May 12, 2017

MB160 - May 2017

Bugger it!

Bugger it!


GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY looks to the future



I’m writing this on the day of Jack Charlton’s 82nd birthday. “Bugger it” was a phrase Big Jack used when things went wrong and there are plenty of times when we could have used those words this season.

I used that when Newport County got the winner against Notts County but I bear them no ill feelings. They wanted League Two footy more than we did and their final run in was a credit to them. Instead, we seemed to throw in the towel, losing against Leyton Orient youth team and then making Barnet look like Real Madrid.

Let’s be honest. We’ve been skating on thin ice for three years and the ice finally broke this season. Obviously, the appointment of Dave Jones was a total disaster and three days after his appointment I was having a drink with a Sheffield Wednesday fan and he told me it was a bad appointment. Jones wasn’t particularly liked at Wednesday and one of the complaints was that he was a lazy sod. No, Jones didn’t lose his job because of Jeff Stelling’s rant; he lost it because of his record and general attitude.
"Maybe it's too early for Matthew Bates to be given the job but Sam Collins might just be right."

Sadly, the downturn in the oil industry meant that IOR had to offload Pools and what a collection of odds and sods we ended up with. Ken Hodcroft was, for the most of the time, based in Aberdeen but at least he had North-East connections and had Russ Green to provide the leadership at local level. One of the first casualties of the new regime was Russ Green and hopefully he’s enjoying his time at Rochdale. If we ever get the present owners out, how about inviting him back as Chairman? Its worth a thought.

Mistakes were made on the playing side. Jake Carroll, Josh Laurent and Aristole Nsiala were all sold without any replacements. In terms of the loan market, we did of course obtain the services of Louis Rooney from Plymouth. Yet, despite a promising start he spent most of his time on the bench. Probably not what Plymouth intended.

What about the future? The National League isn’t going to be easy and its essential that a manager is appointed as soon as possible. We also need to sort out the retained list as quality is going to be more important than quantity. Maybe it's too early for Matthew Bates to be given the job but Sam Collins might just be right. He knows the club and any incoming manager needs to know something about the place. I always remember when Danny Wilson got the job. He’d been to Pools and said he’d found Pools an intimidating place to come to. He knew the fans.

In general terms, its not been a good time for clubs in the Football League. In addition to Pools, complaints have been made about the owners of Coventry City, Blackburn Rovers, Charlton Athletic, Blackpool, Morecambe and, of course, Leyton Orient. There’s something wrong somewhere and it seems there is little supervision from the FA and the Football League. Some months ago, I suggested that the FA had lost all credibility and should be replaced by a supervisory board which would police the game. I excluded the Football League but have now come to the conclusion that they should be included. A lot of criticism has been made of the ‘men in blazers’. But give me them any day rather than the sharp suited whizz kids who are making a complete mess of things.

Anyway, try and enjoy the close season. Don’t get too stressed out being dragged round Asda, Tesco, Primark and Gateshead Metro Centre. You’ve got enough to worry about.

Obituary


That Was More Than a Bump on the Road

That Was More Than a Bump on the Road


WAGGA MOON on relegation




So the years of flirting with relegation finally caught up with us and we went to the well once too often. I think it is fair to say the reason for our demise is our owner and ex-chairman Gary Coxall and two disastrous managerial appointments he presided over. 

Craig Hignett, a rookie manager, brought some boring defensive tactics with him from Boro and was unable to change his way of thinking. Dave Jones after being out of football for three years appeared to be completely out of touch with what was required despite bringing in his own backroom staff, and appeared to play the same way as Hignett with similar results and selling off three players in January without signing any replacements. Manchester United might be able to do this and feel no difference but we are Hartlepool United.

This was about the time things started to get a bit iffy with bills not being paid court appearances, money allegedly going missing and loans from dodgy loan companies. However the Cockney barrow boy, or should I say our beloved club owner, assured us that things would work out alright but there would be a few bumps in the road on the way.

They turned out to be bloody big bumps and our 96 year stay in the Football League was over. And our owner who appears to have no money to spend and no one to give him any will now hopefully piss off out of Hartlepool and let some responsible people clear up the mess he has left behind him.

Of course with players' contracts running out and a pre-season to organise and a new team to assemble, a new manager is needed and quickly. However this appointment needs to be a good one because we cannot afford any more seasons of failure. I think we need a new set of eyes to look at things, not the calls to give the job to Batesy or bring back Sam Collins or Ritchie Humphreys. We don't need any old boys who are used to years of failure to have another go at putting things right. I would make one exception and that is if we could possibly convince Danny Wilson to come back he would be the man to get us back up at the first attempt.
"I don't think we need to worry about any clubs nabbing any of our players as I cannot imagine anyone wanting any of that lot"

I don't think we need to worry about any clubs nabbing any of our players as I cannot imagine anyone wanting any of that lot, although I was pleasantly surprised by Devante Rodney on my first glimpse of him against Doncaster Rovers. We signed this young man when Hignett was in charge and depite the lack of goals in the last few months neither Hignett nor Jones thought he was worthy of starting a game...and thought Nicholas Featherlite was an ideal choice as captain to lead us into battle. That says all you need to know from those two football Einsteins.

As for the rest of the players it looks like Trevor Carson and Nathan Thomas will be offski. Carson will need to be playing league football to keep his Irish place and it appears Thomas has agreed to a move while he was injured as his form since he returned has been abysmal and his mind has been elsewhere. it has been alleged he did not want to play in the final game against Doncaster in case something happened to scupper his summer move and that Billy Paynter chinned him for his efforts.

I think Kenton Richardson, Brad Walker, Padraig Amond, Devante Rodney and Rhys Oates along with kids like Hawkes, Blackford and Simpson might be worth hanging on to but personally I would scatter the rest and bring in some big physically strong players with a bit of commitment to bully us out of the National League.

A final thought on my least favourite Pools player and it is by courtesy of the Sunday Sun writer who did Saturday's match ratings. Featherstone (5) Sideways, backwards and substituted. He forgot to add "and relegated".

End Game

End Game


JANE AUSTEN'S ALLEGRO looks at where it all went wrong




In terms of excitement and emotions, the last home game of the season against Doncaster was up there with the penalty shoot-out play-off semi final against Tranmere and the playoff final itself against Sheff Wed in 2005. That last 90 minutes of league football was one of the most exciting, emotional, scary roller-coaster rides I have ever been on and ultimately the most disappointing.

At this point I unreservedly offer my sincere congratulations to Newport County on what is a remarkable turn around for them when we all took it as written that they were dead and buried and eleven points behind Pools, yet still managed to retain their league status. If ever a team deserved to have Never Say Die emblazoned on their shirts it is Newport County. After the final whistle I was utterly drained emotionally and mentally but I did not take relegation to heart as some other fans did. Why?

Let's be brutally honest, it has been on the cards since our last three seasons in League One. The more cynical among us will say it has been on and off the cards for over forty years but Pools have always ridden their luck. I have been following Pools since 1968 and without checking I would reckon we have been involved in the best part of twenty-plus relegation/re-election battles in that period.

At whose door do supporters lay the blame? Probably a whole street full of them.

