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Match Previews

🔎 The Opposition: Hartlepool United

Lowdown on the Monkey Hangers

24 January 2022

City look to build further momentum as we host the Monkey Hangers from the North East, as Hartlepool United return to Devon.

Making a strong account of themselves on their eturn to the Football League, here’s a recap of our opponents on Saturday.

  • Founded: 1881
  • Nicknames: The Pool, The Monkey Hangers
  • Home Kit: O’NEILLS Blue and white stripes, blue shorts, blue socks
  • Away Kit: O’NEILLS Red and black stripes, black shorts, black socks
  • Form: LDLDD (16th in League Two)

Born out of West Hartlepool Amateurs in 1881, the fledgling club graced the amateur game with reasonable success, before a name change led Hartlepool United to be formed as a professional outfit in 1908. In August 1921, the Durham club played their first ever League game and came away with a 2-0 win over Wrexham.

The interesting nickname ‘The Monkey Hangers’ derives back from the Napoleonic Wars. A shipwreck washed up on the shore of Hartlepool with the soul survivor that of a monkey, dressed in French naval uniform for the crew’s entertainment. Unable to communicate (for obvious reasons) the locals, who had never seen a monkey or a Frenchman before, hanged the monkey on suspicion of being a French spy and today a mural to the Monkey is located on the marina. United’s mascot is also called H’Angus the Monkey.

Between 1943 and 1957, Fred Westgarth brought stability and success to Hartlepool, reaching their then best performance in the Cup (4th Round, 1955) and narrowly missed out on the Division Three title two years later.

In 1965 a young managerial duo of Brian Clough and Peter Taylor took the reins at Victoria Park and stayed for two years before famously moving to the midlands with Derby County. During the rest of the 20th Century, Hartlepool’s on-pitch antics were rather uneventful. After several ownership switchers, the turn of the century brought hope into the Hartlepool fanbase. The future of Four play-off campaigns in five years were accompanied with a 21-game unbeaten streak, earning then Boss Chris Turner the Manager of the Month. Despite being knocking on the door of the second tier for much of the decade, Pools were relegated to League Two in 2006.

Despite a swift return to League One, United failed to challenge for promotion again, dropping into League Two in 2014, then into non-league in 2017, for the first time in 97 years. Last season though, the play-off hoodoo was over for Hartlepool. A penalty shootout victory over Torquay United at Ashton Gate ensured Pools’ revival to the Football League, and they’ll be confident to challenge the better sides in the division next season.

Manager

Graeme Lee

Having began his career at the Victoria Stadium, Graeme Lee is back on the touchline after 14 years away from his boyhood club. Born in Middlesbrough, the 43-year-old made well over 200 appearances for the Pool between 1995-2003 before being snapped up by Sheffield Wednesday.

Hartlepool Lee.jpeg

He returned on loan to United in 2008, though finished his professional career at rivals Darlington in 2012. Into management, Lee had been in charge of the Middlesbrough U23’s before making his first step into senior management with Pools, after the departure of Dave Challinor.  

Stadium

  • Name: Victoria Park
  • Capacity: 7,865
  • Year opened: 1886
  • Record Attendance: 17,426 (vs Manchester United, FA Cup 3rd Round, 1957)
  • Address: Clarence Road, Hartlepool, TS24 8BZ

Originally home to West Hartlepool RFC, Victoria Park was renamed upon Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee before Hartlepool United sought tenancy in 1908.

HartlepoolVP.JPG

During the First World War the ground was destroyed by a German Zepellin and the main stand was demolished. In 1957 over 17,000 fans crammed into the Stadium to see Matt Busby’s Manchester United run out 4-3 winners in a thriller. This was regarded by Busby as the most exciting game he’s ever witnessed

The England women's national football team beat Sweden 4–0 in an August 2014 friendly at Victoria Park. It was the female England team's first game in the North East since a 1–1 draw with Italy at Roker Park, Sunderland in November 1995. Several of the English players came from the North East, including Jordan Nobbs whose father Keith had played 327 times for Hartlepool United.

One to Watch

Nicky Featherstone

Having signed a new two-deal in the summer, Nicky Featherstone has committed his talent to Hartlepool United. The 32-year-old has an abundance of Football League experience that will be crucial for his club’s return. Featherstone began his career at Hull City in 2006 and made sixteen appearences for the Tigers, bridged by four loan spells, before moving to Hereford in 2011.

HartlepoolFeatherstone.jpg

His impressive form at Edgar Street earned a move to Walsall where he made 64 appearences in two years. The central midfielder soon had a spell at Harrogate before moving to Victoria Park in 2014. A stalwart in his midfield role, Featherstone has found the back of the net 16 times during his Hartlepool career including five during last year’s National League campaign. 

Featherstone has played every minute of League Two this season, picking up four goals and an assist for his troubles.

He has previous against Exeter City too, scoring a scorcher in front of the Big Bank in 2019’s cup encounter against Pools, which brought the non-league side back into the tie. He has played against the Grecians eight times in total, winning on four occasions. 

Head to Head

History would tell us that Hartlepool always offer an open opposition. All but three games since 2000 have seen 2 or more goals scored, with Pools edging the more modern encounters. City’s last win against the North-East club dates back to 2016, when goals from Alex Nicholls and Joel Grant earned the Grecians three points on the road.

Exeter City wins: 34

Draws: 24

Hartlepool United wins: 27

Recent Encounters

Hartlepool United 1 Exeter City 1 | Sky Bet League Two | Victoria Park | September 25, 2021

Sam Nombe’s header cancelled out Luke Molyneux’s early strike as the Grecians gained a valuable point on the road.

Hartlepool United 1 Exeter City 0 | Emirates FA Cup Second Round Replay| Victoria Park | December 10, 2019

Josh Hawkes’ extra time strike for the non-leaguers pulled off a cup shock.

Exeter City 2 Hartlepool United 2 | Emirates FA Cup Second Round | St James Park | December 1 2019

City were made to rue their missed chances as Hartlepool came back from 2-0 down to secure a replay. Nigel Atangana and Ryan Bowman were on target for Exeter

And finally…

Whilst at Victoria Park, Brian Clough and Peter Taylor were actually sacked through “budgetary reasons” in 1966- just a year into their tenure. However, a boardroom coup at the club soon turned the tables, as Clough and Taylor were quickly reinstated, and mendacious chairman Ernest Ord was ousted instead.


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