Journeys Home


As a supporter for approximately 63 years, I have watched Pools all over the country and, while the majority of journeys have been trouble free but often full of gloom, there have been some nightmares along the way.

This is not just talking about the performances on the pitch but what happened after the final whistle.

1. Early 1960s - Chester away. I don't remember the result and I suspect the game was poor, as around that time they were as bad as us. What I do remember is that the match kicked off at 3.15 p.m. but I don't know why Chester kicked off at a different time to the rest of the country*. Me and a friend from school travelled by train and got there with no problem. The problems started on our return to Chester station because, as we crossed the bridge, we saw our train pulling away from the platform. In these days before mobile phones, we were stuck, or so we thought. We got a later train as far as York, where my friend's sister lived. He rang her from York station and she picked us up and took us to her house. My parents did not have a phone, so she rang Hartlepool police and asked them to call in and tell them I was safe and sound. They said they would do this but unfortunately left it until about 3.00 a.m. in the morning and I can tell you that my dad wasn't too pleased about being knocked up at that time by a policeman. The first train to Hartlepool on the Sunday left at 12 noon and the journey took over 3 hours, including going through I.C.I's works without any explanation being give to the passengers.

2. May 6, 1968 - Swansea away. There's no need to discuss one of the most famous matches in our history - our first ever promotion. I was one of the Swansea 16. Twelve of us had travelled to Exeter for the 0 - 0 draw in a mini bus and spent the weekend at Paignton. We went to the Swansea game on the Monday night to watch the famous victory. We were invited in to the dressing room after the match. Before we set off home, the Chairman, John Curry I think, gave us a fiver for a drink on the way. That's £5 for the whole bus, not each! Mind you it was probably enough for a couple of pints each in those days. On the way home, we stopped at a service station and the team happened to be there. I remember somebody playing Cliff Richard's "Congratulations" on the jukebox. (Unfortunately I can't stand the song!) The only problem that occurred was when we were nearing home and we stopped off at a shop. I bought The Northern Echo, which was full of the promotion, and our picture in the dressing room was on the front page. Why was this a problem? I phoned work during the day (Monday) to call in sick and I knew the boss read The Echo, so I had to make a quick call and book a couple of days holiday, instead of a sickie! I wasn't really in trouble as the boss was a sports fan and he seemed to expect me not to be at work.
" Before we set off home, the Chairman, John Curry I think, gave us a fiver for a drink on the way. That's £5 for the whole bus, not each!"

3. Feb 28, 1978 - Ipswich away in the F.A. Cup 4th round. One of our rare visits to the later rounds of The Cup. This was the year Ipswich went on to win it. I was living in Sheffield by now and travelled by train. I don't how long it took but I changed three times to get there. I met my friend George and his father at the ground. They had travelled down in a supporters' coach. After the match, they persuaded me (and the driver) to cadge a lift part of the way home. Against my better judgement, I agreed. They dropped me off on the A1 near Clumber Park. I thought it would be a doddle to walk in to Worksop and catch a train or bus home. Four and a half miles didn't seem far to me but the street lights weren't working and it was a very unpleasant walk until I reached the outskirts of Worksop. I called into a pub and tried a phone box but I couldn't get the number of a local taxi firm, so I walked into the centre. I called into a police station to ask for directions to the train and bus stations. I went to the train station first, to find the last train had gone. I'd had enough by now so I dived into the nearest pub, which was full. It turned out that in those days, Saturday night in Worksop was ladies' darts night and they had taken over the bar, so I went into the lounge. The blokes were standing 5 or 6 deep at the bar and I had to shout over them to order a pint. Someone passed it over to me and it went down without touching the sides. One man said I must have been thirsty and I said he would have been if he had had the journey I had. So he asked where I'd been and I told him. They didn't believe me, so I took the programme out of my pocket to prove it. The next thing I knew, this chap was buying me a pint and when that was finished, somebody else got me another and so on. A night out in Worksop and it only cost me one pint! I managed to get a late bus home and presumably got a taxi home from Sheffield bus station but I can't say for sure!

4. Early 1980s - Darlington away. I took my young nephew on a supporters' coach. When we got there, we were told where the coach was leaving from and after the match we went to the agreed place. Unfortunately the coach didn't turn up and about 8 of us were left stranded. (The coach had left from a different place and we either didn't hear an announcement or the others had been told by another means, but why did the coach leave without a full complement?). We returned to the ground to find out what had happened just as the players were leaving. I remember an old man getting a lift in Kevin Johnson's sports car (how he got out I don't know but it would have been a struggle). We got a lift from Tommy Johnson and the Linighan brothers. Unfortunately it was in a Land Rover and my nephew and I had to lay on the top of the team's skip (which would contain all sorts of dirty clothes). A most uncomfortable trip home!

5. September 28, 1990 - Tottenham away in the League Cup. Once again I travelled by train from Sheffield. After the match, I got to St. Pancras as quickly as I could and was able to catch the last train to Sheffield. Unfortunately when we got to Derby, the train would go no further. I then spent a few cold hours sat on Derby station until I caught a very early milk train to Sheffield. I managed to get home in time to get washed and changed and go to work.

6. May 6, 2000 - Hull away. This game was mentioned in the October and November editions. We were kept in after the game, only to be bombarded by missiles, one of which broke a lens in my mate's glasses. Unfortunately he was the driver and it was a very careful but happy drive home.

7. May 29, 2005 - Sheffield Wednesday at Cardiff - I travelled in a Sheffield Wednesday supporters' coach with my son and his friend (both Owls supporters!) The thing was so badly organised that we were on the same coach but couldn't sit anywhere near each other. After leaving a service station on the way down, the driver (Polish I think) took the wrong turn and we ended up driving through the Forest of Dean. We got there so late that I missed a pre-arranged meeting with mates in a pub and went straight to the ground. After the final whistle I went straight back to the coach and had to wait ages for the Owls fans to return. Just before he set off, the driver counted how many were on board to find out he was two short. He then waited over another hour for two youths to arrive. They got on the coach without even an apology for keeping us waiting. Back in Sheffield, I persuaded the driver to drop me off in the city centre (I'm not sure he actually stopped the coach!) and I managed to jump into a taxi just before midnight so I didn't have to pay the excess fare! I bet some Pools supporters got home before me, though I know of a couple who didn't get any further than Birmingham that night!

[* I think there were a few 3:15 kick-offs in those days and I never really knew why either, but perhaps it was to help workers whose shifts finished at 2pm to get to the match. - Ed.]

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