IOR

In their favour, it has to be said that without Uncle Ken, there probably would not be a Hartlepool United. That said, when in League One they seemed to lose interest in all things Hartlepool United and became non communicative in the process. The only time we ever head from Mr Hovercraft was when he was having a jibe at the Borough Council. It would appear that very little investment was made by IOR in the playing side and this was reflected in the quality of players we were signing, which contributed to our downward slide.

TMH
I was delighted when I heard that on the day of the 100th anniversary of the German Bombardment of Hartlepool, that TMH (The Monkey Hangers) would be taking over. That didn't last long as Uncle Ken stepped in and put the kibosh on what may have been a shady organisation.

JPNG
I was equally delighted six months later when JPNG took over the club. Gary Coxall said all the right things and everything seemed to be rosy. What we did not know at the time was that Gary Coxall appeared to have one eye on a possible construction development adjacent to Victoria Park and a blind eye to the football club.

It was not long before the shelling started again but this time it was the chairman getting flak and rightly so. Three winding up orders which Coxall described as final reminders and a very large loan ...what for, nobody knows. To their credit this would not have happened on IOR's watch. Coxall fell on his sword but still owns 50% of the club. No doubt he is looking to cut and run.

THE MANAGERS 

We had rookie manager in Colin Cooper, nice chap, but clearly out of his depth particularly with the Luke James saga. It was only the appointment of seasoned campaigner Ronnie Moore and his mercurial efforts and shrewd loan signings that Pools avoided dropping out of the league.
"When things on the field did not go their way they collectively dropped their heads and accepted defeat as a matter of course"

The following season Ronnie was dismissed as results were not forthcoming. Moore was replaced by another rookie manager when fans' choice Craig Hignett was brought in. Again nice chap, but his pre-season and loan signings left a lot to be desired. Hignett's downfall was that he did not have a plan B.

When David Jones took over the reins I thought, looking at his CV, that this was a bit of a coup and that he was the man for the job. This was reinforced when I attended the Dave Jones fans forum and he more or less stated that the club needs restructuring from top to bottom and slated the scouting policy. He also told the tale of how, after watching his first training session he asked if any of the players were going to do some work in the gym and only one answered in the affirmative, whilst the rest went home.

Jones told a few home truths and suggested that all was not well within the club and he was the man to rectify and improve things. On numerous occasions he kept referring to his plan and that every club he had left, he left in a better state than when he first joined. Although I found it hard to warm to Jones himself it sounded as if he meant business and was indeed the man for the job. Wrong!

Apart from alienating players and staff alike and constantly referring to his master plan which the results tell us wasn't working, it would seem that he did not have a plan A, let alone a plan B. David Jones is now credited as being one of the worst five managers in Pools' history. I could see very little difference, if any, between Jones' style of play and that of his predecessor. However, it has to be said that under Jones' tenure Pools were beaten on a regular basis as opposed to being thrashed on a regular basis as under Hignett.

THE PLAYERS

Hartlepool had, after Chelsea, one of the biggest squads in the top 4 divisions. With probably four exceptions this has to be one of the worst squads in the club's history. In many areas it did not lack talent but it lacked bottle, leadership nous and experience, as well as direction. When things on the field did not go their way they collectively dropped their heads and accepted defeat as a matter of course without a whimper. In the military it would be described as a lack of moral fibre.

The midfield was an absolute joke. Looking at recent BBC stats four midfielders scored collectively eight goals and 6 assists. Lamentable. Amond and Alessandra scored the most goals and had almost three times more assists to their credit than our playmakers in the middle. I was sick of hearing players' interviews saying that they were not looking over their shoulders, behind them or in the rear view mirror and only looking forward. I recall the Tranmere manager spouting the exact same nonsense a couple of months prior to their own relegation the season Pools made their own great escape. The old chestnut kept being trundled out from both managers and players alike.

There is little to choose between teams in League Two and on their day anybody can beat anybody. The trouble was that all the other teams were doing the beating and Pools were the beaten. On the other hand Pools did not carry out their side of the bargain by beating many other teams. In the games against Newport and Orient Pools won one point out of a possible twelve. Losers.

We also had players who gave the impression that they did not want to be at the club: Nsiala, who apart from a suspension has been ever present in the Shrewsbury side since his transfer. Maybe he was not as bad as we first made him out to be. Josh Laurent made it clear to the management that he did not want to play for Pools as he feared that he might get injured ahead of a possible move to another club. Basically Jones implied the lad had been 'tapped'. A month later he had signed for Wigan. I am convinced that if Nathan Thomas had not sustained the injury when he did we would have survived with points to spare. Sadly when he came back from injury he was not the same player and looked disinterested. Could be a bad case of the Josh Laurents.

When the final whistle was blown against Doncaster, although emotionally drained, I was not distraught, upset or close to tears as others around me were. However thanks to the directors, managers and players I felt well and truly cheated for lack of effort.

Highlight of last season: Grimsby away, with fish and chips in Cleethorpes

Mirrer, Mirrer

The report in the Mirror of Pools' relegation match brought derision when a photo of Doncaster fans dressed as red and white gnomes was described as being of Hartlepool fans. We at Monkey Business think that if a job's worth doing, it's worth doing properly!

Pools Drop

Pools Drop



The famous poem 'Adlestrop' was written during the First World War about a short stop at a country railway station that its author, Edward Thomas had experienced on a train journey just before the war.

Thomas went off to fight in the war and in Spring 1917 he was killed at the Battle of Arras, and the poem was published just three weeks later.

Then a century later, almost to the day, Pools' defeat at Cheltenham left them at the mercy of Newport and subsequent relegation.



Pools Drop

Yes, I remember Hartlepool  
The name, because one day 
Of spring, their league days ended there. 
Unwontedly. It was early May. 

The gates were locked, this final time. 
All had gone from that last game. 
And on the steel wall, what I saw 
Was Hartlepool – once a famous name. 

And now impending doom was there, 
With vultures circling overhead, 
Incompetence had squashed the dreams 
Of thousands, and those dreams lay dead. 

 And for that minute a seagull cried 
Close by, and round him, angrier, 
Farther and farther, all the fans 
Of Hartlepool cried in their beer. 



Based on 'Adlestrop', by Edward Thomas (3 March 1878 – 9 April 1917),
published April 1917
'Pools Drop' by Bill the Biro

Who Killed Bambi?

Who Killed Bambi?



by JANE AUSTEN'S ALLEGRO




I know that at this depressing time talk of a new club badge is not top of the list of priorities for most Hartlepool United supporters but in order to have next seasons shirts logoed up the club needs to get a move on if they want to have them available for sale in the club shop prior to next seasons kick off. 

I have previously stated in this magazine that I am not a lover of the club's current badge therefore I was delighted when it was announced that the club was looking to change the existing crest in favour of something different. I was all for that but having seen what is on offer I would rather stick with what we have got and that is saying a lot.

"in reality they just took a 1p coin and drew around it - for which they could then charge another five grand. Ker Ching."
The fans have been given a choice of 5 designs to choose from, on which to vote for their final choice. Presumably the badge with the most votes will adorn the club shirts and merchandising next season, which is all being brought 'in house'.

The only problem I and many other people that I have spoken to have is that the designs look very basic and are so cheap and nasty that they look as if they have been cobbled together on a Sinclair Spectrum Mk. 1 computer. Basically they are rubbish and and not fit for purpose and that is being polite.

