Hartlepool United

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The sad, slow death of Hartlepool United: 'If this town loses the football team, it will be a disaster'

The sad, slow death of Hartlepool United: 'If this town loses the football team, it will be a disaster'

The sad, slow death of Hartlepool United: 'If this town loses the football team, it will be a disaster'

At first glance, Hartlepool looks like almost any small, provincial town in England's urban sprawl. There are roads with too many cars; a slightly tired High Street, currently undergoing an ambitious redevelopment; a cavernous bingo hall, and fast food restaurants - lots of them.  The town's one major tourist attraction, the world’s oldest war ship, HMS Trincomalee, bobs gently on the North Sea, moored outside the National Royal Navy Museum, the centrepiece of an impressive Marina development. But even that is ageing. Money is tight in a town which feels forgotten. In the midst of all this, it is easy to miss the football stadium. Five minutes' walk from the railway station, Hartlepool United's Victoria Park is sandwiched between two large supermarkets, a small grey edifice in keeping with the town's rather brutalist appearance.  Yet this is also the community's beating heart. Football brings more people, more regularly, to Hartlepool than anything else - and with people comes money, up to £10 million-a-year by some estimates. But the lifeline is now in danger of being cut: Hartlepool need to raise £200,000 by January 25 to prevent sliding into administration. “This is a working-class town that has had some tough times," explains Adrian Liddell, 47, over the sound of building work outside his printing business on Church Street. "It’s not the only northern town that has been marginalised, but there is also a lot of pride here and a resilience and people do not give up on their town. Adrian Liddell, managing director of Atkinson Print, says Hartlepudlians are resilient and don't give up on their town Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “If we lose the football team, it’s going to be an economic disaster. It is about tourism as much as anything and some clubs bring 1,000 fans with them. They step off the train and the idea was, they walked out on to Church Street and there would be places to eat and drink. Same for home fans. The football club puts the town on the map. “Forget the people who are employed full time, there are 100 people employed just on a matchday. They are part time jobs that cannot easily be replaced in this town. In fact, they won’t be replaced, it’s that simple. The economic loss if the club ceases to exist will be felt acutely. We’ve already felt it because the National League teams don’t have a large away following.” Yet, even if that money is found, the problems will not be solved. When you are losing around £130,000-a-month running a Football League budget as a non-league club – Hartlepool were relegated from League Two for the first time in their history last May - there is always a risk of throwing good money after bad. Hartlepool fell out of the Football League for the first time at the end of last season Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph The current owner, John Blackledge, is owed around £1.8m, after he was left in charge, having loaned former owner Gary Coxhall money before he abandoned his post. There are potential buyers sniffing around, but finding someone to take over a loss-making business with that level of debt is a gruelling task. Good people are trying to save them. Local politicians, both Labour and Conservative, are united in their desire to help, and there have been high-profile interventions from celebrity supporters such as the Sky presenter Jeff Stelling, but the search for new owners is a desperate one. “The ingredients are here for a successful lower league football club,” said Alistair Rea, who used to work for the local council. “I’ve been a supporter all my life, through the thick and thin. Well, the thin and thin really. “We’ve only had three promotions in 110 years so there hasn’t been a lot of success. We’ve only played in League One or Two and we had to be re-elected to the Football League 14 times, which is a record. Alastair Rae, retired PR manager for Hartlepool Council, has supported the club through 'thin and thin' Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “I was born in Hartlepool. My dad took me to my first game in 1964. It was the highlight of the week for me then and it is now. It runs right through the family. My dad has been going for 72 years. My daughter went to her first game when she was four and sat on my shoulders when we beat Rochdale 2-0… it’s not everything about life, but it’s a big part of it. “This could be a fresh start. Teams have been in this position before and have come back from it stronger. But we have to find new owners. We have had ten years of slow decline, but we can come back from this.” There is fear behind the optimism, especially when Hartlepool watched their biggest rivals Darlington go out of business four years ago. The Quakers reformed, but are still stuck in the National League North as they try to work their way back into the Football League. “When Darlington folded, I wouldn’t say there was glee,” adds Liddell. “Well, maybe a bit at first, they were our big rivals and it was an intense rivalry too, but I think we all saw how easily it could happen and how vulnerable we were. “It was an eye opener. We had always been at a similar level to them, similar sized clubs. I think it did give us a sense of foreboding from a sustainability point of view. HMS Trincomalee provides the centrepiece of the marina development Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “As for any lower league club, you either have a wealthy benefactor who is willing to lose a bit of money, or a big business that wants to promote themselves and, I hesitate to say this, use it as a tax write off. Without one of them, you’re in trouble. “The problem with a town like Hartlepool is there aren’t enough businesses of a high enough level to buy and support the football team. There are a few who could club together in a consortium, but that brings its own problems in terms of trying to run the thing. “You don’t support a team like Pools for the adulation or the success. I’ve supported Pools, since I was taken along by my father. My brother is a big fan, my two boys still go. “They used to get stick at school because they had a Hartlepool top on in the playground. Why haven’t you got a Chelsea top or a Manchester United top? But as they’ve got a bit older, it’s turned round, the kids give them a bit of respect because they support their local team. The derelict Odeon: money is tight in a town that seems forgotten Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “We get a bit sick of the Manchester United fan club meeting in the pub every week, getting picked up to be bused to Old Trafford. The Hartlepool Reds they are called. We get sick of the Sunderland coaches picking supporters up from the working men’s clubs every other week. We’ve got a lot of 'Plastic Mags' (Newcastle supporters) too, who have been to one game in five years.” Hartlepool has tried hard to shake off negative perceptions and at the forefront of that is the local Further Education College. For Shaun Hope, head of student recruitment and another lifelong supporter, the loss of the club has wider ramifications. “In a town like this, you always look for focal points and a football club is one of the easiest,” said Hope, whose father’s bakery supplies the club with its matchday pies. “People take an interest as it’s a symbol of the town. For a town of Hartlepool’s size, there are a lot of Hartlepool supporters even though we are surrounded by Premier League and Championship clubs. “It helps gives the town a sense of community. There are a lot of positive things happening in the town right now and this college is one of them. We are helping to raise young people’s aspirations, but losing the town’s football team would be a disaster on a grand scale. That is going to have a really negative impact on the town’s self-esteem." Shaun Hope says losing United would be 'a disaster on a grand scale'  Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph There are some flickers of hope. A JustGiving page set up to help the club's fundraising has already amassed £55,000 in donations, and followers of neighbouring clubs - especially Middlesbrough, who were aided by Hartlepool supporters when they were fighting their own battle against extinction in 1986 - have rushed to their aid. Saturday's league game against Wrexham is heading for a sell-out for home fans. It might not prove enough, but at least it is showing that the club's plight is not going unnoticed.  “People are never ashamed to be from Hartlepool," Hope added. "We have our troubles, but people are very proud of where they are from. We need the football club - we really do.”

The sad, slow death of Hartlepool United: 'If this town loses the football team, it will be a disaster'

At first glance, Hartlepool looks like almost any small, provincial town in England's urban sprawl. There are roads with too many cars; a slightly tired High Street, currently undergoing an ambitious redevelopment; a cavernous bingo hall, and fast food restaurants - lots of them.  The town's one major tourist attraction, the world’s oldest war ship, HMS Trincomalee, bobs gently on the North Sea, moored outside the National Royal Navy Museum, the centrepiece of an impressive Marina development. But even that is ageing. Money is tight in a town which feels forgotten. In the midst of all this, it is easy to miss the football stadium. Five minutes' walk from the railway station, Hartlepool United's Victoria Park is sandwiched between two large supermarkets, a small grey edifice in keeping with the town's rather brutalist appearance.  Yet this is also the community's beating heart. Football brings more people, more regularly, to Hartlepool than anything else - and with people comes money, up to £10 million-a-year by some estimates. But the lifeline is now in danger of being cut: Hartlepool need to raise £200,000 by January 25 to prevent sliding into administration. “This is a working-class town that has had some tough times," explains Adrian Liddell, 47, over the sound of building work outside his printing business on Church Street. "It’s not the only northern town that has been marginalised, but there is also a lot of pride here and a resilience and people do not give up on their town. Adrian Liddell, managing director of Atkinson Print, says Hartlepudlians are resilient and don't give up on their town Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “If we lose the football team, it’s going to be an economic disaster. It is about tourism as much as anything and some clubs bring 1,000 fans with them. They step off the train and the idea was, they walked out on to Church Street and there would be places to eat and drink. Same for home fans. The football club puts the town on the map. “Forget the people who are employed full time, there are 100 people employed just on a matchday. They are part time jobs that cannot easily be replaced in this town. In fact, they won’t be replaced, it’s that simple. The economic loss if the club ceases to exist will be felt acutely. We’ve already felt it because the National League teams don’t have a large away following.” Yet, even if that money is found, the problems will not be solved. When you are losing around £130,000-a-month running a Football League budget as a non-league club – Hartlepool were relegated from League Two for the first time in their history last May - there is always a risk of throwing good money after bad. Hartlepool fell out of the Football League for the first time at the end of last season Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph The current owner, John Blackledge, is owed around £1.8m, after he was left in charge, having loaned former owner Gary Coxhall money before he abandoned his post. There are potential buyers sniffing around, but finding someone to take over a loss-making business with that level of debt is a gruelling task. Good people are trying to save them. Local politicians, both Labour and Conservative, are united in their desire to help, and there have been high-profile interventions from celebrity supporters such as the Sky presenter Jeff Stelling, but the search for new owners is a desperate one. “The ingredients are here for a successful lower league football club,” said Alistair Rea, who used to work for the local council. “I’ve been a supporter all my life, through the thick and thin. Well, the thin and thin really. “We’ve only had three promotions in 110 years so there hasn’t been a lot of success. We’ve only played in League One or Two and we had to be re-elected to the Football League 14 times, which is a record. Alastair Rae, retired PR manager for Hartlepool Council, has supported the club through 'thin and thin' Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “I was born in Hartlepool. My dad took me to my first game in 1964. It was the highlight of the week for me then and it is now. It runs right through the family. My dad has been going for 72 years. My daughter went to her first game when she was four and sat on my shoulders when we beat Rochdale 2-0… it’s not everything about life, but it’s a big part of it. “This could be a fresh start. Teams have been in this position before and have come back from it stronger. But we have to find new owners. We have had ten years of slow decline, but we can come back from this.” There is fear behind the optimism, especially when Hartlepool watched their biggest rivals Darlington go out of business four years ago. The Quakers reformed, but are still stuck in the National League North as they try to work their way back into the Football League. “When Darlington folded, I wouldn’t say there was glee,” adds Liddell. “Well, maybe a bit at first, they were our big rivals and it was an intense rivalry too, but I think we all saw how easily it could happen and how vulnerable we were. “It was an eye opener. We had always been at a similar level to them, similar sized clubs. I think it did give us a sense of foreboding from a sustainability point of view. HMS Trincomalee provides the centrepiece of the marina development Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “As for any lower league club, you either have a wealthy benefactor who is willing to lose a bit of money, or a big business that wants to promote themselves and, I hesitate to say this, use it as a tax write off. Without one of them, you’re in trouble. “The problem with a town like Hartlepool is there aren’t enough businesses of a high enough level to buy and support the football team. There are a few who could club together in a consortium, but that brings its own problems in terms of trying to run the thing. “You don’t support a team like Pools for the adulation or the success. I’ve supported Pools, since I was taken along by my father. My brother is a big fan, my two boys still go. “They used to get stick at school because they had a Hartlepool top on in the playground. Why haven’t you got a Chelsea top or a Manchester United top? But as they’ve got a bit older, it’s turned round, the kids give them a bit of respect because they support their local team. The derelict Odeon: money is tight in a town that seems forgotten Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “We get a bit sick of the Manchester United fan club meeting in the pub every week, getting picked up to be bused to Old Trafford. The Hartlepool Reds they are called. We get sick of the Sunderland coaches picking supporters up from the working men’s clubs every other week. We’ve got a lot of 'Plastic Mags' (Newcastle supporters) too, who have been to one game in five years.” Hartlepool has tried hard to shake off negative perceptions and at the forefront of that is the local Further Education College. For Shaun Hope, head of student recruitment and another lifelong supporter, the loss of the club has wider ramifications. “In a town like this, you always look for focal points and a football club is one of the easiest,” said Hope, whose father’s bakery supplies the club with its matchday pies. “People take an interest as it’s a symbol of the town. For a town of Hartlepool’s size, there are a lot of Hartlepool supporters even though we are surrounded by Premier League and Championship clubs. “It helps gives the town a sense of community. There are a lot of positive things happening in the town right now and this college is one of them. We are helping to raise young people’s aspirations, but losing the town’s football team would be a disaster on a grand scale. That is going to have a really negative impact on the town’s self-esteem." Shaun Hope says losing United would be 'a disaster on a grand scale'  Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph There are some flickers of hope. A JustGiving page set up to help the club's fundraising has already amassed £55,000 in donations, and followers of neighbouring clubs - especially Middlesbrough, who were aided by Hartlepool supporters when they were fighting their own battle against extinction in 1986 - have rushed to their aid. Saturday's league game against Wrexham is heading for a sell-out for home fans. It might not prove enough, but at least it is showing that the club's plight is not going unnoticed.  “People are never ashamed to be from Hartlepool," Hope added. "We have our troubles, but people are very proud of where they are from. We need the football club - we really do.”

