Victoria Park is a 7,691 capacity football ground in Hartlepool, Northern England and it is the home of Hartlepool United. The four sides of the ground are known as the Town End Terrace, The Camerons Brewery Stand, The Cyril Knowles Stand and the Rink End. The Town End Terrace is a standing area behind the south goal, it is usually the most vocal area of the ground. The Camerons Brewery Stand (formerly the Millhouse Stand) is an all seating stand with a terraced paddock and it is located at the west side of the ground. The Cyril Knowles Stand is a modern all seater stand that is located on the east of the ground. The Rink End is also an all-seater stand containing 961 seats, however this is the only stand containing some areas with an obscured view of the pitch, due to a number of supporting pillars. The Rink End is located at the North end of the ground and houses only away fans.
The land in which Victoria Park resides was originally used as a limestone quarry, which was owned by the North-Eastern Railway Company. However in 1886 the land was bought by West Hartlepool Rugby Football Club for the development of a new rugby ground. The ground was then named the Victoria Ground in celebration of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee. However in 1908 West Hartlepool R.F.C went bust leaving ‘The Victoria Ground’ vacant. Shortly afterwards, the ground was registered under the name of “The Hartlepools United Football Athletic Company Limited”, a football team representing both the town of West Hartlepool and the original settlement of Old Hartlepool. This football team developed into Hartlepool United. From 1908 - 1910 Hartlepools United shared their ground with the amateurs of West Hartlepool until the club broke up leaving Hartlepools United as the sole occupiers of the ground. In 1916 during the first world war the ground was bombed by a German Zeppelin, which destroyed the main stand on the Clarence Road side. A small, wooden stand was built as a temporary measure with the intent to replace it with a larger, more permanent structure once funds allowed. After the war, Hartlepool tried to claim compensation from the German government in order to fund the new stand. However these attempts failed and the temporary stand was eventually demolished in the late 1980s due to fire regulations being tightened as a result of the Bradford Fire. A number of portable cabins were put on the site of the Clarence Road stand containing dressing rooms, offices and a small number of seats until the Cyril Knowles Stand was built in 1995.
The Cyril Knowles Stand was named after the former Tottenham Hotspur defender who managed Hartlepool from January 1990 until June 1991. He had built side that won promotion from the Fourth Division in the 1990-91 season, but had to hand over managerial duties to coach Alan Murray in February 1991 due to brain cancer. Knowles retired in June 1991 after his declining health meant that he was no longer well enough to manage the club, and he died two months later at the age of 47.
In 1998 West Hartlepool R.F.C. were allowed to once again share the ground, signing an agreement that was to run until 2001, West brought a number of executive boxes with them from their previous ground - Brierton Lane. These boxes were added to the rear of the Cyril Knowles stand and remain there until today. However, West didn't stay as long, and moved out in 1999. In 1996 the ground was renamed Victoria Park to reflect the large number of improvements that had been made to the inrastructure and facilities. Among the improvements were two new stands (the Cyril Knowles stand and the Town End), new dressing rooms and offices in the old Clock Garages building to the North-East of the ground and major work on the condition of the pitch. Since 2003, groundsman Dave Brown has received an annual nomination for the "Groundsman of the Year" awards due to the excellent state of the pitch. In 2006, Hartlepool nade a bid to buy the lease of the land that the ground is located on However, Hartlepool Borough council rejected this proposal claiming that accepting the offer would be premature in light of recent development in the area around Victoria Park
The ground is located on Clarence Road, which is a stones throw from the Town Centre. This allows visitors access to a large range of pubs. However, the most popular pub for visiting fans is The Corner Flag which is located on the Victoria Park’s premises between the Cameron’s Brewery Stand and the Rink End. The newly opened The Victoria Suite is also located at the ground but this is for members only. Hartlepool have gained a lot of plaudits from opposition fans for their meat pies that are sold on the grounds premises. The ground’s location also makes parking easier as it is near several large car parks such as the Jacksons Landing Shopping Centre and other retail parks. The ground is also easy to access for those coming by train as it is only 1/2 mile from the station.
Over the years The Vic has been relatively free from crowd trouble. However when the match has been against local rivals Darlington, there have historically been some issues. One of the most notorious incidents of crowd trouble came in 2000 during Hartlepool’s play-off match against Darlington. In this match Darlington manager Dave Hodgson was struck with a coin and Marco Gabbiadini was reportedly punched by a fan after the match There’s have also been some Health and Safety issues regarding fans refusing to sit in the seating areas. This has forced the club to employ strict ground regulations
Victoria Park has hosted some famous games over the years. In 1957 it attracted its record attendance of 17,264 for 3rd Round F.A Cup Game against a Manchester United team managed by Matt Busby which Hartlepool narrowly lost 4-3 This was regarded by Sir Matt Busby in his biography as being the most exciting matches he had ever witnessed. Manchester United later returned later to Victoria Park for a heavily attended friendly and only to lose 6-2. The highest attendance since the 1990s was 7,784 against Leeds United on boxing day in 2007.