August 04, 2017

MB161 - August 2017

Remainers and Remoaners

Remainers and Remoaners

BILLY'S CONTRACT gets contentious

It will be interesting to see how many of the 'Remainers' from last season's squad will feature on a regular basis in Craig Harrison's starting eleven, let alone make the bench. I am convinced that the list of players given free transfers at the end of last season would have been much greater had some of those who were retained not had another year of their contracts to run, otherwise they would have been shown the door marked Way Out ...and don't bother coming back. 

 Based on the three friendlies I have seen (v Billingham, Dunston and Sunderland) I would say one of the first names on the team sheet would be Padraig (pronounced Paw rick, Irish for Patrick) Amond. Whilst there are rumours that he might be moving on to better things, unlike Nathan Thomas, he hasn't let it show, You cannot fail to be impressed at his work rate and commitment to the club. If he does leave, I say good luck to the lad. He is 29 and I would not blame him for wanting to play in the Sootball League.

Scotty Harrison is another player who has impressed pre-season, showing grit and determination -- surely first choice centre-half. Rhys Oates when he was played up front at Billingham looked more effective than when he is played out wide but will face stiff competition from the other forwards Craig Harrison has signed unless Amond moves on. Carl Magnay is the player who has impressed me the most so far pre-season and should command a starting place, especially as in addition to left back he can, if required, fill in at centre half and midfield. Unless it is the snug fitting new away shirt, Magnay, judging from his physique, and not unlike Scotty Harrison, seems to have spent much of the close season in the gym.
"I don't think we will see him standing still wearing a suit, folding his arms or using a brolly to keep the rain off his locks. "

I would hope to see Kenton Richardson in first team action. The lad is a natural footballer but will face stiff competition to get in the side in the form of Magnay unless he is allowed to play wide, which I understand is his favoured position. Although he had his critics last season and I name myself among them, I think that Nicky Deverdics could prove to be the surprise package this season. In the games against Billy and Dunston he was very much involved. Like Magnay and Amond he has previous in the National League so he should know what to expect and be able pass on his experience to other members of the squad.

As for the remaining remainers they will have to up the ante greatly to make the first team as Pools, much like last season, have a big squad but, unlike last season Craig Harrison appears to have assembled a good squad of players. To quote Brian Honour, 'He has signed players who have got fire in their bellies', so competition for first team places will be the order of the day.. I don't think (and hope) that we will see Featherstone and Woods in the same midfield. Too similar and not great at getting forward or creating much. Of the two Woods contributes more than his midfield partners but often goes missing for parts of the game.

From what I have seen so far, Craig Harrison's style of play is quick, incisive and flowing football, the ball being passed with pace with plenty of movement on and off the ball and not giving the opponents time dwell and to get back into defensive positions. So where does this leave Nicky Featherstone, who can only pass sideways and in reverse.

We were saying after watching Jack Munns' 40-yard chipped goal at Dunston that if Featherstone had tried a similar effort it would have been an own goal as he would have been facing the wrong way when he took the shot. The only role I can see Featherstone playing is coming off the bench late on, when things are tight or to hang on to a point, and taking the momentum and life out of a game well as the fans. They say David Flitcroft at Bury was keen on Featherstone last season as were Donny. Flitcroft is now at Swindon so might still be interested in signing him. If we get a fee for him all well and good. If not, it is one less player on the payroll, so a win-win situation all round.

I feel that some of our other 'remainers' as a matter of good housekeeping will be shipped out on loan as I am not sure if any of them are capable of commanding a first team place let alone a transfer fee.Therefore I was anxious when I saw the side that was fielded against Sunderland. I was concerned that this was going to be Harrison's first choice starting eleven for the forthcoming campaign, particularly the midfield selection. Newton was obviously selected to get him match fit but on the night that showed, as he looked like a lost soul. Woods and Hawkins carried on much in the manner as they did last season and did not offer much with little creativity and the ball being given away cheaply.

