the West Midlands and Walsall, who were now managed by Jim Walker, Merson being sacked after only 5 games in charge. A late, late Westwood header secured another victory on the road for Brian Clough’s merry men.

Clough wanted to bolster his midfield and strike force once again. A couple of phone calls to his North East counterparts Souness and McClaren saw the arrival of Guy Bates and Mark Wilson on 3 month loan spells respectively.

Pool entertained Port Vale on a freezing Wednesday evening, the cold proving to much for Martin Foyle’s side. A comfortable 3-0 win for the home side. Jess, Watkins and Bates were the scorers.

Midway through October and yet another trip to Yorkshire was due, this time Bradford being the opposition. Things didn’t start to well, the free-falling Bantams were really up for the game, taking the lead after 17 minutes. The home side peppered Provett with a barrage of shots, all of which he kept out. A few stern words were spoken at the interval and Porter was hauled off, his performance, on par with a one footed donkey, irritated Cloughie. Williams replaced him and almost immediately got off to a flyer, hitting the woodwork from 30 yards. 2 minutes later, he got the goal to square the game. Pool felt they could get something from this game, Jess was replaced by Bates and going with a 3 pronged attack. A devastating 8 minute spell with Bates grabbing a 71st minute wonder goal, beating 3 players and lobbing the ‘keeper from 25 yards. Watkins added a brace to the equation.

The last home game of the month saw Tranmere visiting, a tight game was one by the single goal. Bates with his 3rd in as many games securing the points.

October Passed and MANAGER OF MONTH FOR OCTOBER - 4 WINS IN 5 GAMES earned Clough the dreaded award.

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Cheers Dire

The 1st game in November was the LDV 2nd round. A cup tie was the last thing on Brian’s mind, so he sent the kids and assistant manager to get hammered by the team they beat a couple of days previous. Tranmere scored 5 in the 1st 27 minutes.

Disaster struck! Joel Porter has been sidelined for 9 months, breaking his leg at the practice ground. Apparently he had not seen the big hole on the pavement, which has been there for over 2 years and duly fell down it.

The 1st league game in October welcomed Chesterfield up north. The visitors came with a game plan of 5-4-1. The 1st half was a dull affair, pool just exerting all of the pressure but couldn’t break the stubborn defence.

It wasn’t until the 61st minute when Jess finally broke the deadlock, unleashing a 2o yard thunderbolt into the top right hand corner, get in! The in form Humphreys secured the points with 10 minutes to go.

Clough was becoming more and more optimistic as the games went on, Pool were full of confidence going into the next away game. A trip down to Cambridgeshire to visit London Road, home of Peterborough United.

The game was sewn up after 30 minutes, a Dale Watkins hat-trick and Eion Jess had put Pool 4-0 up going into the break. A late Constantine goal was mere consolation for the home side.

Saturday 20/11/2004

FA CUP 1st Round

Hartlepool travelled south yet again to visit Chelmsford City in what was to prove a tricky tie.

The game created many chances but only two goals were conceded. Chelmsford took the lead in the 32nd minute but a Jess penalty 6 minutes later secured a return game at Victoria Park.

Hartlepool’s away form was making good reading for Brian, 5 wins, 1 draw and 2 defeats. Only Swindon had a better record. So with a trip to promotion hopefuls Sheffield Wednesday, the spirit in the camp was very good.

Hartlepool dominated this game from start to finish, Jess continued his scoring form with 2 goals inside 20 minutes, an own goal completed the scoring for Pool before Shaw grabbed a consolation for the home side.

FA CUP REPLAY

Chelmsford made the trip for this replay but once the game had finished, it was to be a long journey home. A penalty was awarded after the away defence handled the ball from an in swinging Humphrey corner. Jess stepped up and coolly sent the ‘keeper the wrong way after 15 minutes. In the 37th minute Williams planted a ferocious header into the top corner and Bates finished the scoring off, cooling rounding the keeper from Jess’s defence splitting pass.

The final game of November was yet another trip to Yorkshire, this time to strugglers Huddersfield. A dull game followed and a fair 0-0 result was played out.

With November out of the way, Brian Clough’s men found themselves 3rd in the table.

