February 02, 2018

MB167 - February 2018

Lowest of the Low


Lowest of the Low



WAGGA MOON




WITHOUT a win since November we are now officially at our lowest point in the club's history, although events off the field far outshadow the garbage that is being produced on it.

With the finances in a truly shocking state thanks to a succession of conmen, chancers and shytehawks having their grubby little paws on the club. Thanks Ken Hodcroft for finding not one bunch of crooks to sell the club to, but two. If he had taken as long to pick out the best buyers as he did to pick a manager we would not be in the position we now find ourselves in.

In all this gloom there is one bright spot in Rachel Cartwright and her JustGiving page. Nice to see someone had the right idea to do something while the various Trusts and Friends Groups sat on their hands while the club was dying. Well done, Rachel.

It looks like our knight in shining armour businessman Chris Musgrave discovered enough bad things in the books to withdraw his interest. It appears from a distance that Pam Duxbury has something to hide. Allegedly a Chartered Accountant she has had eight months to produce the accounts and to say where the money has gone and failed to do so.
"What has been particularly galling is the lack of information coming from Pools' official website."

While all the bad things are going on behind the scenes manager Craig Harrison is escaping the flak. Now officially the worst Pools manager ever alongside Bobby Moncur we have got to the end of January and he is still including Xavi Featherfanny and Scott Harrison in his side and can't understand why a poor team humps four goals past us.

He has finally woke up to the fact that if he plays another striker up front with Jake Cassidy we are capable of scoring goals. All he needs now is to shore up the defence but I doubt that will be his problem for much longer. The money for Connor Simpson came in handy for us although the figures mentioned were obviously not enough. But considering Harrison wouldn't play him when he was here, he wasn't helping us. With the rabble he has on the field and how the Fat Lad whinges about not having enough players, he shamefully ignores Jack Blackford, Tomi Adeloye and Josh Hawkes.

Perhaps the club's strangest decision when so short of money was to keep Keith Watson at Victoria Park when he got injured and was going to be out for a while. Instead of sending him back to his parent club we kept him on our payroll and nursed him back to fitness. And when he was fit he returned to Scotland meaning we had no benefit from the deal.

What has been particularly galling is the lack of information coming from Pools'  official website. They are quite happy to take money in from any source or any other club but won't say how much we owe or where the money has gone. What a bunch of Shysters!

It's the Hope That Kills You


It's the Hope That Kills You



BILLY'S CONTRACT




As someone once said it is the hope that kills you. Last week it looked as if HUFC had turned the corner and that a white knight in the form of successful businessman Chris Musgrave was looking to take over the club.

After the euphoria of the "Save Pools Day", within 72 hours we were all back to earth with an almighty bump as Mr. Musgrave said that he was pulling out of the deal because the financial challenges facing the National league club were serious indeed and he had not been able to identify the exact of amount of cash required to save it (sic).

I must admit I was taken aback by this statement as to the outsider it suggests that there are many skeletons hiding in some bloody big cupboards in the HUFC accounts department and it seems that no one knows where they are hidden, let alone where the keys are. My main concern however is that Pam Duxbury is a professional qualified Chartered Accountant and it appears that she was not able to provide the information that Mr Musgrave required, which should be a basic requirement from the vendor to the buyer to execute the sale. She should as a matter of course, provide details of all the incoming sources of revenue as well as total outgoings of the (any) business.
"I would be most disappointed if Pam Duxbury is trying to hide something"

I would be most disappointed if Pam Duxbury is trying to hide something, as at first I thought she might, but still hoped that she would be a breath of fresh air for the club after the previous regime. I must admit to feeling a little uncomfortable during one of the early HUST meetings when we were informed that Pam was unable to give details of the club's debts and needed time to do some more digging. This statement was repeated and seemed to drag on. Having been in business myself it seemed as if she was stalling for time.

She was later quoted as having said that HUFC was in a bad place but not a dark place, which offered a glimmer of hope. Then, unexpectedly, Sage announced that they were pulling the plug and would no longer plough cash into HUFC. To a large degree I can sympathise with them. They are millionaires not multi millionaires and if they are haemhorraging money to HUFC in the amounts that they claim, I would do the same if I was in their position.

What Pam Duxbury needs to do is explain to potential investors and fans alike where 'all' the money has gone and how, over a short period of time, a club that was sold on, debt free, is currently £2 million in the red. Surely as a Chartered Accountant that should not be too difficult. Please prove us all wrong Pam.

Funny Old Game


Funny Old Game


Economy Measures


Economy Measures



JANE AUSTEN'S ALLEGRO




During Darlington Football Club's financial woes a few years back Darlington Borough Council to their, it has to be said, eternal shame, offered the club no support whatsoever and basically left the club to hang out and dry and rot. This action in turn sent a message to all and sundry that Darlington is not a footballing town. 

