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It All Began in March...


GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY



Well, its been a difficult month. Inconsistency on the field and then problems arising out of the match against Dover. I can’t help feeling that it all goes back to Saturday, 9th March 2019 when Dover Athletic arrived along with their 23 fans.

Remember it? Dover were 2-0 up and coasting to an away victory when, all of a sudden, it was crash, bang, wallop. Pools were awarded two penalties in three minutes and then netted the winner in added time. So we can say that Dover were up for it and determined to square the circle. Thus when Inih Effiong netted the penalty there was jubilation all round in front of the Town End.

Such was the jubilation that this alienated many Poolies. However, what followed next was uncalled for when Effiong was subjected to racial abuse. All the players, both from Pools and Dover, were united in being disgusted at the turn of events. How can any decent Pools fan express such sentiments when we have a number of players of colour?

Pools were quick to implement damage limitation and we can only hope that the FA and National League deal with the club in a lenient fashion. They need to pay attention to the way players over-celebrate a goal in front of opposing teams’ supporters. Already, players who remove their shirts are shown a yellow card – perhaps referees can also pay attention to celebrations. Some do but others like the referee in the Dover game turn a blind eye. Maybe policing and stewarding need to be more orientated towards home supporters rather than away fans. And police and stewards could intervene with players when they feel they are over stepping the mark. The FA would no doubt throw their arms up in horror at authority being taken away from referees but that’s their problem and they can lump it.
"Pools were quick to implement damage limitation and we can only hope that the FA and National League deal with the club in a lenient fashion."

A lot of the problems in the Dover game did, of course, arise out of inept refereeing and there were suggestions that both the Pools and Dover officials met with the assessor after the game. At least both clubs were united in identifying what is becoming a real problem in the National League. Remember, other clubs will be affected as well so let’s have an Extraordinary Meeting of the National League to get things sorted out.

Still, when we come to play Dover on 4th January 2020, Brexit will probably be in full swing and the lorries will be queuing up to get into the port and that might mess things up for the Pools coach. Let us hope that time will be a great healer.

Pools were lethargic against Chesterfield and I’m sure that the events of the previous few days had an effect on the players. We seem to take one step forward and one step back these days but the play-off places are still within sight.

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Progress? What Progress?


WAGGA MOON



SIX points out of 18 on the field and the shameful incidents off the field made it a dismal September for Pools after all the high hopes before the season kicked off.

I don't propose to go over the incidents involving two morons in the crowd, or give them any more publicity, suffice to say that I hope the power of the law comes down on them from a great height.

Ironically these crowd disturbances deflected from the actions of the manager and two players losing the plot and getting three red cards. All the excuses about a piss poor ref cannot cover for another home defeat to a team which we should have put away with very little effort.

This game marked a new low for Xavi in his dismal Hartlepool career. Sent on with 13 minutes to go to try and save the game for Pools he lasted seven minutes before gobbing off to the ref and getting his marching orders. In five years of incompetence by him at Victoria Park this surely must be the lowlight of his miserable career. Utterly useless are the words that spring to mind. When most people thought his performance in our home FA Cup defeat at home to Blyth Spartans would have seen the end of him he is still here albeit on the bench for most of the time.

Yet a lot of the talk this week is of Liam Noble being transferred to the mighty Morpeth Town who are more than able to match the wages Pools are paying. So that is fair. We get rid of a goal-scoring midfielder who can wind up the opposition players, can pass the ball forward accurately, take penalties and likes a tackle and we keep Featherstone. You really couldn't make it up. No win in five games now and Hignett seems to be getting off very lightly. 16th in the league table, same as we finished last season and three points off a relegation place. I suggest it is his friendship with the club's owner that is keeping him in his present position although how long Raj Singh's patience will last is open to question. Certainly when he was at darLOW he went through a few managers.

"There are goals to come when the two Lukes, Molyneux and Williams eventually return, and I am sure they will be both worth waiting for"
He must surely be taking note of the job Steve Watson is doing at York City and how well he did at Gateshead makes him an attractive proposition.

For Hignett to compile one of the biggest squads in the league, he now realizes we have one goalkeeper at Victoria Park with the two kids out on loan and the loan signing from Boro sent back injured. Now with Ben Killip it is not just a case of him staying fit it is that he has a few mistakes in him. Dodgy keeper according to a lot of the people I stand near in the Mill House Terrace. Giving Luke James another contract looks a big mistake as he looks as likely to score as Mark Kitching. We could certainly do with a scorer alongside Gime Toure, who with the right support could be our 20-goal a season man. Niko Muir could turn out to be what we need now he is near to fitness again and has never been give a long run in the first team.