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<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">| Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 1st | | Swindon | | 17 | 11 | 5 | 1 | 29 | 13 | +16 | 38 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 2nd | | Hull | | 17 | 10 | 6 | 1 | 21 | 8 | +13 | 36 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 3rd | | Hartlepool | | 17 | 11 | 2 | 4 | 36 | 21 | +15 | 35 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 4th | | Chesterfield | | 17 | 9 | 4 | 4 | 29 | 18 | +11 | 31 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 5th | | Blackpool | | 18 | 9 | 3 | 6 | 33 | 24 | +9 | 30 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 6th | | Bristol C | | 17 | 9 | 3 | 5 | 35 | 27 | +8 | 30 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 7th | | Torquay | | 17 | 9 | 3 | 5 | 28 | 20 | +8 | 30 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 8th | | Sheff Wed | | 17 | 8 | 5 | 4 | 34 | 20 | +14 | 29 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 9th | | Bradford City | | 17 | 8 | 3 | 6 | 36 | 25 | +11 | 27 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 10th | | Luton | | 18 | 8 | 3 | 7 | 29 | 29 | 0 | 27 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 11th | | Brentford | | 17 | 7 | 4 | 6 | 18 | 19 | -1 | 25 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 12th | | Peterborough | | 17 | 7 | 3 | 7 | 22 | 26 | -4 | 24 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 13th | | Colchester | | 17 | 5 | 8 | 4 | 22 | 19 | +3 | 23 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 14th | | Doncaster | | 17 | 6 | 4 | 7 | 32 | 30 | +2 | 22 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 15th | | Stockport | | 18 | 5 | 5 | 8 | 24 | 27 | -3 | 20 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 16th | | Oldham | | 16 | 5 | 5 | 6 | 18 | 22 | -4 | 20 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 17th | | Huddersfield | | 18 | 5 | 5 | 8 | 17 | 27 | -10 | 20 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 18th | | Bournemouth | | 18 | 5 | 4 | 9 | 14 | 23 | -9 | 19 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 19th | | MK Dons | | 16 | 5 | 1 | 10 | 14 | 21 | -7 | 16 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 20th | | Barnsley | | 17 | 4 | 4 | 9 | 13 | 24 | -11 | 16 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 21st | | Tranmere | | 17 | 3 | 6 | 8 | 16 | 20 | -4 | 15 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 22nd | | Walsall | | 16 | 3 | 4 | 9 | 15 | 25 | -10 | 13 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 23rd | | Port Vale | | 17 | 1 | 9 | 7 | 12 | 27 | -15 | 12 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 24th | | Wrexham | | 15 | 1 | 1 | 13 | 3 | 35 | -32 | 4 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| | | | | | | | | | | | |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

</pre>

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Cheers garno

It was FA Cup 2nd round day to help kick September off, Canvey Island were to make the long Journey to the North East.

It was an easy game in the end, Pool scoring 3 without reply. Bates, Watkins and Williams the scorers.

Oldham was to be the next visitors to Victoria Park, lying 10th in the table and struggling away from Home.

It was a dull game until the 44th minute, then a moment of brilliance from Williams opened the scoring, he picked the ball up on the right wing, beat two players before unleashing a curling left footer into the top corner from outside the box. Deep inside stoppage time and Jess scored, 2-0[/b] at half time. Oldham pulled one back just after the break but Jess added another midway through the 2nd half to seal the game. Only an injury picked up by Humphreys marred the victory.

Torquay made the long journey to Pool via coach, a good 8 hour drive was made the day before kick off. Jess won and converted a penalty after only 9 minutes to give Cloughs men the lead. It wasn’t to last long, Hill equalised 5 minutes later to level the scores. It stayed that way until 75 minutes, when a tired Johnson own goal secured another victory for Pool. Michael Barron was then sent off for two bookable offences.

The first away game of December was to Edgeley Park, Stockport. The hosts languishing dangerously near to the relegation zone. However, they started extremely well and went in front after 15 minutes, Daly scoring. Williams equalised 7 minutes later, against the run of play. Watkins sealed the win with a goal 20 minutes from time.

The team formerly known as Wimbledon travelled to Victoria Park and were promptly brushed aside. 3 goals coming 20 minutes from time, Jess 2 and Bates the scorers.

Wales was the next destination for the much travelled Pool, and tiredness had began to set in. Pool started brightly. Williams scoring after 4 minutes only to be cancelled out seconds later. Wrexham got another on the stroke of half time but had dominated the 1st 45 minutes. A Baker own goal levelled the game again after 73 minutes but, as had happened earlier, it lasted only seconds. The 1st defeat of December for Clough’s men. Watkins and Clarke both picked up injuries that would see them sidelined for a couple of weeks.

Pool hosted Colchester for the 2nd game in 2 days.

Things went from bad to Worse for Brian, Jess limping off after only 90 seconds, spraining an ankle and 4 weeks on the sidelines. Nelson then picked up an injury and the depleted squad was looking worse. Andy Morrell, who chose Colchester over Pool a week earlier, sealed the game for the visitors.

Two defeats in a row and Clough was not happy.

Transfers were promptly made and Clough bought in a couple of youngsters.

Mathu King was signed for £7k, a young 20 year old striker had impressed in numerous scoutings.

Scott McFarlane 18, MC and an excellent prospect, signed from St Mirren for £2k

NewYears Day and a home game against Brentford.

Clogh was missing Watkins, Clarke, Porter, Jess, Warner and Robson

McFarlane was to be given his debut with King on the bench

The game finished level, 1-1 and but for the Bees ‘keeper it would have been a different game. Bates scoring for pool before picking up a knock. The Pool injury crisis continued.