The sad, slow death of Hartlepool United: 'If this town loses the football team, it will be a disaster'

At first glance, Hartlepool looks like almost any small, provincial town in England's urban sprawl. There are roads with too many cars; a slightly tired High Street, currently undergoing an ambitious redevelopment; a cavernous bingo hall, and fast food restaurants - lots of them.  The town's one major tourist attraction, the world’s oldest war ship, HMS Trincomalee, bobs gently on the North Sea, moored outside the National Royal Navy Museum, the centrepiece of an impressive Marina development. But even that is ageing. Money is tight in a town which feels forgotten. In the midst of all this, it is easy to miss the football stadium. Five minutes' walk from the railway station, Hartlepool United's Victoria Park is sandwiched between two large supermarkets, a small grey edifice in keeping with the town's rather brutalist appearance.  Yet this is also the community's beating heart. Football brings more people, more regularly, to Hartlepool than anything else - and with people comes money, up to £10 million-a-year by some estimates. But the lifeline is now in danger of being cut: Hartlepool need to raise £200,000 by January 25 to prevent sliding into administration. “This is a working-class town that has had some tough times," explains Adrian Liddell, 47, over the sound of building work outside his printing business on Church Street. "It’s not the only northern town that has been marginalised, but there is also a lot of pride here and a resilience and people do not give up on their town. Adrian Liddell, managing director of Atkinson Print, says Hartlepudlians are resilient and don't give up on their town Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “If we lose the football team, it’s going to be an economic disaster. It is about tourism as much as anything and some clubs bring 1,000 fans with them. They step off the train and the idea was, they walked out on to Church Street and there would be places to eat and drink. Same for home fans. The football club puts the town on the map. “Forget the people who are employed full time, there are 100 people employed just on a matchday. They are part time jobs that cannot easily be replaced in this town. In fact, they won’t be replaced, it’s that simple. The economic loss if the club ceases to exist will be felt acutely. We’ve already felt it because the National League teams don’t have a large away following.” Yet, even if that money is found, the problems will not be solved. When you are losing around £130,000-a-month running a Football League budget as a non-league club – Hartlepool were relegated from League Two for the first time in their history last May - there is always a risk of throwing good money after bad. Hartlepool fell out of the Football League for the first time at the end of last season Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph The current owner, John Blackledge, is owed around £1.8m, after he was left in charge, having loaned former owner Gary Coxhall money before he abandoned his post. There are potential buyers sniffing around, but finding someone to take over a loss-making business with that level of debt is a gruelling task. Good people are trying to save them. Local politicians, both Labour and Conservative, are united in their desire to help, and there have been high-profile interventions from celebrity supporters such as the Sky presenter Jeff Stelling, but the search for new owners is a desperate one. “The ingredients are here for a successful lower league football club,” said Alistair Rea, who used to work for the local council. “I’ve been a supporter all my life, through the thick and thin. Well, the thin and thin really. “We’ve only had three promotions in 110 years so there hasn’t been a lot of success. We’ve only played in League One or Two and we had to be re-elected to the Football League 14 times, which is a record. Alastair Rae, retired PR manager for Hartlepool Council, has supported the club through 'thin and thin' Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “I was born in Hartlepool. My dad took me to my first game in 1964. It was the highlight of the week for me then and it is now. It runs right through the family. My dad has been going for 72 years. My daughter went to her first game when she was four and sat on my shoulders when we beat Rochdale 2-0… it’s not everything about life, but it’s a big part of it. “This could be a fresh start. Teams have been in this position before and have come back from it stronger. But we have to find new owners. We have had ten years of slow decline, but we can come back from this.” There is fear behind the optimism, especially when Hartlepool watched their biggest rivals Darlington go out of business four years ago. The Quakers reformed, but are still stuck in the National League North as they try to work their way back into the Football League. “When Darlington folded, I wouldn’t say there was glee,” adds Liddell. “Well, maybe a bit at first, they were our big rivals and it was an intense rivalry too, but I think we all saw how easily it could happen and how vulnerable we were. “It was an eye opener. We had always been at a similar level to them, similar sized clubs. I think it did give us a sense of foreboding from a sustainability point of view. HMS Trincomalee provides the centrepiece of the marina development Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “As for any lower league club, you either have a wealthy benefactor who is willing to lose a bit of money, or a big business that wants to promote themselves and, I hesitate to say this, use it as a tax write off. Without one of them, you’re in trouble. “The problem with a town like Hartlepool is there aren’t enough businesses of a high enough level to buy and support the football team. There are a few who could club together in a consortium, but that brings its own problems in terms of trying to run the thing. “You don’t support a team like Pools for the adulation or the success. I’ve supported Pools, since I was taken along by my father. My brother is a big fan, my two boys still go. “They used to get stick at school because they had a Hartlepool top on in the playground. Why haven’t you got a Chelsea top or a Manchester United top? But as they’ve got a bit older, it’s turned round, the kids give them a bit of respect because they support their local team. The derelict Odeon: money is tight in a town that seems forgotten Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “We get a bit sick of the Manchester United fan club meeting in the pub every week, getting picked up to be bused to Old Trafford. The Hartlepool Reds they are called. We get sick of the Sunderland coaches picking supporters up from the working men’s clubs every other week. We’ve got a lot of 'Plastic Mags' (Newcastle supporters) too, who have been to one game in five years.” Hartlepool has tried hard to shake off negative perceptions and at the forefront of that is the local Further Education College. For Shaun Hope, head of student recruitment and another lifelong supporter, the loss of the club has wider ramifications. “In a town like this, you always look for focal points and a football club is one of the easiest,” said Hope, whose father’s bakery supplies the club with its matchday pies. “People take an interest as it’s a symbol of the town. For a town of Hartlepool’s size, there are a lot of Hartlepool supporters even though we are surrounded by Premier League and Championship clubs. “It helps gives the town a sense of community. There are a lot of positive things happening in the town right now and this college is one of them. We are helping to raise young people’s aspirations, but losing the town’s football team would be a disaster on a grand scale. That is going to have a really negative impact on the town’s self-esteem." Shaun Hope says losing United would be 'a disaster on a grand scale'  Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph There are some flickers of hope. A JustGiving page set up to help the club's fundraising has already amassed £55,000 in donations, and followers of neighbouring clubs - especially Middlesbrough, who were aided by Hartlepool supporters when they were fighting their own battle against extinction in 1986 - have rushed to their aid. Saturday's league game against Wrexham is heading for a sell-out for home fans. It might not prove enough, but at least it is showing that the club's plight is not going unnoticed.  “People are never ashamed to be from Hartlepool," Hope added. "We have our troubles, but people are very proud of where they are from. We need the football club - we really do.”

The sad, slow death of Hartlepool United: 'If this town loses the football team, it will be a disaster'

At first glance, Hartlepool looks like almost any small, provincial town in England's urban sprawl. There are roads with too many cars; a slightly tired High Street, currently undergoing an ambitious redevelopment; a cavernous bingo hall, and fast food restaurants - lots of them.  The town's one major tourist attraction, the world’s oldest war ship, HMS Trincomalee, bobs gently on the North Sea, moored outside the National Royal Navy Museum, the centrepiece of an impressive Marina development. But even that is ageing. Money is tight in a town which feels forgotten. In the midst of all this, it is easy to miss the football stadium. Five minutes' walk from the railway station, Hartlepool United's Victoria Park is sandwiched between two large supermarkets, a small grey edifice in keeping with the town's rather brutalist appearance.  Yet this is also the community's beating heart. Football brings more people, more regularly, to Hartlepool than anything else - and with people comes money, up to £10 million-a-year by some estimates. But the lifeline is now in danger of being cut: Hartlepool need to raise £200,000 by January 25 to prevent sliding into administration. “This is a working-class town that has had some tough times," explains Adrian Liddell, 47, over the sound of building work outside his printing business on Church Street. "It’s not the only northern town that has been marginalised, but there is also a lot of pride here and a resilience and people do not give up on their town. Adrian Liddell, managing director of Atkinson Print, says Hartlepudlians are resilient and don't give up on their town Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “If we lose the football team, it’s going to be an economic disaster. It is about tourism as much as anything and some clubs bring 1,000 fans with them. They step off the train and the idea was, they walked out on to Church Street and there would be places to eat and drink. Same for home fans. The football club puts the town on the map. “Forget the people who are employed full time, there are 100 people employed just on a matchday. They are part time jobs that cannot easily be replaced in this town. In fact, they won’t be replaced, it’s that simple. The economic loss if the club ceases to exist will be felt acutely. We’ve already felt it because the National League teams don’t have a large away following.” Yet, even if that money is found, the problems will not be solved. When you are losing around £130,000-a-month running a Football League budget as a non-league club – Hartlepool were relegated from League Two for the first time in their history last May - there is always a risk of throwing good money after bad. Hartlepool fell out of the Football League for the first time at the end of last season Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph The current owner, John Blackledge, is owed around £1.8m, after he was left in charge, having loaned former owner Gary Coxhall money before he abandoned his post. There are potential buyers sniffing around, but finding someone to take over a loss-making business with that level of debt is a gruelling task. Good people are trying to save them. Local politicians, both Labour and Conservative, are united in their desire to help, and there have been high-profile interventions from celebrity supporters such as the Sky presenter Jeff Stelling, but the search for new owners is a desperate one. “The ingredients are here for a successful lower league football club,” said Alistair Rea, who used to work for the local council. “I’ve been a supporter all my life, through the thick and thin. Well, the thin and thin really. “We’ve only had three promotions in 110 years so there hasn’t been a lot of success. We’ve only played in League One or Two and we had to be re-elected to the Football League 14 times, which is a record. Alastair Rae, retired PR manager for Hartlepool Council, has supported the club through 'thin and thin' Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “I was born in Hartlepool. My dad took me to my first game in 1964. It was the highlight of the week for me then and it is now. It runs right through the family. My dad has been going for 72 years. My daughter went to her first game when she was four and sat on my shoulders when we beat Rochdale 2-0… it’s not everything about life, but it’s a big part of it. “This could be a fresh start. Teams have been in this position before and have come back from it stronger. But we have to find new owners. We have had ten years of slow decline, but we can come back from this.” There is fear behind the optimism, especially when Hartlepool watched their biggest rivals Darlington go out of business four years ago. The Quakers reformed, but are still stuck in the National League North as they try to work their way back into the Football League. “When Darlington folded, I wouldn’t say there was glee,” adds Liddell. “Well, maybe a bit at first, they were our big rivals and it was an intense rivalry too, but I think we all saw how easily it could happen and how vulnerable we were. “It was an eye opener. We had always been at a similar level to them, similar sized clubs. I think it did give us a sense of foreboding from a sustainability point of view. HMS Trincomalee provides the centrepiece of the marina development Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “As for any lower league club, you either have a wealthy benefactor who is willing to lose a bit of money, or a big business that wants to promote themselves and, I hesitate to say this, use it as a tax write off. Without one of them, you’re in trouble. “The problem with a town like Hartlepool is there aren’t enough businesses of a high enough level to buy and support the football team. There are a few who could club together in a consortium, but that brings its own problems in terms of trying to run the thing. “You don’t support a team like Pools for the adulation or the success. I’ve supported Pools, since I was taken along by my father. My brother is a big fan, my two boys still go. “They used to get stick at school because they had a Hartlepool top on in the playground. Why haven’t you got a Chelsea top or a Manchester United top? But as they’ve got a bit older, it’s turned round, the kids give them a bit of respect because they support their local team. The derelict Odeon: money is tight in a town that seems forgotten Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “We get a bit sick of the Manchester United fan club meeting in the pub every week, getting picked up to be bused to Old Trafford. The Hartlepool Reds they are called. We get sick of the Sunderland coaches picking supporters up from the working men’s clubs every other week. We’ve got a lot of 'Plastic Mags' (Newcastle supporters) too, who have been to one game in five years.” Hartlepool has tried hard to shake off negative perceptions and at the forefront of that is the local Further Education College. For Shaun Hope, head of student recruitment and another lifelong supporter, the loss of the club has wider ramifications. “In a town like this, you always look for focal points and a football club is one of the easiest,” said Hope, whose father’s bakery supplies the club with its matchday pies. “People take an interest as it’s a symbol of the town. For a town of Hartlepool’s size, there are a lot of Hartlepool supporters even though we are surrounded by Premier League and Championship clubs. “It helps gives the town a sense of community. There are a lot of positive things happening in the town right now and this college is one of them. We are helping to raise young people’s aspirations, but losing the town’s football team would be a disaster on a grand scale. That is going to have a really negative impact on the town’s self-esteem." Shaun Hope says losing United would be 'a disaster on a grand scale'  Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph There are some flickers of hope. A JustGiving page set up to help the club's fundraising has already amassed £55,000 in donations, and followers of neighbouring clubs - especially Middlesbrough, who were aided by Hartlepool supporters when they were fighting their own battle against extinction in 1986 - have rushed to their aid. Saturday's league game against Wrexham is heading for a sell-out for home fans. It might not prove enough, but at least it is showing that the club's plight is not going unnoticed.  “People are never ashamed to be from Hartlepool," Hope added. "We have our troubles, but people are very proud of where they are from. We need the football club - we really do.”