Take badges number one to three. All are very much variations on the same theme, no imagination whatsoever and offering little or no choice to the voter. They all look very similar bar a tweak and squeak here and there. In fact they look as if they have been taken from the old Hartlepool Corporation blue buses and bin lorries of years gone by. I would suggest that unless the Borough Council are going to take over the running of the club I cannot see the point of this logo.

All three Crests feature a startled-looking effete Bambi-esque fawn in supplication prior to it being shot. It would have enhanced the badge dramatically if it had been super-imposed with a hunter's gunsight over it. [see front cover page - Ed.] 

Crest number four is called Triangle. The stag is contained within a triangle which is obviously too small as the animal's nose is squashed up against the left hand side of it. I nearly reported this to the RSPCA but Pools are in enough trouble as it is already.

Finally, this logo is called Sail and apparently the designer informs us that it is inspired by the sails on HMS Trincomalee. Has anyone in the town seen the sails on the Trincomalee? I for one haven't. I saw HMS Foudroyant (aka Trincomalee) when it was first towed into the port of Hartlepool all those years ago and it didn't even have any bloody masts on it at the time, let alone sails. It looks as if the deer is blowing it's nose on the side of the so-called sail. Nul points.

They really make me laugh these arty types with their various interpretations of the bleeding obvious.

Badges numbered one to three named Shield (doesn't even look like a shield) Classic and Cannon respectively. We are told that the colouring is based on the limestone of the Headland and the Town wall and that of St Hilda's Church. Ker Ching! That will be an extra ten grand for that. Tommy rot.

If asked why these badges are circular in form I can almost here Crispin and Penelope at the art college sipping their Starbucks and saying "Just tell Hartlepool United that they represent the circle of life", when in reality they just took a 1p coin and drew around it - for which they could then charge another five grand. Ker Ching.

The last badge is called Diamond ...because it is ...err, diamond-shaped but with the HUFC lettering all over the place. Minus Nul points.

To me the badge should be something bold in appearance and somewhat aggresive. Look at all the clubs that have Lions emblazoned on their shirts such as Millwall and Chelsea. The beasts are not laid on their backs looking for a tickle but rampant and in your face. I'm surprised that the club did not come up with eight deer pulling a sledge with Santa Claus on it (and a Hartlepool Corporation bus underneath it.)

I fear that the winning logo will depict Gary Coxall sat down in his execuctive swivel chair, feet on his desk with a raised glass of wine and cigar in one hand, looking out of his office window with a big cheesy grin, surveying a massive housing estate called Victoria Park and behind him mounted on the wall above his head is an antlered hart with a plaque hanging from its neck with the legend "HUFC 1908-2017".

Which logo will I be voting for? A bit like the recent vote for the Team Valley mayor, I will be giving it a miss. Didn't want it.

New Bedfellows

NEW BEDFELLOWS



by BILLY'S CONTRACT




Forgetting about the what if's, maybe's and might have been's, Pools are now in the National League and we have to accept that. The reality is, as Lincoln, York, Grimsby and Luton have discovered, it is not going to be an easy league to get out of. Wrexham have never got out of it.

It is a very easy league to get into from League Two. Let's face it Pools are here so  what of next season? Like many fans, since the Doncaster game I have been contemplating the future and after getting myself in a medative state by painting a fence that actually did not need painting, but was a very therapeutic experience none the less, I came out the other side in a very positive frame of mind ...albeit with the back of the fence that now needs painting!

Taking on board comments from other fans whose clubs have dropped down to 'The Conference' or have previously being in this division we can take heart. Firstly we need to install a manager as quickly as possible and one who knows the lower leagues like the back of his hand,one with with plenty of contacts. It goes without saying that Pools need to have massive clear out on an industrial scale, of the deadwood that is currently wearing the shirt of Hartlepool United. These players need to be replaced by hard-working battlers and warriors that possess leadership qualities.

I read that a 20-goals-a-season, big, burly centre forward is a must - think that big unit at Lincoln - and a centre half who can stop people scoring goals and takes no prisoners is essential. One non-league fan advised that this is a man's league and not one for the boys as they, with the odd exception, would not be up to the physicality of the game or have the stamina to cope with the some of the playing surfaces.

Hopefully some money will be available to the new manager from the inevitable sale of Nathan Thomas to purchase a couple of bruisers. Like it or not Pools are going to be one of the big teams in the National League with one of the best stadiums and largest supporter bases. Every team in this division would like to get one over on Jeff Stelling's boys. Therefore it is important that Hartlepool United and its fans show their respect and not strut around like Billy Bigknobs as if we own the place or wearing T shirts emblazoned with 'Just passing through' on the front, or saying 'We'll be back' (as we might not be) because it will only make the task of returning to the Football League even more difficult.

Don't forget the Majority of the teams in the National are full-time professional. I think less than half a dozen are part-time. We are not dealing with the plucky part-timer window cleaners, postmen and delivery drivers that are featured in the romance of the FA Cup. Those are in the next division down where our old friends Darlo reside.
"look at our stay for however long in the National League as a whole new adventure"

Like our old home in League Two, most of our opponents are based in London and the Home Counties, so in terms of travel it's much the same as last season - 10,500 miles approx. Locally Flyde will replace last season's Blackpool trip and there is the possibility of a jaunt to one of our old stomping grounds: the Shay stadium, home of Halifax, or perhaps even Chorley, whichever of the two wins the play off.

On the plus front we will have a proper derby (Durham) match with Gateshead, which will delight my son as he only lives 200 yards away from the International Stadium. I am sure most home teams will welcome Pools fans with open arms as we fill their coffers with our large travelling support. On the downside it might not always be possible to get tickets for some of the bigger matches due to crowd limitations at some of the smaller venues. The reverse would be the case for Pools, who would be seeing a loss of revenue as with very few exceptions many teams in the National, due to their size or location, do not carry a big away support and quite a lot of matches are played on Tuesday nights, making travelling a bit of a chore.

So do not expect to see the Rink End ram jam full on a regular basis. In the plus column Pools will not have to play in the farce that is the EFL Trophy. thus saving their money on floodlight bills. Also in the plus column is that Pools qualify for the FA Trophy, which could possibly be our best chance of getting to Wembley, as York, despite their problems, have done so this season. The advantage being that you're playing your peers as opposed to teams from a higher division.

Like all Pools fans my major concern is the financial (straits) state that Hartlepool United are presently in and this will have a major influence on how the team performs overall. Yes, we will receive a parachute payment along with transfer fees for Thomas and possibly Amond and Carson. The latter two I would like to see stay at the club.

The wage bill will be greatly reduced by having a smaller squad and with a lower wage structure but it will be interesting to see where all this revenue ends up. Back at the club or in the directors' back pockets. It is encouraging that the HUFC Trust is having discusions with Pam Duxbury about possible fan ownership however they can only take the club so far. It was informative to read that Darlington 1883 and Newport County, both trust-run clubs, are now looking at external investment to carry them on to the next stage as it seems their respective trusts have taken them as far as they can.

For any Poolies who are still down in the mouth, let me say this. What is done is done. Put recent events behind you and look at our stay for however long in the National League as a whole new adventure, with new places to visit, new beers to be quaffed, new friends to be made and new stories to tell. They reckon that the Fish n' Chips at Harry Ramsden's next to Guiseley ground are worth the trip down alone.