Away to 5th place Blackpool was a huge game. Lying in 3rd place and without a win in 3, Hartlepool were beginning to fade. However, Clough went out and signed Blackpools’s Keigan Parker for £70k the day before and was promptly given his debut against his friends.

Parker lasted 17 minutes before being stretched off with a strained neck and 2 weeks on the sidelines.

A late penalty decision went the way of the home side and the game finished 1-0. Hartlepool were beginning to slide away, the 4 games in 8 days had taken their toll.

FA CUP 3rd round and Ipswich were drawn to make the Journey up to Victoria Park. It was an uphill battle for Pool, Kuqi scored a penalty for the visitors midway through the 2nd half. Bates replied instantly though and a draw was played out.

A replay was the last thing Clough needed, all of his players were showing fatigue as it was another long journey south could have been avoided.

In form Bristol City made their way to Hartlepool having won 3 of the 4 games over the xmas period. It was to be a bad day for them this time round.

City took the lead in 1st half stoppage time in a closely fought 1st half. Clough made some changes and went 3-4-3 for the 2nd half. It paid dividends, Williams 2, Watkins 2 and King’s 1st goal for the club saw Pool run out 5-1 winners.

Next game was league leaders, Hull City, away. This was being billed as the big game, Peter Taylor was trying to play mind games with Clough saying Hull feared no-one, Brian chose to ignore them and not get into a war of words.

Hull took the lead twice but 2 goals from new boy Parker pulled Pool back twice. The game finished 2-2 and only still 4 points behind the leaders.

The FA CUP replay was won by Ipswich 2-0. The less said about this game and the referee the better!

A trip to mid table Luton Town and the shack of Kenilworth Road was next on Clough’s agenda. A tricky tie, sure to be full of goals.

Rowan Vine scored 2 in the first half hour against the run of play, Williams pulled 1 back just before the break. Half time again saw a change of formation. Brian adopted a 3-1-3-1-2 formation and Parker came off the bench to play a starring role. He scored two in 10 minutes to put Poll in front, only for Vine to complete his hat-trick and draw The Hatters level. Williams put Cloughie’s men back in front with 15 minutes to go before Parker sealed the win, and his hat-trick, with 3 minutes left on the clock.

Doncaster would be the last game in January, having beaten Pool already this season, they were looking to do the double. It wasn’t to be. A close game was won with a sublime piece of finishing from Jess, who came on at half time, scored his comeback goal with a delightful lob from 25 yards.

So January had finished, and Hartlepool were lying 3rd in the table with a game in hand. Many thought the defeats over the Christmas period would finish of Brian Clough’s men but they have showed tremendous resilience and character to keep themselves firmly in the hunt.

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<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre"> | Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 1st | | Swindon | | 30 | 17 | 10 | 3 | 49 | 21 | +28 | 61 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 2nd | | Hull | | 30 | 16 | 11 | 3 | 44 | 20 | +24 | 59 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 3rd | | Hartlepool | | 29 | 18 | 4 | 7 | 62 | 36 | +26 | 58 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 4th | | Sheff Wed | | 30 | 16 | 7 | 7 | 57 | 33 | +24 | 55 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 5th | | Blackpool | | 30 | 16 | 7 | 7 | 52 | 36 | +16 | 55 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 6th | | Bradford City | | 30 | 14 | 8 | 8 | 59 | 43 | +16 | 50 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 7th | | Torquay | | 30 | 13 | 8 | 9 | 48 | 40 | +8 | 47 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 8th | | Bristol C | | 30 | 13 | 5 | 12 | 49 | 52 | -3 | 44 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 9th | | Peterborough | | 30 | 12 | 6 | 12 | 42 | 45 | -3 | 42 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 10th | | Luton | | 30 | 12 | 5 | 13 | 50 | 52 | -2 | 41 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 11th | | Chesterfield | | 30 | 11 | 8 | 11 | 38 | 40 | -2 | 41 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 12th | | Oldham | | 30 | 9 | 13 | 8 | 38 | 36 | +2 | 40 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 13th | | Colchester | | 30 | 9 | 11 | 10 | 39 | 40 | -1 | 38 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 14th | | Huddersfield | | 30 | 9 | 11 | 10 | 30 | 35 | -5 | 38 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 15th | | Tranmere | | 30 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 37 | 33 | +4 | 37 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 16th | | Brentford | | 30 | 10 | 7 | 13 | 32 | 47 | -15 | 37 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 17th | | Stockport | | 30 | 9 | 9 | 12 | 36 | 40 | -4 | 36 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 18th | | Bournemouth | | 30 | 10 | 6 | 14 | 34 | 39 | -5 | 36 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 19th | | Doncaster | | 29 | 9 | 7 | 13 | 49 | 52 | -3 | 34 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 20th | | Barnsley | | 27 | 8 | 6 | 13 | 27 | 36 | -9 | 30 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 21st | | Port Vale | | 30 | 4 | 14 | 12 | 29 | 46 | -17 | 26 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 22nd | | Walsall | | 29 | 6 | 7 | 16 | 35 | 50 | -15 | 25 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 23rd | | MK Dons | | 30 | 6 | 6 | 18 | 23 | 46 | -23 | 24 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 24th | | Wrexham | | 30 | 5 | 6 | 19 | 22 | 63 | -41 | 21 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| | | | | | | | | | | | |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

</pre>

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Table toppers Swindon were visiting Victoria Park, With Boss Andy King saying confidence was high and they would take the points. Clough had other ideas though. Williams, Clarke and Watkins secured the points. Pool running out 3-1 winners.