The sad, slow death of Hartlepool United: 'If this town loses the football team, it will be a disaster'

The sad, slow death of Hartlepool United: 'If this town loses the football team, it will be a disaster'

The sad, slow death of Hartlepool United: 'If this town loses the football team, it will be a disaster'

The sad, slow death of Hartlepool United: 'If this town loses the football team, it will be a disaster'

The sad, slow death of Hartlepool United: 'If this town loses the football team, it will be a disaster'

The sad, slow death of Hartlepool United: 'If this town loses the football team, it will be a disaster'

The sad, slow death of Hartlepool United: 'If this town loses the football team, it will be a disaster'

The sad, slow death of Hartlepool United: 'If this town loses the football team, it will be a disaster'

The sad, slow death of Hartlepool United: 'If this town loses the football team, it will be a disaster'

At first glance, Hartlepool looks like almost any small, provincial town in England's urban sprawl. There are roads with too many cars; a slightly tired High Street, currently undergoing an ambitious redevelopment; a cavernous bingo hall, and fast food restaurants - lots of them.  The town's one major tourist attraction, the world’s oldest war ship, HMS Trincomalee, bobs gently on the North Sea, moored outside the National Royal Navy Museum, the centrepiece of an impressive Marina development. But even that is ageing. Money is tight in a town which feels forgotten. In the midst of all this, it is easy to miss the football stadium. Five minutes' walk from the railway station, Hartlepool United's Victoria Park is sandwiched between two large supermarkets, a small grey edifice in keeping with the town's rather brutalist appearance.  Yet this is also the community's beating heart. Football brings more people, more regularly, to Hartlepool than anything else - and with people comes money, up to £10 million-a-year by some estimates. But the lifeline is now in danger of being cut: Hartlepool need to raise £200,000 by January 25 to prevent sliding into administration. “This is a working-class town that has had some tough times," explains Adrian Liddell, 47, over the sound of building work outside his printing business on Church Street. "It’s not the only northern town that has been marginalised, but there is also a lot of pride here and a resilience and people do not give up on their town. Adrian Liddell, managing director of Atkinson Print, says Hartlepudlians are resilient and don't give up on their town Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “If we lose the football team, it’s going to be an economic disaster. It is about tourism as much as anything and some clubs bring 1,000 fans with them. They step off the train and the idea was, they walked out on to Church Street and there would be places to eat and drink. Same for home fans. The football club puts the town on the map. “Forget the people who are employed full time, there are 100 people employed just on a matchday. They are part time jobs that cannot easily be replaced in this town. In fact, they won’t be replaced, it’s that simple. The economic loss if the club ceases to exist will be felt acutely. We’ve already felt it because the National League teams don’t have a large away following.” Yet, even if that money is found, the problems will not be solved. When you are losing around £130,000-a-month running a Football League budget as a non-league club – Hartlepool were relegated from League Two for the first time in their history last May - there is always a risk of throwing good money after bad. Hartlepool fell out of the Football League for the first time at the end of last season Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph The current owner, John Blackledge, is owed around £1.8m, after he was left in charge, having loaned former owner Gary Coxhall money before he abandoned his post. There are potential buyers sniffing around, but finding someone to take over a loss-making business with that level of debt is a gruelling task. Good people are trying to save them. Local politicians, both Labour and Conservative, are united in their desire to help, and there have been high-profile interventions from celebrity supporters such as the Sky presenter Jeff Stelling, but the search for new owners is a desperate one. “The ingredients are here for a successful lower league football club,” said Alistair Rea, who used to work for the local council. “I’ve been a supporter all my life, through the thick and thin. Well, the thin and thin really. “We’ve only had three promotions in 110 years so there hasn’t been a lot of success. We’ve only played in League One or Two and we had to be re-elected to the Football League 14 times, which is a record. Alastair Rae, retired PR manager for Hartlepool Council, has supported the club through 'thin and thin' Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “I was born in Hartlepool. My dad took me to my first game in 1964. It was the highlight of the week for me then and it is now. It runs right through the family. My dad has been going for 72 years. My daughter went to her first game when she was four and sat on my shoulders when we beat Rochdale 2-0… it’s not everything about life, but it’s a big part of it. “This could be a fresh start. Teams have been in this position before and have come back from it stronger. But we have to find new owners. We have had ten years of slow decline, but we can come back from this.” There is fear behind the optimism, especially when Hartlepool watched their biggest rivals Darlington go out of business four years ago. The Quakers reformed, but are still stuck in the National League North as they try to work their way back into the Football League. “When Darlington folded, I wouldn’t say there was glee,” adds Liddell. “Well, maybe a bit at first, they were our big rivals and it was an intense rivalry too, but I think we all saw how easily it could happen and how vulnerable we were. “It was an eye opener. We had always been at a similar level to them, similar sized clubs. I think it did give us a sense of foreboding from a sustainability point of view. HMS Trincomalee provides the centrepiece of the marina development Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “As for any lower league club, you either have a wealthy benefactor who is willing to lose a bit of money, or a big business that wants to promote themselves and, I hesitate to say this, use it as a tax write off. Without one of them, you’re in trouble. “The problem with a town like Hartlepool is there aren’t enough businesses of a high enough level to buy and support the football team. There are a few who could club together in a consortium, but that brings its own problems in terms of trying to run the thing. “You don’t support a team like Pools for the adulation or the success. I’ve supported Pools, since I was taken along by my father. My brother is a big fan, my two boys still go. “They used to get stick at school because they had a Hartlepool top on in the playground. Why haven’t you got a Chelsea top or a Manchester United top? But as they’ve got a bit older, it’s turned round, the kids give them a bit of respect because they support their local team. The derelict Odeon: money is tight in a town that seems forgotten Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “We get a bit sick of the Manchester United fan club meeting in the pub every week, getting picked up to be bused to Old Trafford. The Hartlepool Reds they are called. We get sick of the Sunderland coaches picking supporters up from the working men’s clubs every other week. We’ve got a lot of 'Plastic Mags' (Newcastle supporters) too, who have been to one game in five years.” Hartlepool has tried hard to shake off negative perceptions and at the forefront of that is the local Further Education College. For Shaun Hope, head of student recruitment and another lifelong supporter, the loss of the club has wider ramifications. “In a town like this, you always look for focal points and a football club is one of the easiest,” said Hope, whose father’s bakery supplies the club with its matchday pies. “People take an interest as it’s a symbol of the town. For a town of Hartlepool’s size, there are a lot of Hartlepool supporters even though we are surrounded by Premier League and Championship clubs. “It helps gives the town a sense of community. There are a lot of positive things happening in the town right now and this college is one of them. We are helping to raise young people’s aspirations, but losing the town’s football team would be a disaster on a grand scale. That is going to have a really negative impact on the town’s self-esteem." Shaun Hope says losing United would be 'a disaster on a grand scale'  Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph There are some flickers of hope. A JustGiving page set up to help the club's fundraising has already amassed £55,000 in donations, and followers of neighbouring clubs - especially Middlesbrough, who were aided by Hartlepool supporters when they were fighting their own battle against extinction in 1986 - have rushed to their aid. Saturday's league game against Wrexham is heading for a sell-out for home fans. It might not prove enough, but at least it is showing that the club's plight is not going unnoticed.  “People are never ashamed to be from Hartlepool," Hope added. "We have our troubles, but people are very proud of where they are from. We need the football club - we really do.”

The sad, slow death of Hartlepool United: 'If this town loses the football team, it will be a disaster'

The sad, slow death of Hartlepool United: 'If this town loses the football team, it will be a disaster'

The sad, slow death of Hartlepool United: 'If this town loses the football team, it will be a disaster'

At first glance, Hartlepool looks like almost any small, provincial town in England's urban sprawl. There are roads with too many cars; a slightly tired High Street, currently undergoing an ambitious redevelopment; a cavernous bingo hall, and fast food restaurants - lots of them.  The town's one major tourist attraction, the world’s oldest war ship, HMS Trincomalee, bobs gently on the North Sea, moored outside the National Royal Navy Museum, the centrepiece of an impressive Marina development. But even that is ageing. Money is tight in a town which feels forgotten. In the midst of all this, it is easy to miss the football stadium. Five minutes' walk from the railway station, Hartlepool United's Victoria Park is sandwiched between two large supermarkets, a small grey edifice in keeping with the town's rather brutalist appearance.  Yet this is also the community's beating heart. Football brings more people, more regularly, to Hartlepool than anything else - and with people comes money, up to £10 million-a-year by some estimates. But the lifeline is now in danger of being cut: Hartlepool need to raise £200,000 by January 25 to prevent sliding into administration. “This is a working-class town that has had some tough times," explains Adrian Liddell, 47, over the sound of building work outside his printing business on Church Street. "It’s not the only northern town that has been marginalised, but there is also a lot of pride here and a resilience and people do not give up on their town. Adrian Liddell, managing director of Atkinson Print, says Hartlepudlians are resilient and don't give up on their town Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “If we lose the football team, it’s going to be an economic disaster. It is about tourism as much as anything and some clubs bring 1,000 fans with them. They step off the train and the idea was, they walked out on to Church Street and there would be places to eat and drink. Same for home fans. The football club puts the town on the map. “Forget the people who are employed full time, there are 100 people employed just on a matchday. They are part time jobs that cannot easily be replaced in this town. In fact, they won’t be replaced, it’s that simple. The economic loss if the club ceases to exist will be felt acutely. We’ve already felt it because the National League teams don’t have a large away following.” Yet, even if that money is found, the problems will not be solved. When you are losing around £130,000-a-month running a Football League budget as a non-league club – Hartlepool were relegated from League Two for the first time in their history last May - there is always a risk of throwing good money after bad. Hartlepool fell out of the Football League for the first time at the end of last season Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph The current owner, John Blackledge, is owed around £1.8m, after he was left in charge, having loaned former owner Gary Coxhall money before he abandoned his post. There are potential buyers sniffing around, but finding someone to take over a loss-making business with that level of debt is a gruelling task. Good people are trying to save them. Local politicians, both Labour and Conservative, are united in their desire to help, and there have been high-profile interventions from celebrity supporters such as the Sky presenter Jeff Stelling, but the search for new owners is a desperate one. “The ingredients are here for a successful lower league football club,” said Alistair Rea, who used to work for the local council. “I’ve been a supporter all my life, through the thick and thin. Well, the thin and thin really. “We’ve only had three promotions in 110 years so there hasn’t been a lot of success. We’ve only played in League One or Two and we had to be re-elected to the Football League 14 times, which is a record. Alastair Rae, retired PR manager for Hartlepool Council, has supported the club through 'thin and thin' Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “I was born in Hartlepool. My dad took me to my first game in 1964. It was the highlight of the week for me then and it is now. It runs right through the family. My dad has been going for 72 years. My daughter went to her first game when she was four and sat on my shoulders when we beat Rochdale 2-0… it’s not everything about life, but it’s a big part of it. “This could be a fresh start. Teams have been in this position before and have come back from it stronger. But we have to find new owners. We have had ten years of slow decline, but we can come back from this.” There is fear behind the optimism, especially when Hartlepool watched their biggest rivals Darlington go out of business four years ago. The Quakers reformed, but are still stuck in the National League North as they try to work their way back into the Football League. “When Darlington folded, I wouldn’t say there was glee,” adds Liddell. “Well, maybe a bit at first, they were our big rivals and it was an intense rivalry too, but I think we all saw how easily it could happen and how vulnerable we were. “It was an eye opener. We had always been at a similar level to them, similar sized clubs. I think it did give us a sense of foreboding from a sustainability point of view. HMS Trincomalee provides the centrepiece of the marina development Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “As for any lower league club, you either have a wealthy benefactor who is willing to lose a bit of money, or a big business that wants to promote themselves and, I hesitate to say this, use it as a tax write off. Without one of them, you’re in trouble. “The problem with a town like Hartlepool is there aren’t enough businesses of a high enough level to buy and support the football team. There are a few who could club together in a consortium, but that brings its own problems in terms of trying to run the thing. “You don’t support a team like Pools for the adulation or the success. I’ve supported Pools, since I was taken along by my father. My brother is a big fan, my two boys still go. “They used to get stick at school because they had a Hartlepool top on in the playground. Why haven’t you got a Chelsea top or a Manchester United top? But as they’ve got a bit older, it’s turned round, the kids give them a bit of respect because they support their local team. The derelict Odeon: money is tight in a town that seems forgotten Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “We get a bit sick of the Manchester United fan club meeting in the pub every week, getting picked up to be bused to Old Trafford. The Hartlepool Reds they are called. We get sick of the Sunderland coaches picking supporters up from the working men’s clubs every other week. We’ve got a lot of 'Plastic Mags' (Newcastle supporters) too, who have been to one game in five years.” Hartlepool has tried hard to shake off negative perceptions and at the forefront of that is the local Further Education College. For Shaun Hope, head of student recruitment and another lifelong supporter, the loss of the club has wider ramifications. “In a town like this, you always look for focal points and a football club is one of the easiest,” said Hope, whose father’s bakery supplies the club with its matchday pies. “People take an interest as it’s a symbol of the town. For a town of Hartlepool’s size, there are a lot of Hartlepool supporters even though we are surrounded by Premier League and Championship clubs. “It helps gives the town a sense of community. There are a lot of positive things happening in the town right now and this college is one of them. We are helping to raise young people’s aspirations, but losing the town’s football team would be a disaster on a grand scale. That is going to have a really negative impact on the town’s self-esteem." Shaun Hope says losing United would be 'a disaster on a grand scale'  Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph There are some flickers of hope. A JustGiving page set up to help the club's fundraising has already amassed £55,000 in donations, and followers of neighbouring clubs - especially Middlesbrough, who were aided by Hartlepool supporters when they were fighting their own battle against extinction in 1986 - have rushed to their aid. Saturday's league game against Wrexham is heading for a sell-out for home fans. It might not prove enough, but at least it is showing that the club's plight is not going unnoticed.  “People are never ashamed to be from Hartlepool," Hope added. "We have our troubles, but people are very proud of where they are from. We need the football club - we really do.”