I have said it many times that one of the main reasons, and there are many, why Pools lost their league status last season lies firmly at the door of our midfield, whose performances bordered on the naive at best and shambolic at worst. This is the area that Harrison needs to clearly address. It was notable that when Jack Munns came on as a substitute for the injured Oates, notwithstanding his assist in Donaldson's goal, he seemed to liven things up in that department and was here, there and everywhere. Surely he must be a certain starter for a place in the centre of the park.

The thing that has impressed me about Craig Harrison's signings is that, with the obvious exception of Jack Munns, they are all six foot plus. How many times in the past have Pools struggled against taller teams and come away with nothing. The other noticeable thing is that the teams he has fielded are far more vocal that any I can recall. Harrison himself is quite animated on the touch line and is not averse to issuing instructions. I don't think we will see him standing still wearing a suit, folding his arms or using a brolly to keep the rain off his locks.

Many of the new signings have stated that they have come to a 'Big' club and seem to be delighted to be at Hartlepool United. Even some of the National League fans on their forums view us as the Manchester United of this league.

With that in mind my prediction for Pools for the end of next season. Ever the optimist and not wishing to put any pressure whatsoever on Craig Harrison, I don't see the treble as being unachieveable. I would consider anything less as failure.

The Only Way Is Up

The Only Way Is Up

The view from WAGGA MOON

So after years of decay and neglect we finally hit the buffers and went out of the league. After all those years of dodging relegation and getting our pals to re-elect us we finished in the bottom two once too often. 

Our downfall began with Uncle Ken, who prided himself for his business sense and attention to detail, and who would take months deciding on a manager, and getting rid of one who had just got us promotion. Then pocketing the transfer fees for Jack Baldwin and Luke James without signing replacements, failing to provide any investment while we struggled and then selling the club to a pair of shysters. This after pulling out of a deal that would have had another set of Dodgepots getting their hands on the club. So much for a period of due diligence and the League insisting on people taking over clubs being fit and proper persons.

With a record of liquidations and bankruptcy a blind man on a galloping horse could see Coxall and Co, were up to no good. And so it turned out with money soon disappearing out of the coffers, dates in the High Court over unpaid tax bills and players being sold off with the money disappearing and no replacements signed. Add the disastrous appointment of Dave Jones as manager and we were goosed on the pitch and off.

The lowest point was when we lost to Leyton Orient who were on a losing run of 10 games, played their youth team and still beat us. That led to the exit of the Scouser but too late in the day. A brilliant second half display against the league leaders just failed to save us despite two wonderful goals from Devante Rodney. This is a striker we signed in January and could not get a game in a side struggling to score a goal. That says it all about the management at the Vic.
"Add the disastrous appointment of Dave Jones as manager and we were goosed on the pitch and off."

Nice to see stand-in manager Matthew Bates give him a chance and also youth team striker Connor Simpson who looks like he could turn into a very useful footballer. But in a summer of change we have a new owner/chairman, new strip, new badge, new manager, coaches and eight new players; things are certainly looking up. Although one guy we retained, Josh Nearney, remains a mystery to me. Last season when we were short of centre backs he never got a look-in despite us having to switch a midfielder to perform there. Now, last Friday and Saturday having to put two teams out to face Boro kids and Whitley Bay, and still there's no sign of the elusive pimpernel. Which begs the question.: What exactly is his role at the football club.

Manager Craig Harrison at least brings a winning mentality with him after his successes in the Welsh League. He is not tainted with the failure and neglect we have seen at the club over the past five years. I wish him all the best as it will make a nice change to be celebrating a few victories instead of the constant defeats of whichever no-hoper was in charge at the time.

It looks like we could be featured live on BT Sport this season and hopefully make up for the debacle when we entertained the "mighty" Blyth Spartans. Our new captain Carl Magnay appears to be eminently suited to the job as he is one of the few players who actually put a bit of effort in last season.

