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Stat Attack: Notts County vs. Hartlepool United, Saturday 11 March 2017

Joe Jones

Notts County and Hartlepool United have met 32 times over the years. The first meeting was on 21 September 1959 at Victoria Park, and the Magpies won 4-2.

We've played them twice this season so far - the League Two meeting on 20 August and a FL Trophy tie 11 days later, which we both won 2-1.

The head-to-head record stands at 15 wins for Notts, 12 defeats, and 5 draws, and we have won each of the last four meetings.

In 1905, the amateur team West Hartlepool won the FA Amateur Cup which at the time was considered second only to the FA Cup. Partly as a result of this the opportunity for a professional team arose in 1908, when West Hartlepool Rugby Club went bust leaving their stadium Victoria Ground vacant.

The stadium was bought and the current club was founded under the name ‘Hartlepools United Football Athletic Company’, representing both the town of West Hartlepool and the original settlement of Old Hartlepool.

The new team joined the professional North-Eastern league and West Hartlepool F.C. lost some of their players to the new professional side. West Hartlepool managed to continue for a few seasons, but it was not long before they broke up leaving Hartlepools United as the only team in town.

In 1968 the "s" and the "United" were dropped from the team name of "Hartlepools United". This was in connection with West Hartlepool being absorbed along with the old smaller town of Hartlepool and the village of Hart into one new borough named "Hartlepool". The appendage of "United" was finally restored in 1977.

Brian Clough was invited to manage Hartlepools in 1965. His reaction was: "I don't fancy the place," but he took the job anyway and stayed for two seasons alongside Peter Taylor.

Under Cyril Knowles' management the club won promotion to the Third Division in 1990, but Hartlepool's greatest moment occurred in 2005 when they narrowly missed promotion to The Championship.

According to local folklore, the term “Monkey Hangers”, which Hartlepudlians are sometimes called, originates from an incident in which a monkey was hanged in the town.

During the Napoleonic Wars, a French ship of the type chasse marée was wrecked off the coast of Hartlepool. The only survivor was a monkey, allegedly wearing a French uniform to provide amusement for the crew.

On finding the monkey, some locals decided to hold an impromptu trial on the beach; since the monkey was unable to answer their questions and because they had seen neither a monkey nor a Frenchman before, they concluded that the monkey was in fact a French spy. Being found guilty the animal was duly sentenced to death and hanged on the beach.

An alternative theory is put forward alongside the above on the "This Is Hartlepool" town guide, stating: "Then there are some who point to a much darker interpretation of the yarn. They say that the creature that was hanged might not have been a monkey at all; it could have been a young boy. After all, the term powder-monkey was commonly used in those times for the children employed on warships to prime the cannon with gunpowder."

In the 2002 council election, the team's mascot "H'Angus the Monkey", aka Stuart Drummond, was elected mayor of Hartlepool as an independent, under the slogan "free bananas for schoolchildren".

In recent years the most visible fan of the club has been Jeff Stelling, presenter of Soccer Saturday on Sky Sports. The rock star Meat Loaf, Janick Gers of the metal band Iron Maiden, MP Peter Mandelson, and film director Ridley Scott are also fans of the club.

Team news

Notts County boss Kevin Nolan is considering handing himself a debut against fellow Hartlepool United on Saturday.

The former Bolton, Newcastle and West Ham midfielder has yet to play since taking over at Meadow Lane in January but is weighing up the possibility after the 3-0 defeat at Stevenage.

With captain Michael O'Connor still suspended, Nolan could come into the middle of the park while another change might see Richard Duffy restored in defence after he was left on the bench on his return from a ban last weekend.

Matt Tootle, Carl Dickinson, Alan Smith and Jonathan Forte are also options for Nolan.

Hartlepool boss Dave Jones is set to recall midfielder Nicky Deverdics from his loan spell at Dover amid an injury crisis.

Jones has a series of players suffering from niggles and knocks with full-back Sean Kavanagh having returned to parent club Fulham this week for an assessment of the hamstring problem he sustained in the 3-1 victory over Exeter last Saturday.

Striker Billy Paynter remains on the sidelines as he undergoes a course of injections he hopes will mean he does not have to have surgery to address a persistent Achilles problem.

Full-back Carl Magnay is edging his way back from a serious knee injury, but keeper Trevor Carson and central defender Rob Jones are still out.

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