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Address: Victoria Park,
Capacity: 7,856 (4,249 Seated)
Well-placed for those coming by rail and suited to those who have a preference towards either standing or seating. Victoria Park is certainly not the largest of the football grounds in the northeast, but it’s a place well worth checking out.
The site’s sporting history dates to 1886. The land was originally a limestone quarry, but that year was bought by West Hartlepool Rugby Football Club who converted it into a rugby ground. The venue originally became known as the Victoria Ground in celebration of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.
West Hartlepool went bust in 1908, and shortly afterwards the ground became registered under the name of ‘The Hartlepools United Football Athletic Company Limited’. That club would become the Hartlepool United Football Club that is in place today, and they have remained at the Victoria site ever since.
Victoria Park was bombed by a German Zeppelin during the First World War, and despite attempts to get compensation for its reconstruction, they had to cope for decades with a smaller wooden stand in place on one side of the pitch.
Middlesbrough were forced to play their first game of the 1986-87 season at Victoria Park when they were faced with liquidation and locked out of their home at the time, Ayresome Park.
West Hartlepool RFC would return to the ground in 1998 with a plan to remain until 2001. They would bring executive boxes with them from Brierton Lane that were added to Hartlepool’s home. The agreement ended up lasting just one year though and West Hartlepool left Victoria Park in 1999.
Further renovations in recent years have created the Victoria Park that is in place today. It is also known through sponsorship as the Suit Direct Stadium.
Location and Getting There
Victoria Park is located off Clarence Road, a short distance away from Hartlepool Town Centre. The National Museum of the Royal Navy Hartlepool is 0.2 miles away to the east, and the Headland is around one mile further out from there.
Coming to Victoria Park by car is certainly possible.
The ground has limited parking spaces available for supporters by these need to be booked in advance. There are two supermarkets nearby, an Asda and a Morrisons, but you will not be able to park at these for the whole duration of the match.
The nearby streets also have a residents only parking scheme in use on matchdays, so any street parking you find is likely to be a fair distance away from Victoria Park. If you don’t mind the walk though, this shouldn’t be a problem.
The easier way to reach Victoria Park is by rail.
Hartlepool Station, served by northern rail and Grand Central, is within 0.5 miles to the southeast and the walk from here to the ground takes under 10 minutes. The route is a very simple one, heading from the station onto Church Street (A178) and then across the junction and onto Clarence Road which eventually leads up to Victoria Park on the left.
If you have the option of choosing between car or train to get to Victoria Park, I would certainly recommend the latter.
Outside the Stadium
It is very important that you check your match ticket so that you know exactly which turnstile you need to use. Victoria Park is not that easy to navigate around, and it can be a long route to get from one side of the football ground to the other.
There are turnstiles on all four corners of the ground, and all four partly provide entrance to the adjacent stands either side of them.
Coming to Victoria Park via Hartlepool Station will bring you up to the ground along Clarence Road to the east. The stand that runs alongside this road is known as the Longbranch Homes Stand through sponsorship, but is also named after Cyril Knowles.
Born in Yorkshire on 13th July 1944, Knowles was a left-back who had a long successful spell at Tottenham Hotspur between 1964 and 1976. Having been made manager of Darlington and Torquay United after retiring, he became Hartlepool United manager in 1989, who were then at the bottom of the Fourth Division. He would guide the Pools to survival by the end of the season and led them to promotion into the Third Division the following year.
Knowles was diagnosed with a brain tumour in February 1991 which he failed to recover from, passing away on 30th August 1991 at the age of 47. The East Stand at Victoria Park has been named after him since 1995.
The exterior of the Longbranch Homes Stand is a mix of different sized and different coloured buildings. If you begin at the southern end, you will first come to a blue exit gate and a Ticket Collection Point. Immediately after this collection point is a white-coloured turnstile block. Turnstiles C5-C8 are located here, C5-C6 being for the Longbranch Homes Stand and C7-C8 being for fans in the adjacent South Stand.
Heading past a white wall with blue silhouettes on it, you will reach a white corrugated iron building that is elevated above ground. Underneath is the entrance marked "Executive Suites & Boxes. Maidens Suite & Boardroom."
Towards the centre of the Longbranch Homes Stand is a blue corrugated iron building, in turn elevated above ground. The entrance underneath is for the Centenary Bar (which is usually available for away supporters on a matchday).
Following another white wall with blue silhouettes, you will arrive at the northern turnstile block, also whiter in colour. Turnstiles C1-C4 are found here. Turnstiles C1-C2 are for away supporters based in the adjacent North Stand. Turnstiles C3-C4 are for home fans in the Longbranch Homes Stand.
To the right of this turnstile block is a blue exit gate, followed by two brick plaques dedicated to Hartlepool United supporters, and a further blue gate is in place between them.