The skipper who guided us out of the league, Nicholas Featherstone, looks to be on his way out of the club after losing the captaincy and, with the number of midfielders Mr Harrison has brought in, that can only be a good thing. 

Funny Old Game

Funny Old Game

Out of Darkness...

Out of Darkness...


“OUT OF DARKNESS, THROUGH FIRE, INTO LIGHT” Poolies, so far as I can work out, have two mottos. There’s ‘Never Say Die’ and ‘Poolie till I die’. Very appropriate in the circumstances. Yet, given what’s happened, the I Zingari Cricket Club motto is just as appropriate. 

The darkness was getting relegated to the National League; well, we came through that with determination. The fire represented what we had to do to put things right – and, up to now we haven’t done a bad job. What’s happened in this close season is what was needed in past seasons. Had past seasons shown the same urgency then we wouldn’t have been playing in the National League.

We appointed a new manager early in the close season thus giving him the chance to make signings which hopefully will equip us for the National League, and having got rid of some of the dead wood made it easier to make the signings.

And then there’s coming into light. We’ll know that after the first few games!! The number of season tickets sold I think surpassed all expectations. Once the reality of getting relegated from the Football League had sunk in the fans began to show where their loyalties lie. And the club seem to be on a reasonable business footing.
"Once the reality of getting relegated from the Football League had sunk in the fans began to show where their loyalties lie."

I’m in total admiration of what Pools are trying to do on the business side – this is, of course, in complete contrast to what is happening in the bog standard Premier League. Up to last weekend, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool had spent a combined £570m on new players and the figure could go higher. I am more confident about the long term future of Pools than with some of the so called top clubs. Wait for the crash – it will happen one day. There’s only one word for it – obscene.

The BBC list of top earners certainly put the cat among the pigeons. Some years ago, I tried to find out what the BBC spent on football pundits; they declined my request on grounds that it might affect competition. (You couldn’t write a script for that answer). The fact that Gary Lineker earns between £1,750,000 and £1,799,999 didn’t surprise me – after all, he’s on the telly more than Ant and Dec. What did shock me was that Alan Shearer is getting between £400,000 and £449,999. Bloody hell – what does he do to earn that much? The trouble is I’m having to contribute to that with my TV licence fee. Still, roll on to my 75th birthday when I won’t have to buy a licence.

Anyway, hope you’ve all enjoyed the close season. Let the wagons roll and get back into the Football League pronto.

Deer or Dear?

Deer or Dear?

Something from our deerest contributor JANE AUSTEN'S ALLEGRO

It goes without saying that even allowing for the generous parachute payments, the forecast loss of income through lower gate receipts and less away fans making the journey to the Vic, HUFC has already seen a substantial loss on its much-needed income stream even before a ball has been kicked. The club's precarious financial position is well documented and as such we are in a situation where every penny counts. 

The recent friendly match against Sunderland saw just over 4,700 fans in attendance. I worked out that allowing for concessions the gate receipts would be around £40,000. No doubt Sunderland took their half of the takings and who could blame them as pro-rata they are in a worse state financially than Pools, being in debt to the tune of £90-100 million. Sunderland however are not our concern. The £20k picked up from this match might not sound a lot but the club shop would have to sell 526 adult replica shirts to match that figure.

I am guessing that with the sale of Lewis Alexandra and Trevor Carson, plus the compensation due from Crewe for Brad Walker, the club will have netted a further £100,000. That figure will also be supplemented in part by many of the high wage earners having since left the club. With luck this will allow some breathing space before the season begins and hopefully keep the taxman and the other creditors from the door. Ideally a successful Hartlepool United side could make this task easier with the additional revenue they could generate.

Pam Duxbury has to be congratulated for her sterling efforts, not only in keeping HUFC from the hands of the administrators but by securing a three year sponsorship deal with Hartlepool company Utility Alliance, worth in the region of £240,000. It would be good to see other local and national companies based in the town and surrounding areas supporting the club in some capacity, even in a minor way to assist reducing the burden of debt.