Unless it is on a Tuesday night, I can't wait for my first visit to Solihull Moors which up until recently I was always under the impression was called Solihull Motors. I thought it had some connection with British Leyland!

The American Dream

The American Dream


The second part of the Malcolm Dawes story, by BILLY'S CONTRACT



31 March 1973 was an unusual day for Malcolm Dawes.The kick-off for Pools' home game against Peterborough had been put back until 6.30 p.m as the earlier 3 p.m. kick off clashed with the Grand National. I am not sure if it was Pools or the course officials who were more concerned about how this clash would impact on attendances, both at the Vic and at Aintree! 

Despite Pools playing well and Dawes himself playing a blinder he still ended up on the losing side as Posh ran out one nil winners. After the match Len Ashurst pulled Malcolm to one side and told him that a meeting had been set up for the following Monday in Seaton Cricket club where he was to meet Gordon Bradley.

Bradley, an Easington lad, was the Coach of New York Cosmos (NYC) of the North American Soccer League (NASL) and was recruiting British players for NYC, as well as recommending players to other clubs in the NASL. The conversation moved at a pace, and Malcolm did not take much convincing about joining NYC during the summer. NYC was owned by Warner Bros.

Dawes was told that upon arriving at New York he was to take a flight to Mexico where he would meet up with his new team mates to play at the Aztec Stadium, where the World Cup final had been played three years earlier. At this time Dawes's head was spinning. Bradley then made his apologies and had to leave as he had to get down to Manchester that night to secure the services of a certain George Best, however United later vetoed the deal.

At that same meeting was Stan Anderson who had recently resigned as Middlesbrough's Manager. He turned down the offer of managing in the USA in favour of taking up the manager's role at AEK Athens instead.

Pools were happy enough to release Dawes on loan before the English season ended, on the understanding that Pools had to be mathematically safe from the re-election zone. At the time of Bradley's approach this was not the case. All would depend on how the results went over the Easter period.

Pools, like all other teams at that time, would have to play three games in a four day period, two of which were away from home. Can you imagine Premiership players doing that today? Neither can I. Every evening at 5.20 p.m on the dot Bradley would be on the phone wondering when Dawes would be crossing the pond. On one occasion he rang when Malcolm was in the club bath tub.

False start: I've packed my bags and
I'm ready to go ...back to Hartlepool
The first result on Good Friday was a one all draw at home to Mansfield. The following day Pools were away to Northampton. Dawes, confident of Pools getting the right result at the County Ground, travelled down on the club coach with cases packed. Dawes had made arrangements to be collected from the ground, once the final whistle had been blown, by some friends from down south who would whisk him off to Heathrow Airport. That was the idea. However the best laid plans of mice and men found him back on the team bus heading back up north to Hartlepool after suffering a three-one reverse at the hands of the Cobblers.

Dawes did not help the team or his own cause by scoring an own goal and being responsible for another goal conceded. Consequently he remained at Pools until the end of the season which, thanks to a couple of draws, saw Pools finishing one spot above the re-election zone.

Dawes eventually joined up with his new NYC team mates several weeks behind schedule, but because of his delayed arrival he missed their pre-season tour of Mexico and appearing in the Aztec stadium.

CLINT

Whilst waiting to board his flight to New York, one of half a dozen people sharing the executive departure lounge with Malcolm, killing time instead of baddies, was Warner Brothers star Clint Eastwood, complete with cowboy boots. Malcolm to this day regrets not having made the effort of speaking to him. I said Clint might have had the same regrets about not makng an effort to talk to him. 'Go ahead Malcolm make my day.'

Malcolm boarded the BOAC aircraft directly behind Eastwood only for Clint to turn right into business class and Dawes turned left into economy. Ironically both men were technically work mates as they shared the same employer.

Once in JFK, Dawes had to negotiate Immigration. He had been warned by his new bosses that if asked, under no circumstances should he tell them that he was in the USA to work and he should say that he was only on holiday. Bear in mind that this was at a time when very few Brits were holidaying in America. As luck would have it, he was stopped by Immigration who quizzed him several times about the purpose of his visit particularly when they determined from his passport that he was a professional footballer. They gave him two pieces of paper and told him to sit down and to await further questioning. He read the papers given to him showing that two other footballers had been denied entry to the U.S and had been sent back home as they did not have work permits. Fearing he was going to be searched Malcolm surreptitously removed from his holdall his contract from NYC. and ripped it up into tiny pieces and stuffed it down the side of the seat he was sat on. Shortly afterwards he was called back to the desk where a different person simply waved him through without question. I wonder how Clint got on with them.

NEW YORK COSMOS

The accommodation provided for the NYC team was based at a university campus with all the mod cons one could wish for. Probably the equivalent of a five star U.K hotel at the time. The wages, allowing exchange rates were nearly double than that of what he was earning at Pools. The only thing Malcolm had to pay for was his food and entertainment.

Although the NASL was in its infancy, Dawes was quite surprised at the standard of football, but considering that many of the players had been recruited from the professional leagues of Britain, Europe and South America, it was probably to be expected.

THE AMERICAN WAY

In NYC's league there were a total of nine teams plus three guest teams, Finn Harps, Moscow Torpedo and Vera Cruz, whom they each played three times. Dawes was the only player at NYC to play in every minute of every game that season. He was duly awarded The MMP by The Cosmos promotions team for the player with Most Minutes Played. I did say it was America didn't I?

Football, or should I say Soccer, was ever so slightly different in the States. Instead of coming out of the tunnel as a team, each player would be introduced individually with his name announced loudly and spectacularly over the Tannoy to roars of approval from the crowds. The attendance at each game varied considerably in size, but NYC home gate averaged between 5,000-7,000. It is universally acknowledged, that Americans in whatever sport have a low  threshold of interest and demand instant gratification whether it be goals, scores, points, touch downs or bases. They would never, in 'one hundred overs', be able to comprehend cricket or snooker, let alone a goalless draw.

In an attempt to generate more goals, each half of a the pitch was marked width-wise with an additional white line 35 yards from the halfway line. This meant that the offside rule did not start at the halfway line but but 25 yards away from the opposition's goal line. If a game ended in a draw, instead of a penalty shoot out or a toss of a coin, a series of outfield players would take it in turns to go one on one with the keeper, and try and dribble round him and score. I was surprised that the Americans did not come up with the idea of next goal the winner. I know that Americans have their strange ways regarding improving 'Soccer' such as making the goals bigger and improving the chances of more goals being scored during a match. Oh how we laughed. If it ain't broke don't fix it! That said British Football has embraced the American format of Play-offs and to my mind has made many a season more absorbing by prolonging the interest as well as generating welcome revenue for the clubs involved.
"...the best laid plans of mice and men found him back on the team bus heading back up north to Hartlepool"

In addition to coping with the razzamatazz, the heat and the new offside rule, Malcolm had to adapt to playing on artificial turf, again something that some British football clubs flirted with (QPR, Luton and Preston) but it never took off for many and varied reasons, but mainly because it was not grass.

For away games, or for the benefit of our American readers, 'on the road games' First class air travel and hotel accommodation was the norm. To get to the ground the team would be picked up by half a dozen stretch limousines, complete with the previously unheard-of air conditioning. This was about the same time as car manufacturers in Britain were experimenting with sun roofs!