The Quakers for several years then plied their trade in Bishop Auckland. Even now with the Quaker revival of sorts and the team returned to the town there is little or no evidence of any further support from the Borough Council who probably think that the town is too refined to have a football club in its environs.

In contrast you have got to take your hat, or even your dut, off to Hartlepool Borough Council (HBC) for getting involved with the HUFC fight for financial survival as they have always considered the club to be an asset to the town.

They have put it on record that HUFC generates in the region of £5/6 milllion revenue to the town. Bearing in mind that the club only operates around 9 months of the year and a match is on average played once a fortnight then pro rata I would guess that is bigger earner than the Royal Navy Musuem on the Marina, thus making Pools the biggest tourist attraction in the area. Should Pools fold, it would be the equivalent of losing a medium sized business and the ramifications of that would have an impact of the spending power of those employees who lost their jobs throughout the town, on shops, services, council tax etc.

It was bad enough that HUFC lost its Football League status but the ultimate demise of the club could remove the town of Hartlepool from people's mindsets. Let's not forget the huge publicity that the club provides; it is like a free advertising slot on national television, and the media both on keyboard and paper. In the best interests of the town and as a duty of care I think that HBC should take the bull by the horns and get Chris Musgrave back on board along with The Trust and see if together they could thrash out an agreement that would be beneficial to all.

 As recently revealed through the Freedom of Information act, HBC, unlike HUFC, is not cash-strapped. Two years ago it held reserves of £38 million but due to various investments over that period that figure has risen to around £52 million. They could use some of this money in the form of a long term low interest loan to pay off the various creditors, or act as a guarantor to ensure the club's survival.

After pulling out of the purchase of the club Chris Musgrave said "As it stands I do not intend to provide any funds"(Sic). The three words "As it Stands" make me think that if something was put in place by HBC, a sweetener of some sort (nothing illegal!) such as the future development of the whole area around the ground which is in desperate need of being carried out, that he might return with an offer.

On the down side I am of the opinion that there could be several interested parties who would like to purchase the club but only once it entered administration. I was surprised to learn when Pam Duxbury made it clear, that adminstration of a football club is totally different from that of a normal business. The Football League expects the club to honour all its debts otherwise they will face a triple relegation much like our friends down the A66.

Should the club somehow get out of this mess I believe with the right people running the club that they could make it a succesful business. As previously mentioned in these pages there are numerous clubs who survive on small crowds. We all know about Accrington who get, and I used the word loosely,vcrowds, of less than 1,300 per match. Rochdale who are a division above average crowds of less than 3,000.

Cheltenham Town and the unloved Stevenage and Crawley have higher wage bills than Pools due to their southern location, but seem to manage on gates barely bordering above the 2,500 mark. Pools' current gates on average are higher than these and many more clubs in the lower leagues.

Other ways that could ensure the club prospers is to abandon the youth team set up. Being brutally honest, with the exception of Richardson and Simpson, how many youngsters have come through the youth system in recent years. We got £50k for Simpson but it must have cost that much to put him through the system in the first place.

Wycombe Wanderers do it in reverse. They no longer have a youth team set up, as no youngsters of worth were coming through their ranks. The reason for this was that their bigger neighbours like Tottenham and Charlton were snapping up all the talented kids in the area, thus leaving Wycombe with the also rans. Wycombe now pick up the youngsters who have been released by the bigger clubs who in turn invested heavily in their coaching and development, effectively passing on a massive savings to the Chairboys.

Listed hereunder are other Thatcherite savings that could be made to make Pools into a viable concern post-Brexit.

Firstly I would get Billy Horner to return his Datsun. He has had it long enough and the club should get a couple of hundred quid from its scrap value alone.

The current squad is far too big and needs to be trimmed down to a manageable level. Certainly at National League level the fringe players should be employed on a semi-professional basis and as such I would look at bringing in loan players as and when required.

Based on current numbers I would look at a massive cull of the backroom staff at the club. It is currently far too top-heavy A bit like the armed forces. For every soldier in the British Army there are four civil servants to back him/her up. It is getting to the point that at some away grounds our subs have to sit in the stands due to the amount of coaching staff sat on the bench.
"Why do we need a goalkeeping coach? Surely Scott Loach at 29 years of age should know all there is to know about goalkeeping."

We have physios masseurs, goalkeeping coaches, horse whisperers, soothsayers and goodness know what else. Why do we need a goalkeeping coach? Surely Scott Loach at 29 years of age should know all there is to know about goalkeeping. Once you've got you angles sorted you are halfway there. Loach could act as a coach to his understudy if required. The manager and his assistant should be in position to tell a keeper post-match that he did not command his six yard box, or did not shout enough during a match without having to employ someone else to do that.

Note to Craig Harrison: Have a word in Loachy's ear about commanding his six yard box.

Why on earth does a club like Hartlepool United need a recruitment manager who I understand is on a very tasty salary. Once all the players are recruited what does he do all day long? How did we sign players in the past? Russ Green was involved along with having a dozen other jobs he had to undertake.