Carlisle United now have a hardy band of volunteers who turn up at the club on nominated days to do odd jobs around the ground such as tidying up the terraces after match day, minor repair work, or painting various buildings etc. Their chairman said their help is vital in securing the future of the club. I think 'Pools should consider introducing something similar along the same lines. I am sure many fans would like/love to help their club. I think that this is something the Trust should take up with Pam Duxbury

I might be wrong but I always felt that the club shop never fully realised its true potential, particularly after it had been contracted out to Nike. Most of the stock consisted of 'Pools home and away strips and then odds and sods of polo and tee shirts, nearly always in Pools colours. There is only so much blue a chap can wear. When Gary Coxall was still with Pools there was talk about him bringing the shop back in-house. I felt that this could be a risky move particularly if you are not familiar with the clothing trade. If you don't get the get the quality right, the range, the colours, design and price,  you could be left with a lot of slow moving stock on the shop floor which equals dead money, which then has to be written off.

I believe appointing BKL as offical team kit and clothing suppliers to be a step in the right direction. I see that they have now got their name over the club shop so I am persuming that they have been given the franchise to run it as opposed to the club. Although it is early days and the shop is far from fully stocked I thought the quality of what was on display was a bit hit and miss. Some of the jackets similar to what Craig Harrison is always pictured in looked good and were sensibly priced. However the quality of the navy Polo shirts looked cheap,until you see the price tag of £30. You would not expect to pay that figure for an Adidas shirt. My main concern on two counts is the quality of the embroidery of the club's new logo. On some of the polo shirts I viewed it is obvious that the 'hoops' used to secure the garment prior to embroidery have been put on too tight and as such you can see the circle outline of the hoop within the garment. This cannot be removed.

To be fair, the Hart/Deer/Doe/Bambi/Caribou or whatever it is looks fine (still a bloody awful badge though), but it is the the text which is poorly replicated. It is too thin for starters making the writing on the logo look spindle like and in some cases causing the thread to disappear into the weft and weave of the fabric because of its lack of thickness. One shirt I viewed had the first letter 'O' in the word Hartlepool resemble the letter 'C'. In several examples on display the excess white thread is hanging from the shirt and has not been trimmed off once the embroidery process has been completed. Should the loose thread be pulled by the unsuspecting wearer the embroidery is ruined and cannot be repaired.
"There is only so much blue a chap can wear."

Perhaps the clothing had been rushed out to meet a deadline prior to the club shop's reopening but in the event some basic quality control is required if they are looking for repeat sales. We were informed that one of the main reasons for the change of the club's logo was that it was a difficult motif to replicate in art form but it would appear that BKL is having a similar problem with the new club badge.

In a former life, having worked in the clothing/embroidery trade myself for a goodly number of years can I offer some well meaning advice:

For the would-be customer:
Examine the embroidery very carefully prior to purchase.

For BKL:
Find an alternative embroidery supplier. There are several really good ones on your doorstep. I hope BKL do get things right as we need a successful club shop to bring in much-needed revenue for the club. I've got to say that I very much like both the home and away shirts BKL are providing to HUFC. There is only so much you can do with striped shirts, you only have to look at the Mackems' new tops (yuk!), but this blue and white one is a winner.

My first sighting of Pools' new away shirt was at the Billingham Town friendly. I had to do a double take as it was difficult to identify our players. It was almost like camouflage - the players blending in with the dull grey skies and the backdrop of Billingham. It put me in mind of the time Southampton thrashed Man United by four or five goals. Sir Alex did not blame the defeat on the referee or on indeed his team's inept performance, or that on the day Southampton played them off the park. There was no mention at all of not enough 'Fergie time' being allocated. However as far as the United Manager was concerned the defeat was firmly and squarely the fault of the club's new grey away shirts, as several of the United players claimed that they could not see their team mates on the pitch.