The sad, slow death of Hartlepool United: 'If this town loses the football team, it will be a disaster'

At first glance, Hartlepool looks like almost any small, provincial town in England's urban sprawl. There are roads with too many cars; a slightly tired High Street, currently undergoing an ambitious redevelopment; a cavernous bingo hall, and fast food restaurants - lots of them.  The town's one major tourist attraction, the world’s oldest war ship, HMS Trincomalee, bobs gently on the North Sea, moored outside the National Royal Navy Museum, the centrepiece of an impressive Marina development. But even that is ageing. Money is tight in a town which feels forgotten. In the midst of all this, it is easy to miss the football stadium. Five minutes' walk from the railway station, Hartlepool United's Victoria Park is sandwiched between two large supermarkets, a small grey edifice in keeping with the town's rather brutalist appearance.  Yet this is also the community's beating heart. Football brings more people, more regularly, to Hartlepool than anything else - and with people comes money, up to £10 million-a-year by some estimates. But the lifeline is now in danger of being cut: Hartlepool need to raise £200,000 by January 25 to prevent sliding into administration. “This is a working-class town that has had some tough times," explains Adrian Liddell, 47, over the sound of building work outside his printing business on Church Street. "It’s not the only northern town that has been marginalised, but there is also a lot of pride here and a resilience and people do not give up on their town. Adrian Liddell, managing director of Atkinson Print, says Hartlepudlians are resilient and don't give up on their town Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “If we lose the football team, it’s going to be an economic disaster. It is about tourism as much as anything and some clubs bring 1,000 fans with them. They step off the train and the idea was, they walked out on to Church Street and there would be places to eat and drink. Same for home fans. The football club puts the town on the map. “Forget the people who are employed full time, there are 100 people employed just on a matchday. They are part time jobs that cannot easily be replaced in this town. In fact, they won’t be replaced, it’s that simple. The economic loss if the club ceases to exist will be felt acutely. We’ve already felt it because the National League teams don’t have a large away following.” Yet, even if that money is found, the problems will not be solved. When you are losing around £130,000-a-month running a Football League budget as a non-league club – Hartlepool were relegated from League Two for the first time in their history last May - there is always a risk of throwing good money after bad. Hartlepool fell out of the Football League for the first time at the end of last season Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph The current owner, John Blackledge, is owed around £1.8m, after he was left in charge, having loaned former owner Gary Coxhall money before he abandoned his post. There are potential buyers sniffing around, but finding someone to take over a loss-making business with that level of debt is a gruelling task. Good people are trying to save them. Local politicians, both Labour and Conservative, are united in their desire to help, and there have been high-profile interventions from celebrity supporters such as the Sky presenter Jeff Stelling, but the search for new owners is a desperate one. “The ingredients are here for a successful lower league football club,” said Alistair Rea, who used to work for the local council. “I’ve been a supporter all my life, through the thick and thin. Well, the thin and thin really. “We’ve only had three promotions in 110 years so there hasn’t been a lot of success. We’ve only played in League One or Two and we had to be re-elected to the Football League 14 times, which is a record. Alastair Rae, retired PR manager for Hartlepool Council, has supported the club through 'thin and thin' Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “I was born in Hartlepool. My dad took me to my first game in 1964. It was the highlight of the week for me then and it is now. It runs right through the family. My dad has been going for 72 years. My daughter went to her first game when she was four and sat on my shoulders when we beat Rochdale 2-0… it’s not everything about life, but it’s a big part of it. “This could be a fresh start. Teams have been in this position before and have come back from it stronger. But we have to find new owners. We have had ten years of slow decline, but we can come back from this.” There is fear behind the optimism, especially when Hartlepool watched their biggest rivals Darlington go out of business four years ago. The Quakers reformed, but are still stuck in the National League North as they try to work their way back into the Football League. “When Darlington folded, I wouldn’t say there was glee,” adds Liddell. “Well, maybe a bit at first, they were our big rivals and it was an intense rivalry too, but I think we all saw how easily it could happen and how vulnerable we were. “It was an eye opener. We had always been at a similar level to them, similar sized clubs. I think it did give us a sense of foreboding from a sustainability point of view. HMS Trincomalee provides the centrepiece of the marina development Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “As for any lower league club, you either have a wealthy benefactor who is willing to lose a bit of money, or a big business that wants to promote themselves and, I hesitate to say this, use it as a tax write off. Without one of them, you’re in trouble. “The problem with a town like Hartlepool is there aren’t enough businesses of a high enough level to buy and support the football team. There are a few who could club together in a consortium, but that brings its own problems in terms of trying to run the thing. “You don’t support a team like Pools for the adulation or the success. I’ve supported Pools, since I was taken along by my father. My brother is a big fan, my two boys still go. “They used to get stick at school because they had a Hartlepool top on in the playground. Why haven’t you got a Chelsea top or a Manchester United top? But as they’ve got a bit older, it’s turned round, the kids give them a bit of respect because they support their local team. The derelict Odeon: money is tight in a town that seems forgotten Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph “We get a bit sick of the Manchester United fan club meeting in the pub every week, getting picked up to be bused to Old Trafford. The Hartlepool Reds they are called. We get sick of the Sunderland coaches picking supporters up from the working men’s clubs every other week. We’ve got a lot of 'Plastic Mags' (Newcastle supporters) too, who have been to one game in five years.” Hartlepool has tried hard to shake off negative perceptions and at the forefront of that is the local Further Education College. For Shaun Hope, head of student recruitment and another lifelong supporter, the loss of the club has wider ramifications. “In a town like this, you always look for focal points and a football club is one of the easiest,” said Hope, whose father’s bakery supplies the club with its matchday pies. “People take an interest as it’s a symbol of the town. For a town of Hartlepool’s size, there are a lot of Hartlepool supporters even though we are surrounded by Premier League and Championship clubs. “It helps gives the town a sense of community. There are a lot of positive things happening in the town right now and this college is one of them. We are helping to raise young people’s aspirations, but losing the town’s football team would be a disaster on a grand scale. That is going to have a really negative impact on the town’s self-esteem." Shaun Hope says losing United would be 'a disaster on a grand scale'  Credit: Darren O'Brien/Guzelian for The Telegraph There are some flickers of hope. A JustGiving page set up to help the club's fundraising has already amassed £55,000 in donations, and followers of neighbouring clubs - especially Middlesbrough, who were aided by Hartlepool supporters when they were fighting their own battle against extinction in 1986 - have rushed to their aid. Saturday's league game against Wrexham is heading for a sell-out for home fans. It might not prove enough, but at least it is showing that the club's plight is not going unnoticed.  “People are never ashamed to be from Hartlepool," Hope added. "We have our troubles, but people are very proud of where they are from. We need the football club - we really do.”

The sad, slow death of Hartlepool United: 'If this town loses the football team, it will be a disaster'

The sad, slow death of Hartlepool United: 'If this town loses the football team, it will be a disaster'

Non-league football, looming administration and kit held hostage: Inside the decline of Hartlepool United

Non-league football, looming administration and kit held hostage: Inside the decline of Hartlepool United

Non-league football, looming administration and kit held hostage: Inside the decline of Hartlepool United

Non-league football, looming administration and kit held hostage: Inside the decline of Hartlepool United

Non-league football, looming administration and kit held hostage: Inside the decline of Hartlepool United

Non-league football, looming administration and kit held hostage: Inside the decline of Hartlepool United

