FORMER State team stars and Hall of Fame inductees Graham Normanton and Peter Holt have received the “superstar” treatment by their old clubs back in England.
Normanton, a regular with Hartlepool before heading Down Under in 1983 and going on to have a successul playing career with the likes of Perth Azzurri and Kingsway Olympic and then becoming one of WA’s most successful coaches in a trophy-laden spell with Perth SC, featured in a double-page spread in a Pools programme.
And Holt, who was an amateur with Blackburn Rovers and a target for Burnley before deciding his future lay on the other side of the world, was given the star treatment in the Burnley programme when they hosted Manchester United in the Premier League towards the end of last year.
Peter, who was inducted into the Hall of Champions in 1996, enjoyed much success as a tricky winger with Perth Azzurri after arriving in 1967 and jointly holds the record for the number of State team representative appearances.
“I was on holiday in England and attended the Burnley-Man United game,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it when I opened the programme and saw a picture of myself with a story welcoming me back and wishing me well.
“It said that I had trials with Burnley when I was a youngster, but that wasn’t true. I knew they were interested in me, but I was playing with Blackburn at the time. Even at that I gave it up for it was a long round-trip from my home in Littleborough in Greater Manchester.
“Still, it was wonderful to be remembered.”
Normanton, who was inducted into the Hall of Recognition in 2008, was also overcome with emotion when he became aware of the story in the programme for the Hartlepool v Oxford United game towards the end of last year.
“A relative was at the match and brought back copies of the programme. I was astonished – even more so when they referred to me as one of Hartlepool’s more successful exports.”
In a feature headlined The Foreign Legion, the piece of Normanton read in part:
“Graham Normanton was a no-nonsense defender who played for Pools at the end of the 70s and early 80s.
“Hartlepool-born, he was spotted by Middlesborough when playing school football for High Tunstall, joining them as an apprentice. He spent a couple of years south of the Tees, but the first team was deemed to be too much of a step for him at Ayresome Park.
“Canny Pools manager Billy Horner was aware of Graham’s situation and signed him for Pools in the summer of 1979.
“He made his debut for the club when he was 19, away to Wigan in the September of the same year. He was retained in the team and clocked up a dozen appearances in a struggling side.
“He played a few more times in 1981 and at the end of the season had the pleasure of knowing he was freed when reading about it in the local newspaper. He joined local side Horden Colliery Welfare in the Northern League and his committed style made him a regular choice for a couple of seasons before he packed his bags and headed Down Under.”
The article concluded: “In and out of football, he has been one of the more successful Poolie exports.”
PIC ONE: The Hartlepool programme story on Graham Normanton. PIC TWO: Graham receives his Hall of Fame award from Football West chairman Kevin Campbell. PIC THREE: Peter Holt at the Hall of Fame induction.