I have just thought of a money-spinning branded item of clothing that BKL could stock in the club shop. Not the Tommy Hilfiger range but the Dave Jones catwalk range. Off the shoulder black acrylic jumpers. No need to worry about embroidering them just a dash of tomato sauce and egg stains down the front for that man-on-the-move look. For an extra £4.99 you could also purchase a contrasting white tee shirt for that man-ran-out-of-town look.

Talking of football shirts, have any of our readers caught sight of the Borer's effort? In a word, awful. You can't miss it. The shirt itself is not the worst you will see, but the lettering of the sponsor's name is in block capitals almost two foot high, ruining the thing. It is not so much a sandwich board but a billboard promoting the local pawn broker. A great advert for the new Team Valley area.

Finally, here's a rejected suggestion for the HUFC new badge. It was going to have a motto, the original text of which would be written in Latin, and had been inspired by Homer Simpson: "Doh! A Deer" (with apologies to Julie Andrews).


Football Hooliganism: Was It as We Remember It?

Football Hooliganism: Was It as We Remember It?

GARY DALY's research project aims to find out

The older readers amongst you will remember the moral panic that was associated with football hooliganism during the 1970s and 1980s. This short article will ask if the demonization of football supporters by politicians was justified. It will also question the legitimacy of the claims made in the press at the time that football hooliganism was symptomatic of a society which had lost all sense of morality and was a problem that could not be controlled by conventional methods. 

This view is illustrated for example in the claim made in the Daily Mirror at the end of the 1973 season that:

“Stabbings, beatings, kickings and destruction were almost commonplace at the nation’s football grounds”.

Moreover, this portrayal of football supporters as an undisciplined underclass having very little in common with mainstream society and having complete disrespect for its sense of morality was also expressed by politicians who, in attempting to be seen to be tough on the problem, used language that we would now associate with the condemnation of unfriendly foreign governments. An example of this was Neil Kinnock’s response to the Heysel Stadium disaster at a press conference in Vienna in May 1985 where he said that:

“A voluntary ban on English soccer teams would be giving in to hooligans. If the tribute we pay to these thugs is to reduce the freedom of thousands of other football supporters then the thugs have won.”

In this case Kinnock’s soundbite was designed to marginalise those involved in football violence,but it also had the impact of popularising and legitimising the measures which saw ordinary football fans herded into the caged enclosures in which ninety six men women and children were crushed at Hillsborough on April fifteenth 1989. However, what has been forgotten with the passing of time – and the justified campaign by the families to overturn a flawed judgement that effectively accused Liverpool supporters of deliberately killing their own – is that contempt for the safety of football supporters by the authorities that are supposed to protect them on a Saturday afternoon is as old as the game itself.

As any football fan who is familiar with the history of the game knows, Hillsborough is merely the most recent in a long list of stadium disasters involving British football supporters and can list Burnden Park (Bolton), Ibrox (Glasgow – three times) and Valley Parade (Bradford) as sites where many perished watching the game they loved. With the exception of the Bradford fire, all these disasters had a common cause, which is that the grounds where they occurred were overcrowded due to the negligence of either the stadium operators or the authorities. Yet little was learned from them and the press, on occasion, chose to blame fans who attended games, claiming that they were responsible for these events. One example of this was the Guardian’s article from 1970 with the headline “Barrier collapse was home crowd’s fault”, which accused Stoke City supporters of deliberately causing a crush barrier to collapse during a fixture against Leeds United and injuring 61 people.
"academics ...have made little attempt to define what they actually mean by the term 'football hooligan' "

Until now these attempts to demonise the football supporting public have been explained, by those who have re-examined these disasters, as being a result of a willingness by the football authorities and political elite to view the supporters who sustained the game as pack animals and wild dogs. As a result of this they found it easy to engage in what academics have subsequently described as “victim blaming”, which was essentially a concerted effort by the football authorities of the time, assisted by the press and politicians, with the aim of removing responsibility for crowd safety away from them and placing the onus upon the fans themselves, by stereotyping them as an ill-behaved rabble. But was this depiction of the football-following public of the time justified? The answer probably has to be that the jury is still out on this one.

