Who Are These Jobbers?
As far as Homer Simpson was concerned he was happy. He was dancing with anthropomorphic ice creams and lollipops to the strains of The Archies’ 1969 hit ‘Sugar, Honey, Honey’. He was singing and jiving with these colourful characters. However, when the song started to slow, he realised something was wrong and was jolted awake.
He surveyed his surroundings, he was still in the stricken dinghy that had floated into the middle of the ocean after taking a wrong turn on a white water rafting away day with his son’s Junior Campers group. His cassette player, which had taken him away from this situation, was redundant and in a fit of rage he hurled it into the huge expanse of water.
He looked at his crewmates - his son, his neighbour and his neighbour’s son - in a state of anguish before looking to the Heavens. The moment had all been a mirage and he was catapulted back into his potentially perilous situation. He was still stuck in the dinghy with no immediate idea of how to get back to land.
“Now I have to face stupid reality again,” he fumed. And much like Homer, we too, must face “stupid reality” once again.
Football is not coming home, England are not going to win the World Cup, Sunderland are in League One, we’ve already lost our first pre-season game and we’re selling our best players. Sigh......LET’S ALL GO TO HARTLEPOOL!!!!1!!!!!!
Yes, Jack Ross’ Harlem Globetrotters of world football are taking this unstoppable juggernaut to plough through a Hartlepool side that are a league above the mighty Darlington. They are no doubt already trembling in their cleats at the mere thought of being schooled by a red and white masterclass.
Can anyone stop the Sunderland sultans of soccer? Absolutely not. They can only lay their bodies down and pray the beating will be short and swift. That they will be able to clamber to their feet afterwards, only to gaze up and utter the words “please, sir, may I have another?”.
Hartlepool United are now in the National League, flirted with getting relegated again (I sure do love a back-to-back relegation) and have gone down a proper non-league route of hiring a player-manager (WHAT. A. GODDAMN. THROWBACK). They still have H’Angus The Monkey as a club mascot (remember when he was voted Mayor of Hartlepool? What an utterly bizarre town) and Jeff Stelling supports them.
Unbelievable! Oh wait, that’s the guy from the Ladbrokes adverts. Can we not just extend the World Cup for another nine months?
How Do I Get There?
You all know how to get to Hartlepool, surely? You don’t? Seriously? Must I do everything? I jest, of course I’ll tell you how to get there, this is what Cans & Megabus is here for, we bow to all your whims with a quiet dignity.
So get in your car and hit the A19 before taking the A179 following the signs to Hartlepool. Take the third exit at the roundabout on Powlett Road for Marina Way before reaching Clarence Road where Victoria Park will present itself. You’re best off chancing your arm with street car parking or finding somewhere in the town centre as spaces around the ground are limited.
Again, if these driving instructions are complete wham then plop TS24 8BZ into your sat nav.
Given its one of the most scenic routes in the British Isles, treat yourself to a train journey to this corner of County Durham. Hartlepool railway station is about a 10-minute walk from the ground, it’s a no brainer, lads and lasses.
A Love Supreme buses leave the Stadium of Light at 12pm with return fares costing £15. Book your place here.
Where Can I Get The Sesh Started?
There are many places and monuments that have been the inspiration for musical masterpieces. From the streets of London and the sunsets of Rio de Janeiro to the bright lights of New York and hot nights of Los Angeles, there are places in this world where the very best artists feel compelled to pen a tribute to.
It will come as no surprise that Hartlepool can put itself alongside such luminaries and in particular the King John’s Tavern on South Road. The free house has been immortalised by a recluse artist that hit the subconscious of the UK rap scene like a freight train in the early part of the 2010s. It has lyrics which are intricately formed to depict the struggles of modern life in an increasingly divided nation and delivered with a panache that modern rap has been struggling to replicate since.
While the original and subsequent bootlegs have been lost to the annals of history, we still have our memories. So, for the artist whose name we’ll never know and to the song we fear we may never hear again, I urge everyone to raise their glass and join me in one more serenade. Everybody, all together now.
“King John’s Tavern, King John’s Tavern, I’m gunna have me brekkie in the King John’s Tavern”.
YES I KNOW THIS DOESN’T ANSWER THE PURPOSE OF THIS SEGMENT, JUST INDULGE ME FOR A SECOND. JEEZ.
Swing by Hartlepool’s fashionable marina and drop into Jacksons Wharf on The Highlight for an al fresco pint with a nautical view. Mere moments from the train station is Rat Race Ale House which will do you a drop of grog on a predictably boiling hot day. The Causeway on Church Row, sits beside the Cameron’s Brewery while there is the Corner Flag Supporters Bar at the ground itself.
By the way, if anyone does find the King John’s Tavern song could you please slide it into Roker Report’s inbox as I can’t find it anywhere and I would greatly appreciate it.
I’m Staying Owa, Is There Owt To Do?
Akin to a midweek trip to Darlington, you need to ask yourself “am I actually going to stay over in Hartlepool?” Your house is most likely only half an hour away, the World Cup final is happening the next day. Have a good hard think and then come to the conclusion that staying over in Hartlepool is both a rubbish and stupid idea.
There’s not much going on anyway so save yourself the trouble and head to back to the loving embrace of Sunderland.
What’s The Ground Like?
Victoria Park is an ideal venue for Sunderland’s League One odyssey. It provides a flavour of what us intrepid explorers will experience over the coming year. It’s got everything that yer da sheds a tear at every mention - four completely different stands, open terraces, obstructing pillars, floodlights and an unholy toilet situation.
It exudes a vibe of “I could be anywhere” while watching two hopeless football teams kick lumps out of each other. It is somewhere that will be inexplicably cold despite the rest of the country sweltering in 30 degree heat. Get used to backdrops of this ilk because, my word, we’re going to be seeing a lot of them in the not too distant future.
Given its proximity all the amenities the wonderful town of Hartlepool has to offer, this makes for a jolly, old day out. Sunderland supporters will be housed in either the terracing of the Niramax Stand (massive lads fans) or seated in the Rink End (bourgeois glory hunters), enjoy everybody!