Dawes had his first experience of a totally different type of air conditioning back in England soon after his return from the States when, on a filthy cold and windy night, coming back from Exeter, the team coach broke down. The players were left soaking wet by the roadside at two in the morning until a Good Samaritan, in the form of a passing lorry driver, allowed the players and staff to huddle up together in the back of the open topped tipper and drove them to the nearest service station where he 'dumped' them off. "Now that was air conditioning!" said Malcolm.

Most of Dawes's spare time, when not training, was spent on the beach. On one occasion they heard by chance that a well known popular singer was going to perform at a local venue. The players asked Warner Brothers, if they could assist in getting tickets. "No chance!" came the answer. Malcolm and a few of the other players strolled up to the ticket office and got tickets to see Elvis at £2 a head, which even in the mid seventies was ridiculously cheap. The concert is something that Malcolm said that he would never forget and as a tribute he often includes Elvis songs in his own karaoke set.

Some years later when he was playing with Denver Dynamos he was asked if he would like to see Frank Sinatra in concert as there were six spare tickets. Malcolm snapped the offer up and got them at face value as the chap couldn't give them away. Later he also got to see Roberta Flack perform. He was that close to her he could hear her telling the band to "Ramp it up! Ramp it up!"

On the sporting arena he went to see baseball and football matches, but his biggest thrill was seeing Sugar Ray Leonard fight in a boxing tournament against Canada. Malcolm's son was later to become an amateur boxer. A little know fact is that one of Malcolm's team-mates at NYC was Werner Roth who, apart from being inducted into the National Soccer hall of fame, and playing for the U.S. National side, also captained none other than the German team in the film 'Escape to Victory' alongside Michael Caine, Bobby Moore and his fellow NYC team mate Pele. Roth played the role of Baumann, who did much of the translation for the two sets of adversaries.

Malcolm played two consecutive seasons for the Cosmos, who were keen to re-sign him for a third term, however Pools would not allow him to leave before the end of the season. Cosmos could not wait and in the interim made other signings. Dawes's replacement at NYC was a Brazilian chap by the name of Edson Arantes do Nascimento, better know as Pele. Dawes's number six shirt was given to another newcomer, the German midfielder Franz Beckenbauer.

In the period 1971/74 Dawes played in the region of 180 games for Pools and NYC. Tell that to the players of today - Raheem 'I need a holiday' Sterling springs to mind - and they would not believe you. In his first season at NYC Dawes was voted 'Most Valuable Player 1973' (I think the Yanks mean Player of the Year) and still has the trophy to prove it. Dawes's third and last spell in America was with Denver Dynamos, who played their games on a baseball pitch with grass on it. The stadium within sight of the Rockies. "A beautiful place" he reflected. Due to injury Dawes only made 19 appearances for Denver.

Still carrying the injury he sustained in his time in Denver, Dawes, although not 100% declared himself match fit for Hartlepool's first home game of the season, the one all draw against Bournemouth. Little did he know that this was to be his last game in the blue and white of Hartlepool. The injury kept him out for several weeks but he was delighted to make it back onto the bench in time for his fellow centre back Alan Goad's testimonial against Nottingham Forest. Dawes was seething when manager Ken Hale did not play him in his friend's big match.

THE WEST COAST


The following morning he banged on the manager's office door. fully intending to go in all guns blazing and to ask why he did not get a spell on the pitch the previous night. Before he could say anything Hale said "Malcolm, I'm so glad that you popped in. Workington are interested in signing you." And off he went, initally on a month's loan, that same afternoon to Cumbria's version of Hartlepool United.

Alan Ashman, who had managed West Bromwich Albion to Cup final victory in 1968, was now in charge of Workington, In his first season at 'Worko' (as they were known with fond affection by Pools fans), Dawes was made player coach, a job he relished. He also scored against his former employers at Brough Park in a two-one defeat. He did get his revenge later that season when 'Worko' came to the Vic and ran out two-nil winners. Dawes had a hand in both goals, the second from a cross which Bob Scott headed into his own net.

Workington Town team photo. Malcolm Dawes is centre front row. Ex-Poolies Kevin Johnson and John Honour are first and second from left respectively on the front row. John McNamee, another
ex-Poolie was at Workington at the time and the following season Mally Moore joined them.

Despite winning the Player of the Year Trophy Workington finished 92nd in the Football League. The following season Dawes had problems with his right knee and unfortunately was not referred for further medical advice thinking that it was just a ligament problem that needed resting. It later turned out that he needed a cartilage operation. That season (1977) Workington finished three places below Pools, once again the bottom of the Football League with 19 points. They were not re-elected. Their place was taken by Wimbledon and, as they say, the rest is history.

Malcolm then went to play alongside ex-Poolie Derek (Catweazle*) Hampton, for Whitby, which he said was a great club, and he also played for Scarborough. It was in the game between Scarborough and Wigan when he felt his left knee giving bother and he immediately knew from previous experience that his cartilage had gone and as such it was time to bring the curtain down on his distinguished footballing career.

LIFE AFTER PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL

Dawes, a keen cricketer, was aproached by Durham County Cricket club and became an English County Cricket Coach in 1986,  coaching in local schools. He also managed Durham C.C.C. under 12's who were captained by Scott Borthwick ,who was selected and played for England last year.

Another of Dawes's proteges was Ryan Pringle. A proud moment for Malcolm and his fellow coach Tim Lightfoot was when Seaton C.C. were one of a handful of cricket clubs selected to run 'The Chance to Shine' project, encouraging youngsters to take up the game and teach them the values of the cricketing ethos both on and off the field.

Not forgetting his footballing roots Malcolm also coached S.E. Durham boys and Trimdon Juniors, who, over the years produced over thirty players who went on to sign professional forms with league clubs, chiefly Middlesbrough. In Dawes's eyes the most distinguished of these was former Pools manager Colin Cooper, who went on to play for Middlesbrough and Notts Forest, as well as gaining a full England cap. Dawes says that having talent is one thing but having the right attitude is essential to be a success in any level in sport, or indeed life itself, particularly if you can learn from your mistakes.

He said that even at a young age both Borthwick and Cooper had that quality in abundance. Dawes was one of the founding members of the first over-forties football team in the Trimdon and Sedgefield area, and which has since grown into a thriving league.

Malcolm carried on playing football until the age of 62. In between he found time to run a cleaning supplies business that served the County Durham and North Yorkshire area. Malcolm is a modest man who, rightly so, is very proud of his footballing career and his achievements and all the opportunities that football and 'soccer' has given him. His memory regarding the games he played in and the players he played with and against is razor sharp.

I asked him who his favourite players were. Stanley Matthews was his all time hero and Blackpool is his second team. Remarkably, throughout his career he never once played at Bloomfield Road or visited the ground as a fan. His favourite players at Pools were team mates Rob and Bob Smith (no relation), Kevin McMahon, Mally Moore and George Potter. Most difficult opponent was Cliffy Wright. He said you could just not get the ball off him.

Malcolm with his Player of the Year trophy
from Workington and Most Valuable player
for New York Cosmos (note in the backround
Malcolm Dawes look-alike holding the
World Cup aloft).
Malcolm has always looked after himself and though now in his early seventies he still looks remarkably spry and lean and probably would not look out of place in the current Pools side! He can still fit into his New York Cosmos training top no problem, some 42 years after he last wore it. I on the other hand struggle to get in to last seasons Pools top!