As we all know, football supporters are a diverse group, which was as true then as it is now. However, it is also true that violence did occur more often at football matches during the 1970s and 1980s than it does now. So what really happened?

If we believe the current dominant academic explanation for the rise of football hooliganism as a social phenomenon, then the answer is that football hooliganism was just an extension of local working class gang rivalries, played out on a national scale. This explanation in my opinion needs to be questioned and it is the core question of my research project, where I am suggesting that we need to reassess how we look at a topic that has been discussed by academics who have made little attempt to define what they actually mean by the term 'football hooligan'.

My project seeks to address this by talking to supporters who were attending games during the 1970s and 1980s, with the aim of giving a voice to those who are usually written out of history, and telling how it really was. It is hoped that it will show that those attending football matches, even the hooligan element, and especially in north-east England, had a strong sense of pride not only in the team they supported, but in who they were and in where they came from, and that the post-war resurgence of football hooliganism in the region was primarily due to the economic decline of the region, which saw the collapse of the local shipbuilding, mining and steel industries, and in turn brought about the collapse of traditional social hierarchies in the area. This created a growing feeling of disillusionment among working class young men who, in the resultant power vacuum, aimed to gain social standing for themselves within a substitute hierarchy that largely conformed to their community’s values, but also reshaped how they maintained them.

Therefore it can legitimately be argued that the reality was that attempts by the press and politicians to portray football hooligan groups – and football supporters in general – as right-wing yobs who had values that had little in common with those held by the majority of the general public, were misguided and that the reality was that they were part of subculture which had a far more nuanced relationship with their community than was suggested at the time.

Gary Daly, Teesside University (AHRC funded PhD Candidate and Northern League ground-hopper).

For further information on my PhD project please go to the link below or contact me via e-mail at or on Twitter @GaryDaly01

Dear Vicki

Dear Vicki

Poolie agony aunt VICKI PARK solves your problems 

(assisted by Elmo)

Dear Vicki,
I am a famous manager, possibly the most famous manager in the world. I've only been in my present position for six months but I've already achieved so much, it's incredible. My team ticks like clockwork and is admired by everyone.

However, there are those who spread lies about me, mock and laugh at me because I'm a bit of a maverick who says what he thinks, like Mourinho before he got old.

How can I convince them that I'm not the deranged fantasist they think I am?
DT, Washington DC
Dear DT,
When the opportunity arises, manage Sunderland and get them into the Champions' League. Any deranged fantasist could promise that but no deranged fantasist could actually do it.

Dear Vicki
I've captained my top London club and my country, and won the Premiership, but have now decided to spend the twilight of my career with a Championship club in Birmingham. Would I have been better off retiring?
JT, Aston
Dear JT,
With that pedigree you surely don't need the money so it's more about wanting to keep on playing rather than wanting to go out at the top. Either is a perfectly fine way to go. Some can't face slumming it at ever-lower levels in front of smaller crowds  while suffering longer injury lay-offs, yet some, like Teddy Sheringham, can go on for years. 

But Birmingham ...really?

Dear Vicki,
I own a football club in the middle of nowhere which recently was promoted to the Football League from the National League. I extend my vegan principles throughout the club and the players are banned from eating some foods. This poses some difficulties with recruitment. Do you have any suggestions?
DV, Nailsworth (Glos)
Dear DV,
The simple answer is that if it causes you problems, don't do it, but that must cause you grief, so let's think of how to address this. 

Some players won't sign because you only allow them to have vegetarian food. And vegetarian food gives you wind, which means they could be rocket powered - better for both the club and the player's career, if not for attendances.

Some may just object on human rights grounds to you imposing your personal lifestyle choices on others, but when they're pulling out of tackles or otherwise letting the side down, aren't they doing the same thing?

Some may just not like vegetarian food, and I'm not sure there's an answer to that without resorting to therapy, but you can't win'em all.

