Hartlepool have paid tribute to arguably their most famous supporter following the death of rock star Meat Loaf.
The larger-than-life American, whose death at the age of 74 was announced by his family on Friday, adopted the League Two club after being asked to appear on Sky Sports’ Soccer AM in 2003.
A club spokesman said: “Everyone at the club is saddened to hear of the passing of international superstar Meat Loaf.
“Meat Loaf’s story of how he became a Hartlepool supporter when he appeared on Soccer AM was heart-warming and we are glad to have been the team to which he dedicated his passion for football.
“He was probably our most famous fan and we send all our love and thoughts to his family and friends at this sad time.”
Meat Loaf, who was born Marvin Lee Aday but was also known as Michael, explained his recruitment to the north-east club’s fanbase in an interview with talkSPORT Magazine, revealing he had been attracted by the legend that a monkey washed up on the town’s shores from a shipwreck during the Napoleonic Wars was hanged as a French spy.
He said: “I was going on Soccer AM and they said, ‘Do you have a team that you support, Manchester United, Liverpool?’, and I was going, ‘That’s boring!’. It’s just like a celebrity to go on and go, ‘Oh, I’m a Liverpool fan, I support whoever’, the teams who have always been at the top.
I got down to the third division and I said, 'There's a cool name, Hartlepool, in the third division'.Meat Loaf
“So I started looking and I went to the second division, no, no, and I got down to the third division and I said, ‘There’s a cool name, Hartlepool, in the third division’.
“I found out that the city back a long time ago, the claim was that a monkey washed ashore and the whole city thought it was a Frenchman and they hung him, and I said, ‘That’s perfect’.
“Then what I did was I started researching all the players from Hartlepool, so when I got on Soccer AM, I knew all the players, I knew the last game, I knew who were the big scorers, I knew who the coach was.
“I got on the phone with the Hartlepool coach [at the time, Mike Newell] and told him, ‘Hang in there, you’re going to move up, I guarantee you’.
“Since then, I have signed up to the web, left my email address and I get Hartlepool updates.”
It may have been an unlikely alliance, but it was one to which the rock star committed to the point where speculation, fuelled by his UK publicist, suggested he was looking to buy a home in the town and later, the neighbouring village of Wolviston.
Meat Loaf is not the only internationally famous musician to follow Pool – Iron Maiden guitarist Janick Gers is a Hartlepool native who has often been seen on the terraces at what is now the Suit Direct Stadium.
The club, of which Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling is president, currently sits in 17th place in the fourth tier in its first season back in the Football League following a four-year exile.