There are goals to come when the two Lukes, Molyneux and Williams eventually return, and I am sure they will be both worth waiting for; let's just hope we haven't slipped too far out of contention in the meantime.

We will see which direction we are heading with the next two games. Yeovil at home will be a stern test while the televised game at Stockport is one we should be winning if we have any thoughts of going up.

Certainly our home form has not been sorted out and is just as bad as last season with the defensive mistakes still prevalent. Our set-up seems to fit better to our away form and credit to our supporters who are travelling the long distances to support the team. They deserve better than 16th place in the league with the squad we have.

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FUNNY OLD GAME




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Same Old, Same Old


BILLY'S CONTRACT



What is it with Dover Athletic and Pools? For one reason or another (holidays weddings etc.) I have yet to set eyes on them. I stand to be corrected but I don't think Pools have beaten them since we joined this God-forsaken league.

Just when you think that Pools could not top last season's Dovergate 'take away' affair we step up another level and see our clubs name splashed across the pages of all the national newspapers and television for all the wrong reasons because of the antics of a few hot headed fans who made racist remarks during the match against Dover.

I won't dwell on all what happened as I am sure it will, rightly, be well-documented on other pages of Monkey Business. The one thing that this fiasco has well and truly done is papered over a few cracks and camouflaged Pools' recent lamentable performances.

The following match after Dover was Chesterfield and we said prior to a ball being kicked that, should the result go the wrong way, Hignett would come out with some banal line such as "The boys were not up for it because the events of Saturday were still in the back of their minds." We weren't far wrong when he came out with 'It was expected.' I am sorry Craig, but that is just an excuse covering up yet another poor performance with little or no direction or bite. He also said 'We were flat', which in truth was little or no different to the two previous games against Dagenham or indeed Dover, let alone against a team like Chesterfield, languishing in the bottom three of the division.

One of Hignett's great weaknesses is his use of substitutes. Unless a player gets injured early on he is reluctant to send a player on from the bench and when he does, I don't know what goes through his mind. One nil down against Dover with barely 5 minutes left he brings on Nicky Featherstone. Why? Does he want to keep the one nil deficit intact and not concede further. With all due respect to Nicky Featherstone, making dynamic runs and pushing the side forward with pace is not on his C.V. Hignett might as well have put the reserve keeper on.
"I fear we are still heading down the same route. Perhaps it is time to change the driver."

A few days later we saw the Chesterfield manager using his subs early on in the second half. Hignett must have scratched his head and wondered what on earth he was up to. I am only surmising that one of Hignett's coaching staff explained to him that the Chesterfield manager was perfectly entitled to swop one player for another and that there was no law to prevent Hignett from doing likewise. Hignett must have dwelt upon this for a period and eventually twelve minutes from time he subbed Hawkes for Noble. In my mind Hawkes should have been subbed 20 minutes earlier as not only had he run out of steam but also ideas. By subbing him earlier it would have given Noble a chance to bed down in midfield.

With barely any worthwhile incursions into the Chesterfield half from Pools and Chesterfield pushing forward, Hignett plays his trump card by sending on Luke James in the 88th minute. Yes the eighty-eighth minute. Hardly game changing. James probably expended more energy taking his track suit off than he did in the the time that he was on the pitch. Hignett, to his credit, wants his side to play football how it should be played. I would argue that is a worthy principle deserving of praise but certainly not in the National League.

Pools are taking far too long building up play to get into their opponents' half and putting them on the back foot. Whilst at times it can be a useful weapon and I am far from advocating the long ball game, but why, like most of our opponents, make twenty passes when two or three might be more productive and damaging. The other thing which is more noticeable, particularly in the last three home games, is that the opposition in the last quarter of an hour or so in each match, winning, losing or drawing, do not sit back but instead take the game to, and pressure Pools. For a team like Chesterfield who had not won away from home this season, one could not have blamed them them and sat back, Craig Hignett style, content to hang on for the point, even more so in the last ten minutes. Not the case, the Spireites (great name for a female Motown backing group.) were pushing forward as Pools defended deep and looked the more likely team to pick up all three points.

A WINTERS TALE 

Not unlike his borer predecessors at the Vic in our time in the National league, it would appear that Craig Hignett is following a well-worn path in our third season of non-league football. Slow start then a series of decent results, giving hope but ultimately a false dawn (points in the bank for a rainy day) as winter draws in a sequence of poor results against teams from the lower reaches of the division to see any hope of an automatic promotion disappear.

