How the Hartlepool smurf army invaded London

On Saturday, Hartlepool United fans travelled south to London to watch their team to take on League One Champions Charlton Athletic. Football FanCast blogger Chrissy Bell was part of a contingent of 170 smurfs who made global headlines. Here he tells the story of a day the Poolies will never forget:

It’s not every day you dress up as a smurf.

It’s not every day you cake your face in blue (or in my case, cake your face in blue until your constant rubbing wears it off after a couple of hours).

It’s not every day you become London’s main tourist attraction.

It’s not every day you create a worldwide Twitter sensation, by that meaning you trend worldwide.

And it’s certainly not every day you manage to upstage the FA Cup final.

And above all it’s not every day you become famous.

Enough of the everyday’s. But all of the above apply to the 171 fantastically dressed blue and white smurfs who took London by storm and enjoyed a truly memorable weekend.

From an early start of 5:30pm, the look of astonishment coupled with amazement of the taxi driver was just the first of thousands of similar looks throughout the day.

The local press, the Hartlepool Mail, were waiting at the smurfs’ first port call, Hartlepool Train Station. Five hours later and the Mail weren’t the only media outlet following the fancy dress nuts around, however.

Snaking around Eaglescliffe’s train station bridge was the sight of scores of endless white hats and strap-on beards. Next stop: King’s Cross.

And boy oh boy was that the start of the internet phenomenon. Raiding their song book, the smurfs chanted from stepping off the train, through the station, down the escalators, on the tubes, through the streets, in a shocked hotel lobby, in the pubs and in Covent Garden. And that was before the actual football match against Charlton and the night’s journey through London.

Amidst that, news was filtering through that media outlets were broadcasting images, talkSPORT’s Adrian Durham refused to talk about anything other than the smurfs, and onlookers all stopped from their sightseeing, dug deep to find their cameras and clicked the capture button relentlessly.

Covent Garden’s street performers were forced to take an untraditional step back in terms of camera snapping for a change, the Nags Head packed with the joyous and soon-to-be intoxicated smurfs.

The match itself was a good spectacle (Charlton narrowly won 3-2, by the way). But, again, just like so many things on this craziest of days, it played second fiddle to the smurfs. It was reminiscent of a play-off final, the atmosphere.

Following the match the smurfs divided, but the estimated 80+ who remained in the Capital continued soaking up the fame. Some pubs, however, didn’t see the funny side and refused to serve the happy smurfs. Yes, The Round House, I am talking about you!

Nevertheless, that didn’t deter the fun and they continued to march onwards. Fans from all clubs were coming up to individuals, buying them a drink for their efforts and departing. There was even one occasion when a roughly-spoken Cockney barged into a pub and starting singing ‘Hartlepool, Hartlepool, Hartlepool’.

The word had spread. As Oasis sing: All around the world, you’ve got to spread the word, tell them what you’ve heard. People were certainly adhering to Noel Gallagher’s lyrics.

Big Ben, London Eye, Downing Street, Buckingham Palace: eat your heart out. As on Saturday London had a new tourist attraction that its customers will cherish forever. Not to mention the attraction’s party.

You can find me on Twitter @cmbell310 for more smurf and football chat.