Best wishes for the coming season and I hope you'll have something to celebrate at the end of it, presumably with a slap-up salad. 

Dear Vicki
Recently my BBC pay as a top football presenter was revealed to the nation and many people were incensed that I earned so much. It's not my fault that the BBC chose to pay me that much. What do you think I ought to do?
GL London
Dear GL
I'd take a sabbatical and let Alan Shearer do it for a season. Then everyone will realise what a bargain they've got and will be happy to throw more crisp tenners at you. And while you're having your sabbatical, other 'crisp' tenners will no doubt be arriving to keep the wolf from the door.

Funny Old Game

Funny Old Game

Seeing Off the Boro - Boro (friendly, h)

Seeing Off the Boro

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Pools 2 Boro U-23 1 (Friendly)
Friday 30 July 2017
Victoria Park

Tonight we had a visit from the Borer under twenty-three team, which was led by ex-Poolie Graeme Lee, possibly assisted by Michael Barron but he could just have been an observer. All these lads were potential Premiership players - well at least they were last season. Not sure if this game was advertised in the Borer as it looked as if the away supporters had come on a motor bike, being were outnumbered by the stewards in the Rink End.

It was good to see Pools come out and have a go at the opposition as we have been doing in the pre-season games I have seen. It was even better to see us step up our game after going a goal down as we did tonight instead of heads dropping as they did last season.

I said it in previous reports that we looked a decent side and a very tight squad that can play some decent football. We look as if we have cover in all positions. Tonight we were without Oates and Deverdics, who had played previous games and we still looked strong.
"The back line looks solid and they like to push up when the chance comes to break"
First half it was all Pools and the visitors only managed the odd sortie into our half. The back line looks solid and they like to push up when the chance comes to break. Laing and Harrison made charges forward and looked impressive.

Second half the visitors stepped up their game and scored an early goal, a well worked move from the initial corner with the ball being switched to the back post and dropped back in the middle for the scorer. There was an appeal to the lino from the Pools players but I could see nothing wrong with the goal.

Pools got their act together and started stretching the visitors with some good play. And the pressure paid off with two goals in two minutes as Laing scored with a low dive and header and with an individual goal from Jack Munns it was game over.

One rumour tonight was that two clubs are chasing Amond so I hope he stays on. Also Featherstone is a target but I would be less inclined to hold onto him.

The rain-soaked pitch held up well but there was some discussion with the Ditchburn Poolie on how he thought they had levelled the slope out so that kicking down bank was not going to be the advantage we had used in the past. It was clear to my keen eye that there was now a tilt in the pitch towards the docks which may flood the dugouts but can certainly be used to our advantage.

Annual Night Out to Billy Town

Annual Night Out to Billy Town

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Billingham Town 0 Pools 6 (Friendly)
Thursday July 6th 2017
Bedford Terrace

The new non-league Pools side took on our neighbours Billingham Town last night. A good turnout of Poolies and the word was 2000 season tickets sold at the last count.

This first game of the season is usually a bit lively with BT flexing their muscles against us. No different today as some hefty tackles early on tried to unsettle the lads. Their so-called best player went off injured in his first tackle as he went to challenge Harrison who was driving forward with the ball. With a deft side-step Harrison left him for dead and the lad went to the ground,. It took a while but he went off on a stretcher, The word at half time was the lad had played the end of last season with an injury and trained this season with the leg strapped but he looks like he will be out for a while.
"we look like a very strong outfit on this showing"

Pools played two teams, one in each half:
Scott Loach, Kenton Richardson (Curtis Obeng 46), Josh Baynes (Blair Adams 46), Carl Magnay (Liam Donnelly 46), Scott Harrison (Josh Nearney 46), Luke George (Martin Smith 46), Josh Hawkes (Ryan Donaldson 46), Lewis Hawkins (Nicky Deverdics 46), Rhys Oates (Jake Cassidy 46), Michael Woods (Padraig Amond 46), Junior Mondal (Jack Munns 46).
So, a few new names in the squad.

