October 07, 2011

The Quiet Revolution

KT POOLIE wonders what all the fuss is about


All except the game’s administrators recognise football has some fundamental financial problems. Now however, the pundits are waking up to another development, one which has been creeping up slowly, but steadily, for ten years.

It seems a small, un-fancied and un-fashionable team from the North East of England is not obeying the natural order of things and this gives all the so called experts – journalists, ex-players, managers, fans, TV producers - a headache. Should they ignore the evidence before their eyes and keep their cameras and commentators hanging around outside the stadiums in Sheffield, Huddersfield, Milton Keynes and Charlton, or grab a warm coat and head for Hartlepool where a real story is taking place?

Some are confused. “It's clear to me,” comments Lee Roy Ross Snr, pointing to the league tables, “that as long as we tolerate the kind results taking place every week in League One, we will continue to see street riots, a lack of respect and contempt for football as a game”.

Others fear for their reputations. “I’m becoming a laughing stock in my own manor”, says co-presenter Steve Cabbage. “How many times can I express surprise and yet take credit for suggesting I knew all along it would happen?”" Do the betting companies do any research? Did no-one spot Nobby Solano’s signing and the reasons he gave?"

Whatever the reaction, the football revolution taking place at Hartlepool is having an effect. Players ignored or written off for many years are suddenly finding they are on first name, if not best-mate, terms with football analysts. Comments such as, ‘I’ve been a big fan of Adam’s football for years’, ‘It wouldn’t surprise me if someone offers several million for Gary during the January window’, ‘I’ve written repeatedly that Peter should be playing in the Championship at least’, are trotted out every Saturday, usually accompanied by some reference to the club being under the radar, or punching above its weight and the results being quite a shock.

In the town there is incredulity that the authorities and commentators have taken so long to realise what’s going on at Pools. Do the betting companies do any research? Did no-one spot Nobby Solano’s signing and the reasons he gave? Did none of the scouts notice the club snatching James Poole, Evan Horwood and Nathan Luscombe to play alongside Sam Collins, Ritchie Humphreys and Paul Murray?

The signing of good young prospects to complement experienced heads is one thing, but sensible budget control, an innovative season ticket scheme and non-payment of agents’ fees are also applauded by the public and bring a sense of togetherness at the club.

It would be naive to suggest this will inevitably lead to success – it is still too easy to buy short-term results – but when owners, management, players, staff and fans are united, big things can happen to small clubs.