Come January Pools go down the lose, draw, lose, lose, lose, draw course until we have fallen away from any remote chance of getting the last of the play-off places. A brief flirtation with relegation follows until Pools gain a couple of late wins as the season closes to see Pools comfortably sitting in 17th position, 30-odd points off top spot and 15 points from a play off place. From what I have seen so far this season, even with much-improved players in the squad than in the past, I fear we are still heading down the same route. Perhaps it is time to change the driver.

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GEORDIE THE BRUCE

by SHEDRICK and ELMO


Geordie the Bruce, a possible descendant of Robert de Brus, Lord of Hartlepool, is back in his shed, contemplating his position after a 5-0 defeat leaves them second bottom of the Premier League.

He had known when he took the job that it wouldn’t be easy to keep his difficult boss, the Lord of Newcastle, Michael de Ashley, happy.

But he never expected things to get this bad this quickly. Still, he’d been around a bit, managed lots of clubs, been sacked, relegated and promoted, got into Europe and seen it all before, so if anyone could turn things around, it was him, even if the three clubs which sacked him might not agree.

Of course he put on a confident front. Wimps don’t survive long with His Lordship. But after so many years and so many clubs, his enthusiasm for yet another relegation fight was starting to wane.

So there he was in his shed, trying to gain inspiration from Sid the Spider, who would just keep going, whatever happened. Life was simple for Sid – build a web and wait on it for a meal to turn up. If the web got broken, fix it or build another one, and don’t waste time worrying about it or complaining. Just get it done.

Then that gave Geordie the Bruce an idea. Why not ignore all the niceities and be ruthless in achieving the goal.

Don’t worry about the rules, they’re only for losers. Why not announce that he intended to have the situation turned around by October 31st, “come what may.” Why not warn of riots if anyone tried to stop him, and blame everyone else if it all went wrong. It seems to be a fashionable philosophy at the moment, so why not in football?

Sid was sat there in the middle of his web and he said “You’re just copying that Boris Johnson, aren’t you? Surely you’re better than that!”

And Geordie the Bruce replied “Oh no we're not ...the league table doesn’t lie!”


A Noble Cause

BILLY'S CONTRACT


The pending move of Liam Noble to Morpeth is indeed a strange one and like many fans I cannot quite understand the reasoning behind it from the club's or player's point of view. 

The main question that any fan would ask is "Why on earth would any player at his peak want to drop down a further two levels in the non-league football hierarchy to play in front of crowds of five or six hundred? Does it show a lack of ambition or is he unhappy with the current set up at Pools.

The only answer I can possibly think of, like most working chaps, is down to money. When Noble signed for Pools it was considered a coup and as I mentioned in last month's edition of Monkey Business the Non-League Paper stated that it was the best signing that any of the non-league clubs had made.

At the same time Noble said that it was good to be back home up north and again the same words were repeated when he signed an extension to his contract during the close season. I am convinced that the move back home is one of the few reasons that Pools were able to sign a player of his calibre in the first place.

According to reports in the Mail, in Noble's spare time, along with team mate Ryan Donaldson and the Morpeth manager, they all coach at Newcastle City so there is the connection with Morpeth. Much like Pools, Morpeth are not exactly setting the world alight, standing 16th in their division. From what I have heard from my friends up north, they have a sugar daddy of sorts who is investing in the club and by all accounts the town is starting to get behind the football team.

A marquee signing of the stature of Liam Noble for Morpeth Town is putting down a marker, not only to the team,  but also to the town and the fans.

It has also been quoted that Noble would sign a lengthy contract with The Highwaymen, presumably on the same or enhanced wages that he is currently being paid at Pools, which I can understand offer stability and security. From Liam Noble's corner, he will be playing in a jumpers-for-goalposts league but on a personal level will have financial security for a few years and a hell of a lot less travelling up and down the Queen's highway in the National League which can be devoted to family time.
"he will be playing in a jumpers-for-goalposts league but on a personal level will have financial security for a few years"

In the other corner whilst Pools would possibly be losing their best footballer they would be getting one of the highest wage earners off their books and I understand a token fee would also be exchanged in Pools' favour, which may come in handy if Pools are fined by the league because of the appalling events at the recent home game against Dover. Reading between the lines I don't think Noble is Hignett's favourite either on the pitch or in the dressing room as I am sure he could wind a lot of people up one way or another.