We were excellent and I only remember Billy being in our half a couple of times, We played some very good football, ok It was only against BT but had we played this game at the end of last season they would probably have hammered us. The man of the game for me was Rhys Oates.  Finally they are playing him as a striker and he notched up two great goals, the second being a sheer touch of class as he was fed by Mondal and,  back to goal he turned on a tanner and hit the sweetest ball you will ever see, The lad looks really fit and raring to go.

Mondal is a gem who needs to be snatched up now. He was dropped from the Borer academy but showed real skill and guile every time he had the ball. - an excellent half from the youngster as he pushed forward, made some great runs, just dropping a shoulder and drifting past his man. A joy to watch.

Blair Adams is the new Terry Cooper. I have never seen any defender go down the line and whip in the perfect cross since Shuggy left us. Magnay and Harrison never let anything through and we look like a very strong outfit on this showing - play-offs at least.

Any Other Business

Any Other Business


So after all the doom and gloom, the end of the world and all that, we've now resigned ourselves to life in the Conference. And not only that, we've bought thousands of season tickets, been impressed with the new manager and players, and are expecting good things. Yet just a few weeks ago it was touch and go as to whether Pools would even be around by now.

Perhaps that shows that things have been turned around, or just that Poolies are easily seduced (like we were by a certain recent chairman) because they are desperate for some sort of success, even if it's only in the National League.

The reality is, however, that Pools have, especially with the complex new playoff rules, more chance of playing at Wembley than ever before, and with no transfer window there's more opportunity to make mid-season personnel changes, so that lot may generate excitement to make up for some of the less-inspiring stadiums.

Whether Pools can return to the EFL sooner or later, it will be good to have the experience at a lower level. It didn't do Leicester City and Southampton much harm to slum it with us a few seasons back. Perhaps clubs have to drop below their level in order to regroup before reclaiming their place.

For those of you who are into humour (and you need a sense of humour to follow Pools), there's an exhibition at the Museum of Hartlepool celebrating 60 years of Andy Capp in the Daily Mirror.

I'm sure most of you know that Reg Smythe's famous character, like his creator, was a Hartlepudlian (Reg did much of his cartooning in Caledonian Road), and the odd local reference did creep in from time to time (such as the Boilermakers' Club), so we can all guess which stadium Andy would watch matches in.
The exhibition continues until 27th August so have a look before it's too late.
Follow this link to find out a bit more.

Pam Duxbury seems to have been like a breath of fresh air when compared to recent chairmen. We went twenty years without ever really knowing why Ken Hodcroft wanted Pools. With Gary Coxall we knew after 20 months, but that was some expensive 20 months.

The Pools Supporters' Trust is now in talks with Pam with a view to being involved in some way with the club. They may lead to nothing, to fans eventually owning the club, or to something in between, but given the turbulence of the last few seasons, all of this is a step in the right direction.

So if anyone wants to join the trust or just find out what they're up to, go to their website here.

And finally, some alleged quotes supplied by Tony Beysens

The young ‘uns

“I told that young Beardsley lad that if he keeps pulling faces, one day he’ll stay like it.”

"Alan, will you stop heading that ball against the shed, you’ve got less chance of playing for Newcastle than Blackburn have of getting into the First Division.”

The owld ‘uns 

“I used to play in goal for Scotland, you know”
“You’ve dropped your Hobnob”
“What Hobnob?”

“Do you remember the time their speedy winger sent you the wrong way and put it between the goalie’s legs?”
“Yes, I should have realised there wasn’t a chippy in the High Street and my girlfriend stopped playing keeper for the girls’ team shortly after that.”

 “It’s a Benefit Match”
“Who for, I don’t recognise any of the players?”
“No, what I mean is, since relegation they are all on benefits.” 


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.


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.


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.

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.

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.


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.


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?


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



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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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?):
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.