FA Cup first round draw: Hyde United (eighth tier) host MK Dons

  7:28PM And that's the draw The excitement is over! No more balls will be drawn! Morecambe vs Hartlepool is pretty good, Doncaster will visit either East Thurrock or Ebsfleet. Hyde vs MK Dons is a brilliant tie for the minnows. I was really hoping for a Slough vs Swindon draw, purely for Office quotes.  7:25PM Eighth tier Hyde will play MK Dons! The crowd goes wild in the BBC studio as the draw is announced. That's the big club the players wanted. 7:24PM Lads, can we please have some music Or something. This draw is not one of the most exciting things I've ever seen on television. That Liverpool vs Man Utd game on Saturday was more entertaining. 7:21PM AFC Wimbledon vs Lincoln City AFC Wimbledon are one of the clubs to have benefited immensely from TV money brought by the FA Cup and they are drawn against Lincoln City.  7:19PM Some more fixtures for you Peterborough Utd v Tranmere Cambridge Utd v Sutton Utd Forest Green Rovers v Macclesfield Town AFC Fylde v Kidderminster Harriers Luton v Portsmouth Shrewsbury v Aldershot Hereford v AFC Telford Utd Guiseley v Accrington Stanley Blackburn Rovers v Barnet 7:16PM No huge match ups so far Bradford City v Chesterfield Port Vale v Oxford Utd Newport County v Walsall Morecambe v Hartlepool Utd 7:14PM And it's set of balls number eight And Lancelot is the FA Cup draw machine for tonight. What a hilarious National Lottery joke. And the first fixture is Stevenage vs Nantwich or Kettering. IT'S ALL KICKING OFF NOW, CLIVE. 7:12PM Your Davids, your Goliaths Hyde, Heybridge Swifts and Ossett Town are the lowest ranked teams in the competition, with all three occupying the eighth tier of English football.  7:10PM David Sharpe The Wigan chairman, grandson of Dave Whelan, fancies Wigan's chances this season. And now it's time for the draw!   7:05PM Who do the small teams want to get in the draw? According to a couple of Hyde football staff (manager and player), the management want to play against a team they can probably beat whereas the players want to draw Blackburn or Charlton - one of the 'big' clubs. Hyde actually own the record for biggest defeat in the FA Cup. A 26-0 hiding (see what I did) by Preston North End. 7:00PM The live coverage begins! Here we go. The draw is being held at Hyde United's ground. Look how cool their sun was earlier: Red sun today. FA Cup draw at Hyde United. Is that an omen. #EmiratesFACuppic.twitter.com/LoZ27mZjKW— Hyde United FC (@hydeunited) October 16, 2017   6:47PM The difference the FA Cup actually makes I wrote this in January about just how much an FA Cup run is worth to a small club. It turns out the answer is everything. The FA awards a prize of £1.8million to the winners of the competition, the kind of short-change a Champions League club might use as a sweetener for a promising youth prospect’s signing-on fee. For non-league side Curzon Ashton just qualifying for the second round of the competition will, and has, had an enormous impact.   Image     Landscape Portrait Square Original/Custom   Edit Selected Crop... Caption:   Description: curzon ashton Agency: GETTY IMAGES Artist:       Edit...   Delete     “It means so much to us a club,” says their CEO Natalie Atkinson. “The FA Cup is enabling us, through prize money, funds gained and TV money to work with the FA and football foundations to replace our 3G pitch next to the stadium.” Curzon Ashton, currently 15th in the National League North, lost 4-3 to AFC Wimbledon in December, conceding four goals in the final 10 minutes of the game. The prize for qualifying for the second round was £27,000, in addition to £18,000 earned from the first round. Those sucker-punch goals prevented a windfall of £67,500 for making it to third round. However, thanks to the wonder of television money, the club received more for their defeat to Wimbledon than they would have if they’d won a non-televised second round match. There's more on the article, if you fancy clicking on it. 6:30PM The magic of the cup This most holy of trophies always produces magical moments and even if a guilty few/most don't pay attention to the competition until their team is involved, those matches between minnows of the lower leagues and giants of... in this case, League One, are always thoroughly enjoyable.  Sutton are looking to make a lot more money from another (pie free) run at the cup this year, Accrington Stanley's involvement will be upping the YouTube view count on this milk advert, and today is the first time I have ever heard of Gainsborough Trinity. Perhaps they will become my new favourite non-league - maybe they'll be yours! It all depends who has to play who - and which of those games the people in charge at BBC decide to broadcast... 6:15PM Good evening! Hello there sports fans. Welcome to our live coverage of what is sure to be a riveting FA Cup first round draw. The action will kick-off at 7:10pm and we'll keep you up to date with the draw as it happens. For right now, that wait should give you time to look at all the nice photographs of that weird looking sun from earlier today. It was like being in Blade Runner. 6:09PM Preview What is it? It's the draw for the first round proper of the FA Cup: the oldest competition in world football.  The first round sees the 48 teams from League One and League Two joined by 32 non-league sides. When is it? Monday October 16. What time is it? The draw itself will begin at 7:10pm on Monday evening. The first round of the FA Cup will take place on Saturday November 4  Credit: AP  What TV channel is it on? The draw will be broadcast live on both BBC Two and BT Sport. Mark Chapman will present the BBC's coverage of the draw in half-hour long episode from 7pm, while BT Sport 3's show will also begin at 7pm.  When will the matches take place?  The first round will take place over the weekend of Friday November 3 to Monday 6 November 2017 Who's in the hat? Sutton United made it to the fifth round of the FA Cup last season  Credit: Getty Images  Three teams from the eighth tier of English football are among the non-league teams in the hat for the first round. Hyde United, who play in the Northern Premier League, beat Scarborough Athletic on Sunday afternoon to book their place in the competition.  Hampton and Richmond, who are coached by Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler, failed in their bid to reach the FA Cup proper after losing to  National League South rivals Truro City. Truro's 2-0 victory over their league rivals means they become the first Cornwal team to reach the FA Cup first round since 1969.  Billericay Town, whose current players include Jamie O'Hara, Paul Konchesky and Jermaine Pennant, will also take their place in the draw.  FA Cup first round numbers 1 ACCRINGTON STANLEY 2 AFC WIMBLEDON 3 BARNET 4 BLACKBURN ROVERS 5 BLACKPOOL 6 BRADFORD CITY 7 BRISTOL ROVERS 8 BURY 9 CAMBRIDGE UNITED 10 CARLISLE UNITED 11 CHARLTON ATHLETIC 12 CHELTENHAM TOWN 13 CHESTERFIELD 14 COLCHESTER UNITED 15 COVENTRY CITY 16 CRAWLEY TOWN 17 CREWE ALEXANDRA 18 DONCASTER ROVERS 19 EXETER CITY 20 FLEETWOOD TOWN 21 FOREST GREEN ROVERS 22 GILLINGHAM 23 GRIMSBY TOWN 24 LINCOLN CITY 25 LUTON TOWN 26 MANSFIELD TOWN 27 MILTON KEYNES DONS 28 MORECAMBE 29 NEWPORT COUNTY 30 NORTHAMPTON TOWN 31 NOTTS COUNTY 32 OLDHAM ATHLETIC 33 OXFORD UNITED 34 PETERBOROUGH UNITED 35 PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 36 PORT VALE 37 PORTSMOUTH 38 ROCHDALE 39 ROTHERHAM UNITED 40 SCUNTHORPE UNITED 41 SHREWSBURY TOWN 42 SOUTHEND UNITED 43 STEVENAGE 44 SWINDON TOWN 45 WALSALL 46 WIGAN ATHLETIC 47 WYCOMBE WANDERERS 48 YEOVIL TOWN 49 TRANMERE ROVERS 50 SOLIHULL MOORS OR OSSETT TOWN 51 HARTLEPOOL UNITED 52 SHAW LANE ASSOCIATION 53 CHORLEY OR BOSTON UNITED 54 AFC TELFORD UNITED 55 GAINSBOROUGH TRINITY 56 NANTWICH TOWN OR KETTERING TOWN 57 GATESHEAD 58 GUISELEY 59 AFC FYLDE 60 KIDDERMINSTER HARRIERS 61 HYDE UNITED 62 MACCLESFIELD TOWN 63 BRACKLEY TOWN OR BILLERICAY TOWN 64 DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE OR LEYTON ORIENT 65 HEREFORD 66 ALDERSHOT TOWN  67 BATH CITY OR CHELMSFORD CITY 68 OXFORD CITY 69 MAIDENHEAD UNITED 70 HEYBRIDGE SWIFTS 71 WOKING OR CONCORD RANGERS 72 TRURO CITY 73 DOVER ATHLETIC OR BROMLEY 74 SLOUGH TOWN 75 DARTFORD 76 BOREHAM WOOD 77 MAIDSTONE UNITED OR ENFIELD TOWN 78 LEATHERHEAD 79 SUTTON UNITED 80 EAST THURROCK UNITED OR EBBSFLEET UNITED

FA Cup first round draw: Hyde United (eighth tier) host MK Dons

  7:28PM And that's the draw The excitement is over! No more balls will be drawn! Morecambe vs Hartlepool is pretty good, Doncaster will visit either East Thurrock or Ebsfleet. Hyde vs MK Dons is a brilliant tie for the minnows. I was really hoping for a Slough vs Swindon draw, purely for Office quotes.  7:25PM Eighth tier Hyde will play MK Dons! The crowd goes wild in the BBC studio as the draw is announced. That's the big club the players wanted. 7:24PM Lads, can we please have some music Or something. This draw is not one of the most exciting things I've ever seen on television. That Liverpool vs Man Utd game on Saturday was more entertaining. 7:21PM AFC Wimbledon vs Lincoln City AFC Wimbledon are one of the clubs to have benefited immensely from TV money brought by the FA Cup and they are drawn against Lincoln City.  7:19PM Some more fixtures for you Peterborough Utd v Tranmere Cambridge Utd v Sutton Utd Forest Green Rovers v Macclesfield Town AFC Fylde v Kidderminster Harriers Luton v Portsmouth Shrewsbury v Aldershot Hereford v AFC Telford Utd Guiseley v Accrington Stanley Blackburn Rovers v Barnet 7:16PM No huge match ups so far Bradford City v Chesterfield Port Vale v Oxford Utd Newport County v Walsall Morecambe v Hartlepool Utd 7:14PM And it's set of balls number eight And Lancelot is the FA Cup draw machine for tonight. What a hilarious National Lottery joke. And the first fixture is Stevenage vs Nantwich or Kettering. IT'S ALL KICKING OFF NOW, CLIVE. 7:12PM Your Davids, your Goliaths Hyde, Heybridge Swifts and Ossett Town are the lowest ranked teams in the competition, with all three occupying the eighth tier of English football.  7:10PM David Sharpe The Wigan chairman, grandson of Dave Whelan, fancies Wigan's chances this season. And now it's time for the draw!   7:05PM Who do the small teams want to get in the draw? According to a couple of Hyde football staff (manager and player), the management want to play against a team they can probably beat whereas the players want to draw Blackburn or Charlton - one of the 'big' clubs. Hyde actually own the record for biggest defeat in the FA Cup. A 26-0 hiding (see what I did) by Preston North End. 7:00PM The live coverage begins! Here we go. The draw is being held at Hyde United's ground. Look how cool their sun was earlier: Red sun today. FA Cup draw at Hyde United. Is that an omen. #EmiratesFACuppic.twitter.com/LoZ27mZjKW— Hyde United FC (@hydeunited) October 16, 2017   6:47PM The difference the FA Cup actually makes I wrote this in January about just how much an FA Cup run is worth to a small club. It turns out the answer is everything. The FA awards a prize of £1.8million to the winners of the competition, the kind of short-change a Champions League club might use as a sweetener for a promising youth prospect’s signing-on fee. For non-league side Curzon Ashton just qualifying for the second round of the competition will, and has, had an enormous impact.   Image     Landscape Portrait Square Original/Custom   Edit Selected Crop... Caption:   Description: curzon ashton Agency: GETTY IMAGES Artist:       Edit...   Delete     “It means so much to us a club,” says their CEO Natalie Atkinson. “The FA Cup is enabling us, through prize money, funds gained and TV money to work with the FA and football foundations to replace our 3G pitch next to the stadium.” Curzon Ashton, currently 15th in the National League North, lost 4-3 to AFC Wimbledon in December, conceding four goals in the final 10 minutes of the game. The prize for qualifying for the second round was £27,000, in addition to £18,000 earned from the first round. Those sucker-punch goals prevented a windfall of £67,500 for making it to third round. However, thanks to the wonder of television money, the club received more for their defeat to Wimbledon than they would have if they’d won a non-televised second round match. There's more on the article, if you fancy clicking on it. 6:30PM The magic of the cup This most holy of trophies always produces magical moments and even if a guilty few/most don't pay attention to the competition until their team is involved, those matches between minnows of the lower leagues and giants of... in this case, League One, are always thoroughly enjoyable.  Sutton are looking to make a lot more money from another (pie free) run at the cup this year, Accrington Stanley's involvement will be upping the YouTube view count on this milk advert, and today is the first time I have ever heard of Gainsborough Trinity. Perhaps they will become my new favourite non-league - maybe they'll be yours! It all depends who has to play who - and which of those games the people in charge at BBC decide to broadcast... 6:15PM Good evening! Hello there sports fans. Welcome to our live coverage of what is sure to be a riveting FA Cup first round draw. The action will kick-off at 7:10pm and we'll keep you up to date with the draw as it happens. For right now, that wait should give you time to look at all the nice photographs of that weird looking sun from earlier today. It was like being in Blade Runner. 6:09PM Preview What is it? It's the draw for the first round proper of the FA Cup: the oldest competition in world football.  The first round sees the 48 teams from League One and League Two joined by 32 non-league sides. When is it? Monday October 16. What time is it? The draw itself will begin at 7:10pm on Monday evening. The first round of the FA Cup will take place on Saturday November 4  Credit: AP  What TV channel is it on? The draw will be broadcast live on both BBC Two and BT Sport. Mark Chapman will present the BBC's coverage of the draw in half-hour long episode from 7pm, while BT Sport 3's show will also begin at 7pm.  When will the matches take place?  The first round will take place over the weekend of Friday November 3 to Monday 6 November 2017 Who's in the hat? Sutton United made it to the fifth round of the FA Cup last season  Credit: Getty Images  Three teams from the eighth tier of English football are among the non-league teams in the hat for the first round. Hyde United, who play in the Northern Premier League, beat Scarborough Athletic on Sunday afternoon to book their place in the competition.  Hampton and Richmond, who are coached by Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler, failed in their bid to reach the FA Cup proper after losing to  National League South rivals Truro City. Truro's 2-0 victory over their league rivals means they become the first Cornwal team to reach the FA Cup first round since 1969.  Billericay Town, whose current players include Jamie O'Hara, Paul Konchesky and Jermaine Pennant, will also take their place in the draw.  FA Cup first round numbers 1 ACCRINGTON STANLEY 2 AFC WIMBLEDON 3 BARNET 4 BLACKBURN ROVERS 5 BLACKPOOL 6 BRADFORD CITY 7 BRISTOL ROVERS 8 BURY 9 CAMBRIDGE UNITED 10 CARLISLE UNITED 11 CHARLTON ATHLETIC 12 CHELTENHAM TOWN 13 CHESTERFIELD 14 COLCHESTER UNITED 15 COVENTRY CITY 16 CRAWLEY TOWN 17 CREWE ALEXANDRA 18 DONCASTER ROVERS 19 EXETER CITY 20 FLEETWOOD TOWN 21 FOREST GREEN ROVERS 22 GILLINGHAM 23 GRIMSBY TOWN 24 LINCOLN CITY 25 LUTON TOWN 26 MANSFIELD TOWN 27 MILTON KEYNES DONS 28 MORECAMBE 29 NEWPORT COUNTY 30 NORTHAMPTON TOWN 31 NOTTS COUNTY 32 OLDHAM ATHLETIC 33 OXFORD UNITED 34 PETERBOROUGH UNITED 35 PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 36 PORT VALE 37 PORTSMOUTH 38 ROCHDALE 39 ROTHERHAM UNITED 40 SCUNTHORPE UNITED 41 SHREWSBURY TOWN 42 SOUTHEND UNITED 43 STEVENAGE 44 SWINDON TOWN 45 WALSALL 46 WIGAN ATHLETIC 47 WYCOMBE WANDERERS 48 YEOVIL TOWN 49 TRANMERE ROVERS 50 SOLIHULL MOORS OR OSSETT TOWN 51 HARTLEPOOL UNITED 52 SHAW LANE ASSOCIATION 53 CHORLEY OR BOSTON UNITED 54 AFC TELFORD UNITED 55 GAINSBOROUGH TRINITY 56 NANTWICH TOWN OR KETTERING TOWN 57 GATESHEAD 58 GUISELEY 59 AFC FYLDE 60 KIDDERMINSTER HARRIERS 61 HYDE UNITED 62 MACCLESFIELD TOWN 63 BRACKLEY TOWN OR BILLERICAY TOWN 64 DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE OR LEYTON ORIENT 65 HEREFORD 66 ALDERSHOT TOWN  67 BATH CITY OR CHELMSFORD CITY 68 OXFORD CITY 69 MAIDENHEAD UNITED 70 HEYBRIDGE SWIFTS 71 WOKING OR CONCORD RANGERS 72 TRURO CITY 73 DOVER ATHLETIC OR BROMLEY 74 SLOUGH TOWN 75 DARTFORD 76 BOREHAM WOOD 77 MAIDSTONE UNITED OR ENFIELD TOWN 78 LEATHERHEAD 79 SUTTON UNITED 80 EAST THURROCK UNITED OR EBBSFLEET UNITED