If Pools do have a requirement for a player the role of a recruitment manager would be like that of an agent. Pay him for his services on an as and when required basis but don't have him on a salary.

I think that if the Trust was involved they could set up a group of volunteers to man the turnstiles/food outlets as well as tidy up the ground after each match and as well as looking after the day to day basic levels of maintenance around the ground.

It has been highlighted that the laundry company Pools use held on to the club's first team strips until all outstanding bills had been paid. How embarrassing. Some say the players at this level should be washing their own kits but I doubt many clubs would allow this because in the main footballers are thick and would probably bring a newly washed away kit to a home match or end up wearing away shorts with a home shirt (contributors' opinions are their own, and are not necessarily endorsed by Monkey Business - Ed.).

Pools should carry out a costing excercise and see if it is worthwhile bringing the laundry service in house by investing in an industrial washing machine/drier.

I would look at dropping any overnight hotel stop overs for away matches unless they were more than 200 miles from Hartlepool unless of course it was for a really vital match. I hope it wasn't true but I got told Pools had an overnight stop for the Morecambe cup match. Surely not.

I would question the level of policing at home games in relation to the amount of stewards that are available in the ground. As previously mentioned I counted twelve Bobbies in the Rink End to manage 40 very polite Maidenhead fans. Police numbers should be negotiated prior to each game based on the anticipated gate or if there is likely to be 'bovver'.

I am sure that if the council was more involved with the club they would allowed Sunday Car Boot Sales to take place at the rear of the Mill House Stand to generate some additional income even if it was just to cover the cost of the detergent for use in the proposed new laundry facility.

The club should promote the use of the ground more during non-match days. A few years back I was in the centenary lounge for a Driver Awareness Course! Disappointingly the bar was not open on the day I attended, which I viewed as lost revenue to the club.

To the best of my knowledge the lounge does not seem to be used as much during the day. To show my undying loyalty to Pools I would be prepared to get caught speeding again if it meant the lounge was used more often for outside functions. Mind, I would probably have three points more than Pools.

Signs of the Times

What a Shambles!!!


What a Shambles!!!



GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY




Thousands of words have been written on the plight of Pools and what I say probably won’t make all that much difference. 

The fans have been kept in the dark as to what is happening and there’s been very little from the club. All we’ve had to rely on is social media and its from this that we learn that wages were late in being paid during Craig Hignett’s reign. In essence, therefore, there was a slow burning fuse.

What we have got to ask is: "How on earth did these scavengers pass the ‘proper person test’ for taking over a football club?" It does appear that the Football Association and Football League have completely failed to police and regulate the game of football and Pools have been victims.

Some months ago I suggested in MB that the Football Association, the Premier League and the Football League were not fit for purpose and that their functions be taken over by a non - governmental panel, preferably presided over by a retired High Court judge. I believe that that course of action is more urgent than ever.
"It does appear that the Football Association and Football League have completely failed to police and regulate the game of football and Pools have been victims"

The FA are, of course, responsible for the development of the game as a whole yet two things stand out: one is that they have presided over a decline in the English national side and secondly, the grass roots game is starved of resources. Yet, in the January transfer window, Premier League clubs spent a total of £391.6m and one transferred player is being paid £500,000 per week. Perhaps Mr Hammond in his next budget could impose a windfall tax on the television money – thus ensuring that some of the money is channelled into areas where it will do some good.

And then you have the situation where the Chief Executive of the PFA is the highest paid trade union leader in the country – for what? Have the PFA been involved in the Pools situation? I certainly haven’t heard anything. In my view, the game as presently constituted is only fit for the gutter and the pig sty. I desperately want Pools to avoid administration or liquidation and hope that something will emerge. The way I feel at the moment is that if Pools went into liquidation I would want all trace of football removed from the house in which I live.

The one heartening aspect of recent weeks is the support from fans of other clubs – particularly Middlesbrough, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Luton Town and Glasgow Rangers. One thing the clubs all have in common is that they’ve gone through very hard times and bounced back. Let that be an inspiration to us.

Funny Old Game


Funny Old Game


Game of Loans



The story continues…


The Kingdom is in a serious state. The ruler, Lady Pam, admits there is a shortage of paddles but can’t say how big the creek is.

A knight in shining armour, bold Lord Musgrave of Wynyard, rides into the Kingdom and offers to help. Unfortunately the bold knight is unable to do so as nobody can tell him how many paddles will be required.

Lord Darwin of Seaton offers to help because he knows a bit about paddles, but nobody is interested as they’ve been conned by crooks before.

Then the Viking Daniel of Östersunds expresses a bit of interest in getting
involved. A bit, but not a lot.

The ordinary people of The Kingdom collect money to assist in different ways. Some help Lady Pam to pay her servants and to keep The Wolf of Tax from the door, and some concentrate on planning for a future after she has inevitably  failed to do so.

