HARTLEPOOL UNITED have passed the 1,000 mark for season ticket sales, after long-term fan Richard Hegarty was presented by chairman Raj Singh to mark the milestone.

A retired education advisor, Hegarty has been a Season Ticket holder for the last ten years but has been a regular both home and away for the last 60 years.

Listing the likes of Watty Moore, Ray Bilcliff and Norman Oakley among his favourite Pools players over the years, the Bishop Cuthbert resident still remembers his early trips to the Victoria Ground.

“If I am going to be totally honest, when I first started coming we used to go in to West Rugby Club and then climb over the fence in to the Town End!” he joked.

“The early memories are of the very heavy ball, old-fashioned strips, muddy pitches and the old wooden stands – they were the good old days, though I won’t tell you about the toilets back then.

“My biggest memory is probably when we got promoted in 1968 – I was at Exeter on the Saturday and then went on to Swansea on the Monday night when we clinched promotion.

“I remember that I wasn’t well at all when we set-off on the Friday night and had to get off the bus to be sick – but it wasn’t going to stop me going even though it was such a long way.

“Pools supporters are the best in the country. I go to a lot of away games as well and they’re outstanding – the loyalty, the noise and, let’s be honest, the tolerance.

“We’ve never had the greatest of successes during the 60 years I’ve been watching but people still stick by the Club and the team so hopefully this is the year we get some more reward.”

As a senior, he took advantage of the deal for Over 60s – meaning he paid just £150, which works out at just £6.52 per game.

Sales have been fast and furious, with fans boosted by the news this week the club signed Luke Molyneux from Sunderland.

“I always look forward to the new season,” admitted Hegarty, whose Grandad Tommy and Great Uncle Dick played in the very first Pools team back in 1908.

“I was talking to someone the other day, debating whether we could get promotion or where we’d finish so the anticipation is growing and I am always optimistic that it will be our season.

“We’ve signed some good players but I would still like to see another couple of additions and hopefully another striker but the ones who have come in look great.

“People online on the websites and Facebook seem very positive about things and what is happening at the club so hopefully we can have a really enjoyable season.”

Early Bird prices for season tickets remain in place until Friday, July 5. Details at www.hartlepoolunited.co.uk