FA Cup first round draw: Hyde United (eighth tier) host MK Dons

  7:28PM And that's the draw The excitement is over! No more balls will be drawn! Morecambe vs Hartlepool is pretty good, Doncaster will visit either East Thurrock or Ebsfleet. Hyde vs MK Dons is a brilliant tie for the minnows. I was really hoping for a Slough vs Swindon draw, purely for Office quotes.  7:25PM Eighth tier Hyde will play MK Dons! The crowd goes wild in the BBC studio as the draw is announced. That's the big club the players wanted. 7:24PM Lads, can we please have some music Or something. This draw is not one of the most exciting things I've ever seen on television. That Liverpool vs Man Utd game on Saturday was more entertaining. 7:21PM AFC Wimbledon vs Lincoln City AFC Wimbledon are one of the clubs to have benefited immensely from TV money brought by the FA Cup and they are drawn against Lincoln City.  7:19PM Some more fixtures for you Peterborough Utd v Tranmere Cambridge Utd v Sutton Utd Forest Green Rovers v Macclesfield Town AFC Fylde v Kidderminster Harriers Luton v Portsmouth Shrewsbury v Aldershot Hereford v AFC Telford Utd Guiseley v Accrington Stanley Blackburn Rovers v Barnet 7:16PM No huge match ups so far Bradford City v Chesterfield Port Vale v Oxford Utd Newport County v Walsall Morecambe v Hartlepool Utd 7:14PM And it's set of balls number eight And Lancelot is the FA Cup draw machine for tonight. What a hilarious National Lottery joke. And the first fixture is Stevenage vs Nantwich or Kettering. IT'S ALL KICKING OFF NOW, CLIVE. 7:12PM Your Davids, your Goliaths Hyde, Heybridge Swifts and Ossett Town are the lowest ranked teams in the competition, with all three occupying the eighth tier of English football.  7:10PM David Sharpe The Wigan chairman, grandson of Dave Whelan, fancies Wigan's chances this season. And now it's time for the draw!   7:05PM Who do the small teams want to get in the draw? According to a couple of Hyde football staff (manager and player), the management want to play against a team they can probably beat whereas the players want to draw Blackburn or Charlton - one of the 'big' clubs. Hyde actually own the record for biggest defeat in the FA Cup. A 26-0 hiding (see what I did) by Preston North End. 7:00PM The live coverage begins! Here we go. The draw is being held at Hyde United's ground. Look how cool their sun was earlier: Red sun today. FA Cup draw at Hyde United. Is that an omen. #EmiratesFACuppic.twitter.com/LoZ27mZjKW— Hyde United FC (@hydeunited) October 16, 2017   6:47PM The difference the FA Cup actually makes I wrote this in January about just how much an FA Cup run is worth to a small club. It turns out the answer is everything. The FA awards a prize of £1.8million to the winners of the competition, the kind of short-change a Champions League club might use as a sweetener for a promising youth prospect’s signing-on fee. For non-league side Curzon Ashton just qualifying for the second round of the competition will, and has, had an enormous impact.   Image     Landscape Portrait Square Original/Custom   Edit Selected Crop... Caption:   Description: curzon ashton Agency: GETTY IMAGES Artist:       Edit...   Delete     “It means so much to us a club,” says their CEO Natalie Atkinson. “The FA Cup is enabling us, through prize money, funds gained and TV money to work with the FA and football foundations to replace our 3G pitch next to the stadium.” Curzon Ashton, currently 15th in the National League North, lost 4-3 to AFC Wimbledon in December, conceding four goals in the final 10 minutes of the game. The prize for qualifying for the second round was £27,000, in addition to £18,000 earned from the first round. Those sucker-punch goals prevented a windfall of £67,500 for making it to third round. However, thanks to the wonder of television money, the club received more for their defeat to Wimbledon than they would have if they’d won a non-televised second round match. There's more on the article, if you fancy clicking on it. 6:30PM The magic of the cup This most holy of trophies always produces magical moments and even if a guilty few/most don't pay attention to the competition until their team is involved, those matches between minnows of the lower leagues and giants of... in this case, League One, are always thoroughly enjoyable.  Sutton are looking to make a lot more money from another (pie free) run at the cup this year, Accrington Stanley's involvement will be upping the YouTube view count on this milk advert, and today is the first time I have ever heard of Gainsborough Trinity. Perhaps they will become my new favourite non-league - maybe they'll be yours! It all depends who has to play who - and which of those games the people in charge at BBC decide to broadcast... 6:15PM Good evening! Hello there sports fans. Welcome to our live coverage of what is sure to be a riveting FA Cup first round draw. The action will kick-off at 7:10pm and we'll keep you up to date with the draw as it happens. For right now, that wait should give you time to look at all the nice photographs of that weird looking sun from earlier today. It was like being in Blade Runner. 6:09PM Preview What is it? It's the draw for the first round proper of the FA Cup: the oldest competition in world football.  The first round sees the 48 teams from League One and League Two joined by 32 non-league sides. When is it? Monday October 16. What time is it? The draw itself will begin at 7:10pm on Monday evening. The first round of the FA Cup will take place on Saturday November 4  Credit: AP  What TV channel is it on? The draw will be broadcast live on both BBC Two and BT Sport. Mark Chapman will present the BBC's coverage of the draw in half-hour long episode from 7pm, while BT Sport 3's show will also begin at 7pm.  When will the matches take place?  The first round will take place over the weekend of Friday November 3 to Monday 6 November 2017 Who's in the hat? Sutton United made it to the fifth round of the FA Cup last season  Credit: Getty Images  Three teams from the eighth tier of English football are among the non-league teams in the hat for the first round. Hyde United, who play in the Northern Premier League, beat Scarborough Athletic on Sunday afternoon to book their place in the competition.  Hampton and Richmond, who are coached by Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler, failed in their bid to reach the FA Cup proper after losing to  National League South rivals Truro City. Truro's 2-0 victory over their league rivals means they become the first Cornwal team to reach the FA Cup first round since 1969.  Billericay Town, whose current players include Jamie O'Hara, Paul Konchesky and Jermaine Pennant, will also take their place in the draw.  FA Cup first round numbers 1 ACCRINGTON STANLEY 2 AFC WIMBLEDON 3 BARNET 4 BLACKBURN ROVERS 5 BLACKPOOL 6 BRADFORD CITY 7 BRISTOL ROVERS 8 BURY 9 CAMBRIDGE UNITED 10 CARLISLE UNITED 11 CHARLTON ATHLETIC 12 CHELTENHAM TOWN 13 CHESTERFIELD 14 COLCHESTER UNITED 15 COVENTRY CITY 16 CRAWLEY TOWN 17 CREWE ALEXANDRA 18 DONCASTER ROVERS 19 EXETER CITY 20 FLEETWOOD TOWN 21 FOREST GREEN ROVERS 22 GILLINGHAM 23 GRIMSBY TOWN 24 LINCOLN CITY 25 LUTON TOWN 26 MANSFIELD TOWN 27 MILTON KEYNES DONS 28 MORECAMBE 29 NEWPORT COUNTY 30 NORTHAMPTON TOWN 31 NOTTS COUNTY 32 OLDHAM ATHLETIC 33 OXFORD UNITED 34 PETERBOROUGH UNITED 35 PLYMOUTH ARGYLE 36 PORT VALE 37 PORTSMOUTH 38 ROCHDALE 39 ROTHERHAM UNITED 40 SCUNTHORPE UNITED 41 SHREWSBURY TOWN 42 SOUTHEND UNITED 43 STEVENAGE 44 SWINDON TOWN 45 WALSALL 46 WIGAN ATHLETIC 47 WYCOMBE WANDERERS 48 YEOVIL TOWN 49 TRANMERE ROVERS 50 SOLIHULL MOORS OR OSSETT TOWN 51 HARTLEPOOL UNITED 52 SHAW LANE ASSOCIATION 53 CHORLEY OR BOSTON UNITED 54 AFC TELFORD UNITED 55 GAINSBOROUGH TRINITY 56 NANTWICH TOWN OR KETTERING TOWN 57 GATESHEAD 58 GUISELEY 59 AFC FYLDE 60 KIDDERMINSTER HARRIERS 61 HYDE UNITED 62 MACCLESFIELD TOWN 63 BRACKLEY TOWN OR BILLERICAY TOWN 64 DAGENHAM & REDBRIDGE OR LEYTON ORIENT 65 HEREFORD 66 ALDERSHOT TOWN  67 BATH CITY OR CHELMSFORD CITY 68 OXFORD CITY 69 MAIDENHEAD UNITED 70 HEYBRIDGE SWIFTS 71 WOKING OR CONCORD RANGERS 72 TRURO CITY 73 DOVER ATHLETIC OR BROMLEY 74 SLOUGH TOWN 75 DARTFORD 76 BOREHAM WOOD 77 MAIDSTONE UNITED OR ENFIELD TOWN 78 LEATHERHEAD 79 SUTTON UNITED 80 EAST THURROCK UNITED OR EBBSFLEET UNITED

Conference Side Roll Back the Years With Brilliant Championship Manager Lineup and Goal Tweets

Hartlepool United haven't had much to cheer about in recent times. Last season they were relegated out of the Football League for the first time in the club's history as well as having a number of well documented issues off the pitch. However, with the new season getting underway, the club could still afford to treat us football fans to a bit of nostalgia. Ahead of their match against Chester on Tuesday evening, the club posted their starting line up on Twitter in a very unique way, using the...

Conference Side Roll Back the Years With Brilliant Championship Manager Lineup and Goal Tweets

Hartlepool United haven't had much to cheer about in recent times. Last season they were relegated out of the Football League for the first time in the club's history as well as having a number of well documented issues off the pitch. However, with the new season getting underway, the club could still afford to treat us football fans to a bit of nostalgia. Ahead of their match against Chester on Tuesday evening, the club posted their starting line up on Twitter in a very unique way, using the...

Jordan Nobbs interview: For the first time we truly believe England can win

Jordan Nobbs is a fantastic footballer, the best in the country according to her peers, a future captain of the national team and the creative spark that has ignited England at the European Championship. Yet you probably would not recognise her even if you were sharing a lift. She will never be a millionaire – the very suggestion makes her laugh. Top women players are on £35,000 a year – a fraction of the weekly wage of their top male counterparts. She will not be able to retire when her playing career is over and she will never know a celebrity lifestyle. Perhaps that is why, at the age of 24, the Arsenal player has an unquenchable thirst for improvement. Maybe that is why the women’s team have made such vast progress over the last few years. There is a hunger and a determination that, unlike with their male counterparts, has been undimmed by premature financial rewards. It is a comparison Nobbs does not like to dwell on, because it is, as far as she is concerned, a futile debate. Yet, for those who have witnessed so many young Englishmen fail to realise their potential, it remains a pertinent one. Jordan Nobbs in action against Spain Credit: AFP When the Lionesses finished third at the World Cup two years ago, they took a huge step forward. But rather than congratulate themselves on that achievement, they immediately turned their attention to surpassing it at the Euros. With three wins out of three to top their group, they take on France in the quarter-final on Sunday, a team they have not beaten since 1974. But this feels like a different England. “The hunger is there,” said Nobbs, whose father Keith was a no-nonsense, bruising centre-back for Hartlepool United. “There are a few of us who won the Under-19s Euros and, even as kids, we had that determination and drive. We’ve kept that with us at senior level, we’ve not changed since we were kids and I truly believe that is why we are where we are now. We believe in ourselves and we believe in being winners, to push ourselves to being the very best. “I want to be pushed as a player, challenged. I want to get better, I’m not the finished article at 24. There are still improvements to be made. I had to leave Sunderland when I was young because they didn’t get into the Super League. I had to join a club like Arsenal, but I knew that would bring out the best in me. I think we’re all like that. I don’t think I’ll ever be a multi-millionaire. For the men, it’s different. I suppose the fact they get so much money, so young, it could make you lose that hunger, but it’s difficult for me to judge something like that. The England women's team Credit: AFP “It’s a completely different game, I don’t really like to draw comparisons. ‘‘It is very hard to compare men’s and women’s football. We just want to have our own sport, really. If we start comparing the money in football, it would be silly. “They do get the television coverage and fans in huge numbers, I think all we can do is really push the women’s game as much as we can. “If one day, it does become that big, hopefully we can keep the same drive in the young kids who have talent. You have to keep that inner drive and determination, or you won’t be successful, either as a team or as an individual. I don’t see that changing for the women’s game.” Jordan Nobbs It would be travesty if it did, but the women’s game has never been in a better place in England. There are more people watching than ever before – 2.3 million have tuned in on Channel 4 for each of the group games, a significant rise on the figures for the World Cup – and the national team have never played so well. When Mark Sampson’s team travelled to Holland, they were talked about as potential winners, but more importantly, as they prepare to take on their old nemesis France, they have played like it too. From the moment they arrived, the Lionesses have swaggered. They sauntered their way through the first three games, flaunting their talent against Scotland, grinding out a result against Spain, before a routine win over Portugal to finish top of Group D. Jordan Nobbs (left) and Demi Stokes (right) Credit: PA Throughout it all they have maintained an air of steely determination. Each win has been greeted by muted celebrations, their joy short-lived.  After three games only half the job is done and France will be the best team they have faced so far. “We have a very similar team to the one that went to the World Cup,” explained Nobbs. “But even though we came out of that having performed well, we are two years further down the line and we have improved a lot. “I think this is the first time we truly believe we can win a tournament. I think people are really fearing England in this tournament and we’re in a really good place as a group. To win all three of our group games, it shows how hard we have been working. “We are confident and we wouldn’t be this confident if we didn’t think it was a realistic goal. The players we have, the support system we have the staff, it’s been terrific. We know we can win this tournament and I think with our performances we have shown we can beat the best teams in the world. Jordan Nobbs in action for England against Scotland Credit: GETTY IMAGES “I just think if you don’t believe, you’re bluffing and you’re going to be found out in the end. It’s not just what we have done in Holland, it’s what we have been doing other the last couple of years. “We’re not fazed by having to play France. We’re ready. Whatever challenges come our way, we are ready to face it. Mark’s tactics are spot on, they have been whoever we have faced over the last couple of years. We know there are going to be tough games ahead.” Nobbs is still young and has her best years ahead of her, but like all of squad, she always has one eye on the bigger picture. It is not just about what they can do for themselves, it is about what they can do for the sport in general. “We have had a big surge in popularity for women’s football,” Nobbs added. “But to actually win a trophy would be incredible.  ‘‘The rise of the women’s game has been phenomenal, but to really increase things over the next few years, to win a trophy, I think that would make it impossible to ignore us. “There is so much more coverage now, there is a lot more scrutiny of us now and we have to show we can still perform under it.” That starts against France, and you can bet the rising interest levels at home will hit yet another high if they can make the semi-finals. £250,000 up for grabs: pick your Telegraph Fantasy Football team today >>

