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Some Consistency Needed


GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY



As at 5pm on 1st February, Pools’ record was: Played 33, Won 11, Drawn 11, Lost 11. There must be some consistency there somewhere. But it’s the other kind of consistency that’s the worrying part. We seem to take one step forward towards the play offs and then one step back.

DC has done his best with the loan signings but there seems to be a discussion about the quality of our goalkeeping and the replacement of Ben Killip with Mitch Beeney would indicate a problem. However, there is one encouraging aspect to Beeney’s play and that is his ability to set up attacks with his throwing to players in open spaces. This is far better than hoofing the ball down field only for it to come back and put our defence under pressure. Nowhere was this more evident than in the Stockport game and this contributed to Stockport’s defence being under pressure.

I have another reason why we seem to struggle at times. Poolies who follow our fortunes away from home often comment on the state of the pitches. Pools must have one of the finest pitches in the National League and some visiting teams must think they’re playing at Wembley. All to Pools’ disadvantage!

We had the achievement of getting to the third round of the FA Cup – one of only two non-league teams to get there. It was always going to be a tall order to beat Oxford – still we had the achievement of beating League Two high flyers, Exeter City.

All this discussion about what to do about replays is now taxing the minds. Some say that when the draw is made, the lower placed league clubs should be able to decide where they want the tie to be played. In other words, would they want a chance of winning a home tie or making a lot of money by playing away? I would say it depends. If we were to draw a club like Spurs or Chelsea then play the game at Pools - let’s risk freezing weather and a strong wind with a chill factor.
" how badly they need someone like him now."

On the day of Pools’ game at Oxford we had national publicity in the sports pages of the Daily Telegraph. Their excellent North East football correspondent, Luke Edwards, recalled how Cloughie sorted out the club both on and off the field. He wrote, “Clough’s success as a manager at Derby County and Nottingham Forest are tales exhaustively told. Even the embarrassingly short 44–day stay of “Old Big Head” at Leeds United has been given prominence in book and film. He would not have been able to do any of that, however, had it not been for the opportunity he received at a small cash-strapped club in the fourth tier of English football… .  It is a reminder of the excellent job he did and how badly they need someone like him now.” It was a refreshing article – and lacked any patronisation.

Finally, towards the end of the year, Pools got something right. You’ll be aware that for this year, the government changed the day of the May Day Bank Holiday from Monday, 4th May to Friday, 8th May to mark the 75th anniversary of VE Day. This messed things for the publishers of diaries and calendars who printed their wares before the change was made. No such problem with Pools – they got things right with their 2020 Legends Calendar. Sometimes it pays to wait until the last minute.

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Playing Catch-up

WAGGA MOON



We stumble along in mid-table, unable to get on a run to get us in the top seven with our lack of consistency.

Of course it is never a good thing to sell your two best players or to lose to your nearest challengers if you are serious on making the play-offs. It may have been necessary to get rid of Nicke Kabamba and Peter Kioso if they were intent on leaving for free in the summer so to get fees for them both would make sense, although the two strikers we brought in were young and inexperienced and not ready for this league at the moment. Players like Danny Rowe, Paul McCallum and Jon Stead, who have been round the block a few times, are the types we should be looking to, not a couple of kids with no first team experience.

One problem still with us is the goalkeeping position. With four keepers on the books we still have not replaced Scott Loach, who evidently was too expensive for us. The points he would have saved us could have seen us up in contention. We have a goalkeeping coach although what he teaches during the week does not show itself on match days. None of the keepers are up to the required standard.

In our defeat at Barnet we had Hawkes, Mafuta and Molyneux sat on the bench while Xavi fannies about in midfield. Eh? How Featherstone is an ever-present under Challinor is one of life's great mysteries. If he got fit it might help and lost a few clem but having said that he can't run, can't tackle and can't head the ball. Yet he is quoted in the local rag this week saying that the team are getting there and understand what the manager wants. Although I don't think losing at Barnet and letting their striker score with his first touch after coming on despite Challinor warning them of the danger that Paul McCallum possessed before the game was what the manager meant. The thoughts of a football genius indeed.
"A goalkeeper, left back and striker should be on the wanted list"

Gavan Holohan must have had a rush of blood to the head to get a red card. The first yellow was for a foul near the touchline with the Barnet player going nowhere and thed to get a second for a tackle from behind was just brainless.