As we have a surfeit of midfielders at the club this is one area that Pools would not struggle for a replacement, my money being on Gavin Holohan with him swopping roles with Jason Kennedy, who in turn would fill Noble's boots. Having Holohan in the side would ramp up the pace of our current one-litre midfield to that of a 1.2 litre midfield but without the turbocharger. Sans Noble our midfield lacks a regular goalscorer so Hignett must be hoping, nay praying, that the Invisible Man (Luke Williams) returns to fitness sooner rather than later in order for that problem to be resolved. Personally I was hoping the lad wouldn't leave Pools as he is vocal and leads by example - something Pools have lacked for a good number of years. Either way, good luck to the lad.

Afterthought. Unless he was passed over by Morpeth, I wonder how Ryan Donaldson felt about not getting a similar offer?

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FUNNY OLD GAME




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Pools Stand Firm


Match report by RUNNING MONKEY



Pools 1 Woking 1 (National League)
Saturday 7 September 2019
Victoria Park



Another TV showing for Pools against a potential promotion team probably came at the right time for us. On a run of games where we showed some of our own potential, yet I was still apprehensive about our chances on live TV. 

The pundits only ever talk about the visitors and show pictures of the ship and Saint Hilda’s over the CK stand then it is all about how well the visitors are doing before and after the game despite the result. The visitors even do their team talk before and after the game in a huddle on the pitch. They probably think Pools have the dressing rooms bugged. 

Their manager bemoaned the fact that they had come by train and had to walk to the ground. Quite a complaint when you think of footballers walking a quarter of a mile from the station. As I said, I was a little apprehensive about a game against a side that had won 7 out of 10 games, so when I met up with the Ditchburn he was all for taking a point now.

It was so different once the game started as both teams looked like they were capable and it was end to end stuff, a great game for the neutral if there were any neutrals in the ground. An unchanged side for Pools again was good news in front of a decent crowd. The atmosphere in the Vic was brilliant especially from the new contingent that inhabit the Corner Flag end of the Neale Cooper stand. They never stopped.

An early chance was made by Toure who set up Kennedy, whose shot was blocked. Then a  magic moment from Toure when a brilliant run again found him in the six-yard box followed by two defenders and he turned and dragged the ball back sending the two defenders on a skiing trip. Brilliant to watch, reminiscent of the glory days of Boydie when he did the same to the Wendies on a rain-soaked pitch.

It was a fast-paced match and our defenders had to be on their game, yet once again we see so many players in this division falling like trees when a Pools player breathes heavily on them, and again the TV exposed how poor the quality is of some of the officials at the games these days.

Woking were fast down the left side and Kioso had his hands full but the lad was magnificent and deserved his Man of the Match award at the end of the game. Johnson, the winger, had played in the PremierLeague and was fast, getting in early crosses and was a real threat but Kioso stuck to his task, the fans were chanting ‘You neve get past Kioso” all the game.

The only trouble with TV is that it does expose your weaknesses and Killip was nowhere near on some of the crosses but he also made some good blocks late in the game to save a point. Officials also come under scrutiny as the visitors had a perfectly good goal wiped off when the lino ruled it offside. To be fair I would never have seen this from my position in the stand but my guess was the lino saw two men in an offside position and as he has to look to where the free kick was taken and then back to the line he instantly put his flag up and picked the wrong man. A bit of luck for Pools but the pundits made a meal of it at half time.

It is not our fault the officials cocked up, but poor old Woking. I say lucky old Hartlepool. Toure and Mafuta were obvious targets for the trailing boot in tackles and both of them came in for some dirty treatment; it was a bit of a worry to see Toure with his thigh heavily strapped. Yhis two games per week could be taking its toll. Mafuta took a kick on his standing foot when he slipped a ball past an attacker and went down; the ref was stood right beside him and did nothing.

We had the better of the first half yet Woking had hit the woodwork twice. Kioso had a great chance late in the half as Noble set him up and blasted a shot that the keeper blocked. Noble was immense today driving the team forward, spraying balls all over the Park and knows how to wind up the opposition.
"The atmosphere in the Vic was brilliant"

Pools were awarded a penalty after a defender raised an arm, which also upset the pundits at half time, who claimed the defender had turned away and the shot was too close. Go look at the video! Noble picked the ball up and before he could place it for the spot kick Casey, the Woking midfielder, walked over and tried to dig a hole in the spot and then tried to attract the ref to the placing of the ball by Noble. Even the keeper was off his line trying to face down Noble and the ref had to usher him back to his line. Noble kept his cool and smashed the ball in, sending the keeper the wrong way and Noble then ran to the keeper to face him down and take the mickey out of him.

Both Kitchen and Kennedy had chances before the break but Pools went in a well-deserved one goal up. "Very fortunate", "Harsh decision", "Very debatable" was the half time pundit line on the penalty. No more than Hartlepool would expect from such clowns who get paid for this drivel.