Jordan Nobbs interview: For the first time we truly believe England can win

Jordan Nobbs is a fantastic footballer, the best in the country according to her peers, a future captain of the national team and the creative spark that has ignited England at the European Championship. Yet you probably would not recognise her even if you were sharing a lift. She will never be a millionaire – the very suggestion makes her laugh. Top women players are on £35,000 a year – a fraction of the weekly wage of their top male counterparts. She will not be able to retire when her playing career is over and she will never know a celebrity lifestyle. Perhaps that is why, at the age of 24, the Arsenal player has an unquenchable thirst for improvement. Maybe that is why the women’s team have made such vast progress over the last few years. There is a hunger and a determination that, unlike with their male counterparts, has been undimmed by premature financial rewards. It is a comparison Nobbs does not like to dwell on, because it is, as far as she is concerned, a futile debate. Yet, for those who have witnessed so many young Englishmen fail to realise their potential, it remains a pertinent one. Jordan Nobbs in action against Spain Credit: AFP When the Lionesses finished third at the World Cup two years ago, they took a huge step forward. But rather than congratulate themselves on that achievement, they immediately turned their attention to surpassing it at the Euros. With three wins out of three to top their group, they take on France in the quarter-final on Sunday, a team they have not beaten since 1974. But this feels like a different England. “The hunger is there,” said Nobbs, whose father Keith was a no-nonsense, bruising centre-back for Hartlepool United. “There are a few of us who won the Under-19s Euros and, even as kids, we had that determination and drive. We’ve kept that with us at senior level, we’ve not changed since we were kids and I truly believe that is why we are where we are now. We believe in ourselves and we believe in being winners, to push ourselves to being the very best. “I want to be pushed as a player, challenged. I want to get better, I’m not the finished article at 24. There are still improvements to be made. I had to leave Sunderland when I was young because they didn’t get into the Super League. I had to join a club like Arsenal, but I knew that would bring out the best in me. I think we’re all like that. I don’t think I’ll ever be a multi-millionaire. For the men, it’s different. I suppose the fact they get so much money, so young, it could make you lose that hunger, but it’s difficult for me to judge something like that. The England women's team Credit: AFP “It’s a completely different game, I don’t really like to draw comparisons. ‘‘It is very hard to compare men’s and women’s football. We just want to have our own sport, really. If we start comparing the money in football, it would be silly. “They do get the television coverage and fans in huge numbers, I think all we can do is really push the women’s game as much as we can. “If one day, it does become that big, hopefully we can keep the same drive in the young kids who have talent. You have to keep that inner drive and determination, or you won’t be successful, either as a team or as an individual. I don’t see that changing for the women’s game.” Jordan Nobbs It would be travesty if it did, but the women’s game has never been in a better place in England. There are more people watching than ever before – 2.3 million have tuned in on Channel 4 for each of the group games, a significant rise on the figures for the World Cup – and the national team have never played so well. When Mark Sampson’s team travelled to Holland, they were talked about as potential winners, but more importantly, as they prepare to take on their old nemesis France, they have played like it too. From the moment they arrived, the Lionesses have swaggered. They sauntered their way through the first three games, flaunting their talent against Scotland, grinding out a result against Spain, before a routine win over Portugal to finish top of Group D. Jordan Nobbs (left) and Demi Stokes (right) Credit: PA Throughout it all they have maintained an air of steely determination. Each win has been greeted by muted celebrations, their joy short-lived.  After three games only half the job is done and France will be the best team they have faced so far. “We have a very similar team to the one that went to the World Cup,” explained Nobbs. “But even though we came out of that having performed well, we are two years further down the line and we have improved a lot. “I think this is the first time we truly believe we can win a tournament. I think people are really fearing England in this tournament and we’re in a really good place as a group. To win all three of our group games, it shows how hard we have been working. “We are confident and we wouldn’t be this confident if we didn’t think it was a realistic goal. The players we have, the support system we have the staff, it’s been terrific. We know we can win this tournament and I think with our performances we have shown we can beat the best teams in the world. Jordan Nobbs in action for England against Scotland Credit: GETTY IMAGES “I just think if you don’t believe, you’re bluffing and you’re going to be found out in the end. It’s not just what we have done in Holland, it’s what we have been doing other the last couple of years. “We’re not fazed by having to play France. We’re ready. Whatever challenges come our way, we are ready to face it. Mark’s tactics are spot on, they have been whoever we have faced over the last couple of years. We know there are going to be tough games ahead.” Nobbs is still young and has her best years ahead of her, but like all of squad, she always has one eye on the bigger picture. It is not just about what they can do for themselves, it is about what they can do for the sport in general. “We have had a big surge in popularity for women’s football,” Nobbs added. “But to actually win a trophy would be incredible.  ‘‘The rise of the women’s game has been phenomenal, but to really increase things over the next few years, to win a trophy, I think that would make it impossible to ignore us. “There is so much more coverage now, there is a lot more scrutiny of us now and we have to show we can still perform under it.” That starts against France, and you can bet the rising interest levels at home will hit yet another high if they can make the semi-finals. £250,000 up for grabs: pick your Telegraph Fantasy Football team today >>

Jordan Nobbs interview: For the first time we truly believe England can win

Jordan Nobbs is a fantastic footballer, the best in the country according to her peers, a future captain of the national team and the creative spark that has ignited England at the European Championship. Yet you probably would not recognise her even if you were sharing a lift. She will never be a millionaire – the very suggestion makes her laugh. Top women players are on £35,000 a year – a fraction of the weekly wage of their top male counterparts. She will not be able to retire when her playing career is over and she will never know a celebrity lifestyle. Perhaps that is why, at the age of 24, the Arsenal player has an unquenchable thirst for improvement. Maybe that is why the women’s team have made such vast progress over the last few years. There is a hunger and a determination that, unlike with their male counterparts, has been undimmed by premature financial rewards. It is a comparison Nobbs does not like to dwell on, because it is, as far as she is concerned, a futile debate. Yet, for those who have witnessed so many young Englishmen fail to realise their potential, it remains a pertinent one. Jordan Nobbs in action against Spain Credit: AFP When the Lionesses finished third at the World Cup two years ago, they took a huge step forward. But rather than congratulate themselves on that achievement, they immediately turned their attention to surpassing it at the Euros. With three wins out of three to top their group, they take on France in the quarter-final on Sunday, a team they have not beaten since 1974. But this feels like a different England. “The hunger is there,” said Nobbs, whose father Keith was a no-nonsense, bruising centre-back for Hartlepool United. “There are a few of us who won the Under-19s Euros and, even as kids, we had that determination and drive. We’ve kept that with us at senior level, we’ve not changed since we were kids and I truly believe that is why we are where we are now. We believe in ourselves and we believe in being winners, to push ourselves to being the very best. “I want to be pushed as a player, challenged. I want to get better, I’m not the finished article at 24. There are still improvements to be made. I had to leave Sunderland when I was young because they didn’t get into the Super League. I had to join a club like Arsenal, but I knew that would bring out the best in me. I think we’re all like that. I don’t think I’ll ever be a multi-millionaire. For the men, it’s different. I suppose the fact they get so much money, so young, it could make you lose that hunger, but it’s difficult for me to judge something like that. The England women's team Credit: AFP “It’s a completely different game, I don’t really like to draw comparisons. ‘‘It is very hard to compare men’s and women’s football. We just want to have our own sport, really. If we start comparing the money in football, it would be silly. “They do get the television coverage and fans in huge numbers, I think all we can do is really push the women’s game as much as we can. “If one day, it does become that big, hopefully we can keep the same drive in the young kids who have talent. You have to keep that inner drive and determination, or you won’t be successful, either as a team or as an individual. I don’t see that changing for the women’s game.” Jordan Nobbs It would be travesty if it did, but the women’s game has never been in a better place in England. There are more people watching than ever before – 2.3 million have tuned in on Channel 4 for each of the group games, a significant rise on the figures for the World Cup – and the national team have never played so well. When Mark Sampson’s team travelled to Holland, they were talked about as potential winners, but more importantly, as they prepare to take on their old nemesis France, they have played like it too. From the moment they arrived, the Lionesses have swaggered. They sauntered their way through the first three games, flaunting their talent against Scotland, grinding out a result against Spain, before a routine win over Portugal to finish top of Group D. Jordan Nobbs (left) and Demi Stokes (right) Credit: PA Throughout it all they have maintained an air of steely determination. Each win has been greeted by muted celebrations, their joy short-lived.  After three games only half the job is done and France will be the best team they have faced so far. “We have a very similar team to the one that went to the World Cup,” explained Nobbs. “But even though we came out of that having performed well, we are two years further down the line and we have improved a lot. “I think this is the first time we truly believe we can win a tournament. I think people are really fearing England in this tournament and we’re in a really good place as a group. To win all three of our group games, it shows how hard we have been working. “We are confident and we wouldn’t be this confident if we didn’t think it was a realistic goal. The players we have, the support system we have the staff, it’s been terrific. We know we can win this tournament and I think with our performances we have shown we can beat the best teams in the world. Jordan Nobbs in action for England against Scotland Credit: GETTY IMAGES “I just think if you don’t believe, you’re bluffing and you’re going to be found out in the end. It’s not just what we have done in Holland, it’s what we have been doing other the last couple of years. “We’re not fazed by having to play France. We’re ready. Whatever challenges come our way, we are ready to face it. Mark’s tactics are spot on, they have been whoever we have faced over the last couple of years. We know there are going to be tough games ahead.” Nobbs is still young and has her best years ahead of her, but like all of squad, she always has one eye on the bigger picture. It is not just about what they can do for themselves, it is about what they can do for the sport in general. “We have had a big surge in popularity for women’s football,” Nobbs added. “But to actually win a trophy would be incredible.  ‘‘The rise of the women’s game has been phenomenal, but to really increase things over the next few years, to win a trophy, I think that would make it impossible to ignore us. “There is so much more coverage now, there is a lot more scrutiny of us now and we have to show we can still perform under it.” That starts against France, and you can bet the rising interest levels at home will hit yet another high if they can make the semi-finals. £250,000 up for grabs: pick your Telegraph Fantasy Football team today >>

