September 02, 2011

Rituals and the first few weeks

GRANDAD SHOUTY ranges wide over Gary Lineker's pay, weddings, and the season so far, to name but a few


Funny old game isn’t it? You can be passionate about your team and still manage to get people involved who, on the surface, have no interest in the game. 

Such is the case with a contact of mine in Canada. After arriving home from a Pools home match (or at the finish of an away match if I can’t get there) I immediately send an e mail across the Atlantic giving the result. 

The heading on the e mail falls into one of three - ‘Yippee’, ‘A Bad Day at the Office’ or ‘Didn’t lose, didn’t win’. That way, the recipient knows what to expect. The close season can be very boring in a faraway place not far from Toronto. 

And so to the Antipodes. MB was always sent to Australia and, indeed, was once passed around at an international conference of forensic scientists in Auckland, New Zealand. ’Never mind about solving crime, how can we solve Hartlepool United’s lack of goals?’ would have made for a good workshop session. 

Reports from my contacts speak very favourably of the new style Monkey Business, both the lay out and the content.
"My grand-daughter's partner once went on Facebook to complain that he’d been dragged round Primark - I suggested the only solution possible - ‘Get a hobby - support you local footy team' "

I was interested in Central Park’s encounters with family weddings in last month’s MB. I once found myself in that position and hit the roof when we’d been invited to a wedding reception at Stockton on the same day as a Pools home match. However, my problem was solved by my good lady who said ’Don’t panic. The wedding ceremony is at 11am so the speeches will be over by half past one. Book a taxi for two o’clock and I’ll come back with you’. Bless her - maybe she didn’t want to listen to a crap disco where the main objective was to burst everyone’s ear drums. At two o’clock prompt, the taxi arrived and I duly presented myself at Pools. However, I did have a dilemma. Did I wear my Pools shirt at the reception or did I present myself at Pools wearing a suit and polished shoes and closely resembling a redundant male model? I opted for the latter so maybe someone was looking round and saying ’Where’s that scruffy sod today - must be missing the match’.

In addition to family weddings, shopping can be a pain for some. When Radio 5 asked whether listeners were looking forward to the new season, one guy from the Midlands said he couldn’t wait for the season to start - he wouldn’t get dragged round shops any more on a Saturday afternoon. My grand-daughter's partner once went on Facebook to complain that he’d been dragged round Primark - I suggested the only solution possible - ‘Get a hobby - support you local footy team' (in this case, West Brom).

Which brings me on to this season. The early signs are encouraging, despite losing goals when we should have won. The Walsall game was indeed a tough match to start off proceedings and they seem determined not to get sucked into a relegation battle like last season. The injury plagued side pulled out all the stops against Huddersfield and there was a feeling of pride at the final whistle.

The only blight on the proceedings was that we tended to use the long ball too much and the Huddersfield back four had no difficulty in snuffing out any danger. Some years ago, when working in Sheffield, I trotted off to Bramall Lane to see Sheffield United play Crystal Palace. Palace scored an early goal and for most of the game United pumped high balls into the Palace penalty area and, playing a 5-4-1 formation, Palace made mincemeat of anything that was on offer. Come added time, Sheffield United were awarded a free kick. Playing it along the deck, they equalised. Question: why did it take over ninety minutes for the penny to drop? I always agreed with the Cloughie thesis on this one : If God had meant football to be played in the air, he would have put grass in the sky. We do have the players with the necessary skills - let’s make use of them. Incidentally, the general view was that the referee in the Huddersfield game played a blinder. This was in contrast to last year’s game when, I suspect, the ref blew early to prevent a fifteen player punch up. Still, we’ve held our own against two of last season’s play-off teams - the way MK Dons have started off didn’t make for a bad performance. Of course, we’ve had the injuries - Tony Sweeney in particular - and we’ve not seen the best of Nobby Solano. Incidentally, my grandson, Joe, wrote a school report in July in which Solano picked up an injury - prophetic words, indeed! 

A word on the season tickets. There’s certainly a good atmosphere at The Vic and the increased crowds are certainly getting behind Pools. However, as one punter said to me, it can also work the other way. You could
get 5,000 cheering you on but there’s also 5,000 on your back if things don’t go right.

On to two other things which I’ve mentioned before. The first is the amount of money paid to TV pundits. I’m grateful to the Daily Mirror (13 July 2011) for revealing that Gary Lineker pulls in around £1.5m a year and Alan Hansen earns £1.1 a year. Good grief, what do they do to earn this amount of money; it's obscene when lots of people are struggling to pay the licence fee which supports their, no doubt lavish, lifestyle. Nobody denied the Mirror’s figures so they must be near the mark.

The second is the continuing saga of the Olympic Stadium, which will almost certainly go to West Ham. The stadium apparently holds 60,000, which means that West Ham will have to give a lot of cheap/free tickets away to fill the place. 

However, as I suggested in last month’s MB, the biggest threat is to Leyton Orient and Barry Hearn is still continuing his campaign to protect Orient’s interests. He’s already written to five-holidays Cameron and the London Mayor, Boris Johnson, asking them not to rubber stamp West Ham’s move at this stage. “Give us the respect, the decency and the right to put our case forward," says the Orient chairman. (BBC website, 22/8/11). He goes on to say “…I find it incredible they would even consider making the decision before undergoing due process in regard to the effect on the incumbent football club.” 

As Brisbane Road is located within one mile of the Olympic Stadium, Barry Hearn fears that this could force his club to the wall. Already, there is talk of a judicial review and I fear that it could come to this. If this is avoided, then this will mean that logic and common sense will have been applied. 

A cat in hell’s chance of that happening. Once again, Barry, best of luck in your campaign - don’t let the little creeps get you down. It would be a shame not to be able to journey down to one of London’s smaller clubs - after all, there’s more to London than Arsenal, Spurs et al.