Player Of The Decade #10: Gordon Watson
Our countdown of the top 10 players of the past decade begins today as we reveal the player in tenth place, as voted by you. You can leave your favourite moments in the comment box at the end of the page.
10. Gordon Watson
Taking the number ten spot in our countdown is Gordon 'Flash' Watson. His career was in tatters following a double fracture in the right leg that had seen the striker play just one full game in four years when Chris Turner brought the striker to the club in September 2001.
He made an immediate impact at Victoria Park; his work rate, strength, amazing technique and, most importantly, goalscoring ability made him a fans favourite at the club. With 18 league goals in 32 appearances he fired Pools from strugglers into play-off contenders in his first season.
He combined well with Eifion Williams following the Welshman's arrival at the club in March 2002; the pair hit 7 goals in the last 5 games to seal a play-off place on the final day of the season.
He was a larger than life character both on and off the field, Pools' already energetic dressing room spirit was lifted even more when he arrived. It was a truly great time to be involved with the club, quality players like Watson, Paul Smith, Graeme Lee and Chris Westwood propelling the club to new highs.
However Watson's Hartlepool career was halted in the most in heart-breaking fashion. The 02/03 season started well with Watson firing 5 goals in the first 7 games when he faced Pools' fierce rivals Darlington for the first time.
At a packed Victoria Park Pools were 3-1 to the good thanks to a brace from Mark Tinker and a volley from Ritchie Humphreys. Late in the game Watson was shielding the ball away from Darlington's centre-back Matt Clarke and attempted to turn the centre-half.
Clarke lunged in on Watson and brought the striker down with an almighty snap. Everyone in the ground heard the break and Watson was stretchered from the field with a broken leg.
Despite his optimistic prediction of a return before Christmas it was 6 months before the striker recovered. He never quite regained the form or fitness needed to replicate his former achievements on the field and left the club in the summer looking for a club closer to his Southampton home.
He had a trial at Sheffield Wednesday in August 2003 but yet another knee injury forced him to retire from the game for good. Following his retirement he worked as a commentator on local radio station in Southampton and then as a scout for Leicester City.
A top player who will be remembered as one of the most potent strikers ever to grace Victoria Park, to this day he is still remembered with great fondness by fans at Pools.
Our Favourite Moment
With Pools lying bottom of Division 3 and Hull occupying a promotion place an away win was expected as the Tigers travelled to Victoria Park.
However, on the cold November night, Hartlepool destroyed their opponents with a sensational all-round team display. Watson was at the centre of the performance and scored a hat-trick as Pools won the game 4-0.
Click here for our Player Of The Decade page where you can find out more about the other players in our countdown