April 06, 2018

MB169 - April 2018

Let's Assume...



Let's Assume...



BILLY'S CONTRACT




Assuming the proposed Raj Singh takeover takes place and assuming that Pools are not relegated. what happens next? 

Priority must be given to restructuring the club at every level from top to bottom to make it a successful business. On top of that there must be transparency and scrutiny on all income revenue and expenditure, and if in some cases it means cutting the cloth to fit the suit, let's get cutting.

Should the club go semi-professional until Football League status is regained? A difficult question. Eddie Kyle has gone on record as saying that he has seen numerous non-league part-time players who could walk into Pools' team and do a better job than those currently in the first eleven.

The problem with part-time players is their availability because of their work commitments. Many part-timers enjoy very good incomes as well as job security through their work and would be loath to sign full-time professional terms in case they were later discarded as the club moved up the leagues or they lost their job through injury. For most of these players the income they earn is, as we used to say in the old days, just 'pin money'. Other part-timers who might be on a lower earning scale could see it as a means of topping up their income but on the other hand could be afraid to ask their employers for time off or an early finish to get to matches, or indeed training. Certain occupations could not accommodate employees who had time off for football such as those who work for the 999 services or those involved in shift work.

It must also be difficult for employers themselves, seeing their footballing employees not turning in for work due to some injury sustained on a Saturday afternoon and thus losing their company valuable man hours. A company I once worked for had an excellent non-league footballer on their books and in the end he was given an ultimatum: football or work. He never kicked a football in anger again.

So with some exceptions going down the semi-pro route is not without its difficulties. It is a hard call. On the other hand if  Pools did have the misfortune of dropping into the National League North there would be no other option other than the semi-professional/part-time route. Hopefully it does not come to that.

Dependent on the length of players' contracts offered under Craig Harrison's regime I can't see many of the current squad being with us next season ...and deservedly so.

My retained list would comprise of:
Scott Loach: On the proviso that he promises to dominate his box and hold shots instead of parrying them.
Kenton Richardson: A footballer in the making who I think would make a better midfielder than a full back.
Josh Hawkes: Should have been introduced to the team before Bates took over. Great maturity for a young lad.
Devante Rodney: Still only a kid, but with the right coaching I think he could go far.
Louis Laing; Stop laughing. If he could iron out his Laurel and Hardy moments he could be another who could surprise us all. Looks classy on the ball, particularly when moving forward. His best games are when he is not partnered with Scott Harrison and vice versa.
Michael Woods: Again, another who has improved under Matthew Bates, playing further forward, resulting in him becoming the club's leading goalscorer.
Blair Adams: Hmmmm. I don't know. I think I would keep him as long as he stayed clear of the left-back position. I'd probably hang on to him as a wide man.
Jack Munns: Don't think we saw the best of him through injury.
Mr Marmite, alias Nicky Featherstone: Looks a tidy footballer but not my cup of tea. At times needlessly slows the game down even when we are chasing a draw, let alone a win. Probably would be better suited to a team with a different style of play such as Man City/Barcelona. When the vultures were circling round Pools ahead of their financial crisis and picking players off one by one, his name was linked with Swindon. I'd only keep him as an asset to sell on.

As for the other players not named, they are either too injury prone or just not good enough, so cheerio, bye now.
"I am unsure if I would like to see Craig Hignett back in the managerial hotseat at Pools as his record was not much better than that of his predecessor"

What then of the Manager? Personally I believe, despite the Guiseley result (when Pools morphed into Craig Harrison mode), that Matthew Bates should be given the role of manager, perhaps on a rolling contract. The elephant in the room however, is the spectre of Craig Hignett, who has been lurking in the shadows for a while.

Most managers who have left Pools in recent times they have failed to be re-employed elsewhere as managers. (What chance has Craig Harrison got?) Hignett is no exception, recently failing to get the vacant manager's job at Gateshead.

It appears that he is close to Raj Singh and he has been touted as likely to be appointed as Director of Football should Singh purchase the club. How he can take that role is beyond me as he has only had a year's management experience under his belt. To quote Arsène Wenger. "What is a Director of Football?" At this level why do we require a Director of Football?

The other thing that sits uncomfortably with me is that when Craig Hignett was manager of Pools he rightly complained that players were not only being shipped out without his knowledge, but others were being brought in behind his back. Hignett is on record as saying that one particular player who was foisted upon him would never play for him as long as he was manager at Pools, as he was not the type of that was needed at the club at that time. That player is now a regular in the first team.

I can understand Hignett's frustration. When Alan Pardew was manager of West Ham he had Carlos Tevez and Javier Mascherano 'foisted' upon him and was not best pleased, not because he had two world-class players dumped into his struggling squad but because he felt undermined, having had no involvement in their arrival. Mascherano hardly got a game under Pardew, probably kept out of the side by the scintillating skills of the then Hammers midfielder Nigel Reo Coker, who has just recently signed for MK Dons after being unattached for most of the season!

The Mail reported that it was hoped that the sale of the club would be completed before the 5pm transfer deadline closed, as the prospective buyers had two players lined up to sign for the club. I scratched my head when I read this and the old saying of the kettle calling the pot black sprang to mind. Did Matthew Bates have any prior knowledge of who these players might be? Did he want them? Did he have any say on who he wanted? Or were they being foisted on Bates à la Hignett by Hignett himself, as surely Jeff Stelling or Raj Singh would not have been responsible for choosing the new blood. (Presumably the players in question would have had some form of Borer connection).

It could be a case of giving Bates the manager's job full-time and if that does not work out Hignett would step into the role and the title of Director of Football would then become redundant.

I am unsure if I would like to see Craig Hignett back in the managerial hotseat at Pools as his record was not much better than that of his predecessor Colin Cooper, plus we got a few good thrashings along the way (Stevenage six-nil) and saw some exceedingly dull football, and that with better players than we have now. My jury is out on that one, however if I was a betting man I would put my money on him becoming HUFC manager sooner rather than later.

My view is if Bates does get the manager's post he should insist at the very beginning on being left alone to get on with the job without any outside or internal interference. However, whichever way one looks at it, having Hignett in the backround could undermine Bates' authority. I do sincerely hope that that is not the case. The club must come first ahead of any individual's ego.

Funny Old Game




Funny Old Game



Worth Waiting for...



Worth Waiting for...



WAGGA MOON




Hopefully by the time this article goes live online the protracted Pools takeover will be complete and we will have better times to look forward to. Things can hardly get any worse on and off the pitch with the fans paying the tax bill and more and the council paying the wages. 

