Just over two years with Pools in the mid-90s saw a young Chris Beech explode onto the scene as he netted 25 goals in 104 appearances from his midfield berth, earning him a move to Huddersfield following what turned out to be a complicated transfer process.
Heading back to Victoria Park as a manager in his own right for the first time this weekend, he spoke fondly of his time at the club at his pre-match press conference.
“Well done to them because I know how much playing league football means to them over there,” he said. “There are still people there from when I played, although one of them’s just left, the physio Buster, he was a young lad when I was there. Well, we were all young.
“I’m really pleased for them, but of course I represent Carlisle now so I have to make sure we’re very professional and go against a team that wins a lot of home games.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Hartlepool. It was a great learning curve to live away from home, live in that area. I had some great times on and off the pitch, scored some great goals, there were some great lads I played with and I enjoyed it.
“When the Championship came calling, I turned a couple of offers down, stayed with it, ended up on a week-to-week contract there, I was signing a contract every Friday to play on the Saturday prior to leaving.”
Lifting the lid on his protracted transfer process, which eventually took him to Huddersfield, he explained: “It’s funny what happens in football. I ended up at one of the first tribunals, it was the first year of the Bosman, I was coming up 24 and nobody knew what was going on.
“Like I say, I was signing a contract every Friday to make sure I could play, Hartlepool were offering me a little bit more every week because I was scoring every week. It’s ironic, the buying club says you’re no good, even though they want you, and you find that the team who is selling and who won’t pay you any more money suddenly thinks you’re the best player ever to play in the history of the football club.
“I think it ended up about £95,000 so I suppose that was worth a little bit 25 years ago, but it’s nothing really to shout home about.”
What will it be like walking through those gates and along the side of the pitch as the away team’s manager?
“I was actually caretaker at Rochdale and unfortunately for me at that point back in the day, as a younger coach, Luke James had his debut and he volleyed one in,” he told us. “Old Jeff Stelling was having a great day.
“I loved playing for Hartlepool, loved the honesty and hard work they have a town, but you’re talking about something that’s around 25 or 26 years ago, so it’s been a while.
“This is how old I am, when I started coaching at Bury Dave Challinor was still taking long throws for them. In fact, I met Brad Young’s dad the other day and I’m getting to that age where the dad’s are younger than me, it’s mad that. Welcome to the real world Chris.
“Challi’s a great bloke, he’s got a good team, but it’s about us and what we do. We’ll have a plan in place and we’ll have to be really good to try to gain something out of it.
“It’ll be good to go there. I would imagine, being Carlisle United’s manager, I’d be offended if I’m not booed. They’re good fans, as are ours, so it’s a good day to look forward to.”