In his spare time Malcolm and his wife look after 'The Grand Bairns' and between karaoke singing, he can be found on matchday afternoons or evenings down at the Vic watching his beloved Hartlepool United. They say that you should never meet your heroes. I have met one of mine and I was not disappointed.

Malcolm Dawes's career record (or would "Scores on the Dawes" be more appropriate?):
YearTeamAppearancesGoals
1965-1969Aldershot1762
1970-1975Hartlepool United21312
1973-1974(loan) New York Cosmos352
1974-1975(loan) Denver Dynamos192
1975-1977Workington AFC511

Postscript: Let's hope that Hartlepool United do the right thing and honour the likes of Malcolm Dawes, Alan Goad and Barry Watling with replica Player of the Year trophies, particularly as each player played over one hundred games for the club.

*ironically Geoffrey Bayldon, who played Catweazle, died, aged 93, two days before this edition of the Bizz was published - Ed.

Could and Should Have Won - Morecambe (A)

Could and Should Have Won



Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at the Globe Arena



Morecambe 1 Pools 1 (League 2) Saturday April 8th 2017




As you all know, I am not a travelling man. In some quarters this makes me not a proper Poolie, but I won’t dwell on that. Well this week I decided to buy a ticket for the game at Morecambe. First reason was I had never been to or through or even close to Morecambe. Well, maybe once when I went to Blackpool. So I took the opportunity of a free ride out and the chance of a decent game. It was a glorious sunny day for a trip to the seaside, which I never actually saw as we never got near the beach. 

After a late start we made good time and arrived at the venue in just over two hours. The Globe Arena looks impressive from the outside with what looks like a new main stand. Inside we had what would be equivalent to our own Town End stand but only half the size, The other end looked to be about the same size and the stand opposite the main stand reminded me of the north side of Bedford Terrace. One comment I heard was "this stadium will go down well in the Conference".

The walk to the toilets behind the stand was amazing. With there being less than five hundred Poolies in this particular stand and a good helping spread across one corner of the main stand,  the facilities in this end looked a little congested. Those wanting any food or drink had to queue along this tight corridor where you could barely walk two abreast behind the stand, and sadly for some, before they got to the head of the queue the ale was sold out.

As I walked along the back looking for a toilet I saw two lads coming out so I popped in and there was a row of cubicles, and no urinals. I took the first one, did the business and walked up to the sinks to wash my hands. To my surprise there were three ladies washing their hands and one using the drier. Now I know it is time to retire when I start using the ladies toilet at a game - there IS a problem. I walked along this corridor that was heaving and in a little recess there was a Poolie choir giving a fine harmonious rendition of "Give Me the Moonlight". They must have been the lucky lads that were first in the queue.

After a brisk start Pools settled first in the game and were pressing the home side but we kept breaking down in front of their goal and chances were being squandered. Amond was the first with a real chance but the keeper came and smothered the ball. Pools kept up the pressure, but again we lacked the cut-throat mentality to hammer teams when we can. They were there for the taking and if we had just applied ourselves and been just a tad more patient we could have walloped this side, who looked very ordinary.

For me there were only a couple of their players in the starting line up that we had to fear, one was Ellison who is tall and rangy, difficult to handle and wins a lot of headers. The other was their no 7 who I think was Evans, who made them tick. The lad up front who I think was Mullin, was just a mauler, more of a nuisance than a a real threat.

Oates always gives his all in a game but his luck was not there today as he hit the side netting at least three times under pressure but he battled hard and looked tired in the second half.
"We put a lot of pressure on ourselves as we had no one prepared to take the ball and hold it to settle the lads down"

A great move started with Thomas on a run, who linked with Amond, who set up Featherstone, who smashed his ball over the bar. Walker also tried a shot from a free kick awarded to Thomas, who had been floored, but his shot was cleared to Thomas who hit his shot straight at the keeper. Pools were pressing and both Harrison and Oates went close but it was such a crowded area that they had difficulty getting clean shots on goal.

The goal came from a great move instigated by Woods who had had a quiet game. He linked with Alessandra and with good movement by him in the box, keeping the ball close, he set up Amond who slipped the ball past the Morecambe keeper for a well deserved goal.

Pools had steadied in the first half and looked to be the more likely side and the goal just before the break should have settled them as they looked to be in control. The second half sadly turned out to be another game that we looked like throwing away as they battered us from the start, Fryer blocked so many shots that I lost count, and Pools players once again started shifting the ball off too quickly and not making their passes.

We put a lot of pressure on ourselves as we had no one prepared to take the ball and hold it to settle the lads down; it was all getting a bit frantic and it seemed to be contagious.Some poor decisions on the ball like half-hearted back passes and poor distribution meant we were chasing the game and getting very little ball. We were just getting the odd break and spent a lot of time in our own box just shoving the ball away which kept coming back.

The pressure from the home team finally paid of as they took a corner that was blocked then at least two players tried to clear the ball before The Mauler scrambled the ball in from close range.

Pools had to dig deep to save this point and we had a fight on our hands as they brought on a couple of lively subs who seemed to have the run of the Park. They kept turning us and forcing Fryer into last-ditch saves or making a block as we really did look visibly tired late in the second half and were just making the odd break into their half.

Featherstone had a golden chance right in front of the Pools fans to give us a win but he once again refused to shoot when all he had to do was toe poke it past the keeper. He fluffed it and their keeper smothered the ball before Amond got to it.

We did have a penalty shout late in the game, in fact two, and the first one looked definite but we never get those do we?

All in all a game we could have won slips away again and we start looking over our shoulders as the games run out.

A Bleak Future - Leyton Orient (a)

A Bleak Future



Match report by ALAN ESSEX at Brisbane Road


Leyton Orient 2 Pools 1 (League 2) Monday April 17th 2017



Where do I start? I have been to many games at Leyton Orient and have written about the area so much so that there isn’t much left to say. All I can add to my past scribblings is that the local council have extended their residents' parking scheme far and wide with the result I parked 1½ miles away in Leytonstone, who don’t seem to have such a scheme.

So, after a brisk walk I found myself at the Brisbane Road ground. I’m sorry but that’s what it is to me - it’s not ‘The Matchroom Stadium’, the same as The Vic is not ‘The Northern Gas and Power Stadium’. I arrived just as the teams kicked off; I usually like arriving early to lap up the atmosphere and see the warm-up for signs of who’s up for the game and who is not. Not on this occasion though.

With Orient needing a win to maintain the most outside chance of escaping relegation and Pools needing a win to improve their chances of avoiding the drop, I thought a nervy boring 0-0 was on the cards. Orient had gone 7 games without a win, losing 6 of those. Pools had gone 5 games without a win, in fact since I last saw them beat Cambridge United.

Pools lined up with Magnay in for the injured Richardson, and Deverdics replacing Woods, who was on the bench. Orient started brightly with a couple of early attacks with shots on target but easily held by Fryer. However, it was Pools who scored first in the 8th minute when Oates, holding off several defenders, shot across the O’s keeper Sergeant. This followed a good run by Amond and a lucky deflection off a defender before finding Oates.