What a state to get into and alleged chartered accountants steering the ship and getting money from anyone who will give the club some. How they look at themselves in the mirror I do not know. It is to be hoped the new owners sweep away all the dross who have been infesting the club over the past few years and have a business plan that will work and keep us off the bones of our arse.

On the field after a couple of decent results against albeit mediocre opposition we were humped by the mighty Guiseley on our own ground which has to be one of our worst league results of all time. Caretaker manager Matthew Bates explained this result away as the players were a bit tired and jaded with two games in a week. This is a squad of full-time players playing against part-timers and the lazy gets were struggling. If they can't manage a couple of games then bring in some of the youth team as they can hardly be any worse than the current incumbents.
"...we were humped by the mighty Guiseley on our own ground which has to be one of our worst league results of all time"

With this result having put paid to Bates's chances of getting the manager's job on a permanent basis it is surprising he was so cool about it. Having said that, the guy has all the charisma of a traffic cone. It would be nice if Pam Duxbury could explain to the fans the current coaching situation at the club. After all, she is keen enough to take the cash from the supporters.

We must presume Paul Jenkins and Bernard Hermer have left the club. The last we were told was one had some private business to do and the other one needed a break. Surely we are not still paying them? And the two coaches Bates brought in, allegedly doing the jobs for free, are they being paid? And what of Ian McGuckin and Antony Sweeney in charge of the youth but allegedly unwilling to step up and help Bates in his hour of need?

I think Monday's defeat proved once and for all how weak this set of players is. If it was up to me my retained list would be Scott Loach, Liam Donnelly, Josh Hawkes and Devante Rodney and let the rest of them find their level at Southport, Spennymoor, darLOW and stacking shelves in a supermarket. It would be nice to think Lee Clark and Joe Allon were still interested in taking charge which would give us some passion and experience and some good contacts in the game.

Let's hope Raj Singh and his consortium can come up with some ideas to bring the good times back to Victoria Park. We deserve some after the way the last three owners have treated the club and I include Ken Hodcroft in this for his folly in selling to TMH and not learning by his mistake and selling to Coxhead and Co as his coup de grace.

If Mr Singh and his consortium can do half as good as Harold Hornsey and Bo Larsson did for the club we should be in safe hands.

Sherlock

Much Better - but Still Nervous Moments!



Much Better - but Still Nervous Moments!



Match report by RUNNING MONKEY




As Easter Monday dawned, there was optimism in the air. Three wins on the trot and a home game against the bottom of the League. What more could we ask for? 

Yet, at the end of the game there was the sinking feeling that we’d shot ourselves in the foot - again. Messing things up in added time (whatever half) seems to be a thing that Pools are getting adept at.

Take the Bromley game. We’d played them off the park and should have been more than 1-0 up as the interval approached. Yet, what happened? Bromley squeezed in an equaliser in the minute of added time. Fortunately, Michael Woods put us 2-1 up but as Bromley got a corner in added time of the second half, I just daren’t look. Luckily, we cleared any danger. The only problem must be concentration – are the players more concerned about their half time/full time tea than repelling danger? Worth a thought.

Incidentally, I admired the 20 hardy souls who came up to support Bromley. It was a hell of a way to travel on a Tuesday night and the applause which they got from Poolies was richly deserved. Some question whether we should be generous to away fans but we all follow the same game and have similar feelings towards our teams. I was quite happy to join in the applause – bless 'em.
"Messing things up in added time (whatever half) seems to be a thing that Pools are getting adept at."

Everyone’s wondering what the hell is happening to the take over. I keep looking at the Hartlepool Mail website and, despite optimistic noises, nothing seems to be signed, sealed and delivered. If its the National League, then watch out – you’ll be crucified on Soccer Saturday!

If Raj Singh does eventually take over the club there are two immediate areas that he needs to look at.

The first is payments to agents. Under Uncle Ken, Pools refused to pay agents; if players wanted to use agents then they paid them for services rendered and not Pools. How things have changed! Recent figures reveal that from 1st February 2017 to 31st January 2018, Pools paid out £18, 849 to agents; Leyton Orient’s return was over double that at £39, 537. This kind of expenditure by both clubs certainly hasn’t improved on-field performances of either club.

The second one is that Raj Singh should not, under any circumstances, treat the players to curry takeaways after a win *. Did you see where the owner of Accrington Stanley has been asked to explain himself by the Football League because he treats his players to a McDonald’s after a win. Why? Because the McDonald’s is not specified in the players’ contacts! You couldn’t make these things up could you? As the owner, Andy Holt, said, “I reserve the right to buy anyone a burger with my own money”. He added, “ You have to wonder what these folk would do with their lives if it wasn’t for my errors of judgement!!"

One more month to go – don’t bite the nails down too far!!!


* Sherlock will be disappointed! Ed.

Transformed



Transformed



JANE AUSTEN'S ALLEGRO




Harold Wilson is credited with saying "A week is a long time in politics". If that is the case then a month must be a lifetime in football and in particular to Hartlepool United.

At the time of typing this I reckon that only God and Stephen Hawking know how the club is still in existence, particularly with all the black holes the club's finances seemed to have disappeared into. To date the club has not been sold but discussions are ongoing and ongoing as well as ongoing*, making the Brexit negotiations look like a piece of cake ...or a morceau de gâteau for the benefit of our French readers.

Prior to the Guiseley game on the field of play we saw a transformed, nay, resurrected Pools win three matches on the bounce in addition to drawing two, which suggests that we are at long last making headway out of the woods. And talking of Woods, it has got to to be said that Michael Woods' goals have been a major factor in making Pools the in-form team of the moment. Noticeably his best form and goals scored tend to be away from the Vic.

It is a great shame that had Pools not had this rich vein of form at the beginning of the season, and allowing for the odd hiccup along the way, perhaps, not unlike Manchester City, we could have had the league title tucked away in the previously-unused trophy cabinet at the Vic well before Easter. Ever the optimist!

"I reckon that only God and Stephen Hawking know how the club is still in existence"

In addition to positive results, the style of football implemented under Matthew Bates has changed for the better. There seems to be more tempo and spirit as well as the all important 'fight' within the squad that has previously been sadly lacking. The players have been given more freedom to express themselves, more so the front runners. The midfielders, with one glaring exception, are now moving in a more forward manner rather than in a sideways direction allowing the likes of Woods and Newton scoring opportunities.

Another positive, whether it is a confidence thing or because of the introduction of a new manager, is that a goodly number of players have seemed to turn over a new leaf and come out of their shells. It is as if they are trying to show the Poolie faithful that they are not the muffins that we all believed they were. Blair Adams,  Rodders, Louis Laing** and Conor Newton have had some outstanding games of late. One wonders how Craig Harrison got it so badly wrong with this same squad of players.