So changes in midfield this Saturday and my four would be: Hawkes, Mafuta, Shelton and Molyneux, with Harker and Toure up top. Not that I think Challinor will go for that attacking formation and he will stick with Donaldson and Featherstone - two players who will never get us promotion no matter how long they play for Pools.

I think there is definitely room for a couple of players to go out on loan and I expect Adam Bale and Frazer Kerr to be on their bikes as soon as they are fit again, which would give us the opportunity to bring in some more new blood. A goalkeeper, left back and striker should be on the wanted list and the hope is that Luke Williams is soon fit to be back for first team duty. Now there is someone who could make a big difference to our play-off chances.

When you see a team like Barrow pushing on at the top of the table and little Harrogate up there in the top seven it tells you that this is not a strong league. A team with our resources and playing staff should be up there all day long.

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FUNNY OLD GAME



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Ins and Outs


BILLY'S CONTRACT



Much like the first time I saw Gav Holohan, when I saw Peter Kioso play for Pools I instantly thought this lad is a footballer and had the potential, as indeed he has done, to go further.

It was no surprise when a higher-league club in the form of Luton Town made an offer to Pools which was quickly accepted. Kioso was out of contract at the end of the season and has moved to, for the time being at least, a Championship club. He is back on his home turf and no doubt will have a larger pay packet than he had at Pools. Luton for their efforts have picked themselves up an excellent prospect and if reports are to be believed Pools have picked up in excess of £100k. A win-win situation all round.

More surprisingly and literally 'out of the blue' was the transfer of Nicke Kabamba to Kilmarnock. I had him down as one who would be let go at the end of the season or at best kept on as a squad player. No one could fault the lad's work rate, but for me he was not instinctive enough in front of goal. Some, I hear them, may say "Well, he is banging them in for fun in the Scottish Premiership." My answer to that would be, as with Nico Muir who has signed for and scored on his debut for the mighty Hampton and Richmond Borough, that they are now playing at a level that suits them. No one can convince me, debate and discuss, that the Scottish Premiership is very much better than the National League.

It was reported that Kilmarnock paid a 'substantial' fee for the player. I have heard the figures of £50-60k and even 80k bandied about. Notwithstanding if Pools had received only £5-10k for him I would have been satisfied with it being a very good piece of business. In any event, here's wishing the lad well.

In addition to Kioso and Kabamba's departures in recent weeks we have seen numerous other players go out on loan, mainly because they are unable to command a first team place, are likely to leave at the end of the season or are just seeking game time. I am thinking of the likes of Muir, Kennedy, Catterick and Bale. Rumours have it that York expressed an interest in taking Fraser Kerr but as the player is out injured it would seem unlikely. Crichlow-Noble was also allowed to return to his parent club Huddersfield.

In the sick bay Pools have several players out injured: Andy Carroll - sorry, I meant Luke Williams - James, Cunningham, Raynes and the previously-mentioned Kerr. Then there are the players who are out of form or coming back from injury: Hawkes, Molyneux, Richardson and Killip.

One only has to look at the starting line-up of the team Pools fielded for the opening game of the season in August against Sutton United and compare it to the team that played Barnet some five months later.

Pools v Sutton: Killip, Richardson (Featherstone 70), Kerr, Raynes, Crichlow-Noble (Kitching 80), Mafuta, Kennedy, Noble, Touré (Holohan 83), James, Kabamba. Subs Not Used: Bale, Cunningham.

Pools v Barnet: Beeney, Southam-Hales, Liddle, Odusina, Kitching, Featherstone (Molyneux 84), Holohan (s/o 48), Shelton (Hawkes 87), Touré, Keena (Harker 51). Subs not used: Richardson, Mafuta, Hawkes.

As can be seen, with the odd exception they are almost two totally different starting squads.

Dave Challinor is no doubt keeping one eye on the future as seven of the players in the the squad against Barnet last week are his signings and understandably he wants to put his own stamp/mark on the squad. Whilst there is still the slightest chance of snatching a play-off place, that has got to be his number one task.

