Oh Crumbs! They are gone!
If Jeff Stelling could have cried pools of tears for his beloved Hartlepool United he most probably would have. I know this article in unrelated to Charlton Athletics` plight but I could not resist finding time to write about the Pools predicament that could so easily happen to most clubs in the football league.
Relegation from the league must hurt a lot, we have only to ask Luton Town supporters who also suffered this some seasons ago. It took many seasons for them to bounce back. That is not say Pool will take this long, they are a very good footballing side as the game on Sky proved that without a doubt. First they will have to overcome the indignity of dropping out of the league just as Leyton Orient have to who joins them in the Conference. We have to feel sorry for Jeff Stelling whose passion for Pool is as big as Hartlepool itself. The picture I saw of him was of a man who had just seen he had won the lottery but found out that in his despair he forgot to enter his numbers.
Hartlepool is an old club. Ninety six years in the football league and never in this time relegated out of the league. When a team gets relegated it changes everything. The Addicks have lived through this more often than we care for. Although the Pool have a strong fan base presently this might change as we well know when things start a downward trend. In the last tier of football there is still a glimmer of a chance to get yourself back to the next level, but the National League is tough. Tougher than any of the football League divisions.
Fans are fickle. Not that I`m saying they will disown the club. What I`m referring to is that the level of football will be of different style. It might suit the likes of the teams within, but Pool and Leyton Orient are used to a certain style of football that might not be readily available in the Conference. It might not be as entertaining and that could force both teams to adjust and in short, they may be stuck in this none league division for many seasons. How damaging could this be? When we see clubs slipping out of the football league that have been part of the set-up since their birth, it brings home how easily we could have been heading in the same direction if our boys did not pull together to get results to prevent us from dropping into the last tier.
Cruel as the sport can be. Pool`s last game against Doncaster Rovers was a two way affair. One team was hoping to reach the summit and the other was desperately trying to avoid the drop. At one time it looked as if Pool had achieved the impossible as games played elsewhere were dictating in how the end product would pan out. Newport County, who themselves are no strangers to disappointment, were ousted from the football league when they went out of business in 1989 after finishing bottom in the fourth division with 25 points. It took them 25 years to come back from obscurity and in 2013 they achieved this. Unfortunately, at the expense of Pool, they were not going to allow themselves to drop out of the league again.
Fighting to stay in touch they fought like tigers to get the result which at the final whistle brought their supporters joy but brought Pools supporters down to earth with the prospects of none league football next season. The None League division is littered with teams that used to be in the football league. Many have been there as long as time itself and might never again be part of the best league/divisions in the footballing calendar.
It is no consolation that Hartlepool Utd finds themselves with a mountain to climb to get back to the football league. Commiserations to Pool, but it is a triumph for Newport County who have shown a never say die attitude to overcome adversity against all the odds to stay in the fourth tier of football to fight again next season and better the season that almost failed them.