All the while the Kingdom’s brave soldiers are having a torrid time on the field of battle, being unable to bring in reinforcements ...or many points. All the while their commander, General Craig, Son of Harris, talks a good fight and says “er” a lot. Several of his soldiers defect to join other armies, further depleting his forces.

Lord Ken of Gallowgate End offers his advice to anyone who wants it, but there doesn't appear to be anyone around who could take him up on his offer.

Stelling, Lord of the Sky, makes a surprise appearance to show solidarity with the troops at one of their few battles that don't end in defeat.

The people of the Kingdom all want to help, but don’t really know what to do for the best. So they continue collecting funds for something or other, moan about not knowing much about what's really happening, and argue among themselves.

Can a saviour be found? 
Will the Kingdom sink into the sea without trace?
Don't miss the next exciting instalment.

Craig Harrison


Craig Harrison



BILLY'S CONTRACT




In the last edition of Monkey Business I was mega-critical of the lamentable performances of Craig Harrison and his merry men on the pitch during the month of December, having played five matches and gained the sum of one solitary point in the process. 

Okay, technically, Pools only played four league matches in December as opposed to five in January as the other one was the cup exit against the mighty Workington. I won't go there. Come to think of it, I didn't.

In the press we continually hear Craig Harrison talk about positivity, looking on the bright side and not being negative in thought, word and deed. etc etc. Having studied Pools' stats and results in depth for January then ran them through the Sinclair ZX Spectrum computer at Monkey Mansions, I have got to admit that I am starting to come around to his way of thinking. One only has to look at January's points haul of two, to see that things are definitely improving. That, my friends, is a 100% increase, or some might say, double that of December's points tally.

It just gets better, when we study the goals for column; that also has seen another 100% increase in its favour, up from four in December to eight in January. Without trying to sound like the BBC's Election Night Special, at the time of writing this, and bear in mind that we still await the results of the goals against column, the early indicators suggest that the swingometer is whizzing around uncontrollably and pointing to Craig Harrison still being in a job in February ...March ... April and beyond.

Having listened to to Craig Harrison's motivational speaking in the media I am now in the zone and within his mindset, and as such I view things in a different light. Look, we are only thirty four points off the title and a mere twenty two off a play off spot so we are still in with a shout. To the prophets of doom that shout might indeed sound like 'Help!' but with my new Harrison-instilled ultra-optimism, let's stay positive, team! (said in an American accent). Despite these encouraging stats, I hear the pessimists among you say that Pools are hurtling down the league table in dramatic style and are now only four points adrift of a relegation place.

Can I take you back to the 1992/93 season when Pools had one of their worst runs ever. Playing 18 games and only hitting the net on five occasions. During this spell they went eleven games on the trot without scoring (1,227 minutes) a record that we proudly share with the Coventry City side of 1919. Despite that dismal run they still managed to pick up three points along the way on a par with todays side. However they eventually came good, and despite scoring only 42 goals that season, the lowest in that division, they finished 16th in the old League Division Three (now Division Two for our post-metric readers) with a respectable 54 points to their credit. What was responsible for this spectacular change in fortune and how was it achieved? Pools sacked the manager (Alan Murray). So, as Craig Harrison advocates, let's all remain optimistic and hope the past repeats itself.
"Not once have I heard him take the blame for anything."

Meanwhile back in the real world Craig Harrison must be acutely aware that had it not been for Pools' financial plight he would have been handed his P45 well before now. He must come clean and start taking some or perhaps the majority of the responsibility for the mess that the club finds itself in on the pitch. Not once have I heard him take the blame for anything. We are always informed by Harrison that it is always the players making the same mistakes. That indeed is true, but it is up to him as a manager to eradicate this trait.

He bemoans not having a full squad to choose from through injury and yet when a player does return to first team duty after time on the treatment table, with the notable exception of Keith Watson, they,(think Blair Adams, Conor Newton, Nicky Featherstone, Carl Magnay and Lord Lucan....sorry I meant Luke George), they make little or no impact and are every bit as bad as the players that they have replaced in the side.

I thought Featherstone would have been a better player when he returned from injury but they obviously did not recalibrate his gyroscope correctly as he still keeps spinning around on the spot and moving side to side.

As said many times in this column the manager needs to question his team set-ups, tactics and as well as having a plan A, he also needs to consider having a plan B, as well as a C, and, to be on the safe side, a plan D to cover all eventualities.

Prior to kick off there was a great atmosphere in the ground for the Wrexham game; the Vic. as in the good old days. was bouncing but once again, and not unlike the away game at Gateshead, Harrison's troops managed to silence the massive pro-Poolie crowd with their brand of football.

I was talking to some Borer supporters who came to watch the game and they could not get over the backwards and sideways passing movement of our team which invariably ended up down a cul-de-sac. They noticed that Wrexham on the other hand took no more than three forward passes from one end of the pitch to the other to score their goals, one of which was due to leaving a sole striker up front when defending a Pools corner. I replied, saying "I know that you are used to watching dire football over at the Cellnet but after watching Pools, Borer must look like Manchester City on a good day."