Despite Pools' perilous league placing it is a credit to Matthew Bates that he is not afraid to give youth a chance and has in turn handed debuts to Jacob Owen and Josh Hawkes, the latter of whom paid him back handsomely with a cracking goal against Bromley as well as several outstanding displays in midfield which belied his years.

To cap all this off, not only have we had the added bonus of seeing Pools play a more entertaining brand of football which is actually enjoyable to watch*** but Pools have also added some steel to their game that is something they have sadly been lacking. More of the same please.

* This was written before the game against Guiseley
** This was written before the game against Guiseley
*** This was written before the game against Guiseley

Jon Goes to the Greengrocer's



Jon Goes to the Greengrocer's



Another Janice and Jon story by SHEDRICK





Janice was worried that Jon wasn’t getting his five a day. 

“You only have to look at how sluggish the Pools players are to see that they are eating food with too many carbohydrates and fats. It is a hereditary problem with Northern folk who have to eat comfort food to keep warm. You only have to look at the long queue every morning waiting for Greggs to open. 

She gave Jon a list and sent him to the new health-food shop, known down south as a “Greengrocer's”. John skipped passed his mates who were sitting on the kerb seeing who could spit the furthest, and as he went into the shop he laughed at their good-natured banter about pansies and rabbit food. 

John said good morning to the shop assistant Mrs Plum, who had recently retrained after being made redundant as a welder at the local steel fabrication works. Witness the neat 'hospital corners' on the Angel of the North. 

Jon picked up a banana and tried to peel it from the wrong end. “Not like that” said Mrs Plum, “Hold it like this. Now let me show you how”. 

Jon held it as she pulled down the peel. He also wanted some melons and gave them a prod with his finger. Mrs Plum told him he might bruise them and showed him how to tell if they were fresh without damaging their skin. 

Jon put these and his other purchases into a bag and skipped home again. 

“How did you get on at the shop?” asked Janice. 

“Oh it was fun. That nice Mrs Plum served me, the lady with the scars on her face and arms. She said she always insisted on her five a day and showed me how to hold my banana up straight while she pulled down the skin, then she taught me how to squeeze her melons without getting my hands all sticky.” 

Janice chased Jon, waving the rough end of the pineapple that he had bought. 

Run Jon, run!

Comes in Threes



Comes in Threes



BILLY'S CONTRACT




It was later than usual when I entered the Vic through the Town End turnstile for the Tuesday night match against Bromley ...or was it Boreham Wood? 

On my way in I spotted the newly-installed burger van to my right. Seeing as it was a tad nippy I thought that I would get something warm into me so I asked for a Bovril with loads of pepper on it. Thinking that it would be served in an instant the Van Man switched on a kettle. Talk about personal service. Next thing I heard: the music over the Tannoy and then the cheer of the crowd as the teams took to the pitch. Kettle nearly boiling.

I heard the ref blow so the two captains could exchange pleasantries in the centre circle. Whilst the Van Man shook lots of pepper atop of my beef brew the ref blew his whistle to signal the start of proceedings.

Prior to taking my place on the terrace I bought my two obligatory lottery tickets -- I used to purchase three at one time however with retirement one has to be careful with the pennies ...and give them to the Trust instead.
"Picking the cup up from the barrier I noticed that the paint had already started to peel."

As I made my way to my usual spot on the terrace I had to rest my cup of freshly boiled Bovril on top of a nearby barrier and blow on my blistering hands to cool them down as it felt like it was a crucible of molten metal that I was carrying, not the liquid beef extract of some long-deceased bovine creature.

Picking the cup up from the barrier I noticed that the paint had already started to peel. After enjoying a throughly entertaining first half display from Pools, as well as Bromley Wood, my drink had cooled down sufficiently to take my first sip of the evening and it has to be said, very acceptable it was too, but perhaps a few more additional shakes of the pepper pot would not have gone amiss.

After my second gulp of the pseudo-Oxo, the half time lottery winner was announced. Whilst fumbling through various pockets for my tickets and at the same time spilling copious amounts of Brovil on the concrete terracing and watching it crumble into dust, I noted that I had missed the winning ticket by three numbers. In the greater scheme of things I might as well have missed out by three thousand numbers as you still don't win anything.

Ironically the lad three bodies across from me on the terrace had the winning ticket. And good luck to him. I got to thinking that if I hadn't had to wait the three minutes for that kettle to boil in the burger van I probably would have purchased the winning ticket. My ticket number was 1243. There had to be a three in it didn't there.

Great Chance Wasted - Guiseley (h)



Great Chance Wasted



Match report by RUNNING MONKEY




Pools 0 Guiseley 1 (National League)
Monday April 2nd 2018
Victoria Park



A bloody awful day for football with strong wet and windy conditions that made the game look in doubt after two days of rain. The visitors, Guiseley, the bottom club hoping for a first away win of 2018 was always going to be a dodgy fixture for us. 

How many times has a team come to us on a bad run and turned us over just to break their duck. Some wayward Pools fans were predicting a rout for the home team, especially as they had their keeper sent off on Friday. Their stand-in goalie had nothing to worry about from this shot-shy Pools team this afternoon.

First half, kicking with the wind, we had seventy per cent of the possession and looked very comfortable on the ball, switching play across the pitch with Laing making a series of long passes out to Adams on the wing. I think the only time he missed was when Adams forgot his position and the Laing pass looked wayward.

It was not a great game as the visitors packed their defence and we have struggled before against teams that defend at all costs. Former Pools player Holden was playing for the visitors and his long throws and some neat crosses did cause us a bit of bother. I can only remember one shot from Hawkes that caused any panic in their defence and that took seventeen minutes to arrive.

Loach got down smartly to cover a low drive just on the break but the first half was nothing to write home about. Poor shooting from the visitors kept the game level as they got the better of us in the second half causing some desperate defending from Pools. Even when we did defend well we had difficulty getting the ball up field to even threaten the visitors goal.
"The Guiseley goal was coming and as Pools faded they were really up for the chance of nicking this game"

The comment was made that the lack of a striker coach was the fact that Rodney was not able to fulfil his promise; the lad has speed and shields the ball well but needs to have some of the push and shove that Cassidy shows in his game. The Guiseley goal was coming and as Pools faded they were really up for the chance of nicking this game as we struggled to break out late in the game.

