Ahead of Exeter's mammoth trip to Teeside this weekend, we got in touch with Jack Wheelhouse to offer Hartlepool's perspective on the upcoming fixture.
In 2020, Jack set up HUFC Chat from his University halls and has since seen his podcast grow becoming Pools' main fan-based podcast and gaining national recognition. In this time HUFC Chat have spoken to former defender Myles Anderson, Jeff Stelling's Pools-devoted son Robbie and have recently been on Sky Sports to give the lowdown on the County Durham club.
Hi Jack (Left) thanks for chatting to us,
How long have you supported Hartlepool United? When was your first game or what was your first memory?
I have been supporting Pools since 2008. I started supporting them because my Dad is from the town and he got me involved. You can’t beat following your local team! It’s definitely in the blood. I first went in the centenary year and my first ever memory of being at Victoria Park was losing in added time at the end of the game to Coventry City and it kind of set the tone really, up until recent times haha! Once I went, although we lost, as many say, I caught the bug!
What have been your highlights in this time? What has been your Favourite Game so far?
Well, as I touched on in the first answer, there haven’t been loads of highlights in my time supporting them as it seems to have been negative after negative with poor managers, cowboy owners etc. To think we nearly lost the club back in 2018 but thanks to the current owner Raj Singh and the unbelievable fundraising and backing from the Pools and other football fans before he came in, the club is still here and fought to be back where we belong in the EFL.
I think the biggest personal highlight has to be beating Torquay this summer in the National League Play-Off final. Being back with everyone after so long with COVID, having queued up overnight for the tickets with mates and to be there to see that moment with my Dad and the Pools contingent when we made our return will never ever be forgotten. This is why we love football, lower league football especially, because we all care so much for our clubs and have that connection with the players.
Other highlights have been trips to Sheffield Wednesday, beating Carlisle on numerous occasions, ‘The Great Escape’ in 2014/15 was incredible! I remember we beat Exeter 2-1 at home to stay up and after the season it had been, there was such a release of passion at the end of that and definitely relief! However, I am going to go with the play-off final to get back to the EFL after all the hurt we’ve been through as supporters.
You started HUFC Chat- Hartlepool’s most popular fan-made podcast, and even featured on Sky Sports not too long ago. Talk us through how the podcast has grown since you first started it.
I’ll be perfectly honest, it all started in first year at University. I was looking for something to do, noticed the fans had nothing to listen to in terms of a podcast and thought why not! It has gone from strength to strength and I produce it with my good friend Adam Davison. We try to keep the episodes as regular as possible and do it out of the love for the club and to provide something for the fans to engage with! Recognition from Sky recently was something that we didn’t expect but something that makes all the time getting content together worth it!
How would you sum up Hartlepool’s season so far?
I think it’s been really solid. To think that we find ourselves in 6th coming into this game is real testament to Dave Challinor and the players. The fans have been second to none and I think this has shown especially at home where we have won all of our games- something we hope will continue on Saturday. It really has turned into a fortress. Away from home the backing has been unbelievable, taking just short of 950 to Oldham last Saturday and over 700 to Tranmere.
It’s a great shame the form hasn’t reflected that and the main issue has been simple but sloppy mistakes. We are struggling with the lack of an out and out striker as well, a poacher who is going to finish off chances and this was really highlighted last time out at Oldham where we could only pick up a point with a 0-0 result. But overall, can we complain? No definitely not! It is something to build on and if we can maintain the home form and correct the problem we have away we are more than capable of building on last seasons’ success.
What are your expectations come the end of season?
One thing we have to be wary of is not expecting too much! Yes, we have had a brilliant start but it is probably better than any of us could have imagined and it is important to remember that it’s our first season back in the EFL for a few years. I would like to think we could finish in the top half and I personally believe that would be a real achievement to build on next season. Having said that why shouldn’t we dare to dream a bit? Anything is impossible with the fantastic supporters, management staff and team that has been built!
Which players should Exeter be wary of?
Fortunately for Exeter there are a few key injuries at the moment. Gavan Holohan and Tyler Burey- who I am convinced would have continued to rip it up had he not been ruled out for 3 months were fantastic at the start of the season and scored some screamers!
You will know all about Nicky Featherstone who is club captain and scored a cracker down at your place in the cup to earn a replay which we went on to win. He is now club captain and controls it in the middle as ever. Other players to look out for are Gary Liddle and Zaine Francis-Angol at the back. Jamie Sterry has to get a mention as well, he is immense and loves to get good balls into the box as a wingback.
Are there any City players do you think Pools will be worried about facing?
If I am perfectly honest, my knowledge on Exeter is very limited. I have heard Matt Jay is quite a handy player and he’s notched a few this season hasn’t he!?
How would you expect United to set up against Exeter?
It really all depends on injuries. We usually tend to play 3-5-2 as we like to get our wingbacks involved and get forward. But this could change depending on what Challinor has seen in the week and how he feels we will be best set up against yourselves.
What kind of game are you expecting? Open? Cagey etc…?
We will be looking to continue the good form at home and see that continue to go from strength to strength! The players really thrive off the atmosphere and especially from the North West Corner so I expect we will try and get forward from the off and grab the upper hand early on!
And finally what's your score prediction?
I think we will continue our solid home form and I am going for a 2-1 home win. Both sides are up there but with our home form I will always back us so I think we will edge it on Saturday!