A sign of the times?
Now Orient have had problems with their owners since Barry Hearn sold the club (although I believe he still owns the ground) and the players have not been paid until recently. As a result youngsters have been drafted into the team and today they had 7 teenagers in their starting line-up.

Pools mounted another attack soon after which came to nothing and that was about it as far as Pools were concerned. Ten minutes after Oates has scored Orient equalised. Orient attacked down their right and without any defensive intervention Adeboyejo, an 18-year-old, beat Fryer from close range from the cross. All the while Sandro Emanuel Gonçalves dos Reis Pires Semedo, playing as a left-wing back, was torturing Pools at every opportunity. He was a class apart and made Thomas look very ordinary in comparison.

Orient now gained confidence and they began to attack frequently. One such attack brought a very good save from Fryer with Walker blocking the follow up. Orient had a couple of corners in quick succession and from one of these Abrahams struck a glorious shot into the top right corner of Fryers goal. Again, poor defending leading to a goal.

Pools did have a couple of efforts but they were no trouble for Orient. One from Thomas was straight at their keeper. At half time Woods replaced Deverdics, who had not been in the game. Woods added some urgency and aggression to the side but despite a fair bit of possession in the middle of the pitch there were no near chances to get back into the game. Thomas had no joy in beating his marker and resorted to crossing the ball into the box with limited success. One cross was just missed by Oates who really should have headed in, and Amond behind him, who should have at least made contact with the ball once Oates had missed it.

"Generally, the team looked bereft of ideas"
Jones brought on Rodney for Amond much to the disbelief of most of the Pools supporters, replacing our top scorer with a player who has not scored at senior level. Needless to say Rodney did nothing of note and looked out of his depth. Rooney came on shortly afterwards replacing Featherstone. Rooney was a willing runner but never looked like scoring or setting up a telling pass.

One of the best ways to get sent off was displayed by Donnelly who was not having a very good game. He argued with the referee about a decision and then squared up to the referee resulting in his red card.

Generally, the team looked bereft of ideas, neat passing triangles were attempted but only with 2 players, and by the time a third player found space the opposition had got the ball. On several occasions, Alessandra trapped the ball and spun to change direction, but his marker quickly cottoned on to this and stopped any progress. Harrison and Walker, despite doing their best are probably not up to standard at this level, at least not on this showing. Alas another poor display.

Man of the Match – I’ll pass from a Hartlepool point of view – there wasn’t anyone. For Orient Sandro Emanuel Gonçalves dos Reis Pires Semedo stood out for me with Adeboyejo a close runner-up. Considering their form, problems with the owners and playing so many youngsters, Orient did extremely well. Maybe they consider themselves already relegated and played without pressure. Pools on the other hand looked apprehensive, unsure what system they should be playing and of course unconfident. Many realise that their future is away from Hartlepool next season and maybe away from full time football.

Leyton Orient fans celebrate the win and continue their match-long protest against the club owner
I remember when Ken Hopscotch was approaching the time to leave Pools he said ‘be careful what you wish for’. A veiled threat or an insight into the future? Who knows – but the future is looking bleak with many supporters expecting relegation and not just relegation but fears for the club itself. Apparently burdened with debt, a January ‘fire sale’, rumoured property development, lack of clarity about ownership, managers contract – well that’s enough to be getting on with for the moment. For those not in the Hartlepool United Supporters Trust it may be an opportune time to join. If a supporters trust is good enough for Barcelona ...

Funny Old Game

Funny Old Game


There in Black and White - Cheltenham (a)

There in Black and White



Match report by BILL THE QUILL at Whaddon Road



Cheltenham 1 Pools 0 (League 2) Saturday April 29th 2017


So Pools found themselves in the mire with one of Pools, Newport and Cheltenham going down to the Conference, and despite playing Cheltenham, Pools' survival was out of their hands even if they were to win at Whaddon Road.

This being my local match (only a 30-mile drive for me), I was always going to be there, and with it being the last away game, the now-traditional fancy dress was duly worn by a sizeable proportion of the 700-odd Poolie contingent.
Last time I'd been there I'd parked at the Racecourse Park and Ride and taken the bus service provided by the club from there to the ground, but that service was discontinued. A look at the CTFC website revealed this unhelpful advice: Unfortunately there is limited car parking available to the general public at Whaddon Road on match days. Street parking in the immediate vicinity is also restricted. So, needing the exercise I parked at the racecourse and walked the mile and a half to the ground.

Unknown Poolies ...they all looked
the same to me!
When I'd ordered my ticket at the same time as my Orient ticket a few weeks earlier, I'd got one for someone who subsequently couldn't make it, and thought I may have a bit of a struggle to find a home for it, but no sooner had I collected them from the ticket office, than I spotted Whisky, one of the two Evesham Poolies, queuing for his. Business was done and dusted there and then and so I was hoping it would be a good omen for the afternoon.
"the old failings of a non-league squad of players trying to compete in League Two were there again"

Then I made my way towards town to the Sudeley Arms, the Cheltenham pub that Poolies traditionally use, for a quick pint among loads of Poolies. In there and on the way both to the pub and back to the ground I encountered a fair few of the French mime artists, who were standing out in ones and twos, but inside the ground they almost formed a sea of black and white - very impressive.

The sizeable Poolie contingent included an impressive array of Frenchmen

With Dave Jones having been sacked the week before, having shown that he had completely lost the plot, the home-grown caretaker management team made four changes to the team with an unknown player on the bench.

When the teams lined up it was apparent that the average height of the Robins was quite a bit more than the average Pools player.

So the game got under way and was fairly even until their star player Harry Pell put in a cross from which Wright scored past former Cheltenham player Trevor Carson. Pools had a few moments but half time came with the 1-0 scoreline not looking unfair.

Pools possibly shaded the second half, coming to life once the ineffective Nathan Thomas was subbed, to be replaced by tall teenager Connor Simpson, who almost scored with his first touch, but it wasn't to be. Even the vociferous singing of Two Little Boys (which hadn't been heard much lately - but needs must!) failed to encourage an equaliser. Luckily we were all aware that Newport were losing at Carlisle so we looked to be surviving at least until the final day. And so it transpired, with Cheltenham now safe and Pools needing a win and for Newport not to win in their final games.

The fans were great, the players were, at least in the second half, showing more spirit than they had of late under Dave Jones, but the old failings of a non-league squad of players trying to compete in League Two were there again, and we now realise that the chances of Pools avoiding the drop don't look too good.

I was grateful for the half-hour drive home rather than the four-hour trek faced by most of the Poolies after such a disappointing result.

This was arguably where Pools' 96-year stay in the Football League effectively went up in smoke

Going Down Fighting - Doncaster (h)

Going Down Fighting



Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at the ex-Vic



Pools 2 Doncaster 1 (League 2) Saturday May 6th 2017




Won the game
The fat lady has finally broken her silence. I knew that we could beat Donny on the day under the new management team. The problem was I also thought that Newport would fall at the last hurdle, but sadly it was not to be.

The atmosphere at the Vic was fantastic with almost a sell out crowd.It was great to see the eighteen Pools players warming up and it looked as if they were dancing to the music of  "I Need a Hero" by Bonnie Tyler as they bounced on the spot, kicking their legs side to side in unison. A nice touch from Billy Paynter was when he led the lads to salute three sides of the ground as they ended their warm up.