Hawkins almost nicked it for Pools when the keeper dropped his shot and it went through his legs and bounced on the line and was scrambled clear. There was an appeal from Pools but it was waved away, and rightly so as the ball was never in. As Pools tried to push forward in added time a slip by Laing down the left was pounced on as the way was open for the Guiseley attacker who made no mistake, striking the ball across the goal into the side netting giving Loach no chance.

A great chance to make our position safer was wasted today. Maybe they were a little too confident against the bottom team but lets hope it is a wake up call to the lads and they can make amends on Saturday as games are running out.

I would take issue with Bates as he took off both Hawkes and Rodney and put on Oates who was probably not 100% fit and Donaldson who has been out for six months.

Funny Old game



Funny Old Game

Great Run Continues - Bromley (h)



Great Run Continues



Match report by RUNNING MONKEY




Pools 2 Bromley 1 (National League)
Tuesday March 29th 2018
Victoria Park



With rumours that a deal was about to be announced for a takeover of the ownership of the club, it looked as if it would be a canny night for Pools fans. Our current performances seemed to be picking up despite a depleted squad. 

A gate of three thousand was an improvement on the last home game as fans drifted back to see if another great escape was in the offing after the cracking result in the televised match at Barrow. Twenty five Bromley fans entertained us in the away end chanting what sounded like WEMBERLIE WEMBERLIE but it could have been Bromerlie Bromerlie, the Ditchie seems to think it was a small band of Bromley fans who travelled up to Gateshead at the weekend and stayed over. One wag behind me said "those that could afford it - yes, the unemployed” I would have thought everyone in the leafy suburbs of Bromley would be employed.

The loss of Harrison again, this time to injury, meant Master Bates had to rejig his squad and he put Hawkins in at full back and a “diamond” of Woods, Featherstone, Newton and a debutant starter (Hawkes) in the middle, with Oates and Cassidy up front. “Diamond”, the only reason I know that is, I was listening to the wireless on the way over and they mentioned a “diamond”.

Well, I think Bates found a “diamond” of his own tonight in young Josh Hawkes. This kid was excellent throughout the game and the way he took his goal, moving across the box and striking a beauty past the Bromley keeper on ten minutes, was a joy to watch. Just the lift we needed and with the new-found confidence that Bates has put into the squad we look a vastly different out fit than that of only a month ago.

Possibly with the aid of his new assistant coaches he has ironed out all the silly mistakes we were making and we now look and play like a decent team. Every player gave their all last night and the confidence oozed out of the players as we pegged the visitors back for the full half, It was sod's law that they managed one effort, a high ball in added time before half time, that was scrambled over the line. It was a bit of a sickener after the way we had played but that’s football, is it not?
"If they can keep this up just maybe we might have a manager of the month curse on us soon."

Second half, Bromley, probably thinking of their trip to Wembley, made a bit more effort and made a few breaks upfield but Pools soon got into their stride once again. An injured Oates was replaced by Rodney and this lad is fast; the number of times he chased a long ball down the wing and won it after giving the defenders a head start was amazing. Cassidy and Rodney both causing panic in the visitors defence as Pools went for that important second goal. It was Rodney who made the chance as he cushioned a header down that Woods rifled into the net giving the visitors' keeper no chance and a safe three points to Pools.

It has to be said that, apart from ten minutes at the end of the game, Bromley came to play football; none of the usual diving and playing up the ref like a lot, probably all the teams we have seen this season. There were two incidents when the same player went down under tackles and did the Italian roll that got Newton booked in the first half. The same player tried it again in the second but was told to get up. The only criticism I would make of the ref was that he allowed forty yard runs down the line when taking throw ins, and he had a bit of a downer on Cassidy and gave him nowt all the game. The Millhouse lino was a disgrace - he was so far behind the game he could have been on holiday.

It was been a great run from the lads: eight points from four games. If they can keep this up just maybe we might have a manager of the month curse on us soon. I hope we are safely home and dry by the time we go to Tranmere for the last game as I watched them on the box this week and they looked impressive in their 3-1 home win at the weekend.

Takeover due any minute. We've all heard that before! - Ed.

Deserved Point - Boreham Wood (h)




Deserved Point



Match report by RUNNING MONKEY




Pools 0 Boredom Wood 0 (National League)
Saturday March 10th 2018
Victoria Park



Another poor day at the office for the team today but in the end we won a point. It could have gone against us but we rallied a little in the second half and just about deserved a point. 

Another scrappy game in this non-league football division, I should exclude the football bit in that as very little football is ever played. The teams visiting the Vic these days would have been done under the trades description act in the past.

I know I whinge about the officials and having heard that the last one at the Vic in the defeat by Ebbsfleet was a Darlington resident it speaks volumes for the quality of officials and their unbiased handling of games. Todays entity, especially in the first eighty minutes, looked as if he'd been brought with Boreham. Every fifty-fifty ball or decision went against us; when are these clowns ever going to realize that when a player goes into a tackle or jumps for a ball and rolls on the ground clutching his or her head that there is no need to alert an ambulance, as in every instance the whistle to stop the game leads to a miraculous recovery after a little cameo of play-acting once they are on their feet.

As the ex-league boys dropping down we were expected to set a good example and play decent football and go straight back up. At the rate we are going there is only one way and Northern League two beckons. Some around me think that might be a good move but I doubt we would ever make it as a “Phoenix” club.

Very little is known on the terrace as to what is happening as far as the club goes, and the fundraising seems to be drying up according to the football fans on the terrace. You know you are losing the fight when a clown at the kick off screamed "Come on you idiots", and I felt sorry for Rodney who came down the line off the bench to warm up and there was barely two minutes of the game played and one so-called fan behind us in the crowd waited till he came up to the corner flag and screamed "++++ off, Rodney." He is fairly new to this area of the stand; he arrived when those Borer supporters were coming to our aid. The same fan was shouting and waving like a girl at Lewis Laing "Hello Lewis". Obviously a racist fan, which we can do without. Some of the lads in the area are getting a bit tired of this bore and threatened to pay him a visit if it persists.

OK, enough of the negatives and onto the game. There were no real positives other than a hard-won point in this game today. The only visiting team who did not turn us round after winning the toss, but the forty seven travelling fans probably did not care anyway. The visitors, according to the Ditchburn oracle, are sitting pretty on a deal they have going with Arsenal. The Arsenal team train on their pitch and even the Arsenal ladies team play on their pitch and pay for its  maintenance and the Boredom Wood board just take a million pounds a year from the Gunners.