Jordan Nobbs interview: For the first time we truly believe England can win

Jordan Nobbs is a fantastic footballer, the best in the country according to her peers, a future captain of the national team and the creative spark that has ignited England at the European Championship. Yet you probably would not recognise her even if you were sharing a lift. She will never be a millionaire – the very suggestion makes her laugh. Top women players are on £35,000 a year – a fraction of the weekly wage of their top male counterparts. She will not be able to retire when her playing career is over and she will never know a celebrity lifestyle. Perhaps that is why, at the age of 24, the Arsenal player has an unquenchable thirst for improvement. Maybe that is why the women’s team have made such vast progress over the last few years. There is a hunger and a determination that, unlike with their male counterparts, has been undimmed by premature financial rewards. It is a comparison Nobbs does not like to dwell on, because it is, as far as she is concerned, a futile debate. Yet, for those who have witnessed so many young Englishmen fail to realise their potential, it remains a pertinent one. Jordan Nobbs in action against Spain Credit: AFP When the Lionesses finished third at the World Cup two years ago, they took a huge step forward. But rather than congratulate themselves on that achievement, they immediately turned their attention to surpassing it at the Euros. With three wins out of three to top their group, they take on France in the quarter-final on Sunday, a team they have not beaten since 1974. But this feels like a different England. “The hunger is there,” said Nobbs, whose father Keith was a no-nonsense, bruising centre-back for Hartlepool United. “There are a few of us who won the Under-19s Euros and, even as kids, we had that determination and drive. We’ve kept that with us at senior level, we’ve not changed since we were kids and I truly believe that is why we are where we are now. We believe in ourselves and we believe in being winners, to push ourselves to being the very best. “I want to be pushed as a player, challenged. I want to get better, I’m not the finished article at 24. There are still improvements to be made. I had to leave Sunderland when I was young because they didn’t get into the Super League. I had to join a club like Arsenal, but I knew that would bring out the best in me. I think we’re all like that. I don’t think I’ll ever be a multi-millionaire. For the men, it’s different. I suppose the fact they get so much money, so young, it could make you lose that hunger, but it’s difficult for me to judge something like that. The England women's team Credit: AFP “It’s a completely different game, I don’t really like to draw comparisons. ‘‘It is very hard to compare men’s and women’s football. We just want to have our own sport, really. If we start comparing the money in football, it would be silly. “They do get the television coverage and fans in huge numbers, I think all we can do is really push the women’s game as much as we can. “If one day, it does become that big, hopefully we can keep the same drive in the young kids who have talent. You have to keep that inner drive and determination, or you won’t be successful, either as a team or as an individual. I don’t see that changing for the women’s game.” Jordan Nobbs It would be travesty if it did, but the women’s game has never been in a better place in England. There are more people watching than ever before – 2.3 million have tuned in on Channel 4 for each of the group games, a significant rise on the figures for the World Cup – and the national team have never played so well. When Mark Sampson’s team travelled to Holland, they were talked about as potential winners, but more importantly, as they prepare to take on their old nemesis France, they have played like it too. From the moment they arrived, the Lionesses have swaggered. They sauntered their way through the first three games, flaunting their talent against Scotland, grinding out a result against Spain, before a routine win over Portugal to finish top of Group D. Jordan Nobbs (left) and Demi Stokes (right) Credit: PA Throughout it all they have maintained an air of steely determination. Each win has been greeted by muted celebrations, their joy short-lived.  After three games only half the job is done and France will be the best team they have faced so far. “We have a very similar team to the one that went to the World Cup,” explained Nobbs. “But even though we came out of that having performed well, we are two years further down the line and we have improved a lot. “I think this is the first time we truly believe we can win a tournament. I think people are really fearing England in this tournament and we’re in a really good place as a group. To win all three of our group games, it shows how hard we have been working. “We are confident and we wouldn’t be this confident if we didn’t think it was a realistic goal. The players we have, the support system we have the staff, it’s been terrific. We know we can win this tournament and I think with our performances we have shown we can beat the best teams in the world. Jordan Nobbs in action for England against Scotland Credit: GETTY IMAGES “I just think if you don’t believe, you’re bluffing and you’re going to be found out in the end. It’s not just what we have done in Holland, it’s what we have been doing other the last couple of years. “We’re not fazed by having to play France. We’re ready. Whatever challenges come our way, we are ready to face it. Mark’s tactics are spot on, they have been whoever we have faced over the last couple of years. We know there are going to be tough games ahead.” Nobbs is still young and has her best years ahead of her, but like all of squad, she always has one eye on the bigger picture. It is not just about what they can do for themselves, it is about what they can do for the sport in general. “We have had a big surge in popularity for women’s football,” Nobbs added. “But to actually win a trophy would be incredible.  ‘‘The rise of the women’s game has been phenomenal, but to really increase things over the next few years, to win a trophy, I think that would make it impossible to ignore us. “There is so much more coverage now, there is a lot more scrutiny of us now and we have to show we can still perform under it.” That starts against France, and you can bet the rising interest levels at home will hit yet another high if they can make the semi-finals. £250,000 up for grabs: pick your Telegraph Fantasy Football team today >>

Jordan Nobbs interview: For the first time we truly believe England can win

Jordan Nobbs is a fantastic footballer, the best in the country according to her peers, a future captain of the national team and the creative spark that has ignited England at the European Championship. Yet you probably would not recognise her even if you were sharing a lift. She will never be a millionaire – the very suggestion makes her laugh. Top women players are on £35,000 a year – a fraction of the weekly wage of their top male counterparts. She will not be able to retire when her playing career is over and she will never know a celebrity lifestyle. Perhaps that is why, at the age of 24, the Arsenal player has an unquenchable thirst for improvement. Maybe that is why the women’s team have made such vast progress over the last few years. There is a hunger and a determination that, unlike with their male counterparts, has been undimmed by premature financial rewards. It is a comparison Nobbs does not like to dwell on, because it is, as far as she is concerned, a futile debate. Yet, for those who have witnessed so many young Englishmen fail to realise their potential, it remains a pertinent one. Jordan Nobbs in action against Spain Credit: AFP When the Lionesses finished third at the World Cup two years ago, they took a huge step forward. But rather than congratulate themselves on that achievement, they immediately turned their attention to surpassing it at the Euros. With three wins out of three to top their group, they take on France in the quarter-final on Sunday, a team they have not beaten since 1974. But this feels like a different England. “The hunger is there,” said Nobbs, whose father Keith was a no-nonsense, bruising centre-back for Hartlepool United. “There are a few of us who won the Under-19s Euros and, even as kids, we had that determination and drive. We’ve kept that with us at senior level, we’ve not changed since we were kids and I truly believe that is why we are where we are now. We believe in ourselves and we believe in being winners, to push ourselves to being the very best. “I want to be pushed as a player, challenged. I want to get better, I’m not the finished article at 24. There are still improvements to be made. I had to leave Sunderland when I was young because they didn’t get into the Super League. I had to join a club like Arsenal, but I knew that would bring out the best in me. I think we’re all like that. I don’t think I’ll ever be a multi-millionaire. For the men, it’s different. I suppose the fact they get so much money, so young, it could make you lose that hunger, but it’s difficult for me to judge something like that. The England women's team Credit: AFP “It’s a completely different game, I don’t really like to draw comparisons. ‘‘It is very hard to compare men’s and women’s football. We just want to have our own sport, really. If we start comparing the money in football, it would be silly. “They do get the television coverage and fans in huge numbers, I think all we can do is really push the women’s game as much as we can. “If one day, it does become that big, hopefully we can keep the same drive in the young kids who have talent. You have to keep that inner drive and determination, or you won’t be successful, either as a team or as an individual. I don’t see that changing for the women’s game.” Jordan Nobbs It would be travesty if it did, but the women’s game has never been in a better place in England. There are more people watching than ever before – 2.3 million have tuned in on Channel 4 for each of the group games, a significant rise on the figures for the World Cup – and the national team have never played so well. When Mark Sampson’s team travelled to Holland, they were talked about as potential winners, but more importantly, as they prepare to take on their old nemesis France, they have played like it too. From the moment they arrived, the Lionesses have swaggered. They sauntered their way through the first three games, flaunting their talent against Scotland, grinding out a result against Spain, before a routine win over Portugal to finish top of Group D. Jordan Nobbs (left) and Demi Stokes (right) Credit: PA Throughout it all they have maintained an air of steely determination. Each win has been greeted by muted celebrations, their joy short-lived.  After three games only half the job is done and France will be the best team they have faced so far. “We have a very similar team to the one that went to the World Cup,” explained Nobbs. “But even though we came out of that having performed well, we are two years further down the line and we have improved a lot. “I think this is the first time we truly believe we can win a tournament. I think people are really fearing England in this tournament and we’re in a really good place as a group. To win all three of our group games, it shows how hard we have been working. “We are confident and we wouldn’t be this confident if we didn’t think it was a realistic goal. The players we have, the support system we have the staff, it’s been terrific. We know we can win this tournament and I think with our performances we have shown we can beat the best teams in the world. Jordan Nobbs in action for England against Scotland Credit: GETTY IMAGES “I just think if you don’t believe, you’re bluffing and you’re going to be found out in the end. It’s not just what we have done in Holland, it’s what we have been doing other the last couple of years. “We’re not fazed by having to play France. We’re ready. Whatever challenges come our way, we are ready to face it. Mark’s tactics are spot on, they have been whoever we have faced over the last couple of years. We know there are going to be tough games ahead.” Nobbs is still young and has her best years ahead of her, but like all of squad, she always has one eye on the bigger picture. It is not just about what they can do for themselves, it is about what they can do for the sport in general. “We have had a big surge in popularity for women’s football,” Nobbs added. “But to actually win a trophy would be incredible.  ‘‘The rise of the women’s game has been phenomenal, but to really increase things over the next few years, to win a trophy, I think that would make it impossible to ignore us. “There is so much more coverage now, there is a lot more scrutiny of us now and we have to show we can still perform under it.” That starts against France, and you can bet the rising interest levels at home will hit yet another high if they can make the semi-finals. £250,000 up for grabs: pick your Telegraph Fantasy Football team today >>

Rant from Sky Sports' Jeff Stelling leads to Dave Jones sacking at Hartlepool United

Rant from Sky Sports' Jeff Stelling leads to Dave Jones sacking at Hartlepool United

Rant from Sky Sports' Jeff Stelling leads to Dave Jones sacking at Hartlepool United

Rant from Sky Sports' Jeff Stelling leads to Dave Jones sacking at Hartlepool United

Jeff Stelling Embarrasses Hartlepool United Manager Dave Jones Live on Sky Sports

​Avid Hartlepool United supporter and host of Sky Sports' Gillette Soccer Saturday, Jeff Stelling, gave a no-holds barred rant in regards to the disastrous state that his club find themselves in live on air. Stelling often uses his position as presenter to voice his opinion on the fortunes of the League Two club, but last Saturday he almost lost the plot as he called for manager Dave Jones to get the sack following a 2-0 defeat to Barnet. Jeff Stelling offers to resign if Hartlepool don't sack...

Jeff Stelling Embarrasses Hartlepool United Manager Dave Jones Live on Sky Sports

​Avid Hartlepool United supporter and host of Sky Sports' Gillette Soccer Saturday, Jeff Stelling, gave a no-holds barred rant in regards to the disastrous state that his club find themselves in live on air. Stelling often uses his position as presenter to voice his opinion on the fortunes of the League Two club, but last Saturday he almost lost the plot as he called for manager Dave Jones to get the sack following a 2-0 defeat to Barnet. Jeff Stelling offers to resign if Hartlepool don't sack...

Hartlepool United v Sunderland - Pre Season Friendly

Britain Football Soccer - Hartlepool United v Sunderland - Pre Season Friendly - Victoria Park - 16/17 - 20/7/16 Hartlepool manager Craig Hignett Action Images via Reuters / Lee Smith

League 2 Club Hartlepool United Shut Down Ignorant Sexist in Perfect Way on Twitter

​Hartlepool United's official Twitter page responded in the perfect way to a sexist online troll over the weekend, telling the ignorant supporter, 'We can bar sexists if you like?' ​The Sun quote Twitter user Tim Dawson as saying: "@Official_HUFC any chance we can get women barred out of the player's lounge please? It's a mans sport. #menneedtherespacefromwomen" @RyanHillback @Official_HUFC charming chap... pic.twitter.com/Tf6BbkwwRE — Gordon Kelly (@GordonKelly) February 5, 2017 ​​Grammatical...

League 2 Club Hartlepool United Shut Down Ignorant Sexist in Perfect Way on Twitter

​Hartlepool United's official Twitter page responded in the perfect way to a sexist online troll over the weekend, telling the ignorant supporter, 'We can bar sexists if you like?' ​The Sun quote Twitter user Tim Dawson as saying: "@Official_HUFC any chance we can get women barred out of the player's lounge please? It's a mans sport. #menneedtherespacefromwomen" @RyanHillback @Official_HUFC charming chap... pic.twitter.com/Tf6BbkwwRE — Gordon Kelly (@GordonKelly) February 5, 2017 ​​Grammatical...

Le Buzz - Hartlepool slam fan with perfect response to sexist tweet

Football Soccer - Hartlepool United v Derby County - FA Cup Third Round - Victoria Park - 9/1/16 General view outside the stadium before the game Mandatory Credit: Action Images / John Clifton Livepic EDITORIAL USE ONLY. No use with unauthorized audio,

OFFICIAL: Joe Gamble joins Limerick backroom team

The former Cork City, Hartlepool United and Limerick midfielder announced his LOI return on Friday, joining Martin Russell's coaching staff

OFFICIAL: Joe Gamble joins Limerick backroom team

The former Cork City, Hartlepool United and Limerick midfielder announced his League of Ireland return on Friday, joining Martin Russell's coaching staff

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