Woking seemed to have more possession in the second half and one criticism I will make is that we played too deep and invited them on late in the game. Five at the back makes us look a bit crowded and there was little to release to in midfield (you would think I knew what I was talking about but bear with me.) Last season this side would have taken us to the cleaners. Their goal came from a punch out by Killip; the ball was switched wide and the young substitute hit a cracking shot into the top corner that Killip was nowhere near. I might be a bit hard on Killip but the defenders too are to blame as the lad had a clear shot from the edge of the box.

Noble was booked for a silly push in the back but as we know he plays on adrenalin, even the pundits said the card was overdue but he is a player you want in your side not playing against you. Noble was yanked for his own good and replaced by Featherstone. Toure had a great chance late on when he was one on one with the keeper who blocked the shot with his feet.

Killip redeemed him self with a late save and blocked a shot that was going in. Pools did have a final rally at the end; a great low cross from Kioso went past the defenders and the keeper and two Pools men Kennedy and Toure both launched at the ball. Kennedy missed,  Toure got to the ball at the far post but it hit Kennedy and bounced away letting the visitors off the hook.

Hodge, their goal scorer, should have been off as he was booked earlier and then left a foot in on Mafuta right in front of the ref. Pools got the free kick but the ref bottled the card. 

This was a tough game for Pools but we stood firm and could have toppled the league leaders. Some outstanding performances all over the pitch and any one of them could have been Man of the Match so it was good to see a performance in front of the cameras but the pundits just do not see it for Hartlepool.

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Failure to Adapt


Match report by ALAN ESSEX



Dagenham & Redbridge 3 Pools 1 (National League)
Saturday 14 September 2019
Victoria Road


In true Monty Python fashion I asked a friend who lives in the area, “So what has Dagenham ever given us then?”

"Well, there’s Bobby Moore."

"Ok, I replied, I’ll give you that."

"And there’s Alf Ramsey, Terry Venables."

“Okay, apart from famous footballers and England managers, what has Dagenham ever given us?”

"Well, there’s Martin Gore of Depeche Mode," he continued, "and Sandie Shaw, Dudley Moore, Keith West (from the band Tomorrow, famous for ‘Excerpt from a Teenage Opera’), and of course Gee Vaucher from the anarcho-punk band that everyone loves – Crass. And of course, Billy Bragg and Tim Gane (McCarthy / Stereolab) come from neighbouring Barking."

So, I concluded, all in all a proper collection of political left-leaning revolutionaries.

In last season’s report I compiled the origins of Dagenham and Redbridge. Briefly this entailed how the club were formed from the amalgamation of clubs Redbridge Forest and Dagenham, Redbridge Forest themselves being the result of mergers between Ilford, Leytonstone and Walthamstow Avenue, Not so much a history as a geography of east London clubs. Grounds all now long gone, sold to developers on the back of plans for new stadiums that never resulted. Monied men taking from communities for their own greed – this left-wing politics is catching!

To give some political balance, Barking and Dagenham (Bark & Dag?) was one of only 5 out of 33 London boroughs that voted to leave the EU. In the local elections of 2006, the BNP were the second largest party with 12 seats. However, the Labour party have held the area (Dagenham & Rainham ...Dag & Rain?) since at least 1945. A strong working-class area, despite being run down, is dominated by the Ford Motor Company. Car production ceased at the Dagenham plant in 2002. It now assembles engines, unfortunately mostly diesels, which are now seen as polluting and not environmentally friendly. At its peak it employed around 40,000 people, now it’s about 2,000.

So, to the football. This was the first time I had seen the new look Pools. I have to say I liked the new away kit, being black with lime green band and trimmings. Pools were unchanged from the televised line up against Woking. Dag & Red were also unchanged from both their victory over Maidenhead United and the previous draw with Bromley. With both clubs level on 15 points and both on good unbeaten runs there was the expectation of a good game.

The first 15 minutes or so had both teams trying to build moves that broke down when they got anywhere near goal. Toure and Mafuta both looked impressive and I wondered why they were playing at this level. Killip came out and cleanly caught a high cross but then also fumbled one, fortunately cleared. Toure had the first clear shot of the afternoon which  was easily saved by Justham the Dag & Red keeper.

