Football, Frenchmen and a monkey: Why Meat Loaf loved Hartlepool

Meat Loaf, the singer whose Bat Out Of Hell album is one of the best-selling of all time, has died at the age of 74. Credit: PA

It may be the most unlikely love affair in the history of the North East... Meat Loaf loved Hartlepool.

The 'Bat Out Of Hell singer, who passed away aged aged 74 on Thursday, supported Pools and even reportedly contemplated buying a house in the port town - But where did this bizarre affinity come from?

Why did Meat Loaf love Hartlepool?

Speaking to TalkSport in 2010, the rock legend explained how it was a mixture of chance, football, and folklore.

"I was going on Soccer AM and they were like: 'Do you have a team to support, like Man United or Liverpool?'," he explained "And I'm going 'That's boring...'"

Meat Loaf scanned through the English Football League searching for an underdog to catch his eye.

"Well that's a cool name... 'Hartlepool'," he said as his finger found the then-Second Division side.

The more research Meat Loaf did, the more he loved the town. But it was the unfortunate fate of an early 19th-century monkey that sealed the deal.

Hartlepool's mascot 'Hangus' is a reference to the 19th century legend Credit: PA

The well-known North East legend goes that a mob of locals hanged a monkey dressed in French uniform who had washed up on the shore during the Napoleonic Wars. Having likely never seen a Frenchman or a monkey, they presumed it a spy.

"That's perfect," Meat Loaf recalled saying. "So then, I started researching all the players in Hartlepool... I knew the last game, I knew who the coach was and I got on the phone with the Hartlepool coach...

"Since then, I've left my email address and get Hartlepool updates."

So it's true. Meat Loaf really was a Hartlepool fan.

'The vaults of heaven will be ringing with rock:' Singer Meat Loaf dies aged 74