Poolie Pride

POOLPOWER reminds us of events of 15 years ago this month, when a CD single recorded by Pools fans got to no. 24 in the BBC Top Forty despite being sold in only 3 shops.

I wish there was as much enthusiasm in the people who profit from music as there is in a group of fans trying to do some good for Hartlepool United and the community. I know we are classed as small fry in a big pond, but a leg up from some of these profiteers would do them no harm and would do groups like ours a lot of good.

Initially we thought that we had a deal. The recording was done, the artwork for the cover and CD was all finished and we were just about to go. We thought we had deals with four local outlets, then we seemed to hit snag after snag.

Tesco decided from the outset that the logistics were too complicated for them to take the CD into their stock. Asda said they would help all they could, as long as we got our end sorted with a bar code, licence, etc. Woolworths at a local level were keen to help us, but again head office was less forthcoming. WH Smiths were doing what they could locally, but it all boiled down to a company called E UK that controls most of the distribution of music in the country. They did not want to play ball - a closed shop, to independents like us. They passed the buck onto the local people who were of the opinion that they could not move without the say-so of E UK. The main sticking point was that our group wanted to make the charts with the CD - an achievable task, as others have done it before.

That was when we hit the snags with the outlets. We could have just taken the CD out into the streets and sold it ourselves, but there is a little kudos in charting with a football fans CD. Everybody was keen to see that happen.
"Over seven hundred CDs were sold on the night, a fantastic start to the campaign"

We received some good sponsorship from Camerons and Heerema, for which we are very grateful. But we needed more to cover costs of studio time and producing the CD. So Monkey Business came to the rescue. The delay gave me more time to go out with the begging bowl and drum up some support from the local business community. I took out over 30 letters to firms and shops in the town and while I still wait for a response from some of them, a big pat on the back should be given to Julie and Bill of Real Estate, Mike Gough of Mike Gough Sports and Dave Hudson of 23 Taxis, who gave without hesitation.

Another local firm that rallied to support us was H Q Engineering -- thanks to Mick Douglas and John Charlton for a very generous donation. And thanks also to the people of New Deal. We had the money, we had the CD master and we were ready to rock.

Then once again we had no deal with a distributor. Frantic phone calls and e-mails set us back on track. The next step was to fill the town with posters advertising the fact that the Poolie Pride project was about to hit town. At midnight on November 4th we took charge of 6,000 CDs, delivered from the Midlands to Asda car park - sterling work from the Poolie van driver who was so ill he should have been in bed. Splitting the load we sorted Asda Hartlepool, Asda Peterlee, and Music Zone in Hartlepool shopping centre, the only three outlets we were able to sell our CD from.

Printing bar codes and delivery notes kept us busy for the next three days while demand for the CD took off. The plan was to hopefully chart the CD so we could not sell it ourselves. Every sale had to register to reach the charts, so we had to be wary of multiple sales at the tills. The chart monitors asked us to supply them with two copies and explain the massive sales we were generating at different times. If there was any doubt then they could have looked at the videos of the queues in Asda at the time of the CD signings.

“GIT MONDAY" is a Headland term that relates to massive fish sales at Easter. “GIT WEEK" became “GIT MONDAY" when sales soared with the aid of top man Ritchie Humphreys, who turned up at Asda to sign copies of the brand new Poolie Pride CD. The expected half-hour signing turned into a marathon, as Ritchie stayed for over two hours. The queue from the record department went out past the fruit and veg almost to the front doors of the store. The crowds were fantastic, all prepared to spend as long as an hour waiting in line. Not one punter was let down as Ritchie stayed on and signed everything that was thrust at him as well as a variety of shirts, autograph books and scraps of paper offered by the fans.
Ritchie's fingers must have been almost dropping off by the end of his CD signing marathon

Store boss Derrick Burrell and a posse of staff were amazed at the interest the CD was creating. One comment was made that even the Harry Potter book signing had not been anything like what was on show that Monday night. Over seven hundred CDs were sold on the night, a fantastic start to the campaign. The CD was selling very well all week and a second signing was arranged for the Thursday night, this time with Dimi Konstantopoulos and young Anthony Sweeney being on duty, the latter a very able substitute for the ‘flu-stricken Adam Boyd. Once again the fans turned out in force and the lads did us proud with sales of five hundred plus for the night.

We arranged for Joel Porter to go down to Music Zone for a signing. It wasn‘t as well attended, as the shop closed an hour after Joel arrived, but another excellent performance saw the sales flying out of the shop.

A confident committee decided to have a bit of a bash in the Woodcutter and invite all concerned. The good turn-out of Poolies and shop staff from Asda made it a great night, the Passion Killers, Lol Moran and Pooliegirl all putting on a great show. Some Poolies disgraced themselves at the party but they won't be named here. However, we are publishing the pictures (see front cover*).

So it's a big thank you to the staff at Asda and the guys in Music Zone who did not know what had hit them once the Poolie hordes set about getting their copies of the Poolie Pride CD. We set sales records all week at both shops.

[* This refers to the front cover of the original printed edition. We thought that after 15 years some things might be better not being seen again! - Ed.]

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