They had most of the first half and should have won the game but a resilient rear guard by Pools and some bloody awful shooting by the visitors gave us a lifeline. We won very little ball in the air with Cassidy winning the odd header but not able to lay it off once it was on the deck. We just lost nearly every tussle for the ball. It was monotonous the number of times they just stood off the high ball and waited till it dropped then robbed us of any possession.

"Football at this level is becoming a non-contact sport, unless you are a visiting player."

We were on the back foot early on as they looked like a decent side and had a good game plan. Down both flanks and in numbers they threatened nearly every attack with Harrison, Donnelly and Loach all giving their all in the defence. But the midfield could not win the ball, never mind hold on to it, with Featherstone again twirling on the ball and getting caught out on numerous occasions. We had hard luck just before the break when Woods had a shot from close range blocked and Newton blasted the return ball and it bounced off the post.

The tension was getting to both teams as some naughty tackles and a few vendettas were going on in nearly every challenge. Pools were angry at the spoiling tactics of the visitors, almost dropping dead after aerial challenge and they knew the ref would stop the game when there was a risk of head injury.

Football at this level is becoming a non-contact sport, unless you are a visiting player. Adams showed some good touches today and almost helped Pools to a lead early in the first half when skinning two defenders. He raced to the edge of the box and sent a great ball in that Cassidy managed to reach but it had no direction and went wide for a goal kick. Harrison was sent off and it was another dive by a Boredom forward as they went for a header. It looked as if the player had been punched by Harrison and then fell to the ground. The way I saw it was that the ref had seen the attacker go down feigning injury, then  jumped up to confront Harrison, who tried to just push him away but it looked like a punch was thrown. We all know Harrison is suspect in these situations but this time it could have cost us, going down to ten men against this side made it look like we were done for.

Typically for Pools, that seemed to make more of a game of it as they took off Newton, who was having a good game, and brought on Laing to replace Harrison. Rodney made a great run down the right and sent in a wonderful low cross that evaded everyone’s attempt to latch on to it, even the defenders. The prize of the day went to Featherstone who had to take a card for the team as he tried battling for the ball in midfield and it broke free with a forward chasing it down.  Featherstone made a rugby tackle that Billy Beaumont would have been proud of as he took the player round the waist and dragged him to the ground.

Pools had a let-off late in the game as Donnelly blocked a powerful shot on the line and I don’t think he even flinched. It would have knocked a bigger man over but it saved a point for Pools.

One incident in the game was very dangerous and upset a lot of home fans. The big centre half for Boredom, I think he was called Stephenson, was under pressure about five yards from the edge of the pitch and he smashed a ball into the crowd in the CK stand; if it had hit a child it would have certainly done some damage. He made sure he did not stray near to the Town End fans for the rest of the game.

Any Other Business


Any Other Business



MERVYN THE MONKEY mops up



Off the field

We thought it was all over, but it still isn't. 


On the field

What a month March was. Matthew Bates really turned things around, getting performances from the players which we didn't think they were capable of, and causing us all to think relegation was already conquered.

And then April arrived, and a defeat at home against Guiseley, one which could come back to haunt us, and confidence evaporated.

But how many times has the same thing happened in recent years? We seem to be in the mire for much of the season but something happens either in February or March, when Pools string some results together and we're all wondering why they couldn't have done this for the whole season. But then the golden month ends and normal service is restored, and we remember that we support Hartlepool not Liverpool. So it's another few weeks of anxiously staring at league tables and fixture lists for us - as usual!

A Grave Undertaking (by AE)  

A Hartlepool United supporter dies and his widow goes to see his body laid out at the undertakers. The undertaker has dressed him in a smart black suit so that he will leave a memorable lasting impression on his grieving widow. 

When she sees him in the plush velvet-lined coffin in a black suit, she begins to cry and become inconsolable. The undertaker attempts to placate her and after a while she calms herself. She says that although she has come to terms with her husband’s death, what has upset her is that, being a Hartlepool United supporter, his dying wish was to be buried in a blue suit. 

The undertaker says that they always bury them in black suits but if she comes back tomorrow he will see what he can do. She returns the next day and the undertaker shows her the body that is now clothed in a smart blue suit as was his dying wish. She is overjoyed and thanks the undertaker profusely and gives him a large tip. 

She asks him how he got a blue suit. The undertaker explains that purely by chance, after she had left, another body was brought in and as fortune would have it the person was about the same size and build as her husband, was wearing a blue suit and his wife had wanted him to be buried in a black suit. 

The undertaker continued "All I had to do was swap heads".


...And finally

We dithered over whether we ought to have a May edition, given that our final match will have been in April and that the playoffs are now mathematically out of reach. 

However, since the takeover still hasn't happened, and the Trust has confirmed that it's unlikely to happen until well into April, there will still be things to talk about, and, knowing Pools, a few more hiccups on the way, so... see you next month!

March 02, 2018

MB168 - March 2018

A Few Words Which Might Be Helpful



A Few Words Which Might Be Helpful



The voice of experience: MARK DINGWALL




I’m a Rangers fan. I was on the board of the Rangers Supporters Trust for a decade and have edited the Rangers fanzine and website Follow Follow for yonks. Hartlepool is your club and you have different circumstances from what we went through but I hope a few pointers might be of help to you. We made our mistakes along the way, I hope you can learn from them.

1: THE POUND IN THE BANK IS YOUR BEST FRIEND
The nearer you get to the money the nastier people become - equity is king in football clubs and if you don’t have shares or money you’ll find yourselves sidelined from the big decisions. Start collecting cash now.

2: DELIVER FAN UNITY
We created the Union Of Fans to bring in the supporters groups and websites who wanted to fight the Spivs we had in charge. You won’t agree on everything but move together as far as you can in the same general direction. The punters love unity - nothing is more discouraging that seeing fans fight amongst themselves.

3: CHOOSE YOUR PARTNERS CAREFULLY
You’ll probably have to partner up with someone with a fair bit of unencumbered capital (i.e., they haven’t borrowed it from somewhere else) - if you can’t find they have much of a track record then alarm bells should go off.
"We made our mistakes along the way, I hope you can learn from them"

4: GET SOMETHING FOR YOUR MONEY
Be careful how you structure things - if you fundraise in a certain way you won’t be able to donate it and get shares in return. Ideally put in your cash in return for shares or the money being regarded as a loan. It’s a crisis so there is the pressure just to put money in a bucket and hand it over to the current lot and that’s understandable. But long-term it would be a mistake. Attach strings.

5: ALWAYS HAVE A POSITIVE MESSAGE
Even when delivering bad news. We gave the Spivs a real hammering but always finished off with a bit of positivity to give people hope and activities to engage in.

