Hartlepool United boss Dave Challinor and Ian ‘Buster’ Gallagher fist-pump the Victoria Park crowd after last Saturday’s 3-2 victory. Picture: MI News & Sport / Scott Llewellyn
Ian ‘Buster’ Gallagher has thanked everyone connected with Hartlepool United for making his final match as first team physio an afternoon he will never forget.
Twenty-seven years after first appearing for Pools’ youth team the 43-year-old’s long association with the club in a working capacity came to an end on Saturday.
Buster, the nickname he is widely known as, was part of the backroom team one last time as Dave Challinor’s men came from two goals down to incredibly beat Harrogate Town 3-2 at Victoria Park.
After the final whistle Challinor and Buster memorably fist-pumped the noisy North West Corner of the ground before he showed his appreciation to the rest of the crowd.
Buster said: “I honestly couldn’t have written a better script to finish as Pools physio. I shed a tear when I was on the pitch and I’m getting emotional thinking about it now!
“I was emotionally drained on Saturday night. Thank you to everyone for making it special.
“It felt different to every other game I have ever been involved in.
“We started well but at 2-0 down I was thinking ‘here we go, there won’t be anyone left in the ground by the end’. Then the rest happened.
“I was sad to know it was the end but so proud, overwhelmed and amazed.
“Everything from the last 20-odd years went through my mind as I walked around the pitch. I couldn’t believe how many people stayed behind.
“When I got to the bottom corner of the Cyril Knowles Stand, where my son, Liam, was with my dad, Les, that was special as well.
“The Klinsmann dive I did through the players’ guard of honour for me could have been better mind! What a last day as first team physio on the Vic.”
Now Buster is looking forward to joining those supporters and getting behind the team.
He said: “I have a bit of a love affair with those fans. That memory of seeing everyone in the North West Corner as I walked up with Dave Challinor will never leave me … to think the next time I see them all I will be in there, fist-pumping the gaffer back!”
It has been a hard decision for Buster to step aside from Hartlepool, but he has wanted to concentrate on his First Team Physiotherapy business alongside his son and is looking forward to what comes next.
He said: “I am leaving a good place behind. I could have cried but it was more pride I felt than anything else.
“That’s the perfect way to leave. After the promotion celebrations in the summer what has followed in the EFL has been special too. I have stayed on a little longer than expected, seven weeks, but just for that finish makes it worthwhile.
“I am now excited, it’s the end of an era but the start of a new one. I am excited. I will never forget my time working at Pools and we have the best fans in the world – this season has proven it already.
“Every home game we have an advantage because of them and believe me that feeds into the players, trust me.
“I wish the club, the players and the management staff all the best. I will be inside the Vic cheering them on from now on. I can’t wait.”
“I honestly couldn’t have written a better script to finish as Pools physio. I shed a tear when I was on the pitch and I’m getting emotional thinking about it now!”
-Ian 'Buster' Gallagher