April 06, 2012

Taking Stock

CENTRAL PARK sums the season up


Well, the last edition of the season , and even if there is a month to go (and it seems far too early to be doing a post mortem), I’m going to have to do my best, with the body still warm and twitching.

At the time of writing (just before the Sheffield United game) we have 50 points with the reasonable expectation of getting at least another 7. Consequently I am sufficiently satisfied in my own mind that, despite the mathematical possibilities of the situation, we are now safe from the threat of relegation. With seven games to go that is sheer luxury. So that’s me sitting relaxed with my feet up, assured of League One football next season and smirking contentedly at those poor slobs in Manchester going through hell wondering if they will finish first or second in the Premiership. The only good thing about that is that one of them won’t win it.

Before the season started, I attended the customary AGM of the Town End recidivists when we all put forward our expectations for the coming season. The usual pessimists predicted that we would finish 18th in the table, the mindless optimist predicted 8th, and I went for 10th. I was basing my opinion on my great faith in Mick Wadsworth’s ability to pick good players combined with his great organising skills, which he had demonstrated in the season that had just finished. I think it is fair to say that Mick’s signings were a mixed bag, but he certainly did a good job of organising them to get the best out of them in the style he chose to play. I was delighted with the start to the season, going unbeaten for nine games in the league, but sadly we fell away and Mick seemed to accept that he didn’t know what to do to stop the rot when things started to go against us. That run of home defeats did for him, and there was no arguing with Mr Hodcroft’s reasoning when he finally terminated his employment. I was sorry to see him go, and I was very grateful for what he had done for us in his time here. I sincerely wish him well for the future."...those poor slobs in Manchester going through hell wondering if they will finish first or second in the Premiership. The only good thing about that is that one of them won’t win it."

Knowing IOR’s habit of waiting for weeks before appointing new managers, I feared the worst. I could see things just drifting away, with us ending up in the bottom four. Then all of a sudden, as a football club, we got the best possible Christmas present. I remember back in 2003 when a friend phoned me at work and simply said ‘Neale Cooper’. My reaction was ‘who is Neale Cooper and what has he got to do with us?’ He hadn’t heard of him either, but he was letting me know that he had just been appointed as the Pools manager. When the same friend phoned me in late December 2011 and said ‘Neale Cooper’ I thought he was winding me up, knowing that I had always regretted him leaving. But no, it was true ‘The Great Man’ was back. I think it is fair to say that everybody who wishes Pools well was given a lift by his appointment. I thought ‘if we go down at least it won’t be for the lack of effort’.

My only reservation over the appointment was the fact that Neale Cooper had made himself such a wonderful reputation in his first spell in charge that I didn’t want him to have it tarnished if things didn’t work out this time. To date those worries have not been realised. Same old Cooper, same old candour about performances, and same old effort from the team – whoever is in it. See, it doesn’t take much to make me happy.

Believe it or not, things have started to look even more promising. Those of you who have been following my contributions to this fanzine (I can dream can’t I?) will know that I have never believed that the council ever had any intention of selling the ground to IOR, and that I have never been shy in saying so. Well, in a phrase I never thought I would write, it seems that I might have been wrong. Not only might IOR get the ground, with all the development opportunities that this will bring, but they might get it for nothing (nothing that is if you discount the £13,000,000 they have already spent on the club).

Oh, there are a few misanthropes (quickly Kenneth – the dictionary) who want to put a spoke in the wheel and try to squeeze more money out of IOR, but as a full Council Tax payer it seems to me that in the light of the independent report that says the club is worth £5,000,000 a year to the town, then it would be downright churlish to try to get even more out of them. They could end up killing the goose that is laying the golden eggs.

To sum up:

Neale Cooper is in charge.

It looks like IOR are going to get ownership of the ground.

We have some excellent young players coming through.

There are prospects of getting some new players in the close season.

Now if only I can persuade Phil Dunn to play brass band music over the speaker system before the game and get the players to get ‘short back and sides haircuts’ then all will be well. All this and I don’t know how much the season tickets are going to cost, but I don’t care, I’ll still blow my heating allowance money on one.

So come on Franklin, play the music “Happy days are here again...”