6: GIVE PEOPLE THINGS TO DO
Build up your activist core with leafleting at the ground etc. One of the things that worked well for us was making huge leaflets which people could hold up at 18 and 72 minutes (Rangers formed in 1872) - at halftime and when the team came out. Every home game is a fantastic opportunity to fundraise and get your message over.

7: UNITY OF COMMAND
Get your message straight - get a spokesman who will be the contact point and make sure others who have been in the media in the past. Direct enquiries to him and don’t dilute the message.

8: DISCIPLINE
Aggro turns off far more people than it turns on. So keep all your activities lively and fun.

9: DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Read everything - League regulations, Articles of Association, Accounts, old court cases, etc, etc. It’s amazing what you can find. Be prepared for any eventuality and know your rights.

10: THERE’S A WORLD OF HARTLEPOOL FANS OUT THERE
Use the internet to connect with them - accountants, lawyers, researchers - build a database of fans online. It’ll all be useful.

I know these are dark days for your club right now - but they are also great days when you will see the best in your fans and if you work together you will have a better future for the club.

Best of luck!

Billy's Contract's Skool Daze



Billy's Contract's Skool Daze



An educashernal peace by BELIZE KONTRACT




By any standard it was quite late in life before I began to take an interest in association football or soccer. I think I was fourteen or fifteen before I kicked a football in anger.

It naturally followed that my hard-earned pocket money was now being spent on football kits and not Airfix kits, as well as football magazines such as Charlie Buchan's Football Monthly and Shoot, as well as Goal, in which every bit of print was devoured and every picture scrutinised.

Then I started attending football matches. Initially Pools were not on our radar but a group of us would every few weeks randomly turn up at Hartlepool railway station with a view to taking in a match. Not a clue which match we would be taking in until we got on the platform which would either be bedecked out in fans wearing the red and white of Sunderland or the black and white of the Mags. It was only then we knew what our destination would be.

We got to see many of the all-time greats, nay legends of the game, such as Hurst, Moore and Peters of West Ham, Best, Law and Charlton of Man Utd., Bell, Lee and Summerbee of City,  Greaves, Gilzean and Cyril Knowles of Tottenham, and not forgetting Wyn Davies and Pop Robson at Newcastle and, errr... mmmm...  and hmmmm... of Sunderland.

For us schoolkids the biggest purchase of all and the most essential, in any game, was the football itself. Normally this would involved two or three lads chipping in and 'sharing' the ubiquitous* Size five, orange, Wembley Trophy heavy-duty plastic football which cost around seven shillings and sixpence, which for the benefit of our younger readers, in new money is around seven shillings and sixpence.

Prior to joining the real world, one of the biggest tragedies, disasters, disappointments, call it what you like, occurred in my young life about this time. The weekend was upon us. A wonderful sunny day but my pals and I were unable to get a game going because no one had a football. I was a few bob short of the purchase price of a Wembley Trophy football. For the benefit of our younger readers, a Bob is shilling, not the name of any of my chums. To that end I spent the rest of the day scavenging for money, putting my hand down the sides of the front room suite to see if I could retrieve a few mislaid coins.

I informed our kid that if he wished to partake in a game he needed to cough up a few pennies from his piggy bank for the privilege. Further funding was secured when I raided the larder which contained my dad's 'cigarette money' in the form of empty pop and beer bottles that were stored under the cupboard. These were taken down to the 'offy' in exchange for truppence; for each bottle. For the benefit of younger readers 'truppence' or 'three pence' would, in today's money  be worth around half of nothing, but they looked very similar to the new pound coin.

With finances secure a bee-line was made to Tommy Raw's newsagent and the purchase made of a Wembley Trophy football. On the way up to the Triangle on the Town Moor I carried, nay, cradled that ball like a proud father holding his first-born, though orange, child for the first time, not allowing anyone to touch it ...or kiss it. As there were only half a dozen of us we decided to play three pots in until the other thirty or forty regulars turned up. Only snag was that we did not have any goal posts.

Jumpers for goalposts were out of the question as it was summer and no one from the Headland even in winter would consider wearing such a thing. The lads would not give up their football shirts for the same purpose as they wanted to be seen in their various teams colours. All red or all blue. Our kid pointed out that some building work was going on at the adjacent bowling green pavilion and returned with two pieces of scrap wood measuring about an inch square and a foot high, which, for the benefit of our younger readers. in today's measurements would be roughly 36 degrees centigrade and 8 grams long. Or thereabouts.

Posts having been hammered into the ground with the aid of Our Kid's head, the game commenced. From the goalkeeper's throw (Our Kid again ...well he had to be first choice to go between the sticks having only contributed twopence to the cause), the ball fell nicely in front of me, bounced once and I was able to hit a first time left foot shot from around 10 yards which hit the recently installed left hand post. Next thing, we noticed the ball was spinning around on its axis with air hissing out of it. Turns out that there was a small nail left in the goalpost that had punctured the ball. One kick - game over.
"As there were only half a dozen of us we decided to play three pots in until the other thirty or forty regulars turned up"

As I was led away for counselling one of the lads noticed that there was a repair kit contained within the box in which the ball had been supplied. Not one of us had previously noticed this. Basically the kit consisted of a square inch of orange plastic along with a branding iron with a small circular head,  about 5/16ths in diameter, which you would heat up over a gas ring or similar. The orange plastic patch would be put over the puncture then the branding iron would be rubbed around the patch, which in turn would melt, and nine times out of ten the repair would be effected. On the down side, depending on the quality of the repair, one could not pump up the ball to its full regulation size for fear of it bursting. And if you managed to head the ball and came into contact with the repair itself it could be quite a painful experience and left a mark on your forehead.

Meanwhile, back in the classroom. I willingly hold my hands up and confess to not being the brightest in class but my new-found love of football helped me academically on two levels. In an upstairs classroom during a French lesson - can you imagine they were teaching us French up in West View in 1968 ...a century and a half after the hanging of the monkey. Instead of paying attention to my Un, Deux, Trois I was looking out the 'fenetre' at a football match on the playing fields, when the teacher shouted at me 'If you are so interested in what is going on out there why don't you go and join them'. And I did. Within a few weeks practically every lad in the French class was shown la porte and had joined me on the playing fields of St. Peter's Sec Mod.

I'd be the first to admit that my end of term French report was a bit of a disaster but I did get a high mark for my P.E. A few years later, our kid got poor grades in his school report in every subject with the exception of PE and Religious Knowledge, in which he got very high marks. My Father, upon reading this, and not impressed at all, said "what are you going to do with your life, become a running vicar?"