A home defeat to Walsall saw Pool fall back into 2nd place. A disappointing game with only 1 chance created.

An away day on the south coast, where a visit to the Cherries was a good day outing. Parker and Watkins securing a 2-0 win.

Vale Park was next on the agenda, 2nd from bottom and without a win in 8. A close fought game finished all square at 2-2. Goals from Watkins and Jess for the visitors.

A home tie against the Bantams quickly followed. It wasn’t until 15 minutes from time that all 4 goals came. Parker 2, Watkins and Bates the scorers.

The final game in February was an away tie against Tranmere, who had just added Liverpool youngster Mellor on loan. The young striker proved the difference, netting a hat-trick.

With February out of the way, Hartlepool found themselves back in 3rd place, 2 points of the leaders Swindon and Hull.

Along came March, the 1st home game was against the Tykes, who were looking towards the playoff places. A superb team performance saw Pool run out comfortable 4-0 winners. Watkins 2, Jess and Clarke the scorers.

Another home game quickly followed, the visitors were Mr Posh and the Peterborough United team. The game finished all square at 1-1, Parker again finding the back of the net.

An away trip to Chesterfield, who were lurking in mid table was going to be a tricky tie. The weather was horrid, gale force winds would be proving difficult to get any rhythm going. However Cloughs men stuck to the short game, playing keep ball and thumped them 4-2. Jess 2, Parker and Williams the scorers.

Boundary Park, home of Oldham Athletic was the next game. A 2-1 loss dented the good run of late. Parker netting a late consolation.

That was the end of March, which saw Brian Cloughs men climb to the top of League One. They were determined not to slip up.

April came and The Owls were the next visitors, a dull, boring, poor performance ended goalless.

Another home tie, again Yorkshire opposition. Relegation favourites Huddersfield Town, without a win in 6, which soon became 7. Parker 2 and Watkins completed a 3-1 win.

The longest trip of the season, all the way down to the west country to face Torquay followed 3 days later. The game finished all square, Bates netting a late equaliser.

With 4 games to go, Pool were 4 points clear.

A thrilling encounter against Stockport County was quoted by Clough “That has to be the best game I have witnessed in a very long time, brilliantâ€.

The game finished 4-3 to the home side, Williams 3 and Parker the scorers.

Rock Bottom MK Dons were the next opponents and a trip to Milton Keynes.

Another triumphant 3-0 win, Williams 2 and parker were again the scorers.

With 2 games left to play, Pool were still 4 points clear. A win at home to Wrexham and they would be crowned Champions. Humphreys and Watkins elevated the no hopers to the championship!!!!!!!!!!

With nothing left to play for except a 7th game without defeat, Clough fielded a full side. Clarke scored the only goal of the game in a 1-0 win.

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<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre"> | Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 1st | C | Hartlepool | | 46 | 28 | 8 | 10 | 97 | 53 | +44 | 92 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 2nd | P | Swindon | | 46 | 24 | 16 | 6 | 70 | 37 | +33 | 88 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 3rd | P | Hull | | 46 | 22 | 19 | 5 | 65 | 31 | +34 | 85 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 4th | | Sheff Wed | | 46 | 21 | 15 | 10 | 77 | 42 | +35 | 78 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 5th | | Blackpool | | 46 | 21 | 12 | 13 | 69 | 59 | +10 | 75 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 6th | | Bradford City | | 46 | 19 | 13 | 14 | 82 | 73 | +9 | 70 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 7th | | Stockport | | 46 | 19 | 12 | 15 | 72 | 62 | +10 | 69 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 8th | | Tranmere | | 46 | 17 | 16 | 13 | 66 | 46 | +20 | 67 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 9th | | Bristol C | | 46 | 19 | 9 | 18 | 76 | 77 | -1 | 66 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 10th | | Doncaster | | 46 | 17 | 12 | 17 | 81 | 74 | +7 | 63 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 11th | | Torquay | | 46 | 16 | 13 | 17 | 72 | 73 | -1 | 61 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 12th | | Luton | | 46 | 17 | 10 | 19 | 69 | 72 | -3 | 61 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 13th | | Oldham | | 46 | 14 | 18 | 14 | 57 | 55 | +2 | 60 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 14th | | Peterborough | | 46 | 16 | 11 | 19 | 58 | 74 | -16 | 59 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 15th | | Huddersfield | | 46 | 13 | 18 | 15 | 44 | 55 | -11 | 57 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 16th | | Colchester | | 46 | 13 | 16 | 17 | 58 | 60 | -2 | 55 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 17th | | Chesterfield | | 46 | 13 | 16 | 17 | 56 | 64 | -8 | 55 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 18th | | Brentford | | 46 | 14 | 13 | 19 | 47 | 65 | -18 | 55 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 19th | | Bournemouth | | 46 | 13 | 15 | 18 | 50 | 57 | -7 | 54 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 20th | | Walsall | | 46 | 13 | 13 | 20 | 64 | 72 | -8 | 52 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 21st | R | Barnsley | | 46 | 13 | 10 | 23 | 42 | 66 | -24 | 49 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 22nd | R | MK Dons | | 46 | 12 | 9 | 25 | 44 | 66 | -22 | 45 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 23rd | R | Port Vale | | 46 | 7 | 20 | 19 | 44 | 77 | -33 | 41 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 24th | R | Wrexham | | 46 | 9 | 10 | 27 | 37 | 87 | -50 | 37 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| | | | | | | | | | | | |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