His second task, which I am sure is already in hand, is planning ahead for the 2020/21 season. Obviously a lot will depend on what league Pools will be in.
"... he must now know who the movers and shakers are within the dressing room, that is, the ones he needs to MOVE on and the ones who really need a good SHAKING!"

Having been in charge of the club for the best part of three months he must now know who the movers and shakers are within the dressing room, that is, the ones he needs to MOVE on and the ones who really need a good SHAKING!

Excluding loanees, how many players will he ship out? Myself, I would only keep half a dozen of the existing squad and bring in some fresh blood.

It would be interesting to see how many of the players that he currently has in on loan could be offered a permanent move. Challinor seems to have a lot of contacts with clubs in the north west of the country. The irony is that some of the players that he has brought in, like Shelton and Southam-Hales, are now playing in front of bigger crowds than those of their parent clubs, who are in the Football League. For the record, I noted that Pools' home gate against Stockport was not only the highest in the National League on the day but also better than nine Football League clubs.

Whatever league we are in next season, a good goalkeeper has to be at the top of Dave Challinor's shopping list. I was surprised that he is looking at offering Beeney a full-time contract until the end of the season as in truth he is not any improvement on the existing number one, Ben Killip. Having a good keeper who inspires those in front of him could be worth ten points a season. Every bit as important as having a free-scoring centre forward in the same side.

It is almost like going back to Chris Turner's time at the club when we had Jan Budtz and Arran Lee Barrett competing for the number one shirt. Owing to howlers and epic errors that manager had to drop one of them almost on a weekly basis in favour of the other. From the fans' viewpoint it was a case of when one of them was playing you wished that it was the other who was between the sticks on the day. Much the case with Killip and Beeney in my view. In truth, the last decent keeper that we had at the Vic was Trevor Carson.

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Mind the Gap


JANE AUSTEN'S ALLEGRO



Going back to the year 2012, when Pools were ploughing their furrow in League One, our Durham rivals, Darlington,  had entered into administration and by consequence the football governing bodies deemed that they should be demoted from the Football Conference to the wilderness of the Northern League and find themselves playing the likes of the all-conquering University of Northumbria.

So Pools fans were in a similar position to their Glasgow Celtic counterparts who also in the same year learnt that their own rivals Rangers had also been demoted to the Scottish Third Division, owing to financial irregularities. Oh, but how we both laughed and laughed. I'll be honest, I did have a small gloat (Oo, err missus), which soon passed, as my mind cast back to my college days and Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice with reference to The Wheel of Fortune. Which, cutting to the chase, states that what goes round comes round and what was once on the top of the wheel will one day rotate to be bottom and vice versa. Manchester United being a very good example of this theory.

Basically the motto roughly translated from Latin to Hartlepudlian would read as 'My/their/our day will come.' The laughing soon stopped as we have not had a local derby match to look forward to for the best part of 15 years.

Although they met several times in the Scottish cups I am sure that Celtic fans would have welcomed their hated rivals back with open arms, just to play them every few weeks in the league on a regular basis, not only for the craic/banter/rivalry but for the financial well being of both clubs.

A few years earlier, under the stewardship of a certain Mr. George Reynolds, Darlington were in the process of leaving Feethams as construction began on a their new stadium -  what the learned prophets correctly forecast would become known as The White Elephant Arena.

Mr. Reynolds also did his own prophesizing, telling the world that five years after the stadium's completion and the heskylators had been switched on, the Quakers would be playing Premiership football. The money seemed to be rolling in. The Darlo fans fell for it hook line and sinker, so much so that for a time Pools and their fans were looked upon as their poor country cousins and overnight we were being taunted with that well-worn London Underground safety warning ' Mind the Gap.' History, however, tells us that it was Darlington and their fans that did not mind the gap and down they went, big style, hitting the bottom of the ravine with a dull thud, much like the coyote in Road Runner. I stand to be corrected but I think Darlo were at one point seven tiers below Pools in the football league pyramid.
" down they went, big style, hitting the bottom of the ravine with a dull thud, much like the coyote in Road Runner"

The dust had hardly settled on Darlington's fall from grace when an enterprising Pools fan brought out a T shirt with the logo 'Mind the Gap' emblazoned on its front. Very witty. I was very nearly tempted to purchase one just to lord it over my Darlington workmates. In the end I declined as I thought that one day the boot might be firmly on the other foot. That season Pools got themselves relegated and Darlo got themselves promoted so the gap narrowed. The gap continued to narrow thanks to a further two successive promotions for Darlo while Pools assisted by getting themselves relegated twice in a four year period.

