Hartlepoole’s beaten Man U and Arsenal …

HeadLine: HARTLEPOOL’S BEATEN MAN U AND ARSENAL (but only in the
friendliest stadium league)

Sunday Mirror, 29/10/2000, p28
by SHAUN MILNE

PREMIERSHIP big guns Man Utd and Arsenal have been booted into touch by
lowly Hartlepool…in the battle of the grounds.
The Division Three upstarts were runners-up – behind Sunderland – in
this season’s list of Britain’s top 20 most welcoming football
stadiums.
They finished 13 places ahead of Manchester United and three above
Arsenal.
The latest edition of Guide To Football Grounds puts cash-strapped
Rochdale and Crewe third and fourth.
The judges voted Sunderland tops, saying: “This Stadium of Light
eclipses all. For facilities, passion and atmosphere it is difficult to
beat.”
The grounds were judged on how easy they are to reach, disabled
facilities, quality of food, the welcome given to away fans, and match
programmes.
Sunderland came in for particular praise for taking the trouble to
cater for away fans as well as the home support, and the fact that
their ground is easy to reach from town.
They were also complimented on providing commentary for the blind, with
the only real criticism being the stadium’s lack of parking.
Hartlepool’s Victoria Park ground – average attendance just 2,773 – is
dwarfed next to the likes of Old Trafford’s 67,000 crowds. But its
general facilities, and the fact that fans can still stand on the
terraces there, make it far more welcoming, according to the guide.
And the half-time pies at the ground came in for special praise. Guide
author Jon Ladd said: “Words cannot begin to describe this culinary
masterpiece. Make sure you’ve got room for at least one of these on a
visit.””
Last night Hartlepool spokesman Paul Mullen said the club were
delighted. “It’s our best league placing of all time – we’ll settle for
that,” he added.
Man Utd were heavily criticised for their “chaotic” parking
arrangements, plus the increase in ticket prices on last season and the
difficulty in getting them.
Judges said: “A trip to Old Trafford will probably bring out a number
of emotions in you – awe at the sheer scale of the place, jealousy,
and, perhaps, sadness or anger in that you can’t ever kid yourself that
as a fan – home or away – you will ever mean anything to the club. It
is probably best to accept it for what it is – a big corporation
earning money.”
Guide author Jon Ladd said: “Too often supporters are viewed as nothing
more than open wallets.”

**

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