A full-house version of “Two Little Boys” has never sounded sweeter than it did just before the kick off. Even some Donny fans wanted us to stay up and I read that ex-Poolie Jamie Coppinger was of the opinion that they had blown the title and it did not matter to him if Pools won. In fact he had a glorious chance in front of goal and hit the Morrison's clock with his effort. On purpose? We will never know.

...but lost their league place
As you know, being a Headlander, I can read Indian smoke signals and the news from the top end of the Mill House Stand came through in a cloud of blue smoke just as we kicked off that we would win a brave victory. It looks like a sad end to Nathan Thomas at Pools after he supposedly spat out his dummy last week feigning injury, later telling people he was not bothered, he is off to L***s.

The first omen was that we had won the toss and would kick down bank in the second half. Trevor Carson, who can also read smoke signals, went the right way, palming a strong shot to thwart an early Donny attack. Pools were a totally different side under the stewardship of the senior players and they were playing as a unit in a home game for the first time since I don’t know when.

Despite the visitors' pressing we looked cool under the pressure and worked hard for each other. Their goal was a bit of a gift from Mr Brown who came to town from Yorkshire - where else would he come from on such a crucial day for Pools? A free kick was given out wide and it should have gone the other way. Mr Brown who refereed the Portsmouth game recently proved then that he is a man of few principles and just can’t walk and chew gum at the same time and can only look one way during a game. The goal was flagged offside by the young lady lines person who often makes an appearance at the Vic and upsets the equilibrium of the Ditchburn Poolie, Mr Brown went over to consult her then totally overruled her decision, giving the visitors a lead.

It was about this time that the Ditchburn went to speak to a group of large policemen, asking them to arrest this Mr Brown. For a quiet man he was certainly very angry.

With the advantage of the bank in the second half Pools started to get at Donny who probably thought they were home and dry with both teams being at opposite ends of the division. In the past that is exactly what would have happened. Pools started to threaten the visitors and they looked shaky. Matty Bates, acting as manager, bravely took off Woods for Deverdics, who linked up well with Amond. He proved that he too was a “brave Indian" when he took off Featherstone for Rodney. A comment beside me was "What is the point of replacing S***e with S***e?" - well that is football and what do mere fans know about team selection?

He also brought on the lad Connor Simpson who last week was playing in the youth team. Kicking down the bank to the Town End, Pools were reaping the rewards as Donny struggled to clear the ball and for once it was Pools who were picking up the loose balls and sending them back into the area.

"the news from Newport was coming through - first bad, then good, then misleading, then good again - then devastation."
Amond pounced on a loose ball from their keeper and raced into the box; he should have had a penalty but Mr Brown was looking the other way at the time. Amond was the provider and this time he made it count with a great ball for Rodney (yeah that's him who is S***e), who deftly pushed the ball wide of the keeper into the net sending the home crowd into raptures.

Rovers were still chasing the ball but Pools were having all the success with the roar of the Vic crowd pushing them on and again the Amond - Rodney link worked a treat as a ball out to Rodney saw him skip along the edge of the box and slam a great shot in to give Pools a two one lead. I am just wondering now if Rodney could also be an Indian smoke signal reader.

While all this was going on the news from Newport was coming through - first bad, then good, then misleading, then good again - then devastation.

The great escape was not to be and sadly we become a non-league team. Now the deed is done the autopsy will be mulled over and everyone will have a different opinion on where it went wrong. My theory is it started a couple of years from the end of the IOR era, which I still think was the best thing to happen to this club of ours. At least when they were around and were heavily criticised by some fans under their supervision we still had a club to support. There had to be a time when they pulled the plug on finance.

Fans have to realise we live in a depressed area and there is very little chance of getting another IOR. More than likely we will get what we have just partially got rid of. I ask the question why, after someone came up with a dodgy bid and IOR chased them, they did not do Due Diligence on this bunch of charlatans.

The departure of “WHEN I PLAYED FOOTBALL” Jones came far too late in the day, When you think about it he had been out of football for five or six years, he turned out to be a total novice in this level of football and just too idle to put any effort into the job. How can a manager not even get off his feet and give his team a rollicking when they are playing his system and it is not working. I only ever saw him off his dug out seat twice in all the time he was here. Something like thirteen point out of a possible fifty odd is not a good average and it won’t get people queuing up for his services anytime soon.

Any Other Business

Any Other Business



MERVYN THE MONKEY mops up



So it finally happened and Pools join the Conference. However you look at it, nobody can deny that they've been very lucky to have lasted this long, whether judged over just the last three seasons or the last century. 

So, with no manager, an acting chairperson, a retained list to sort out, and only 6 weeks to go before pre-season training starts, it would be ambitious to expect much from our first season in the National League anyway, but with the financial mess that the club is in as well, the future is somewhat bleak.

The possibility that the Supporters' Trust could take over the club seems to be the best way forward at the moment, especially as mentioned earlier by Alan Essex, that this business model doesn't seem to have done Barcelona any harm.

When you look at what's been going on at various clubs of late, and not just Pools (Blackpool, Leyton Orient and Charlton all come to mind), that cannot be a bad thing. So if anyone wants to join the trust or just find out what they're up to, go to their website here.



Ned Corvan was also a painter,
and this is his own self portrait,
which can be seen in the
Museum of Hartlepool.
And now, some real Monkey Business. Many will know or at least remember the old Monkey postcards that were and possibly still are on sale in Hartlepool. 

They featured verses about the legend which were in fact from a song by Ned Corvan that probably started the monkey legend. Ned was a comedian/fiddler/singer-songwriter, originally from Liverpool, who made a music-hall career in the North-East during the mid-nineteenth century.

A new book about him has been made into a musical play which will be touring the North-East over the next few weeks and it can be seen at the Hartlepool Town Hall on June 6th.

For further information about Ned, the book and the play, this Newcastle Chronicle article is well worth a read.


As mentioned elsewhere, new club badges have been proposed with the designs to be voted on by fans.

But we wonder how many fans have noticed that what comes through is that the designers would like the club colours to be changed to dark blue and a coffee colour. All the scarf illustrations in their design proposals omit the white in favour of brown. The designers seem to have forgotten that strong colours (to take a word being done to death in the election campaign) are what football club colours are all about, and for very good reason, to be easily seen. That's why greys and browns are almost universally avoided.

But if you give graphic designers a free hand, they'll always come up with something to be different, whether it's appropriate or not. And anyway, you could never say St. Hilda's church is coffee coloured (the reasoning behind the colour choice!) But Pools seem to like doing things that are different these days.



This picture from the Donny match was sent by a Donny fan to one of our contributors. 

If you don't know why, you're not looking hard enough.

The same contributor also reported that after the match, a Rovers fan asked a Pools fan how he felt about the prospect of non-league football.
"No problem at all, been watching it all season" he replied.


Finally a word of thanks to our readers and our contributors for sticking with us in fairly desolate times. 

At this point we normally say that we look forward to being back again in August, but Pools having so many problems on so many fronts, we can't even say there will be a club by August, so we'll just say we hope to be back again on the Friday before the National League season starts.

In the meantime we hope you all have a good summer and come back ready for another fray, having in the meantime located where Eastleigh is on the map.