Purely as a precaution, should the club fall into the hands of administrators, Harrison's priority must be, in the short term, by fair means or foul, to pull ten points clear of the bottom four. Points in the bank so to speak, If this means a more direct style of play so be it.

Playing 4-4-2 with the two main strikers up front within sight of each other and not the width of the pitch apart would be a start. Having won a corner one of these strikers, preferably the one who can head the ball, should be put on the far post a la Paul Baker.

When defending corners one of our strikers should hang around the half way line acting as a lone striker on the off chance that he could pick up a stray clearance from the back.

Craig Harrison should also be pulling favours in, with the likes of Steve Gibson at the Borer and with some of the clubs more sympathetic towards Pools plight to see if he can get some experienced players in on loan, as opposed to untried kids, at nil cost to HUFC. It was great to see the Borer fans join us in our hour of need but publicly, and I might be doing the Borer a disservice here, we have heard nothing from the Middlesbrough FC itself who would have been long gone without Pools' help in 1986.

Were I in Craig Harrison's shoes, as a matter of pride I would not want it on my CV that I was one of the worst managers in the history of Hartlepool United Football club.

According to my records, The Official History of HUFC (covers up to 2008), percentage-wise based on the number of wins and games managed by Harrison, he just scrapes into the all time top ten of our worst managers. Half a dozen more defeats will see him in the august company of the likes of Mick Docherty, Viv Busby and Allenby Chilton, who managed Pools in 1962. With a distinguished name like that, Allenby should have been the been Queen's equerry, not the manager of some lowly struggling fourth division football club.

Jon Collects for Pools


Jon Collects for Pools



Another Janice and Jon story from SHEDRICK




Janice had a friend coming round for coffee, and she wanted Jon out of the house. “Jon” she shouted, “Are you going to take your bucket down to York Road to collect some donations?” 

She didn’t say anything sarcastic as she knew what it was like to waste a life supporting a lost cause, but thought it best that Jon learnt this lesson for himself. 

Jon pulled on his Pools shirt over the top of his anorak, and put on his acrylic hat and gloves. He gingerly tugged the handle to close the door behind him and jumped as a spark ran up his arm.

It wasn’t long before he reached the shopping centre. He found a spot near the bus stops and began to shout "Give Money to Save Pools". But everyone ignored him.

So then he stood on a bench and tried again, but again everyone ignored him. And try as he might, his small frame and his quiet voice couldn't attract anyone's attention, let alone collect any money.

But he was noticed by kind Mrs Miggins, who saw Jon shivering on the street corner and brought him out a sausage roll from her pastry shop, and put her XXXXL jacket around Jon’s shoulder. She needed a big size as she checks the quality of her produce daily. 

Jon told her he was trying to save the football club from bankruptcy and Mrs Miggins snorted loudly, “That tickles me, you should go up to Monkey Business and tell them what you are doing, they like a good laugh.” 

She put two bob into Jon’s bucket as a thank-you for cheering her up, and went back to re-check the quality of her pasties. 

Jon thought he'd collected enough for one day, and decided to come back again tomorrow with a megaphone.

Jon arrived home just as Janice’s friend was leaving. He deliberately left the door open. Janice tutted at him and pulled it shut. 

“How did you get on Jon?” she asked. “Well, Mrs Miggins came over and said she always found a hot sausage comforting on a windy day. She said she needed a big one because of all the pies she has to eat. It kept us both warm and then she thanked me for tickling her.” 

Have you seen an acrylic hat pulled down so hard it sends sparks across the floor? Jon has.

Funny Old Game


Funny Old Game

(both suggested by Billy's Contract)

Life Support


Life Support



BILL THE BIRO






In the present circumstances, Pools are close to death. Everyone is praying for a miracle cure but expecting the life support system to be switched off, and sooner rather than later.

We know from experience that finding that miracle cure - in the form of a rich saviour prepared to identify and pay off enough of the club's accumulated debt to satisfy the creditors, will be a hard task. IOR spent a couple of years trying to offload Pools, and none of the subsequent owners have been the sorts of investors (or in all cases non-investors) that would secure any sort of future for the club.

The Hartlepool United Supporters' Trust was set up against this background of moneyless owners getting rid of the club to equally moneyless new owners, in order to be there to help in any way should the worst come to the worst - which it now probably has.

Unfortunately the Trust's very existence seems to have caused huge controversy in some quarters and I am unable to understand quite why; however, understanding that is for another day. This has now blown up out of all proportion during the present crisis.