The opposite side of Clarence Road from the Longbranch Homes Stand is often taken up by parked supporters coaches and team coaches on a matchday. It is usually closed off to vehicles as plenty of visiting fans walk past this stand before entering the football ground.
In the northeast corner of Victoria Park, you can find a large building with a white corrugated iron roof. It mostly has a white coloured base with its higher parts painted dark blue, but the building is painted grey on its western side.
Inside this building are major club facilities, including the Main Ticket Office. Main Reception and Pools Retail, all of which are accessible from off Clarence Road. On the western side is an entrance to the Club 1908 Lounge.
Head past a wall of brick plaques and through a set of grey gates, and you can head round to the northern side of Victoria Park. The North Stand is known for sponsorship reasons as the Simpson Millar Solicitors Stand.
The exterior of the Simpson Millar Solicitors Stand is dominated by a large blue fence atop a grass bank. Out beyond is the stadium's official car park. You can only see part of the stand's corrugated iron exterior from outside, and the blue fence is normally covered in advertising boards.
The most notable feature on this side of Victoria Park, aside from the car park, is the western side of the club office building. The adjacent northern side of this building has large boards higher up advertising Hartlepool players "suited and booted" from Suit Direct, the main sponsor of the stadium.
Fans based in the Simpson Millar Solicitors Stand need to make use of the turnstiles off Clarence Road. C1-C2 are for visiting fans, situated in the white turnstile block at the northern end of the road. You will head past the stadium's Main Reception, Ticket Office and Pools Retail in order to reach them.
A small footpath through a gate enables you to get around the northwest corner of Victoria Park. It is here that you can find a large brick building which houses The Corner Flag (Hartlepool United Football Club Supporters Association). A sign above the door indicates that visitors are welcome on a matchday.
Head around from The Corner Flag building and you will come to the start of the West Stand. It is split into two sections internally, the upper section known as the Teesside International Airport Stand. The lower section is named after Neale Cooper.
Born in India on 24th November 1963, Cooper moved to Scotland as a child, coming through Aberdeen’s academy and going on to play more than 350 games for clubs in Scotland and England. He moved into management in 1996, taking charge of Hartlepool United between 2003 and 2005 during what is considered one of the club’s most exciting chapters. He was reappointed Hartlepool manager six years later in 2011 and resigned the following October.
Forever held in high regard by Pools fans, Cooper passed away on 28th May 2018 at the age of 54 after being found collapsed in a stairwell in Aberdeen. The West Stand at Victoria Park has been named in his honour since June of that year.
The exterior of the western side appears rather naked when compared to the Longbranch Homes Stand opposite. There is a perimeter fence a little away from the outer wall, which is made mostly from corrugated iron. The underside of the stand’s seating area is visible from outside, with an outer concourse housed beneath this.
There are two sets of turnstile blocks for the western side of Victoria Park Both can be found at either end of the stand. The more northern turnstile block, made from brick, houses Turnstiles M3-M6. Immediately left of Turnstile M3 is a booth marked "Card Sales Only and Teesside International Airport Stand Collections."
The more southern turnstile block, also made from brick, houses Turnstiles M7-M14. This turnstile block is also used by fans based in the adjacent South Stand, M7-M11 being marked for those in the Teesside International Airport Stand or the Neale Cooper Terrace.
Immediately outside this western side of Victoria Park is a small skate park and a fenced off football court. The small car park out beyond here is a pay and display officially used for the Mill House Leisure Centre. Fans regularly make use of this on a first-come first-served basis during matchdays though.
The South Stand at Victoria Park is better known to many as the Town End. It is known for sponsorship reasons however as the Brunel Group Stand.
This is the least accessible side of Victoria Park. With a Morrisons supermarket right up behind it, you are unable to walk right alongside its corrugated iron exterior unless you have a ticket for this side of the football ground.
The Brunel Group Stand has two sets of turnstiles available to use, both on opposite sides of the stadium. Turnstiles M12-M14 can be found on the western side of the stadium, next to ones used for the Teesside International Airport Stand and the Neale Cooper Terrace. Alternatively, Turnstiles C7-C8 can be found on the eastern side of the stadium, next to ones used for the Longbranch Homes Stand off Clarence Road.
If you are outside the Cyril Knowles Stand, there are two different routes you can take to get to these southwest turnstiles. One involves heading south down Clarence Road past the Morrisons car park and turning right onto Museum Road from a roundabout. From there, you continue along Museum Road, turn right on Raby Road, and pass through the bollards onto Rium Terrace. Head up here and the southwest turnstiles will eventually become visible on your right.
Alternatively, you can head north along Clarence Road, past the Main Reception Building, and turn left into the ground’s official car park. Heading all the way through this car park and will bring you to a footpath that swings round to the left, past The Corner Flag building. Head along this and past the northwest turnstiles to the southwest turnstiles.
