Player Of The Decade #9: Chris Westwood
Our countdown of the top 10 players of the past decade, as voted for by you, continues with the next player in our chart. Remember to leave you favourite moments in the comment box at the bottom of the page.
9. Chris Westwood
The wholehearted centre-back Chris Westwood takes the number 9 position in our chart. His defensive displays won him a place in the minds of Poolies forever. He arrived at the club under Chris Turner and soon made the centre-half spot his own.
Forming a fearsome partnership with Graeme Lee and then later Michael Nelson the speedy sweeper was the brains behind Lee and Nelson's brawn. With Lee he would form one of the best defensive partnerships the club had ever seen.
Opposition strikers would fear facing Westy and one took out his frustration on Westwood in a very callous way. Luke Rodgers, playing for Shrewsbury at the time, confronted Westwood after scoring against Pools before allegedly assaulting Westwood in the club's car park after the game. Rodgers would subsequently become a victim of crowd abuse in his visits to the Vic and the pair continued their rivalry through the years.
Not known for his goalscoring prowess he scored just 3 goals in his first six seasons with the club but all this changed during a short spell in the 2004/2005 season. He'd grabbed a goal against Oldham in the September and added 5 more in late November and early December, at one point it seemed like every time he went forward for a corner it'd end in a goal for Westwood.
It wasn't just his performances on the field that earned him a sterling reputation amongst fans; it was his off-field attitude. He always had time to speak to supporters and was a true ambassador for the club, this earned him a great deal of respect from the Victoria Park faithful.
His career at the club ended in a disappointing fashion, he was part of the side that reached the League One play-off final in 2005 against Sheffield Wednesday but was sent off in the final with just minutes to go. Wednesday went on to win the game in extra time and Westwood left the club just six weeks later to be closer to his family in the Midlands.
He joined Walsall and, in a bizarre twist of the fixture list, he would return to the Vic just two weeks into the 05/06 season. With just seven minutes on the clock he rose highest to head home a corner but did not celebrate as a mark of respect to the club where he made his name. He was applauded off the field by the Pools fans at the end of the game and this showed the high esteem that the home fans still held him in.
Our Favourite Moment
With most of his goals all coming via his head our favourite moment came in an away game at Oldham in 2004. It was cold afternoon at Boundary Park and Pools were 2-0 down when Westwood gained possession of the ball in defence. He advanced with the ball and, with no Oldham challenge forthcoming, ended up 30 yards out from goal.
He hit the ball towards goals and it rolled towards the goal with the pace of a tortoise, evading Les Pogliacomi and nestling in the back of the net.
Click here for our Player Of The Decade page where you can find out more about the other players in our countdown