THE HALF DECENT FOOTBALL MAGAZINE

Paul Mullen looks at man, but not just any man, a Hartlepool man 

Distinguishing features Somewhat vertically-challenged, but still manages to tower over our typically minute forward line. Always dapper in business suits and overcoats, although he has been known to loosen his top shirt button occasionally for that casual look.

Habitat Harold is a local guy made good. He made his money through a chain of those old-fashioned style ironmongers shops where you can buy absolutely anything – as long as you’ve got time to find it. Also has a string of other businesses throughout the north east, including electrical goods shops. Although he is club chairman, his globetrotting brief as chairman of Aberdeen-based Increased Oil Recovery Ltd means that sightings are as rare as those of club president Peter Mandelson.

What use is he? Saved Hartlepool from a fate worse than death when he bought them from the previous incumbent, whose accounting practices, shall we say, left a lot to be desired. He ploughed in a lot of money over a couple of years to secure the future, then sold out to IOR in September 1997 when his funds wouldn’t stretch to further development. However, IOR kept him on to continue running the club as a paid director. Harold thus has the best of both worlds, as he continues to do a job he obviously loves, without the financial strain – although I suspect that the club’s phone and fax bill has gone up since the takeover.

Who remembers his birthday? Very difficult to find anyone in the town who has a bad word to say about him. He is always willing to take time to explain the sometimes bewildering chains of events which unfold at Victoria Park.

Quote unquote Many will doubt the sanity of both Harold (and IOR) in taking on the club, but as the man said in a recent interview, “If you don’t have a sense of humour, then keep away from football. I was born here, this town’s given me a tremendous living, so why not put something back?”

Other offences to be taken into consideration Harold doesn’t like watching from the directors’ box, preferring to wander the ground, leaving his fellow directors to entertain their counterparts. His biggest blunder in the eyes of most fans was changing the club badge in an attempt to erase all signs of his predecessor. The stylish deer-based design (the “hart” in Hartlepool is a deer) was replaced by an awful ship’s wheel/football combination, the winner of a competition judged by the mayoress. But if Harold and IOR can bring success to the club, the fans will probably even forgive him that.

From WSC 146 April 1999. What was happening this month

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