</pre>

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Braian Clough received Manager of the Year for League One.

In his 1st season back in management for 10 years, this was more than anyone ever expected. Speaking exclusively to the club website, Clough made a statement.

"I took this position less than a year ago, my aim was to be build a squad capable of challenging for the title next season. I felt we lacked a little quality and aimed to bring some experienced professionals to the club. With Eoin Jess and Dale Watkins, I managed that before the season kicked off. I strongly believe without these 2 players, we would not have been promoted. Dale scored 22 goals in 41 games, joint top scorer with Williams. Jess scored 18 from midfield, which in itself, is a tremendous achievement, which has earnt him the Player of the year award".

"I would also like to thank Keigan Parker. He joined us in January and went on to score 15 goals in 20 appearances, that byme reckoning is outstanding and I cannot wait to work with him again next season".

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Season 2005 – 2006

Once the realisation and shock had finally cooled, Brian knew that this year was to be probably his toughest ever. He had a squad good enough for League one, but the Championship was to be a whole different ball game.

After a chat with Mr Hodcroft, the chairman, a spending budget of £100k was to be spent wisely and help battle relegation. Clough wasn’t surprised that the purse strings were kept tight but how was he to keep an average team up? Everybody knew they were out of their depth but the Chairman would not budge.

The only way to make some cash available, was to sell the only decent players he really had. Much to the fans dismay Jess was sold to Plymouth for £85k and goalkeeping sensation Provett was sold for £180k to Watford. He also lost back up ‘keeper Dimitrios on a free and let go reserve team player Fox for nothing.

Clough then set about the bargain basement, his number one priority being a 2 new goalies as there were now none in the 1st team squad. Iain Turner was signed from Everton for £80k and Tony Caig was found in the local bar. With the sticks sorted out, he now needed to replace the departedJess. A quick call to Bryan Robson and Artim Sakiri was signed for £70k. He now had a highly experienced playmaker back on the books. Mark Hughes and Keiran McKenna were snapped up after being released by Spurs and the squad was looking slightly stronger. Still not satisfied, he was out hunting for a few more re-enforcements. Alan Stubbs, Mark Rivers, Bjorn and Lionel Morgan were also snapped up after being released from the clubs. In the space of two days, Clough had snapped up 9 new players.

The 1st team squad now compromised of the following:

Keepers

Tony Caig 31 and nearly 300 league appearances, would make a good back up.

Iain Turner 21, 63 professional appearances to his name but would be the Number 1

Defenders

Westwood, Barron, Craddock, Nelson, Robertson and Ross had severed the cull and still on the books.

Alan Stubbs The only new defender, vastly experienced and still more than capable of being a class act. New Skipper.

Midfield

Bjorn 31 year old defensive midfielder. He had been at Werder Bremen for the last 9 years, having made 240 appearances for them. Would battle Tinkler for the holding role.

Mark Rivers Snapped up from Norwich, he would be the new Right sided winger.

Kieran McKenna Still only 19 and regarded by many as a hot prospect for the future. Would provide ample cover for Rivers.

Mark Hughes 21 years old and also a good back up player, one for the future.

Lionel Morgan 22 and an excellent talent. He had been coveted by clough for the last 12 months but a bad injury meant he was unable to sign until now. Would challenge Humphreys for the left of midfield.

Artim Sakiri Age 31, still had a couple of years left. Macedonia international would be the perfect replacement for Jess.

Clark, Robson, Tinkler and Strachan were still also on the books.

Strikers

Parker Signed for £70k in the January transfer window is now the hottest property outside of the premiership. A price tag if £1.5m and attracting lots of interest.

Williams, Watkins, Porter, and King would all be vying for the chance to partner Parker.