At the time of writing the gap has now narrowed significantly, down to the one league. Darlo are now only twenty-two places below Pools. Despite a slow start in the National League North this season - under Alun Armstrong,  a recent contender for the Pools manager's job - they have pulled themselves clear of the relegation zone and currently find themselves flirting with a play-off spot, so it would not be inconceivable that,  unless Pools gain promotion from the National League or Darlo implode, we could be playing our friends from down the A66 a lot sooner than we first thought.

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Upstart Crow

Ye Elizabethan Sitt-comme







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Project 25 (Again?)


BILLY'S CONTRACT



In November, Mark Maguire told us that Pools would be launching Project 25 in December, detailing the renovation of Victoria Park and Pools' aspirations of playing League One football in the year 2025.

Since the announcement the best part of two months has elapsed which has seen a new government elected, Brexit being signed off - and Duffy from Casualty dying.

It seemed to be all very quiet on the North Eastern front. That was until I was scanning the Mail for the pigeon racing results when my eye caught sight of this article (see italics below) about the possible plans to overhaul and relocate the ageing Mill House Leisure Centre.
"the best part of two months has elapsed which has seen a new government elected, Brexit being signed off - and Duffy from Casualty dying."

Other options looked at included refurbishing the existing Mill House Centre and to integrate leisure facilities into a redeveloped Mill House Stand at Victoria Park, but the Waterfront offer was recommended as the number one choice by council officers.

Having digested this piece, it left me wondering if Mark Maguire's vision may have been connected to the HBC plans to redevelop the Mill House stand. That being the case, based on what has been reported, it looks very much as if Project 25 is still on the launching pad ...or dead in the Marina!

Hartlepool, I think we have a problem!

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Outclassed


Match report by BILL THE BIRO



Oxford Utd 4 Pools 1 (FA Cup Round 3)
Saturday 4 January 2020
Kassam Stadium



So Shedrick and I, together with a bloke off the telly, set off from Warwickshire for the relatively short trip to the City of the Dreaming Spires, which is always a definite for me whenever Pools play there. We arrived in good time, making sure not to park anywhere near the open end of this three-sided ground.

Previously I'd always found tickets for the Kassam to be some of the most expensive in whatever division we were at the time. However, this was the FA Cup, and while Poolies weren't best pleased to have drawn only a League One club rather than a moneyspinning Premiership team, Oxford were probably even more annoyed to be playing us rather than Liverpool or Man U. All of which might explain why the tickets were unusually cheap; the two of us old-timers got in for just a fiver each, and the man off the telly could afford his tenner anyway.

After a hot chocolate from the amenity area below the usual away seating - the west end of the North Stand has to make do as the away end since the home end is the only end - we watched the players warm up. Then we were less than mesmerised by the sprinklers doing their stuff - not quite the Tivoli Gardens but better than nothing, and even watched the Red Kites flying around as the winter sun dropped, to be reflected off the car roofs.

Not having seen Pools for a while, and with hairstyles and hair colours being a bit variable these days, I didn't recognise some of the players when they came out. Obviously Kioso wasn't one of those, nor was Beeney, if only because goalies wear a different strip.

I rather proudly pointed out Kioso to my mates (who both support other clubs but came along for an afternoon out, really) saying that he's our best player, which he still was at the time.

There was a very creditable Pools turnout who were in fine voice, making you proud to be a Poolie.

The game started. It was pretty dreary really. Pools didn't do much and Oxford did even less. Then after 10 minutes Kitching found himself near the Oxford penalty area when a defensive lapse left the ball near his feet. You could see him thinking to himself "What do I do now?" Score a rather sloppy goal that should have been stopped, that's what he did.
"You could see him thinking to himself "What do I do now?""

It remained 1-0 at half time, with Pools having looked slightly the better side without being remotely impressive, but with Oxford coming more into it.

