Twenty-Six years ago today I went with my Dad to my first ever Rugby game starting a love affair and obssesion with that sport. The game? The annual Boxing Day Derby between West Hartlepool and Hartlepool Rover. A rivalry embittered not just by close proximity of the teams, but the history of two towns, West Hartlepool the new Industrial Upstart founded in the 1850's and the Old fishing town Hartlepool been around since Saxon times. In 1966 these towns were merged to form one. The towns still exist and that is fought out on the Rugby field now over 200 times.
Although I was a sports fan at a very early age. I remeber watching FC Cup finals and Olympics from 1975/76 when I was 6 and 7 it was my love of West Hartlepool Rugby Club that first taught me what being a true fan was. How many cold winter days did I stand at Brierton lane watching the team play. The highs and lows of National Cup games, winning the Northern Merit table getting promoted all the way to the Premier league before it all was destroyed by professionilsm and greed with an owner selling out and disbanding the team.
Fortunatly, the grass roots game together saved the team and now they survive, albeit at much lover level in League North Two East surpassed by many of the teams I used to watch us play and beat. In the States I do not have a chance to see them play live, but, wait impatiently by the computer for the results of the games to be posted and still have the same exhiliration with a win or despair with a defeat.
That first game 26 years ago was a wn by West with a hattrick of tries by Keith Garnett. Today as I read the message boards I am delighted to post that West win again 29-3 on Rovers home turf. Life, for a few moments at least, has no worries!!