In situations such as these, emotions run high, and the life support analogy is fairly close to the mark. To most of us, Pools is one of our loved ones and were it our parent or child we'd be fighting to prolong his or her life as much as we could, even when the doctors and common sense said there was no hope.
"Everyone is praying for a miracle cure but expecting the life support system to be switched off, and sooner rather than later"

So well done to everyone involved in the Just Giving campaign, which achieved its object of buying some time. But however great the determination, the same thing being repeated in February, March and April is unlikely, and with May and June being the close season, fund raising would be even harder, yet the players (and the far too many hangers-on) would still need paying in those months too. So the current position is unlikely to get us to the end of the season, which will probably see us relegated again unless not one but two miracles happen.

The brief few days when we thought Chris Musgrave was the answer to our prayers now seem a long time ago. No doubt things will all drag out for another few weeks before something is decided, or at least announced. In the meantime all we can do is watch that little green monitor and hope it keeps beeping.

In a Hole

Big Day, Bad Result - Wrexham (h)




Big Day, Bad Result



Match report by RUNNING MONKEY




Pools 0 Wrexham 2  (National League)
Saturday January 20th 2018
Victoria Park



Billed as the “SAVE POOLS GAME” this one had to be a bit special. Appeals over the week on the internet and anywhere else you cared to look there was a plea from the club to fill the ground and help save our football club.

I was always a bit sceptical of claims like this as it usually means that the club is in s**t street and already goosed. Once again we wait in vain for a multi-millionaire to come to the rescue and keep this club rolling along. Some nay-sayers claiming it is a bottomless pit and should be left to die – all a bit harsh for your never say die Poolies.

Jeff Stelling promised to put up some of his own cash if a credible sponsor could be found. I ask the question, how the hell did we get in to this position? IOR supposedly left us debt free and left the club in the hands of a capable investment company. Now I always had the silly notion that investment companies invested to make money, so if it is true that we are in the red to one and a half million pounds, then investment companies can’t be all they are cracked up to be.

Rumour has it that a local man, Mr. Musgrave, is looking to take over the reins of HUFC. Well if he can do the job that Mr. Hornsey did then we welcome him and I am sure the fans will support him. Not sure how the new Fans’ Trust will fit in with these plans but I suppose it could be a fall back position but I’d be even more sceptical if a new owner went for a “fan on the board”.
"We were just not at the races today"

All kinds of schemes were mooted in raising cash to keep the club from going into liquidation, and almost to a man the idea of fans raising money and handing it over to the current owners was a big no no. One young lady started a “ just giving page” on the internet and it took off like a rocket with fans, ex-players etc. all donating money and fans talking of not using their season tickets and buying a ticket for the game. The current figure on the Just Giving site is £69,000 which is fantastic, and earned the girl a seat in the directors box for today’s game.















Tickets sold out by Thursday yet I got a call from an old customer of mine asking if it was possible to get two tickets for his son and grandson who were travelling down from Scotland and hoped to see the game. I did say I would try and sent out a couple of appeals and through my daughter got a couple of replies of single tickets but they were in opposite sides of the ground. I had given up hope and as I went to the club Saturday morning to pick up a couple of copies of the rather special programme for the game with a young Dave Carless using his magnificent talent to produce a cover worthy of the cause.

As I picked up the programmes Katy on the desk told me she had answered my daughter’s appeal on the internet for tickets and as she had had some tickets returned late on Friday she managed to keep me a couple. So well done Katy in the ticket office you made a couple of Poolie Scots very happy.
Lots of Borer fans were searching for the programme before the game and I am sure there will be a reprint as fans look for the keepsake souvenir.  Boro fans were shaking buckets for our cause and lots of fans were donating too.


One of the most unusual schemes I saw today was the Name the Monkey challenge – two lady Hartlepool supporters toured the terrace carrying a monkey and a name board. For £2.00 per shot you could win this magnificent simian specimen, His name turned out to be NERO. More Italian than French.


The game was rubbish. We looked like a bunch of strangers and I can understand we were two players down in Franks and Watson but we looked so slow against a decent side. The Ditchburn thinks this is the best visiting team we have seen all season. Donnelly hit the bar, and shortly after Blair Adams turned and lost the ball and they ran down and scored, the lively Quigley being one on one with Loach when he broke free and slotted an easy ball past the keeper.

We were just not at the races today as we lost the ball too easily; not one of our players seemed able to take a man on and come away with the ball. We looked like we were finally putting a bit of pressure on them then once again they broke free and Quigley again was in for the kill. He will never score an easier brace than he did today.


Any Other Business


Any Other Business



MERVYN THE MONKEY mops up



Bad news keeps coming

Well, Pools may have survived January with a few twists and turns on the way but the situation looks grave. Just before we went to press it was revealed that HMRC was owed £48,000 and had issued another winding-up petition. The Hartlepool Mail is suggesting that the owners, despite any signs of anyone else wanting to take on the club as a going concern, are still hoping to see out the season, so who knows what to think?

Transfer deadline day lost us not only Nicky Deverdics and Jack Blackford, but also a much-needed windfall when Trevor Carson's big-money transfer to Celtic fell through, taking our 40% sell-on fee with it, But at least Pools got a fee in exchange for one of the season's better performers and two more wages have been cut from the outgoings.