Through football my knowledge of the British Isles was greatly enhanced by researching the locations of various English as well as Scottish football teams. Who would have ever thought that Grimsby did not play in Grimsby at all but in the town next door, Cleethorpes? That Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian were from the Scottish Capital, and as for Charlton, where the heck was that? I could now pinpoint Walsall and West Bromwich on the map but the most significant discovery I made was not that Port Vale was not on the coast, but that Aston Villa was not a town in Italy.

When Pools joined the National League it came as a shock to accept that perhaps my geographical knowledge was not as good as I first thought. Who are all these strange teams that inhabit this league and where do they hail from? I had obviously heard of and even been to the likes of Tranmere, Halifax and Torquay in the past when they were football league teams but where on God's planet were Ebbsfleet, Eastleigh and Guiseley located? In fact, the only reason why I went to the Guiseley v Pools fixture was purely to find out that the place actually existed. As for Fylde I thought that they were located at the top end of Scotland.

Pools Joining the Vanarama league, in my case, was pretty much like joining an adult learning class. Certainly taught me a lesson!

* This word put together with the aid of spellcheck.

Winter of Discontent



Winter of Discontent



JANE AUSTEN'S ALLEGRO looks back




Tucked away, for safety, between the pages of one of my books on Hartlepool United I came across (see picture) a yellow single sheet Team Sheet from 1974 which brought a lot of memories flooding back. When historians look back at the years 1973/74 they tell us they were dark times in British History, mainly because the power workers went on strike and for long periods we had no lighting!

The country was almost bankrupt. Inflation was raging, Companies were going bust all over the place, Power workers, miners, bin men and Uncle Tom Cobley an' all were out on strike. The government of the day, in order to save fuel and coal and to keep the lights burning, introduced such draconian measures as The Three Day Week. TV companies were instructed to finished broadcasting each night at 10.30pm. Little wonder that era became known as The Winter of Discontent.

With all that, the the country was in a mess politically and financially but at the time I hardly noticed it. I was twenty one, life was good and I was having a ball. I had a job, started courting and I had a great bunch of pals.

Every free moment was spent either playing or watching football. When we were not doing that we would be in our favourite local supping a pint of Norseman lager and either be reading about, or talking about football. Despite all the hardships inflicted upon us by Government and Unions alike we made the best of it and considered it more of an adventure rather than an inconvenience and having a laugh along the way. I supposed the Dunkirk spirit kicked in.

On one occasion we were walking down to the pub on Durham Street during one particular power cut and it was so dark you could hardly see where you were walking, bumping into unemptied dust bins and wading through litter. In fact the only light available to us came from the berthed ships in the nearby Victoria Dock.

Such was the darkness that when we got to the New Inn I thought that we had mistakenly entered a church midway through a service. Candles (stuck in bottles) everywhere with people singing. The only religious item missing was a collection plate. Pools, in keeping with the times, were in much the same state as the country, only in a bigger mess. Much like they are today come to think of it.

Looking at Pools' results at the time and their lack of goals, one could be forgiven for thinking that their strikers had gone on strike in sympathy with the strikers. With the so called Winter of Discontent proper upon us (both on and off the field), Pools had played 21 games, winning three, drawing six and losing eleven. Sounds familiar.

Owing to the power cuts there were no such things as night matches as there was no supply of electricity to power the floodlights. I recall Hereford beating West Ham in an F.A Cup replay which due to the power cuts was played on a Wednesday. Nothing strange in that you might say, but it was a Wednesday afternoon. And well over 17,000 fans turned up. Mind, most of the fans had no work to go to, or they were taking a break from manning the picket lines. It came as no surprise that they all turned up at Edgar Street on the day en masse for a couple of hours of light relief.

A combination of the industrial unrest and the fact that so many people worked on a Saturday and were unable to attend football matches, led the Government to relax the restrictions on playing football on the Sabbath.

On February 3rd 1974 Pools opened their gates for the first time on a Sunday for league football to be played at the Victoria Ground. I recall it being a sunny day and being quite warm. I stand to be corrected, but I think it was an early kick off, in order to avoid using the floodlights, thus saving energy and not being subjected to power cuts.
"one could be forgiven for thinking that their strikers had gone on strike in sympathy with the strikers"

Due to some archaic law or another fans were not allowed to pay on the turnstiles to gain access to the ground. This minor technicality was got round by purchasing a programme, the yellow team sheet, from the turnstile operator, which coincidentally just happened to be the same price as the normal admission price into the Vic. The powers that be must have had a sharp-suited Manhattan lawyer to work that scam out. When I think about it that must be the most expensive programme/team sheet that I have ever purchased, but having said that I got into the ground for nowt!

As a result of the team sheet being issued there was no official matchday programme. Nevertheless whatever revenue Pools lost in programme sales was more than adequately covered, not only with the non-use of the floodlights, but with 5,747 souls packed into the Vic, almost double the crowd that had seen the previous game against Torquay, and nearly seven times higher than their lowest- ever recorded gate (844) against Scunthorpe a few months earlier.

The icing on the cake was that Pools ran out three-nil winners, Kevin McMahon, Alan Gauden (pen) and Malcolm Dawes being the goalscorers. Pools' following home game two weeks later was also played on God's day of rest when Mansfield were thumped four-nil, in front of a crowd of 4,000-plus fans. The third and final Sunday game was played in early March which saw Pools beat Workington three nil. Disappointingly, although the crowd was still high by Pools' standards of the day, it had dropped to 2,800. Perhaps people had had enough of Sunday football and preferred to spend their time in the pub followed by a full Sunday dinner and a nap on the couch.

At first I was dead against the idea of Sunday football but after the Mansfield game I became an advocate of it mainly because it freed up my Saturdays. Don't forget that back in 1974 Sunday was not like it is now, what with Sunday shopping and the like. There was absolutely 'bott all' to do. With the exception of  parks, churches, the countryside and the seafront, everywhere else was closed. I think it would be interesting to see what sort of reaction we would get if Pools played the occasional match on a Sunday now. What do you think Vicar?

That same season Pools played Darlo twice in the league in December, over a four day period, the crowd at the Vic being 6739 (we lost 1-2), and that at Feethams being 6723 (drew 1-1). Looking at these figures demonstrates that even back then Pools had a far better support than our Durham rivals.

Funny Old Game




Funny Old Game



Into the Abyss?



Into the Abyss?



GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY is still hopeful




Saturday was very, very cold. As the breeze blew off the North Sea, I thought “Never mind, Pools might make me forget all about the cold afternoon”. Fat chance. 

