SARACENS, the European champions. West Indies, a doyen of world cricket. Fiji sevens, the Olympic gold medallists. England and New Zealand Rugby League teams and now Hartlepool United.

BLK: Beyond Limits Known. A sports clothing company with an ever-growing portfolio and one without limits.

Based in Stockton, the brand carries worldwide status and they have big plans to push further. Against the more established and higher profile sports brands, BLK is stealing a march by doing things a little different.

When they launched the Pools away shirt earlier in the month, there were a few mumbles about the new-look badge and the collar.

After taking note, they responded. After being fed a diet of Nike catalogue kits in recent years, this was a different take for supporters.

“The away shirt was released and well received,’’ mused director Enis Suleyman. “We looked at it and, not being a real die-hard Hartlepool United fan like some, I still felt I could put it on and wear it.

“The badge was changed after feedback - has this happened in football before? We took feedback from fans, switched it at the 11th hour and turned it around so even the handful of detractors were impressed. I’m very proud of what we managed to do with it.

“We had to send someone to China to make it happen. That’s the level of desire and attention to detail we work to for clients. We don’t just dictate what they are getting.

“We are always listening and it’s been a very positive experience. I hope we can always be as attentive to clients’ needs as we can be.’’

Commercial director Marc Holt added: “We have two sides to the business. We are all from a grounded and level background and are just as happy to work with a big professional club as we are a local, grass roots team in different sports. We have been there and we have struggled at times, but we want to put something back.

“It’s good to have a deal like Pools on our doorstep. We are all local lads, a local business so to do something locally is a proud thing for us.

“I’ve spoke with the club the moment the players first tried the kit on… I know the players love it.’’

The deal with Pools is their first real public move in the North-East. The new Saracens kit was launched this week to great acclaim. In English rugby, they don’t come much bigger.

Born out of well-versed Australian rugby brand Kooga, BLK is a global brand, with a firm North-East feel. Following some high-profile financial issues on the other side of the world, BLK has come through it stronger for the experience.

Suleyman added: “Kooga was a big player in world rugby. BLK have picked the brand up and ran with it again.

“It has come through some testing times, but other big labels have been through the same thing and a restructure is sometimes needed.

“I’ve come in new and helped unravel it a bit. The brand had some tough times and it’s hard when it was struggling in Australia.

“That caused problems for us in Europe, perhaps knocked confidence. But we own the licence outright in Europe so we were never affected by it.

“They came through it stronger with some seriously wealthy investors and the guy behind us and the US, Richard Upshall – he also owns the Middle East licence – and has tied it together. It’s a worldwide company.’’

Upshall is a shrewd mover. The Teesside entrepreneur, based in Dubai, wouldn’t back BLK if it didn’t have some status and potential.

Suleyman added: “The opportunity in the US is huge. A T20 tournament is kicking off next year, the Windies are part of it – it’s after a part of the baseball market.

“We are in for the rugby tournament too and one of our distributors already has four of the 12 teams involved.

“They see Major League Rugby as overtaking soccer over there in time. Sport in the UK became a little less classless, in the States it’s gone the other way.

“Rugby is a middle class sport there, the middle class want a sport for themselves.’’

Through Upshall, BLK is also moving into the urban and lifestyle fashion. “From a base of sportswear it can grow,’’ added Suleyman, with BLK also involved in a worldwide online gaming team.

But in a saturated marker with some real big players to compete against, can BLK come out on top of the table?

“I think the established brands help us in the market. I feel they are very inflexible in how they will service clubs, even the biggest ones out there,’’ mused Suleyman.

“It’s mass produced, lasts while it lasts. It’s nice to start the season looking good, but you want to finish it too.

“Order 11 shirts and we will be as bespoke as you want. Sit with the designer. Get what you want. It’s crazy how many combinations of shirt you can take. It’s a consultation to take people through it.

“Rugby shirts have changed immensely over the years – they take so much punishment. I remember my old cotton rugby shirts would get so thick and heavy you couldn’t carry them!

“Now they are so different, it’s like an Armani suit.’’

Having a profile in the North-East with Pools has alerted people to BLK.

For Suleyman, a Teessider with Hartlepool roots, it was a deal which felt right.

“I played rugby for Hartlepool Rovers and I’ve always loved Pools, always looked out for them,’’ he reflected.

“There’s a lot of changes gone on at the club, everything has moved on. From a business perspective I’ve watched what Pam (Duxbury, chairman) is doing and I respect it. The club has to survive as a business to build. She’s brought a new mentality to it. I appreciate what she is doing.

“Ultimately I think the club is lucky to have her. It’s the same with the manager, he’s a breath of fresh air.

“Linking up with Pools is good. All deals have a profile. Some deals are done with your head, some with your heart. This was with my heart.

“I’ve long family links with the town, I’ve a strong rugby background in the town. It was a deal I wanted to do.

“I’m looking forward to seeing Pools win on a Saturday and then the next day driving past Grayfields and seeing kids playing in a BLK strip. That means a lot.

“The big deals are nice and you can look at them playing and see our name which gives us pride.

“We want to create jobs and there’s a number of elements we want to look at. The more local we can focus on, the more intense the more chance of creating new jobs.’’

BLK are just as content working with worldwide clubs as they are with grassroots teams, who can be involved in the design of their own kits from the start.

“The name is different – Beyond Limits Known – I like it. It covers every sports person out there and what they are trying to achieve.

“Look at how sport has developed from what it was, it’s becoming a science now. A science at all levels.

“Every sport has some science behind it – diet, physiology. I loved the name when I heard it and I see now people and clubs starting to adopt it. The name has put us pretty close to winning some big deals in a short space of time – and deals I feel we will get a shot at revisiting soon.’’