Match Information

  • FC Hartlepool 1-2 Jarrow

  • When: Saturday 27th January 2024

  • Kick-off: 3pm

  • Where: Grayfields Enclosure, Jesmond Road, Hartlepool TS24 8PJ

  • Competition: Northern League Division 2

  • Attendance: 108

The port town of Hartlepool has always interested me in football terms. I initially noticed that their main team had undergone a number of subtle but significant name changes – from Hartlepools United to Hartlepool FC to Hartlepool United.

I believe the original plural Hartlepools title discontinued once two separate geographical areas - Old Hartlepool and West Hartlepool – were merged in the late 1960’s.

Meanwhile, fiercely contested local derbies against Darlington were often portrayed as the Fourth Division’s answer to the big North-East encounters between Newcastle United and Sunderland.

On a personal note, I’ve ventured to Hartlepool United’s Victoria Park venue a couple of times. The first instance came when I was on my way to visiting all the 92 League grounds whilst at school.

FC Hartlepool

I saw Hartlepool United 1 Aldershot 0 (attendance 2,844) on Saturday 4th October 1980. I subsequently returned to see my own club Queens Park Rangers play there on Saturday 13th March 2004. The R’s won 4-1 to satisfy football odds watched by 6,519 spectators.

Anyway bringing the story up to date, FC Hartlepool are newcomers at Step 6 of our national Non-League Pyramid. They joined the Northern League Division 2 for 2023/24 in light of being Wearside League champions.

I became aware of their Grayfields Enclosure ground in the past due to it hosting numerous FA Sunday Cup games. So I set off on a 500 mile round trip to have a look for myself at the first side to grace Northern League football within Hartlepool since Hartlepool United Reserves in 1987.

Actually now defunct Hartlepool Town FC were brief members in 1994/95 yet groundshared 16 miles away at Ferryhill Athletic FC.

Ground Description

After taking over the site from their local council three years ago, FC Hartlepool completed substantial work to meet Step 6 grading requirements. This included the provision of £70,000 floodlights funded via the Premier League Stadium Fund and local charity the PFC Trust.

Hard standing around the pitch and a 63-seater grandstand were installed as well. I particularly liked the brightly coloured stand which involved reconditioning an old 40 feet long shipping container - highly specialist work carried out by Budget Shipping Ltd.

FC Hartlepool Diary of a Groundhopper

Additionally, an imposing two storey building at FC Hartlepool houses ground floor dressing rooms plus the spacious ‘Pavilion Bar’ upstairs. There is also a pitchside beer tent and a large car park.

Grayfields Enclosure is located less than two miles north of the town centre. Overall, it is a great community hub for FC Hartlepool’s 40 affiliated teams embracing under-6’s all the way up to over-40’s. Everyone I met at the club was very friendly too. 

Programme Details

A nice homespun 20 page production on sale at the entry gate for £1.50p.

It featured the welcome column, histories of both clubs, player profiles, Northern League history, fixtures/results and matchday line-ups. 

The Match

On the first decent dry Saturday for weeks, I witnessed 12th opposing 16th in Northern League Division 2 action.

Roared on by a noisy travelling contingent of fans affectionately called the “hecklers”, Jarrow shaded matters courtesy of goals through Ryan Hardie (41 minutes) and Callum Johnston (76 mins, penalty).

Philly Angus pulled one back for FC Hartlepool in the final minute. My video of an exuberant supporter loudly singing “JARROW TAKE OVER EVERYWHERE WE GO” and repeatedly banging on the roof of the stand attracted thousands of views on Twitter!

Free Kick FC Hartlepool

Another dramatic moment unfolded during the second half whereby a huge fire broke out in allotments adjacent to the ground. Amidst dark plumes of smoke swirling across the pitch, fire engines swiftly arrived minutes later to extinguish the blaze.

Incidentally, I understand the Grayfields attendance of 108 was notably down on normal figures because Hartlepool United were at home concurrently with former England striker Kevin Phillips taking his inaugural fixture in charge as new manager versus York City prompting frenzied in play betting.

*Credit for the photos in this article belongs to Tony Incenzo*

Tony is an experienced football broadcaster who has worked for Clubcall, Capital Gold, IRN Sport, talkSPORT Radio and Sky TV. 

His devotion to Queens Park Rangers saw him reach 50 years without missing a home game in April 2023.

Tony is also a Non-League football expert having visited more than 2,500 different football grounds in his matchday groundhopping.

You can follow Tony on Twitter at @TonyIncenzo.