Following increasing pressure the home side took the lead in the 24th minute after a good passing move involving 3 Dag & Red players around the penalty box with Quigley having an easy shot past Killip. The Pools defence looked particularly vulnerable at this point and had several opportunities to cut out the danger, but then it always looks so much easier from the stands. Dag & Red nearly got a second shortly afterwards but Killip got down well to turn a shot from Balanta around the post for a corner. From this a header hit the crossbar and went over. It was mostly all Dag & Red by now with Pools passing the ball amongst the back 3 but not getting forward much, with moves either breaking down in midfield or high balls being easily dealt with by the opposition's defence.
"the central defence looked weak on today's showing with Kerr being the best of the three - and he’s now injured."

The mood was lightened for me by hearing Kate Bush’s ‘Cloudbusting’ over the PA during the half time break – always a favourite of mine, even The Utah Saints' remix version.

I was expecting a reaction following the break but it continued in much the same vein. The Dag & Red midfielder Dobson got past Killip with the defence all beaten only to fire into the side netting from a difficult angle. After 10 minutes of the second half Balanta beat Killip in a scene reminiscent of Adam Boyd beating Billy Turley (Rushden and Diamonds) to slot the ball into an empty net. The defence were being overrun with ease, Kitching and Kioso were playing wide as wingbacks with Kerr, Raynes and Cunningham as the central defenders. I don’t know if this is the formation they’ve been playing previously but it clearly wasn’t working today.

In the 75th minute Kerr had to be helped from the pitch following a hefty challenge and was replaced by Hawkes. Pools reverted to 2 central defenders with Hawkes going into midfield. 5 minutes later Pools attacked and with several opportunities seeing to be wasted, Kabamba played the ball to Donaldson who saw his goal-bound shot deflected past Justham. This gave Pools hope but only for 2 minutes as Dag & Red's Graham found Balanta; his header bounced off the bar and Quigley was unopposed in scoring his second of the afternoon.

A frustrating afternoon for Pools. The team never got going against a side that did the easy things well – you know, like defending, passing and scoring goals. None of the Dag & Red side stood out but they all did their jobs efficiently and deserved to win – they’re now in a play-off place.

For Pools I thought Mafuta was easily the best player on show, closely followed by Toure, whose trickery was probably too much for his own colleagues. Kabamba did well when he came on. Killip made several good stops and has good distribution. Noble, Donaldson and Kioso all showed brief glimpses of skill and kept trying. On the downside the central defence looked weak on today's showing with Kerr being the best of the three - and he’s now injured.

The team need to suss out the opposition much sooner and be able to adapt its style accordingly and not just stick to a strict pre-written script. Or is that being too revolutionary? Well I did say that this left-wing stuff was catching - must be something in the water!

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A Sorry Day


Match report by RUNNING MONKEY



Pools 0 Dover 2 (National League)
Saturday 21 September 2019
Victoria Park



What a sorry day for the club yesterday, I have to say from the outset that this was a tragedy waiting to happen and the instigator of this calamitous game was none other than Joseph Johnson, the ref.

I know we have always had troublesome referees who like to think they are more important than the game. There are some that will say we just can’t go on blaming officials for our loss. I understand that some night even say he was only doing his job as he saw it. 

The truth of it was, and I will be backed up by not just fans but sports writers and club officials, that this man was a disgrace to his profession. From the start he allowed the Dover centre forward Effiong to run roughshod over every Hartlepool player he made contact with and he did nothing to control him. Effiong is a big lad and can put himself about but that has to be within the rules.

You would probably have to see the whole video to see where I am coming from but it was really a very scrappy game that needed a decent and fair ref to officiate. One well-known ex-ref and a trainer of referees was scathing of the way he handled the game.

The key moment of the game was the penalty awarded when even the video shows Effiong hoof the ball over to Morrisons from two yards out, jump over the Pools tackle then claim he was caught. I was five yards from it and that is how I saw it. The ref was outside the box and blew for a foul instantly.
"Dover did a job on us and despite the poorest set of officials we have ever seen, we would have struggled to get a result in this game"

What came after the penalty was converted has been much discussed, was completely unacceptable, and hopefully nothing similar will ever be seen at the Vic again.

To the football

I have to say, Dover did a job on us and despite the poorest set of officials we have ever seen, we would have struggled to get a result in this game, and Dover were very tight on every move we made and literally jumped in on every tackle. Toure was his usual magic self and he was denied at least one penalty in the first half. The penalty was given after a Cunningham tackle and, as we had known from the kick-off, this ref was never going to favour Pools. We could not even win s fifty-fifty balls, never mind free kicks for the number of wrestling fouls and two-footed tackles etc. that we had to endure, and which went on uncontested by the ref throughout the game.