Inside the Stadium
The Longbranch Homes Stand consists of a single tier of seating.
The smaller seating blocks at either end of the stand are coloured blue, with the two blocks further inwards on each side coloured white instead. These white blocks also have the letters HUFC spelt out in blue across them. The block with the letter C in has a flat platform down at the front for disabled supporters to use. The next block inwards on either side is coloured completely blue, and the very central block is coloured white with the number 1908, the year Hartlepool United was formed, made out of red seating across it. Part of the central block is sectioned off at the back for executive use, and you can find executive boxes up behind the back row.
Victoria Park’s dugouts are based down at the front, with the tunnel to the right of centre and the changing rooms located inside.
Your view from anywhere inside the Longbranch Homes Stand is perfectly clear as there are no supporting pillars coming down from the roof above.
Windshields are in place at either end, but they only provide protection to the rows further back. There are just small walls in place to offer protection for those sat further forwards.
The Simpson Millar Solicitors Stand is a single tier of entirely blue seating.
Supporting pillars come down along the front and back of the stand, and this will restrict your view slightly if you are stood behind or near them. Your best view is likely to come from being sat down at the front or at either end of the seating area.
There are windshields in place at either end of the stand to offer protection, with both having a door-shaped opening at the front to enable access inside and out.
Victoria Park's western side is divided into two sections. The Teesside International Airport Stand is up at the back and the Neale Cooper Terrace is down at the front. The terrace can hold 240 more people than the Airport Stand up behind.
The Neale Cooper Terrace contains uncovered standing terrace with two rows of white metal bars running across it for fans to lean on and the very front rows actually being lower down than the pitch in front of them. A white fence at the back of the terracing area limits the points where fans can enter it.
Views from inside the Neale Cooper Terrace are certainly clear, but there is little to no protection from the sides or from overhead.
The Teesside International Airport Stand contains entirely seating, elevated above ground and accessible via small staircases down at the front. The outermost seating blocks here are coloured blue, with the inner seating blocks coloured white and displaying the letters NSD across them using blue seating. A walled-off area up at the back holds the matchday camera.
Your view from anywhere inside the Teesside International Airport Stand is perfectly clear as there are no supporting pillars coming down from the roof.
There are no windshields in place at either end however, with just small walls offering protection from the sides.
The southwest corner between the Neale Cooper Terrace and the Brunel Group Stand holds the Stadium Control Box and an electronic scoreboard that can best be seen by those at the opposite end of the ground.
The Brunel Group Stand is a single tier of standing terrace.
It has three rows of white metal bars running across it for fans to lean on, with its entrance doors from the outer concourse being located up at the back.
Your view from anywhere inside the Brunel Group Stand is perfectly clear as there are no supporting pillars coming down from the roof above.
Windshields are in place at either end, but they only provide protection to the rows further back. There are just walls in place to offer protection for those sat further forwards.
Away fans are housed behind the goal in the Simpson Millar Solicitors Stand. This is a single tier of blue seating which has supporting pillars coming down at the front and back.
Your view is likely to be restricted as a result, especially for the smaller crowds who tend to congregate in the central blocks right behind the northern goal. The best views in this stand are likely to come from the very front row or the seats at either end of the stand.
Windshields additionally provide a good level of protection at either end.
The turnstiles for this part of Victoria Park are marked out for Away Supporters and can be found off Clarence Road to the east. Look for Turnstiles C1-C2 for away supporter entry. There are no access points along the back of the away stand as this space is taken up by the stadium's official car park.
Pubs available to supporters on a matchday include:
-The Bars at Victoria Park itself (Away Supporters Welcome)
-The Anchor Tap and Bottle Shop (Lion Brewery, Waldon Street, TS24 7QS) (Typically Home and Away Supporters)
-The Jackson's Wharf (The Highlight, TS24 0XN) (Popular with Away Supporters) (Located east of Victoria Park by the Hartlepool Marina)
-The King John's Tavern (1 South Road, TS26 9HD) (Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located in Central Hartlepool)
-The Mill House (Rium Terrace, TS24 8AP) (Home and Away Supporters) (Located west of Victoria Park)
-The Rat Race Ale House (Station Approach, TS24 7EB) (Typically Home and Away Supporters) (Located at Hartlepool Station)
Victoria Park is a long-standing football ground that can accommodate those who like seating and those who like standing.
Views from three of its four stands are great, with its northern end given to away supporters who are well segregated from the rest of the home crowd present on a matchday.
It can be a little tricky to navigate around the ground, with turnstiles on all four corners and a nearby supermarket restricted access along the southern side, but with the town’s main railway station located so close by, it would be wrong to pass up the opportunity to check Victoria Park out first hand.
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