Footballing legends from the 1967/68 Hartlepools United promotion winning team have finally been rewarded with medals of recognition for their historic achievement.

The Pools’ heroes finished in third place in Division 4, gaining promotion to the third tier of English football for the very first time.

The recent, hugely successful, John McGovern Hartlepool tribute event in town - organised by his long time friend Paul ‘Goffy’ Gough - was the inspiration for the medal recognition.

McGovern, aged 18 at the time, was a key member of the promotion winning team before following Brian Clough and Peter Taylor to Derby County and then Nottingham Forest where McGovern lifted the European Cup in successive years.

Goffy said: "During our many conversations down the years, John had always joked that he had received two medals for his European Cup wins as Captain of Notts Forest plus league title medals for Forest and Derby County during his legendary years working under Brian Clough and Peter Taylor but didn’t receive anything when he won promotion with Pools as a teenager.

The Northern Echo: Pools Legend John McGovern receives his medal from Goffy during his Hartlepool tribute event

"Despite loads of triumphant medals from John’s glittering career, he would always say that when he won promotion with Pools all he ever wanted was a medal – but the squad never received one, He even laughs about the fact that the squad were issued with new black suits by Chairman John Curry (a prominent tailor in Hartlepool) and the money was docked weekly from the player's wages.

"So when we finally put the date in the diary for his tribute event I set about sorting out retro medals to mark the history making achievement. It became clear that others connected to the squad and their family members thought this was a great idea.

"Former players Peter Blowman and Bobby McLeod were present with their families along with John Gill’s son, Tim, who made the journey from Walsall. The late Jimmy Mulvaney’s family were in the audience too – all of them prominent in that 60s period. Very sadly, a sizeable proportion of that brilliant squad are now no longer with us.

"When I was thinking of presenting John with his medal it felt only right to give medals to other that were present or had some family connection to the squad of winners.

"It was lovely to see the reaction of John McGovern, Peter Blowman and Bobby McLeod on stage as I presented their medals on behalf of the Pools fans that still hold them in a very special place  To have John Gill and Jimmy Mulvaney’s family links to the special night just added to it all," said Goffy.

Goffy continued: “Tim Gill sent a lovely video of his dad John showing the medal being received back home and it meant so much to him even though he had to wait 56 years to receive it.

John McGovern commented: "It was a lovely touch by Goffy as the medal marks a significant part of my career. The success of it all was born out of Hartlepool and I will never forget that.

"To have those links to the squad on that memorable tribute night will always remain hugely special to me. The video messages that Goffy arranged and were played on screen from people such as Alan Shearer, Graeme Souness, Bryan Robson, Peter Reid, Martin O’Neill and so many more really took my breath away – unforgettable in fact."

Former Pools striker Peter Blowman said: "I was really moved when Goffy shouted my name and asked John to present me with a medal for my part in making Hartlepool history. My family were with me and it felt really special for us all."

The Northern Echo: John Gill at home on receiving his medal 56 years on

Pools great John Gill, now 83 and living in Walsall, said: "I was  totally blown away with my Pools promotion medal. It is brilliant and I can’t thank Goffy enough for getting them sorted for us all.

"When my son arrived to present it to me, it really touched me. Fifty-six years is a long-time – but I still look out for every Pools result and absolutely loved my years in that lovely town with those brilliant supporters. That drove us on to make history in that oh so memorable season.

"Pools Chairman Raj Singh was brilliant to my family when they went up for the John night and they took in the game against Halifax at Easter. As soon as he found out their link to me, he arranged VIP hospitality with dinner and everything for them. They wanted for nothing  – that was so thoughtful of Raj’.’

Pools clinched promotion in their penultimate game of the season, winning 2-0 away to Swansea City on Tuesday 6 May. Just 5 days later, they played Swansea again at home, winning again 2-0 in front of over 11,000 with McGovern scoring the second goal.