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Worried that his new signings would need time to gel, Clough hastily arranged 6 friendly games in 3 weeks, 5 away and 1 home game. This should get help see how far we still have to go.

2 Wins, 2 draws and 2 losses were to be the outcomes. Only 5 goals were managed and 6 were conceded. This was to prove a real headache for Clough, he had only limited funds available still but really a new centre half was needed. He called up Tommy Miller and packed him off to Scandinavia to begin his quest. The lack of goals did not bother him, he knew his strikers were good enough.

So with the friendlies out of the way, the 1st game of the season was upon us.

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August 2005

Hull City 3

Hartlepool United 2

Fellow promotion winners Hull City were hosting Pool.

The two encounters previously had been tight and this was to prove the case again.

Pool took the lead after only 4 minutes Sakiri unleashing a 2o yard pile drive into the top corner. Hull then started to take control of the game, forcing Turner into numerous saves. Sam Parkin finally broke the resolve and equalised on 39 minutes with a brilliantly worked team move that included 15 passes. Half time came and clough left things as they were but soon after Nick Barmby, the well travelled former Spurs man, scored a delightful lob to give Hull the lead. That only lasted 2 minutes as Parker headed home a Humphreys corner. Clough made a change, replacing Williams with Michael Nelson, a defensive move that went wrong 65 seconds later. Elliott picked up the ball on the left wing, beat Nelson and fired home from the edge of the box.

It was a case of opening day blues for the second season running.

Hartlepool United 1

Sheffield United 4

Francis gave The Blades a lead after 18 minutes and it wasn’t until the 2nd half Pool had their 1st shot at goal but it went in! Rivers scored his 1st for the club after 64 minutes. Then disaster struck, Stubbs put through his own net with 10 minutes left on the clock, with time running out, Clough gambled and started pushing players forward. It backfired, Sidwell and Paddy Kenny, The Blades keeper, scored the goals. Kenny had the ball in his hands and kicked the ball up field only for it to bounce over the ‘keepers head and into the net.

Two games and two defeats, things were not looking to rosy.

Wigan Athletic 2

Hartlepool United 2

Sakiri and Williams gave pool a 2-0 lead inside of 20 minutes and looked to be cruising. Roberts scored for the hosts midway through the first half and then Stubbs gave away a penalty, Graham promptly scored. A 2nd half penalty miss by Parker cost pool all 3 points

Hartlepool United 6

Ipswich Town 2

Hartlepool seemed to finally find the little slice of luck they needed. Williams ran the game from start to finish, scoring 4 and setting up two for Stubbs and Parker respectively. Bowditch sandwiched a brace after Robertson was dismissed for 2 bookings.

Hartlepool United 0

Notts County 0

League cup game, Clough played his reserves and thy conquered 2-1 on penalties. A dull game.

Sunderland 2

Hartlepool United 2

Local derby and a dramatic game ensued. Kevin Kyle got the hosts off to an excellent start, 2 minutes on the clock when he headed home an Arca corner. Williams snatched an equaliser against the run of play on 42 minutes, taking his tally to 5 goals in 2 games. Parker scored halfway through the 2nd half and Sunderland began to exert all of the pressure. The backline held out brilliantly until 85 minutes, Piper slammed home from 15 yards.

Hartlepool United 1

Preston 2

A home defeat in which proved to be Humphreys last game for the club. It was he who gave pool the lead on 38 minutes, a terrific cross come shot flew into the bottom corner. Lynch and Jackson earner Preston the points in a one-way 2nd half.

August had finished, Humphreys joined Sheffield United for £375k, an offer too good to turn down.

The same day, Jobi McAnuff signed from Cardiff for £140k.

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September 2005

Hartlepool United 2

Burnley 0

A goal in either half from Parker and Sakiri settled this game. Hartlepool dominated from start to finish.

Reading 3

Hartlepool United 1

Parker opened the scoring on 20 minutes with a well worked goal.

Pool were destroyed by an explosive 25 minute 2nd half hat-trick from Dave Kitson

LEAGUE CUP 2nd Round

Hartlepool United 2

Portsmouth 2

Parker and Morgan had given Cloughs men the lead only for reserve keeper Haig to throw through his own net and give Pompey a lifeline. They dually equalised with 4 minutes to go, Yakubu pounced on poor defensive work. The game went to Penalties, Pool winning 2-0.

Hartlepool United 1

Queens Park Rangers 3

A second successive 3-1 defeat in the league had Clough thinking of new tactics. McAnuff[/] got Hartlepool’s only goal.

Stoke 0

Hartlepool United 0

A dull game, with only 3 shots registered between both sides. Clough’s 5-4-1 seemed to stem the flow of goals conceded on the road.

October 05

Hartlepool United 1

Coventry City 1

Parker opened the scoring on 28 mins with a well worked team move. Graham Barrett equalised on the stroke of half time.