Leaving aside the finances, relegation is now almost guaranteed since Pools, having lost most of their better players since Christmas, must now have the worst squad in the division, with no chance of adding to it. I've even begun feeling sorry for Craig Harrison; what can any manager do in his situation?

I would think the only thing the club could try in the circumstances would be to put Craig on gardening leave, because something needs to change, and quickly. Whether or not they give Batesy the job again isn't really the issue. It just needs someone, anyone, who isn't Craig Harrison, to be in charge. Dismal runs like this can only ever be ended by a managerial change. Probably, like last season, a forlorn hope of an idea anyway, but with no sign of a fairy-tale ending that's probably the only option left.


The other Monky Legend

Running Monkey sent us this link to an excellent interview with a Pools legend from those heady IOR years: http://reversevardy.com/interview/andy-monkhouse-interview/


...And finally

Someone sent us a list of historical uses of the f-word.

This one is typical:
"What the f*** do you mean, we’re sinking?"
~ Capt. E.J. Smith of RMS Titanic, 1912.

We imagined a very recent one:
"It's a f****** bottomless pit!"
~ Chris Musgrave, 2018.

The Press

January 05, 2018

MB166 - January 2018

Deja Vu



Deja Vu



BILLY'S CONTRACT




I started last month's Monkey Business by detailing Pools' November record of four losses and one win in five games, scoring eight and conceding four.

Each night we hear the same old banal paper talk from players and manager alike quotes such as 'Pools are in for extra training'. 'Harsh words used in the dressing room' 'The players must stand up and be counted' 'We are better than this' ' We have to raise our standards' etc etc. I fear shortly based on December's results we will be soon hearing that 'We are too good to go down'.


At the time of writing, in the event of Pools suffering a ten points deduction for going into administration, it would see the club one place above the bottom four by one point. Mind, if the Chester game had gone ahead and Pools had lost, they would be in the drop zone. December's results were even worse than November's: played five, drew one, lost four. Goals scored 4, goals conceded 11. It makes even worse reading when one of the results was the humiliating and costly cup exit at the hands of part-time Workington, two divisions below Pools.

The home defeat at against Maidenhead was equally humiliating on two counts:

1) After the Workington result Harrison had his team in the following day for training. During the week, ahead of the Maidenhead game we are told that the players put in a couple of double shift training sessions, which on reflection is just as well as the score could have been a lot worse.

2) Part timers Maidenhead have taken six points from Pools. Oh sorry, and all due respect to Pools, that isn't exactly true. I have since been informed that Maidenhead have two full time professionals on their books.

Basically since the beginning of November there has been no improvement whatsoever in style of play, tactics and more importantly results. Come to think of it, if I am brutally honest, there has been little or no improvement since last season, let alone this season. We are now at the stage of the season were we are playing teams the second time around. Already Maidenhead and Dover have taken, sorry, being given, six points from Pools, Dover giving us a damn good thrashing in the process, whilst Macclesfield have taken four points.

As I type this Macclesfield are 21 points clear of Pools which, taking nothing away from the Macc lads, apart from the four points that we gifted them, is a damning statement on how far we are off the pace. Never mind, there is always the play-offs I hear Craig Harrison say, but Pools are currently ten points adrift and would have to win four games just to catch up, and some teams have a couple of games in hand of Pools.

I can't make out if it is the Manager or the players who are culpable. In truth I think it is a a bit of both, or perhaps a lot of both. Craig Harrison is classed as a progressive manager with all his stats percentages, game plans, charts, tag lines etc etc. This may be all very well for a manager blessed with a talented squad of players who understands what is required and take it on board. At National league level and particularly in the Pools camp one needs to factor in the level of ability in the squad and play to their strengths ...if of course they have any, and try to not baffle them with too much science.

"one needs to factor in the level of ability in the squad and play to their strengths ...if of course they have any"
Many fans on the terraces, myself included, are now of the opinion that Craig Harrison is well out of his depth at this level. Although there is discontent mounting on the terraces there has not been any chanting demanding his dismissal as the fans are aware that Pools cannot afford to sack him and fund a replacement. The only way that can be done is if Harrison nobly decides to call it a day and resign with no strings attached for the benefit of himself and more importantly the club.

Another alternative is now that some monies will be freed up from releasing the two loanees Adeloye and Thorne and possibly Scott Harrison in January to get someone in, like Ronnie Moore or Eddie Kyle on a token wage to assist him in much the way Terry Venables was brought into the borer set up when Byran Robson was struggling with the managerial side of things. Another possibility would be to send Harrison away to spend three or four days with the successful Cowley brothers, the joint management team at Lincoln City, to get their input on how to manage a team at this level and get them out of this league.

If Craig Harrison is to make a fist of things I think that he should be harder on the players. Tell Deverdics for example to to stop bleaching his hair as he looks like a wuss, and concentrate on his football.