Kabamba on a run in the box was chopped down and the ref ignored it. Shortly afterwards Toure was brought down and the decision was once again waived, which brought Donaldson in to have a word, as is his job as captain, and he was sent off. Hignett was also given a red card in the melee and shortly after that Featherstone was red carded for something he also said to the ref.

Reports that a Pools supporter got into the tunnel where more ructions went on are unconfirmed but there was some action in that area as the players and officials left the field.     

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A Lucky Point


Match report by RUNNING MONKEY



Pools 1 Chesterfield 1  (National League)
Tuesday 24 September 2019
Victoria Park



After Saturday's chaos we needed a bounce back and Chesterfield, you would think looking at their form, would have been the answer.

A Pools side, re-jigged after suspensions, looked in the early stages seemed to be making a game of it. We played some good football in the opening fifteen minutes but lacked any threat on goal. The visitors went close with their tall striker who headed wide of the post. 

Pools gained an early lead when Hawkes, who in my opinion has not really made his mark on the team since pre-season good form, sent in a corner and after a scramble Kioso forced it over the line. Just what we needed. Sadly, Pools did not press home their advantage and on the half- hour the game was level with a header at the back post from their tall striker Denton. Thankfully in their celebration in front of the Town End they did not taunt the fans but once again the ref let the celebrations go on too long.

After the goal it was all Chesterfield as Pools could not hold onto the ball with poor passing and taking turns to hit long balls out of play, Killip being guilty of this practice far too many times. Both teams were wasting possession and breaking down down at crucial times and the game was very flat. I thought Higgy was in the stands after being sent off so maybe he is appealing but he was not in his customary position in the technical area - not that his presence would have made any difference as McNamee seemed to be running the show.
"we were lucky to come away with a point"

The game was crying out for a different approach as both teams were struggled but the visitors looked more likely to score than Pools as they lifted their game late in the second half, sensing a win was on the cards.

Whether it was Hignett or McNamee who sent on Noble with ten minutes left and Luke James with two minutes left. it was too little too late. A flash at goal by Hawkes that hit the keeper was all we could offer and in the end we were lucky to come away with a point. Once again bottom teams come to the Vic and get a result.


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Any Other Business

MERVYN THE MONKEY mops up



Back to business as usual ...as usual!

We had our few matches in the sun and now we're back to normal. It wouldn't be Pools if what looks like a good run turns out to be just another blip.


The unfortunate events of the Dover match leave a cloud hanging over Pools and doubtless that's had an effect on all the players and must have made Raj Singh wonder if he made the right decision in taking the club on.



Andy's Man Club

This pic from the Woking game shows some members of Andy's Man Club, a rapidly-expanding organisation which has the praiseworthy aim of reducing depression and suicides among men under 45. 

They were handing out leaflets to promote their Hartlepool branch, which meets in the Super 6 Lounge at the Vic every Monday (except bank holidays) from 7pm. If you'd be interested in learning more, you can find them on social media (both the main Andy's Man Club page and the Andy's Man Club, Hartlepool page.)



Car news

We received this (from Jane Austen's Allegro, who else?)

The former club shop behind the Rink End is now occupied by a We Buy Any Car outlet. I couldn't help but wonder if that blue vehicle parked outside the office at the time (with the red top) was Liam Noble's car.

Alternatively, given the comments made by Craig Hignett in the Mail on 3rd October that the club is still haemorrhaging money, perhaps Raj is seriously considering reinstating the club offices back to its former status as a car showroom. 


Dictionary Corner

Alan Essex found this definition and forwarded it to us:

NOBLE
Adjective - having fine personal qualities that people admire, such as courage, honesty and care for others.
- The Morpeth English Dictionary.



And finally...


Here's a pic of the plate installed on a crush barrier at the Vic to commemorate Poolie stalwart Mick Kelly, who died recently.



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So Far So Good


WAGGA MOON



After a stumble early doors we have now hit the form we were hoping for before the start of the season. Eighth place in early September must go down as a good start and a crack at the league leaders to come on Saturday night is just what we need.

With our past custom of letting the fans down on the big occasion let's this time give them and the viewing TV-watching public a display to be proud of and show the rest of the league that this season we are really meaning business.

The disappointing first few games with some goalkeeping howlers were a worry but the young keeper with a loan signing brought in to gee him up seems to have put those errors behind him and is beginning to look the part in goal. I certainly wish him well as he looks dedicated to the cause and so keen for Pools to do well. But the big turnaround in the team was getting a real midfield playing together after the years of pass sideways, pass backwards and don't cross the halfway line.

