Brains in His Hat


It was heartening to see that Hartlepool United have got themselves two new sponsors in the form of The Nuffield Hospital and Brunel Insurance, both of whom are from out of the town.

In the Covid times that we live in it cannot be an easy task attracting any form of sponsorship for the football club or any sporting organisation for that matter, particularly when many companies have other priorities such as just surviving.

One only has to look at the sad case of Utility Alliance, Pools' shirt sponsor for the last two  seasons, who went into administration last month with the loss of 250 jobs.

When I first saw that Brunel had taken out sponsorship my first thought was that the great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel must have left a legacy to the club on the back of his visit to Hartlepool in December 1831 when he was quoted as saying 'A curiously isolated old fishing town - A remarkably fine race of men'. He was obviously referring of course to the Headland.
Mr I K Brunel (centre), after signing the lucrative sponsorship deal (visible in the club secretary's hand), is seen here at the official renaming of the Town End as The Brunel Stand.

The Preacher John Wesley, after visiting Hartlepool nearly 70 years prior to Brunel was less complimentary when he said of the town 'Surely the seed will spring up at last, even here ...among this dull, heavy and sleepy people'. In all honesty some of Wesley's disparaging remarks about the town would not be out of place in 2021 never mind the last half of the eighteenth century.

Anyway, back to one of the greatest half-French Britons of all time, Mr Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Can you envisage if the Great Man was still alive - he'd be two hundred and six in April - and was indeed the main sponsor at Pools, imagine how the adverting hoarding boards might read:

For all your Transatlantic cable-laying requirements The Great Eastern is the vessel for you.

Brunel can 'Bridge' that gap.

Want a hole through a mountain? You need Brunel's Tunnel Vision.

Let's lay it on the line. Why settle for four foot eight and a half when we can offer seven foot and a quarter.
(That's one for the railway buffs.)

One thing that would be certain with Mr Brunel in charge is that the stands at the Vic would be demolished in favour of something far grander and more aesthetically pleasing.
"'A curiously isolated old fishing town - A remarkably fine race of men'"

Our other new sponsor is the Nuffield Hospital from over in Teeside (apologies - I only use one 's' in this obnoxious word). I am speculating that the hospital is not putting any money into the club per se but is offering free medical treatment to any injured Pools players. Not sure how that works as I would have thought that all professional football clubs would be obliged to insure their players to cover injuries and such. Perhaps it might mean a reduction in cost to the club of insuring players but should the insurance company insuring the players be Brunel, I can see a conflict of interest between our two new sponsors.

I fear that the Nuffield sponsorship deal could be a poisoned chalice for the health organisation with the real possibility of financial ruin, particularly if the Pools hierarchy, when signing off the sponsorship agreement, failed to declare the Luke Williams injury situation.

[By the way, the title of this article comes from this entertaining song about Isambard Kingdom Brunel by the now-disbanded steam punk band The Copperfield Ensemble. Warning: this song is an ear-worm, so don't blame us if you end up singing the chorus all day - Ed.]

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