As the second half approached, and the man off the telly came back to retrieve his seat, I waved to him to show him where we were. Unfortunately someone I know thought I was waving at him, and he just happened to have some tickets for the Trust's £5 raffle. That's not to win £5, but £5 a ticket to win a holiday in some very hot place that is about number 82,473 on my bucket list. Nevertheless, (as you do) I bought one, thus using up my saving on the match ticket.

Anyway, the match resumed, and Oxford's manager had obviously had "words", resulting in a bit more action from his side, who dominated the half, punctuating it with three goals followed by a late penalty, all showing the two-divisions-and-a-bit difference between the sides.

Still, Pools had actually got to round 3 for a change, and as I'd said beforehand, anything less than a 10-0 tonking would be no disgrace. And although many Pools players didn't achieve much, my praise of Kioso was indeed justified. However, I was worried by the new goalkeeper Beeney, who may have the height, but little else, and wouldn't give any confidence to his defence.

Still, as an afternoon out, it was enjoyable, given that the result was more or less expected, and it didn't cost much, although I still haven't found out how my £5 investment worked out.

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FUNNY OLD GAME




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Only One Winner


Match report by RUNNING MONKEY



Pools 2 Eastleigh 1 (National League)
Tuesday 7 January 2020
Victoria Park



It had been windy all day and it looked as if it could spoil the match; we needed a good result after the Oxford game. 

Another collapse and news of a three match retrospective ban for Gimi Toure which no one seemed to know anything about. So two changes for Pools as the cup-tied Liddle and Shelton were brought back, but one comment made by the Ditch was that Kabamba on his own up front was not the ideal situation. 

We lost Raynes ten minutes into the game and Kerr came on in his place - who himself  went off later in the game and was replaced by Anderson, who did ok. The visitors looked content to sit back and pack the box, which looked as if it might go in our favour but we struggled to break them down.

Eastleigh played so deep that I counted the number of times they came into our half throughout the first half and they were all from dead ball kicks and totalled four times. I suppose a long trip on a windy Tuesday night to the far-flung north is a bit daunting, but no team travels as far as Pools do in the division. On the wireless they were commenting on our travels and we apparently travel further than Barcelona did in the league and Champions League or cup or whatever it is they play in.

Pools looked comfortable but most of the game was played between the half way line and the Rink End as Pools, playing some decent football, pegged the visitors back but Eastleigh had little inclination to come out. Once again it was obvious that we need a striker who can strike as the good approach play was wasted around the eighteen-yard box. Either the lack of a shot or a misplaced pass led to the break down of the attacks; so many times a Pools man had the chance to shoot and in those windy conditions it was worth a punt but we tried to walk the ball in. But having said that, Eastleigh did defend well. Kabamba and Donaldson both had shots, one hitting the keeper and the other skimming the bar and late in the half Holohan had a pop but he too was wide of the mark.
"He had number eleven on his back and it looked as if that was his age, the smallest player on the field beat the tallest with a shot out of nowhere"

Kicking to the Town End in the second half meant we fans in there would see a bit more of the action. The visitors picked up their game and used the long ball in the wind better than we had in the first half. Holohan hit one home in a goalmouth scramble when the keeper dropped the ball. It was just what the game needed and hopefully would bring them out a bit more.

But before we had time to celebrate they hit one of the best goals I have seen from a kid at the Vic, the number eleven for the visitors, Sam Smart. So within a minute of Pools' goal, it was all square on only their fifth visit to our half and the kid hit a screamer into the top corner, He had number eleven on his back and it looked as if that was his age, the smallest player on the field beat the tallest with a shot out of nowhere that was really well taken and deserved the applause even from the Pools fans.

Pools rallied again and some good play down the flanks found Kitching at the dead ball line and he sent in a cross for Shelton to score his first goal for the club. At half time the Ditch and I had discussed Shelton and others and he was of the opinion that Shelton should be sent back so I reminded him of his comments when the winning goal went in.

