Stories of 2022: So why was American rock star Meat Loaf a Hartlepool United fan?

He was a rock and roll legend whose Bat Out Of Hell epic is considered by many music fans to be the finest album ever made.

So how did American singing super star Meat Loaf, who died in January 2022 at the age of 74, end up becoming a Hartlepool United fan?

The story dates back to his 2003 United Kingdom tour and his appearance on Sky Sports’s Saturday morning football show Soccer AM.

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Realising that he was likely to be asked which team he supported, Meat Loaf, who was born Marvin Lee Aday, did some homework in advance on the English game.

Meat Loaf performing at Newbury Racecourse in 2013.

With Hartlepool United challenging for promotion to the third tier under Mike Newell, the club were attracting more headlines than normal.

Further digging also unearthed the Hartlepool monkey legend.

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And so a blue and white love affair began.

Recalling the TV appearance, he later said: "I thought, I don't want to go on and say I'm a Manchester United fan or a Liverpool fan. I'm gonna go down to the third level.

American rock star and Hartlepool United fan Meat Loaf.

"And so I picked Hartlepool. I read about them and I found that the people of Hartlepool had hanged a monkey thinking he was a Frenchman, and I loved that story. I read everything I could about every game they played.

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"I knew all the players. I knew who the coach was. I knew there'd been major criticism of the coach, about whether he should have put one player in or not.”

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His English publicity machine was initially keen to milk the connection and started leaking tales about how the singer, whose hits included I’d Do Anything For Love and Dead Ringer For Love, was considering buying a house in the area.

Iron Maiden guitarist Janick Gers, centre, pictured at a Hartlepool United game.
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Up market estate agents were asked for property portfolios and Pools fans began to dream that he might even contemplate buying the club.

Meat Loaf himself also briefly sported Hartlepool United colours at the start of his December 2003 concert at the Newcastle Arena.

Soon, however, the stories dried up – disappearing like a Bat Out Of Hell even – and Mr Aday never quite joined the faithful on the club’s Town End.

Not that the Poolie army desperately needs a rock star among its brethren.

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Iron Maiden guitarist Janick Gers was born in the town and can still be spotted watching the team.