Crystal Palace 2

Hartlepool United 1

League leaders Palace fell behind after only 10 minutes, Williams scored a screamer from the edge of the box. Palace then showed their class scoring to without reply in the 2nd half.

Hartlepool United 4/b]

Rotherham United 2

Parker 2, Williams and Sakiri put Pool 4 up inside 60 minutes. Late consolation strikes from Dion Dublin and Michael Proctor were not enough for Ronnie Moore’s merry men.

LEAGUE CUP 3rd ROUND

Hartlepool United 3

Nottingham Forest 1

Brian Clough’s old team took the lead on 33 minutes, new signing Lee Miller scoring a dream debut goal. It only lasted 3 minutes before Pool were back level, Williams hitting straight back. 2nd half goals from Sakiri and Parker settled the tie.

West Ham United 0

Hartlepool United 2

After a dull 1st half strike duo Parker and Williams settled this game. Two fine individual efforts.

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November 05

Hartlepool United 1

Norwich City 0

The 1st home game of November extended the unbeaten run to 4 games. Lionel Morgan netted a stinger from 18 yards to secure the points.

Plymouth Argyle 4

Hartlepool United 1

Hartlepool’s unbeaten record came tumbling down with an emphatic defeat and bottom of the table Plymouth. A late consolation from Williams was Pool’s one and only effort on target.

Hartlepool United 2

Wolverhampton Wanderers 0

Brian Clough’s men bounced straight back from the defeat at Home Park to see of Wolves. Williams and the on loan Aaron Lennon netting the goals in a one sided game.

Hartlepool United 4

Everton 1

A fine team performance shocked title chasing Everton. Parker started the rout before McFadden equalised. Lennon 2 and Nelson finished off the Toffees.

Hartlepool United 1

Leeds United 0

A dull game until 3 minutes into stoppage time, Jobi McAnuff snatched the points in an evenly fought contest.

Millwall 1

Hartlepool United 3

Tinkler, Parker and Sakiri put the game beyond any doubt, Hearn netted a late goal for the lions/

Unbeaten in 4, Cloughs men were looking to end November on a high in the League Cup

LEAGUE CUP 4th ROUND

Hartlepool United 0

Aston Villa 3

The premiership opposition rang rings through the Hartlepool defence and had it not been for Turner, it could have been more.

December 05

Gillingham 1

Hartlepool United 3

Parker and Tinkler had Pool 2 up before Danny Spiller bought the Gills back into the game. Williams netted 15 minutes from time to secure a 5 game unbeaten league run.

Hartlepool United 3

Swindon Town 0

The fine run continued at home to fellow promotionees Swindon. Sakiri 2 and Williams knocked in the goals. Sitting pretty in the top half of the table, the press speculation of how long it would last was beginning to mount.

Watford 1

Hartlepool United 1

A closely contested game saw Watford take the lead with only 10 minutes left, Bouazza scoring a fluke from 40 yards. Clough took off Tinkler and threw on the tired Williams and he struck with 30 seconds remaining to snatch a point.

Hartlepool United 0

Derby County 0

Boring game

Hartlepool United 0

Hull City 0

Another boring game.

Ipswich Town 2

Hartlepool United 2

Ipswich were to host the last game of 2005 and were certainly looking for payback to avenge the 6-2 loss in Hartlepool.

Sakiri gave Pool the lead after 18 minutes, scoring from 15 yards out after Lennon’s cutback. Bowditch equalised 10 minutes later and the scores were level at the halfway stage. Parker had Clough’s men back in the lead on the hour mark to continue his good scoring record. Bowditch again equalised soon after for a share of the spills.

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January 06

10 games unbeaten had seen Cloughs men sitting in 8th place going into the new year.

Sheffield United 2

Hartlepool United 2

Lester and Sidwell had given the Blades a 2-0 lead going into half time but Pool showed great character and fightback with 2 goals from Parker sharing the honours.

West Bromwich Albion 3

Hartlepool United 0

Bad day – don’t want to talk about it.

Hartlepool United 0

Wigan Athletic 0

An evenly contested game finished goalless with little separating either side.

Hartlepool United 2

Sunderland 0

Goals from Parker and McAnuff either side of half time bought 3 welcome points to Victoria Park.

Preston North End 1

Hartlepool United 0

Another close encounter went the way of the home side. Lynch scored after 30 minutes and Pool never look liked scoring from then on.

FEBRUARY 05

Burnley 1

Hartlepool United 1

Parker scored after 13 minutes with a brilliantly worked counter attack. Derbyshire levelled the game 5 minutes before half time. The game drifted away after the break.

Hartlepool United 2

Reading 0

Parker and Porter secured the win with goals straight from the training ground.

QPR 2

Hartlepool United 2

Morgan and Sakiri put Pool up after only 18 minutes before 4th place QPR decided to spoil the Hartlepool fun. Rowlands and Pembridge scored after the break and were unlucky not to add to their tally.