Let’s be honest, Ebbsfleet could have been ahead after only 35 seconds and maybe should have been 5-0 up at half time. Indifferent striking was the order of the day for them. But what did Pools have to offer in terms of attacking? This mainly amounted to speculative long balls into the Ebbsfleet penalty area and these were dealt with more than adequately by their defence, particularly their big centre half.

It's known as basics. And teams are coming to Pools offering no more than basics and going away with three points. Some fans are campaigning to have Ronnie Moore brought back as manager but would it make any difference? Ronnie Moore’s strength was to bring in loan players which definitely improved the side but we can’t take any players on loan or indeed offer terms to free agents. So that means we’re stuck with the players we have.

If Pools go into liquidation, then those players will want to sign for another club. You’d think that they’d be playing out of their skins to impress the vultures but with one or two exceptions, I wouldn’t bank on that happening.
"teams are coming to Pools offering no more than basics and going away with three points"

Other warning signs are surely there. On Saturday, the attendance dropped below 3,000 so that means less money coming in at the turnstiles. Since dropping into the National League, Pools supporters have been very loyal but it won’t happen every season. The fact that the Swedish consortium have gone away to consider their options does not bode well. If that comes off the rails then surely administration will beckon. If the administrator can’t find a buyer then its curtains.

The supporters have been fantastic – both Poolies and those of other clubs – but you can only expect so much from that quarter. Speculation was rife  after Saturday, when Lee Clark was spotted in the directors’ box. It's normal for a potential manager to eye up the side he might be taking over, but what were his thoughts after seeing Pools perform? Maybe Sol Campbell might try his luck. He’s been complaining that nobody wants him despite all the honours he’s picked up.

I suppose the main talking point over the past week was Wigan’s victory over Manchester City. Don’t forget that Wigan once dropped out of the Football League and came back to play in all four divisions. I’d like to be more hopeful but as things are there’s not too much to be hopeful about.

Jon Takes up Rugby



Jon Takes up Rugby



Another Janice and Jon story from SHEDRICK




Jon was refusing to come out of his room after the grief and sadness Pools had caused him. 

Janice told him  “Snap out of it Jon, I bet none of the ex-Pools owners is hiding under the bed and moping about the place with a face as long as the bonnet of his Bentley. 

I see that a new Pools rugby team are having a practice this afternoon, why don’t you go down and watch?” 

Jon decided to give it a try and set off with a bit of trepidation as he had heard that it was much rougher than football, with real hard men, and alcohol allowed on the terraces. 

Have you ever had sand kicked in your face on Seaton beach? Jon has. 

When Jon arrived, he realised it was the ladies' team that was practising, but just as he was about to turn round and go home, Mrs Rucker saw him. 

“Don’t leave young man, you are welcome to join us for a training session,” she said.

Jon did as he was told; he had heard that the men in the pub compare Mrs Rucker to the construction of a public convenience, but had not understood what they meant. Until now. 

She said “When all of the girls jump onto the ball Meg will hook it back, then she will hold it while you kick it up into the air, and we can chase after it.” 

Jon quite enjoyed it without really knowing why, and before he realised, it was time for him to go home for his dinner. 

“Is that you, Jon? How did you get on at the rugby?” asked Janice. 

“Well, it was the ladies' team, and their captain encouraged me to join in. She said I would like it once I had enjoyed a good ruck with her girls. 

“Then Meg, who was a hooker, held my ball while I did an ‘up and under’ ”. 

If Jon’s dinner had hit the wall it would have been easy to wipe up, but Jon didn’t duck in time.

Economies of Scale



Economies of Scale



More from BILLY'S CONTRACT




Craig Harrison relieved of his duties. I have got to say I did not see that one coming, purely based on the premise that the the club could not afford to sack him or afford a replacement.

The decision to part company with Harrison is the correct one and in normal circumstances with any other club let alone Pools he would have lost his job months ago. It has probably dawned on Pam Duxbury/Sage that in order to cut their own losses and make the club an attractive proposition to any potential buyer that their first and foremost priority is to avoid relegation at all costs, and with at least an eleven point buffer should the club fall into administration and suffer a points deduction. They rightly thought that Craig Harrison was not the man for that particular task.

At  the beginning of the season the club were flashing the cash like it was going out of fashion, on the likes of goalkeeping coaches and other unnecessary backroom staff, as well as investing in a new corporate image resulting in expensive new signage being installed on the front of the ground bearing the club's new logo.

It is amazing how in such a short time things change. From being in 'Viv Nicholson' mode (she was the 1960's Football Pools winner, of "Spend, Spend, Spend" fame), the club now finds itself in a "Sell, Sell, Sell" situation.
"British Leyland are now long defunct and if Pools don't get their act together soon they could go down the same route"

The first thing the club should address, and it would cost nothing at all, is to change the new logo which should represent the current state the club finds itself in, and as such, it should be turned upside down so it shows the Stag on its back with its four legs up in the air.

Like with any other employer, staff are one of the biggest overheads, but, as well as being an asset, they can also drag a company down if they do not perform. In many ways Pools remind me of the British Leyland car company of the 1970s. Dreadful outdated management, an overstaffed, overpaid, lazy shopfloor* who did not produce the goods. Sounds familiar?

British Leyland are now long-defunct and if Pools don't get their act together soon they could go down the same route and be consigned to history. Since January, the club have lost around a dozen players/backroom staff which must have made a considerable hole in the wage bill and perhaps given the club a little breathing space.

Burger vans now operate within the ground, having replaced refreshment kiosks (and their staff?),  and no doubt they are paying a few hundred pounds per match for the privilege. Old Pools football strips and memorabilia are being auctioned off on Ebay for very little.

I also note that the half-time lottery winnings have been reduced from £500 to £400 and the tickets themselves are now printed in black and white with the absence of any colour on them. A small saving some might say but a saving none the less which could keep the club keep trading, which makes one wonder why it wasn't run like this in the first place. All these economies might have gone to waste if Craig Harrison had still been in charge, and may even still do so unless the right man, preferably from an external source, and one who know this league, is appointed quickly.

After the abysmal performance at Halifax it was no surprise to see a drop in the crowd attendance of around 150 for the following home match against Ebbsfleet. It is bad enough losing season ticket holders, who have already paid up front, but if this total includes fans who normally turn up and pay on the gate it is a substantial loss for a club of Pools' size. According to the Mail, the club and HUST are due to have a meeting to look at 'maximising takings at their next home games'. Here's hoping that they come up with something, but a winning team would go a long way to helping the cause.

* HUFC office staff excluded.