It had been a decent game and once we broke them down there was only going to be one winner which hopefully will give us confidence in the game at Dover on Saturday which, if anything like the home game against them, could be a bit naughty. On reflection Kabamba should have had a penalty late on, and that was only the second boo-boo the ref made, the other being a dropped-ball situation when the ball hit him as the visitors moved forward. I do not pretend to know this new rule change but to drop the ball for a lone Eastleigh player who blasted it up towards our box did not seem like cricket, Apart from that the ref did ok overall, which is practically a commendation from me. Their long throw man was a bit dangerous too, even into the wind the lad could reach the penalty spot.

On a happy note there were 2478 fans at the game, including 19 from Eastleigh. This small club with gates of around four hundred raised £400 for us in a bucket collection back when we were poor. A grand effort from such a small club, so it was good to hear HUFC did the good turn of inviting the 19 Eastleigh fans into the ground with a nice meal and seats in the CK stand for the first half, I did notice that they were back on the Rink End terrace in time to see their kid hit that cracking goal. On another high note, the Ditchy brought me a bag of sweets tonight. I hope for his sake he is not grooming me!

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Three Very Good Points


Match report by RUNNING MONKEY



Pools 2 Stockport 0 (National League)
Saturday 25 January 2020
Victoria Park



With Keena making his home debut and the new boys Hales and Odusina in the side, we could not go wrong. And with  'Mr Magic' Touré back in the starting line up, even the Ditchburn was almost excited. Even better when we won the toss and kicked up the slope in the first half.

It was a decent start too; the game was end to end but both teams were failing to get any decent chances. I saw on the Pools website that their debut striker Lloyd thought he should have had a penalty but today's ref was not impressed with the somersault and double pike he was performing every time he was challenged. They were even diving in pairs but fortunately they did not con the man in the middle all the time but he did give a few later on that were very dubious.

The Ditch told me off for shouting at their striker, calling him Harold Lloyd as he was diving like a comedian. The Ditch was worried that it was going to spur the striker into action, I must say that as a debutant for his new team he was not very good.

Donaldson, playing the captains role, pushed and drove Pools forward. He managed a shot but the keeper, who was no slouch, managed to push it wide; in fact he pushed a lot of balls wide rather than catch them. Both Touré and Holohan tested him but the visitors defended well.

Talking of dropping the ball, Beeney dropped a clanger with a high cross and just pushed it over his head but Hales was on hand to clear the danger.

Pools settled down to play some good football and a great run by Shelton set up Keena for his first Victoria Park goal - a lead at last and we thoroughly deserved it. The Ditch was almost smiling as we went into half time with a one goal lead, a clean sheet and the team looking good.

The second half was brilliant to watch as Pools set about Stockport; chances were being made as Pools stepped up the tempo and the visitors were chasing shadows. Touré hit one over the bar from close range - he has brilliant close control and tortured them on the edge of their box. He set up the second goal when he forced his way down to the by-line and seemed to wait 'til they made a move on him then he stroked the ball across the box for Shelton to hit a low shot past the defenders and the diving keeper. "Two-nil to the Hartlepool" came the shout from the top corner of the Cooper stand, where the band were once again up on their feet in great numbers; it really gives the ground a good atmosphere.
"Southam-Hales was a revelation - how on earth did we get this lad on loan?"

Holohan was on fire today, another player who showed great control and skill as he took on the visitors, leaving them for dead. When you look at the squad now we do have some talent in the side: Touré, Holohan, Hales and Kitchen can all cause problems when on a run.

Challinor looks as if he is being backed and he can certainly pick a player judging by those he has brought in to date.

On my way to the game I heard Keena being interviewed on the wireless and he said "I don’t play a lot of football but I shoot a lot" Well, if he can shoot like today that would do for me. He looks a very good signing for Pools.

Southam-Hales was a revelation - how on earth did we get this lad on loan? He was brilliant, he has real pace and is not scared of anyone. With Peter Kioso watching from the stand, I think he would be rather pleased, having seen his replacement win the Man-of-the-Match, award.

Odusina is another great find by Challinor. The lad made some great tackles, made the job look easy and will be another force to be reckoned with in this division.

You would have thought the new lads had been in the side all season as they settled into the game plan with ease. The team look very confident now and more direct. I commented to the Ditch that I thought we looked like Barcelona today, he just grumbled about the five consecutive corners that the visitors had just had and was worried it was going to be another Fylde game. OH YE OF LITTLE FAITH.

