RITCHIE Humphreys, Hartlepool United’s all-time record appearance holder, is back at Victoria Park today for the first time since his summer exit.
Now a regular for Chesterfield, Humphreys new side are chasing promotion, sitting in third spot in League Two.
His last appearance at Victoria Park came almost a year ago in a 1-1 draw with Brentford on April 20, 2013.
And, after he was released last summer, Cooper revealed he could have still have stayed at Pools and added to his 543 appearances.
“Ritchie’s thing in the summer, I offered him a role here, and his wife was due another baby and he wanted to be closer to home, Chesterfield came in and he’s had smashing season to the extent that he’s been offered a new contract there which is fantastic for him,’’ said Cooper.
“He’s a Sheffield lad, living not too far away and it gives him the chance to spend more time with his family each day.
“He’s a smashing lad who served this football club fantastically well. He was offered a chance to stay and chose a different path and doing that has reinvigorated his career this year.’’
Chris Turner, who signed him for Pools in 2001, is now the Spireites’ chief executive and he went a long way to getting him to sign for his new club. They also have ex-Pools striker Anth Lormor as kit man.
Of Turner, twice manager of Pools, Cooper said: “Chris is part of the Hartlepool furniture, a great man and we spoke at the Chesterfield game on Boxing Day. Both, I would like to think, will be given a warm welcome by our fans and our football club. I’m sure they will do that and it will be deserved.’’
Humphreys admitted: “It may be strange initially, coming as an away player to a place I love and which was my home ground for a long time.
“But I am coming as a Chesterfield player and I will be coming to do a professional job and that is to try to win a game of football.
“I have no feelings of apprehension or anything like that. I'm looking forward to it, meeting old colleagues, old friends, the people I enjoyed working for and with over many years.
“It will be nice to play in front of the supporters who were great to me the whole time I was with Hartlepool.’’
He added: “Hartlepool was a big part of my career and I think everyone knows how I feel about the club and the place.
“But it couldn't have gone better for me.’’
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