the view from GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY
A change of circumstances now means that I have to change my MB name. On Monday, 20th February our first great grandchild was born; unfortunately, there are no long term possibilities for Pools as the new arrival was a little girl. Her arrival into the world did, of course, bring happiness to the family but five days later everything came crashing down to earth with the 5-0 thumping at Wycombe who, of course, were bottom of the table.
Wycombe’s supporters must have thought it was Christmas and birthdays rolled into one. Yes, February did have its high points. We held our own against a very good Bournemouth side and, as a few Poolies have pointed out, two months ago this was a game which we would have lost. Then there was the competent performance against Notts County - after which Martin Allen got the sack. One of my students at Sheffield hails from Nottingham and supports Forest. I was quick to remind her that they could be playing at The Vic next season. The wind - up fell a little bit flat - what niggled was the fact that they’d be playing Notts County.
I must be getting a little suspicious in my old age. The last time I cleaned my downstairs windows on a Saturday afternoon, Pools beat Chesterfield 3-0. So, come a fine afternoon for the Wycombe match, it was out with the old wash leather again. That’s the last time I clean windows on a Saturday during the season. It must have been the way I cleaned them."I have to pay tax and I don’t see why people on astronomical salaries can’t do the same."
What is it about playing the teams situated below us in the table? Generally, I have no fears about playing teams around the top of the table as witness the fact that we recorded home victories against Brighton, Peterborough and Charlton and put in a good performance to get a home draw against Southampton. No, it’s the bottom placed clubs that put the fear of God into me. Wycombe have done the double against us; last season Dagenham and Redbridge (a relegated club) put one over us at home; even as far back as 2005, who will ever forget the result: Pools 4 Wrexham 6 - and the Welshmen were relegated.
Then there’s the 5-2 loss at Walsall last season, despite being 2-0 up. As a number of Poolies chanted on the platform at Bescot Stadium station, “Two - nil up and we ------ it up”. Came the reply from the Walsall fans on the other side, “Yes, two -nil up and you ------ it up”. All good harmless fun but it hurt. The West Midlands club, of course, stayed in League One only by courtesy of favourable results elsewhere on the last day of the season. As someone said on Radio 5, they’d never known fans get so ecstatic over a defeat.
Outside all the goings - on at Pools, a few things have been happening elsewhere. The Luis Suarez - Patrice Evra affair certainly produced inches and inches of comment in the printed media and I’ve no intention of adding to the bullshit that’s been written. Suffice to say, don’t you think it strange that Liverpool needed to be pointed in the right direction by their American owners and their shirt sponsors. And who are their shirt sponsors? A bloody bank, no less! Any undertaking that needs to be pointed in the right direction by a bank in the year 2012 must surely have big problems.
Then we come to the Olympics. According to the BBC website “Football (is) the only sport not to sell out at London 2012 Olympics”. According to the organisers, “We are confident that when we know more about the teams and the draw, people will want to be part of the Olympic Games at the football venues across the UK”. Don’t bet on it - most footy fans will be on holiday or lapping up the start of the domestic season and there’ll be plenty of empty seats at the City of Coventry Stadium, Hampden Park. Millennium Stadium, Old Trafford, Sports Direct Arena (ha, ha, ha, ha) and Wembley Stadium.
I suppose the most staggering news was, of course, Glasgow Rangers going into administration. They’ve only got themselves to blame and, frankly, I’ve no sympathy. It now looks as though the taxman - and rightly so - is gunning after footy clubs. I have to pay tax and I don’t see why people on astronomical salaries can’t do the same. These developments in Scotland led one person in the know to reveal that thirty per cent of clubs in The Championship are paying wages over and above what they get in gate receipts. That can only spell trouble and if those so-called business people carry on at the present rate then an almighty crash will occur.
One club who have flirted with financial problems are, of course, Coventry City. Some years ago, when they moved to their new ground, it looked as though they might be playing in League One. That didn’t happen and led one Coventry official to say at the time that they wouldn’t want to be playing cubs like Hartlepool United at their new stadium. The way things are that could happen. Are you ready for us, Coventry?
Lastly, Back to Pools. A few years ago, someone on the BBC message board, bemoaned the fact that we were always flirting with relegation and said that we needed a Willie Boland. Well, I think we’ve had a Willie Boland for the past two seasons in the shape of Paul Murray and he’s one of the reasons there is confidence in the air. How long he can carry on is anyone’s guess but he’s the type of player we need if we’re to inject stability into the side. Another player who has been singled out is Steve Haslam. When Evan Horwood was carried off against Carlisle and Gary Liddle had to go off against Notts County I was naturally concerned about their injuries, but didn’t worry about their replacement as I knew Mr Reliable would be coming on. Last season, of course, he slotted in at right back following a long - term injury to Neil Austin. Steve Haslam is what I call a ‘plodder’ and every side needs a player like Steve Haslam - that is to say, someone who will never do anything spectacular but just turns in consistent performances week after week when called upon.