 A great game, three very good, hard won points,  and a jump up the league. What more can you ask for?

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Any Other Business

MERVYN THE MONKEY mops up


There were lots of comings and goings at the Vic in January and as others have commented, we now have a quite different team than a few short months ago. Yet for all the chopping and changing, results haven't drastically improved when compared with Tony Sweeney's short reign or even Craig Hignett's.


We still hope for glorious wins from every game. Sometimes we get them but they are usually followed by terrible performances. While we are tantalisingly close to the playoff zone, the reality is that short of winning almost every match, there's little chance of an extension to the season. Ah, well!



Billy's Contract spotted this notice in the toilets area of the Corn Mill Shopping Centre in Darlington.

Presumably it's meant to represent a Quaker, wearing a hat, a frock coat and a cravat. And besides the obvious, the leg area may in fact be showing breeches above white stockings above shoes, Anyway, it's a bit different.
BC also said "You should have seen the image on the ladies' toilet door. I would have taken a photo but felt a bit conspicuous standing around the public loos with a camera." 
He also said that later on he did take some shots of the Victorian toilets in the North Road railway museum in the town, where several are on display and he says they are most practical too. 
[And before anyone brands BC a pervert, the Victorian toilets are only non-working museum items and are clearly marked as such. - Ed.]



Wallace and Gromit brought our attention to this item (where does he find them?) about the longest-ever sponsor's ad on a footy shirt.

The shirt in question is that of PSV Eindhoven and the ad concerned is as much a publicity stunt as anything else. But since we Poolies got a single into the BBC singles chart a few years ago, generating  lots of publicity, who are we to criticise? Well done to PSV, and obviously their publicity stunt worked or you wouldn't be reading this. The link explains all, if in a less-than-perfect-English way.

https://www.footyheadlines.com/2020/01/psv-eindhoven-debuts-longest-ever-sponsor.html

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly!

GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY



Over the past few weeks, the media have carried stories of events that took place during the second decade of the 21st century. So far as Pools go, there’s been plenty to tax the mind. And what a decade!

It began well. The 2009-10 season saw Pools hang on to their League One place on goal difference, a 0-0 draw at Brentford seeing Gillingham dropping down into League Two. 

For the 2010-11 season, Mick Wadsworth took over as manager and Pools finished a creditable 16th. Three things were of note during the Wadsworth reign: Firstly, there was the signing of Nobby Solano – unfortunately, he was past his best and we never saw the best of him. The other signing came when our two goalkeepers (Messrs Flinders and Rafferty) were injured and Mick Wadsworth acquired on loan the services of Blackburn’s third choice keeper, Jake Kean. And what a signing! He must have kept us in a few games – without him, we might have been relegated come the end of the campaign. And so to number three. The last game of the 2010-11 season (30th April 2011) saw Pools take on Bournemouth who needed a point to reach the play-offs. Winning 1-0 going into added time, Bournemouth came unstuck to a goal from an unlikely source, Scott Flinders! Still, we all know where Bournemouth are now. Off the field it was a case of Pools being well run under the stewardship of IOR. Pools fans and Ken Hodcroft always had an ambivalent relationship but the players knew they’d get paid on time and the bills were always paid. I seem to remember Neale Cooper once saying he had to justify the number of times he had to use a paper clip! So things looked good.

"Pools fans and Ken Hodcroft always had an ambivalent relationship but the players knew they’d get paid on time and the bills were always paid."
However, the storm clouds were gathering. The oil industry was struggling and IOR were unable to support the club in the way that they had been. Neale Cooper returned as manager but without that financial support Pools dropped to the bottom of League One and never recovered, being relegated back to League 2. But there was to be no fairy tale of a promotion as there had been under Danny Wilson. Times were bad and IOR sold out to a consortium named TMH (The Monkey Hangers). However, TMH didn’t have the necessary finance and IOR cancelled the sale. One thing that TMH did do, however, was to appoint Ronnie Moore as manager, who, with astute loan signings, was able to prevent Pools from dropping into the National League. Meanwhile, IOR sold out to new owners headed by Gary Coxall.