Because of the recent run of poor results, much like Sam Allyardyce at Everton, Harrison should have put his foot down and cancelled the players' Christmas party. Dublin I heard. Harrison should go back to basics and play 4-4-2 at home and, unless circumstances dictate 4-5-1, away from home. If it means ugly football as opposed to woeful football so be it. The manager needs to drop the tactic of having his starting eleven encamped in their own the penalty area when defending corners and to leave one man up front. Basic basic, basic stuff.

I am unable to recollect any other team in this division that uses this ploy. Harrison needs to look at how many goals Pools have conceded from this statagem. Not sure how many that is, but plenty seems to ring a bell.

He should consider why 'Pools concede so many goals within the first ten and last ten minutes of a match. Concentration and fitness spring to mind here.

As for the players, let's not beat about the bush, it is a poor squad, average at best. Due to two year contracts we are stuck with many of the team that successfully got us relegated in the first place. To make matters worse, half the players that Craig Harrison has brought in are no better than what we had previously and the other half are injury prone or both. One ex-Pools legend has commented that he would scatter the whole of the current squad as they have no heart.

The only level of consistency that Pools have is that of inconsistency throughout the side. One week a player will have a blinder then he can't play for toffee the following week. This is something few managers can legislate for unless by dropping them (but then they are still on the payroll), or shipping them out elsewhere (but who would have them?)

We have been told that injuries have had a big impact on results. I don't buy into this. We have a squad of 29 professionals which is bigger than most league clubs. Until the loss of the two right backs Magnay and Richardson a few weeks ago we have had cover in pretty much every position on the field. The only significant loss was Keith Watson who not only kept our opponents' forwards at bay but had the added benefit of keeping one or other of the chuckle brothers from playing in our back four.

We have not missed Ryan Donaldson at all as prior to his injury he was fairly anonymous in most games. In the little of what I have seen of Luke George he has failed to impress at all and is probably better off in the sick bay as far as the first team is concerned. The midfield is slightly more attack-minded with the benefit of Featherstone's absence, so the ball is not being returned to his keeper at regular intervals. Jake Cassidy has yet to start firing on all cylinders since his eagerly awaited return so I cannot accept the injury situation as an excuse for our current league standing.

I thought that last season's league two was poor but the National League is even worse, with some truly awful sides it.

No team has a divine right to win the league or gain promotion but one would have thought that with the resources Craig Harrison has at his disposal Pools would be making more of a fist of it. I never thought for one instant at this stage of the season that we would be 21 points, yes 21 points behind the league leaders.

The one thing Craig Harrison has done so far is firmly establish Pools as a National League side. After today's game against The Plastic Geordies at the Vic he should be taking a good long hard look at himself, however he would probably respond to that with "Hartlepool United are unbeaten in 2018".

Funny Old Game


Funny Old Game


Troubled Times



Troubled Times



GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY




Indifferent performances, a club up for sale and an injury list as long as a wet weekend in Darlington. These are the three elements that face Pools as the New Year gets under way.

On the field, I suppose we could bumble through but it's off the field that raises concern. If the club does run out of money then the ultimate nightmare would be administration and a subsequent deduction of points. So a season that started with optimism would see us staring relegation in the face.

The fans have not been slow to express their concerns. Social Media now makes it easier to fans to vent their feelings and it has led the Northern Echo’s Nick Loughlin to say the following : ‘The club’s support is somewhat fractured with various parties squabbling like kids in a playground’. Sorry, but I can’t agree.
"In terms of Pools being taken over, I have to be pessimistic."

Facebook, and in particular, the Hartlepool United Supporters Group, has shown just how much Poolies care about the club and there are bound to be disagreements on the plight of the club they love. Gone are the days when supporters used to write to the local paper about their club – but how often do you see letters in the Hartlepool Mail? No, they don’t do that any more – they go on social media.

I’m a member of the Hartlepool United Supporters Group. I make comments from time to time but prefer to read the opinions (sometimes with bad language and a reference to Harrison’s girth!) What Nick Laughlin needs to realise is that newspapers are old hat; their circulations are falling as people get their information from other sources. I would suspect that there are more members in the Hartlepool United Supporters Group than there are Northern Echo readers in Hartlepool. Newspapers might have had influence at one time but no more.

When browsing on the internet, I came upon a Daily Telegraph website entitled The Least Trusted Professions (date unknown). It said that journalists are trusted by 7 per cent of people. As they say, don’t believe what you read in the papers.

In terms of Pools being taken over, I have to be pessimistic. Local money men are thin on the ground and one of the few times that Pools enjoyed stability was when IOR were at the helm. Sadly, the oil industry went belly up and IOR weren’t making the profits to invest in Pools. Whilst we had a chairman who was away from Hartlepool on business, we still ran a tight ship with Russ Green at the helm. Sadly, those days are gone and we must look to the future with uncertainty. I hope I’m wrong.

Game of Loans