Hartlepool United 1

Crystal Palace 1

Two goals in two minutes shared the points. Derry opened the scoring for Palace before Morgan levelled straight after. Palce were now 15 points clear at the top.

Hartlepool United 1

Stoke City 2

Dean Marney was signed from Spurs for £300k and marked his debut for a 25 yard beauty. Sadly that was the only ray of light in this one sided game. Stoke scored on half timer and then a penalty was conceded by Stubbs, Brammer finished it off.

MARCH 06

Coventry City 0

Hartlepool United 1

Sakiri scored a late winner in this smash and grab victory. Coventry were by far the better side for 90 minutes and were left cursing several misses.

Rotherham United 0

Hartlepool United 1

Parker netted the only goal of the game after 18 minutes. Soon after Lennon was sent off and Pool saw out the game with 6 in defence.

Hartlepool United 3

West Ham United 0

Parker 2 and Sakiri pen showed too much class for the struggling West Ham side.

Norwich City 2

Hartlepool United 2

City were 2 up inside 30 minutes before late goals from Parker and McAnuff shared the points.

Hartlepool United 1

Plymouth Argyle 1

Quashie opened the scoring after only 15 minutes with a 20 yard free kick. Parker was bought down in the box by the goal scorer 10 minutes into the second half. The fouled man netted from the spot.

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APRIL 06

Leeds United 3

Hartlepool United 0

Three 1st half goals were enough to sink Brian Clough’s 6th placed team. The fellow promotion hopefuls were just a class apart on this day.

Hartlepool United 1

Gillingham 1

Another draw for Hartlepool was good enough to keep them in the promotion hunt. Darren Byfield scored after 77 minutes to give the visitors the lead, Lionel Morgan struck a late equaliser. A game where both ‘keepers were in outstanding form.

Hartlepool United 0

Millwall 0

A very one sided game for the visitors, they were unlucky not to take all the points. Pool keeper Iain Turner was in supreme form, thwarting everything that came his way.

Everton 5

Hartlepool United 1

Already promoted, Everton proved too strong for Hartlepool. Bent, Kilbane, McFadden and a Vaughan brace showed how big a gap the premiership would be. Parker’s consolation was little solace for Clough’s amateurs.

Swindon Town 0

Hartlepool United 1

A Keigan Parker penalty two minutes into the 2nd half condemned Swindon to relegation a year after they arrived with Hartlepool. A very sad afternoon for the Swindon fans. Clough could only sympathise with the home crowd, it was a feeling he knew all too well.

Watford 0

Hartlepool United 0

The home side were very fortunate to come away with a point. Hartlepool turned up knowing a win would leave them on the verge of securing a play off place. However, young Jim Provett, the ‘keeper sold by Clough in the summer, was on hand to deny his former team mates.

MAY 06

The final game of the season……..

Derby 0

Hartlepool United 0

Needing a win to secure playoff status, a dull game ensued. Derby had nothing to play for and just soaked the game up, playing 5 in the middle. Brian Clough’s men just could not break down Derby’s resilience.

There was an anxious wait, the Sunderland score came through, Pool had filled the last playoff position. The fans were going wild.

PLAYOFF SEMI

Having drawn both games this season, it was to prove a tricky, well fought tie over two legs.

Hartlepool United 2

Wigan Athletic 2

The third draw in succession was played out. Wigan twice had the lead, Graham and Ashton scoring the goals. Again, Pool showed their spirit and tenacity with goals from Williams and Parker before the latter saw red for two bookable offences.

With Parker suspended and a difficult away trip, Clough went with a 4-2-3-1 formation, hoping to break on the counter attack.

Wigan Athletic 0

Hartlepool United 2

This was another strangely equal game, both sides registering 11 shots, 4 on target and 7 off. It was Hartlepool that made the chances count, Clarke and Watkins, two unlikely heroes, were the match winners.

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PLAYOFF FINAL

A game not one punter would have expected to see at the beginning of the season, including Clough, was on the cards at the Millennium Stadium, and what a game it turned out to be.

Hartlepool United 5

Leeds United 0

The Hartlepool players seemed to react to the huge turnout in a truly positive way. With Sakiri playing his 1st game for a month after injury and Parker back from suspension, things went according to plan. It was Sakiri who opened the floodgates on 39 minutes with a solo effort, beating 3 players and hitting a 20 yard thunderbolt into the top corner. Half time came and went, Parker came out roaring. An 18 minute hatrick of poachers goals had seen Pool establish a 4 goal lead. The subdued Williams made way for Watkins after 65 minutes and it was him who pushed the final nail in the coffin.

Who would have thought it - Hartlepool United were on their way to the PREMIERSHIP.

In what had been a hard fought, emotional season, Pool were the unlikely heroes. Clough was ecstatic, having been turned down for the Leeds job only 6 months previous, here he was condemning them to another season of lower league football. He afforded a dry smile whilst being drowned in champagne.

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