However, the bad news was delayed and at the end of the 2016/17 season Pools dropped into the National League. This could have been prevented had Coxall not made what was possibly the worst managerial appointment ever in Dave Jones. But things became ugly under Coxall’s leadership in 2018. How near Pools came to going out of business is anyone’s guess. It all culminated in a "Save Pools Day" against Wrexham on Saturday, 20th January 2018. Wrexham supporters almost filled the Rink End and Middlesbrough fans threw their efforts into saving Pools. (I think we even had a bus load of Glasgow Rangers supporters coming down for the game). Poolies and supporters of other clubs dug deep to help the club; important bills were paid and this left things clear for Raj Singh to take over the club, with help from Jeff Stelling. I guess you could write a book on the decade starting in 2011; suffice to say, we’re still going strong and may the next decade bring forth much good.

Sadly, 2018 was to see the death of Neale Cooper and the tributes from Aberdeen and Pools showed the genuine respect in which he was held. He helped to give us our finest hours.

(A crap festive season, wasn’t it?)



New Year - Same Old Rubbish!


WAGGA MOON



Another festive season comes and goes and once again Pools let the fans down, gaining one point from the nine available and producing an absolute load of garbage on the pitch. It says it all when we play a team like Harrogate five times in all and lose four of them.

Ten years ago it would have been unthinkable for Pools to be facing Harrogate in a league match yet here we are with Harrogate turning us over with no problems. This is a result of out-of-touch owners bringing in a succession of useless managers in Colin Cooper, Matthew Bates, Dave Jones, Craig Harrison, Richard Money and Craig Hignett. All utterly useless as can be seen by the number of clubs lining up to employ them after they left Pools. No decent club would touch them with a barge pole. The legacy of this motley crew is to leave us with with the worst squad of players in the club's history.

Dave Challinor has a huge job on his hands trying to get a tune out of these losers and it is hoped he is given enough time to ship them out and assemble a group of players who can get us out of this jumpers-for-goalposts league.

In all honesty we have Peter Kioso, Josh Hawkes and Luke Molyneux up to standard and the rest could easily be scattered without being missed. Of course getting them out the door while they are under contract and nobody else wants them is the problem. It will probably be the end of the season before we can clear the decks - something Hignett should have done last summer instead of offering the dross new contracts and bringing in more inept players to beef up the squad. Quantity before quality is Hignett's maxim and, friends with the owner or not, he deservedly got the bullet albeit probably a few months too late.
"Touré's days at the club could be numbered, even with the shortage of strikers we have at the club."

There appears to be a bit of unrest behind the scenes with Dimi Konstantopoulos who appears to have gone missing with the manager admitting he doesn't know where he is. Hawkes wasn't in the squad on Wednesday despite the manager saying the day before he wasn't an injury worry. Could he be on his way in the transfer window? Jason Kennedy, who was getting quite a few games early in the season, has disappeared off the radar and must be amazed that Xavi is still getting a game while he is out in the cold.

And Gime Touré, after prancing around in the the first half on New Year's Day and producing the square root of nothing was taken off at half-time. According to reports he was not best pleased and made his way straight to the directors' box. Of course this is not the first fall-out Challinor has had with Touré as they were together at Fylde and Touré did not last long at that club. Challinor is not his biggest fan and Touré's days at the club could be numbered, even with the shortage of strikers we have at the club.

So going into the New Year we are seven points off the play-offs and six off the relegation spots. This has a familiar ring to it as it is very much like last season and the season before that. In other words little or no progress despite a lot of hot air about how well we are doing. One win in the last 10 league games shows exactly where we are going. Luke Williams would be a big boost if he could get fit but it is looking increasingly unlikely he will return to the team any time soon.

Our season may not be over yet with an FA cup tie to come and a game in hand in the league but it is difficult to see with the present squad how we are going to move us up the league. Unless Mr Singh can open his cheque book and bring some quality in it seems a forlorn hope. Certainly the fans are doing their bit, giving tremendous support home and away, but with the rubbish being played on the pitch it begs the question "How long will it continue?"

After all the barren years the fans deserve a whole lot better than what they are having to watch. Dull, boring football with no end product and losing to teams of part-timers who play in front of one man and his dog. I doubt there is a worse time to be watching the Pools and the future does not look any brighter.

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