Craig Hignett had finally seen enough of it and relegated his favourite midfield dynamo, the overweight little guy to the bench. About time too, Craig, most fans have been crying out for this for the last five years. And what do we get, Liam Noble back in the side alongside Jason Kennedy and Gus Mafuta, a midfield we have been needing for years. And a 100 per cent improvement on what we have been used to seeing. And a back five who look much more solid and reliable.

It was good to hear the Torquay supporters saying we bullied them out of it. Nice to see us with a big team physically and we are not afraid to put it about a bit when, under the years of Colin Cooper and Matthew Bates, we were the softest touch in all the leagues. How these guys could manage a professional team and have them playing like a bunch of Dorises I will never know. You would have thought they wanted them team to play with a bit of fire and desire but looking back to their playing careers they were hardly men up for a battle. More of a 'After you, Claude' attitude which begs the question, "How the hell did they get a manager's job in the first place?" It's passionate managers like Chris Wilder and Sean Dyche who go for committed strong players that are successful in their careers unlike some shrinking violets we have had in charge.
"Ryan Donaldson did an excellent job up front against Barrow and some say up front is his best position."

It is good to see Gime Toure topping the goalscoring charts; it is a long time since a Pools player did that. It is unfortunate our two strikers Nicke Kabamba and Niko Muir are both out injured as their extra firepower would be most welcome at the present time. Having said that, Ryan Donaldson did an excellent job up front against Barrow and some say up front is his best position. Him being so versatile is a good thing as he can help out in a number of positions.

Two players who have been a big disappointment this season are Luke James and Josh Hawkes. James is a striker who doesn't look like scoring a goal while Hawkes doesn't seem to be able to get fit. I would send these two out on loan and see if they come back in any better form.

Two players we can look forward to returning from injury are Luke Molyneux and Luke Williams. Now that Molyneux has finally had an operation we can look forward to having him back in three months. No timetable for Williams's return yet but I am prepared to wait and give him all the time he needs to get fully fit, not like some of the moaners who are shouting to get rid of him. Make no mistake a fully fit Williams will terrify the National League defenders. They won't be able to cope with him.

I would just like to wish Jeff Stelling all the best on his latest charity effort and all he does for promoting Pools and keeping us in the public eye.


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What's in the Bottled Water, Then?


GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY



Not a very good start was it? 

Home defeats against Sutton and Bromley, a home draw against Fylde (after being two goals up), an away defeat against Halifax, an away win against Maidenhead and, by all accounts, a poor performance in the 0-0 draw against Chorley. It left Pools just above the relegation zone and it led us to think ‘Here we go again.’

Yet, it all came good with three wins on the trot and, at the time of writing, we’re level on points with the last play off place. I was tempted to think it was brought about by something in the bottled water. However, things have been coming together all at once. The defence (well marshalled by Michael Raynes) and Ben Killip are beginning to have confidence in each other and there is now a tendency to shoot on sight rather than trying to walk the ball into the net. The last three games have also seen virtually the same side taking the field – a sure sign of confidence. It all sets us up nicely for the televised game against Woking.

A shame that Luke Molyneux and Luke Williams are still sidelined. There was great expectation on the part of Poolies that both would be available to spearhead a successful start. However, we must all wonder whether Williams will ever take the field in a Pools shirt. Unfortunately, Molyneux’s injury was worse than originally feared - and it looks as though he’ll be out till Christmas/New Year.
"The last three games have also seen virtually the same side taking the field – a sure sign of confidence."

The problems which Bury have been having brought home the situation at Pools two years ago. Once again, it is the football authorities (in his case, the English Football League) who have singularly failed to supervise the affairs of their clubs. OK, people are approved as fit and proper persons to take over clubs but after that anything seemingly goes. We can only hope that the 71 clubs in the EFL approve Bury’s application to play in League Two next season. When Pools looked as though they might go out of business, supporters of other clubs chipped in with donations. Never heard of supporters of north west Premier League clubs doing the same. Of course, most Manchester United fans don’t live in the north west do they? The one thing we don’t want is the courts being involved. That might scare off the EFL clubs and enable Bury to take their place in the family of the smaller clubs.

There’s been a lot of discussion lately on the standard of refereeing and a pal of mine in Tasmania sent me a rather amusing article on an Aussie Rules football game. A spectator was ejected from the ground after calling the umpire “a bald headed flog” (translated from Aussie to English, the expression means “a bald headed w****r). I did tell my pal that if people were ejected from Pools for insulting referees then there’d be an empty ground. Within this context of our insult, there is a dictionary definition which describes such a person as “a worthless, contemptible person”. The last thing I heard was that the spectator was consulting his lawyer with a view to suing the Australian Football League – presumably for defamation. It gets better!

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