August 10, 2012

It All Comes Round Again


BILLY'S CONTRACT on Pools, Olympics, Euros ...and Boris


By, that came around quick, didn't it? Where did the close season go? In truth, it seems an age since we boarded the coach for the long journey home after the Charlton game, wondering how we would pass the summer in what then seemed to be an age before the football season 'kicked off' once again.

 I, like pretty much everyone else only had a passing interest in the Euros, and no interest at all in the Olympics. As it turned out I watched England predictably slump to yet another penalty defeat once again, in an Irish bar...in Ireland, which was a great laugh. Not so much the result, but the Craic was mighty, and the quality of the Guinness was not far behind.

A famous old wise man once said to me that from every negative no matter how bad there is a positive within. Come to think of it, it was an retired electrician who told me that. So taking that mantra on board, and looking back on the plus side, it was far better losing to Italy in a play-off shoot out than it would have been losing it to Germany in the same circumstances. With that I ordered another pint of the Black Stuff.

My wife asked me if I was going to watch the opening ceremony of the Olympics. I said I had better things to do, particularly as I heard that there might be some 'dogging ' going on over at the Headland as I was tipped off that there was going to be a 'blow job' on Hartlepool's biggest erection. So I took myself off, along with my camera to Old Cemetery Road to take a few photographs of Steetley's (Or The Palliser for those of a certain age) Chimney, before it was demolished a few days later.

It turned out that I got back in the house bang on nine to see the opening ceremony (I thought it actually started at seven o'clock). I am really pleased I caught it. Everyone beforehand thought it would all be done on the cheap a la Blue Peter style, with all the props made from old Squezy washing up liquid bottles, Advent crowns and sticky tape. To say it was sensational would be an understatement. As for Boris Johnson, the sooner he becomes Prime Minster the better for all of us."I will still be down at the Vic next week watching the lads rather than turn up at Burn Road Harriers’ training session!"

This got me thinking that at the start of each new football season all the clubs should have their own opening ceremony.

In the case of Pools, I could envisage an 80 foot inflatable of Lawrence hovering over the Vic, dressed in sling back wellies and an off the shoulder donkey jacket with a mother of pearls necklace. The Stadium would be full of under-sixteen mothers pushing their offspring around the touchline in their buggies, whilst holding a Greggs Steak Bake in one hand, a can of lager in the other, with a tab stuck in between their lips. I obviously haven't fully thought this through yet, but it is early days and I haven't had my medication.

"...I will still be down at the Vic next week watching the lads rather than turn up at Burn Road Harriers’ training session!"

As for the Olympics themselves, I haven't been able to tear myself away from the TV in case I have missed anything. The cycling and the rowing have been exceptional, and as write this it is so called 'Super Saturday' when GB won three golds in the athletics. I was well and truly proud to be British...even though I have Irish blood running through my veins.

It is a strange phenomenon, for all I am a passionate football fan and have seen numerous play-offs and cup finals, as well as world cup and Euro matches, plus the many exciting relegation battle seasons with Pools over the years, some of the events in this Olympics in my view are just as comparable.

Similarly, the year that the England Rugby team beat Australia in their own back yard after extra time was something I will never forget. When the ball was being passed to Wilkinson before he even caught it to drop kick it over the bar to win the World Cup for England I was jumping up and down and roaring my head off. In terms of entertainment it was better than any FA Cup/World Cup final that I have ever seen and the excitement was on a totally different level. Bear in mind this was only the third rugby match I had ever watched fully through. In fairness, most of the time I hadn't a clue what was going on but I was exhausted after the event.

So stand up Jess Ennis, Chris Hoy, Victoria Pendleton, Mo Farah et al as well as all the other Olympians, winners and losers of all nations, you truly put the average and so-called superstar footballers to shame with your dedication and commitment to your respective sports. Mind, having said all that I will still be down at the Vic next week watching the lads rather than turn up at Burn Road Harriers’ training session!

I was really pleased when Neale Cooper announced the signing of Jonathan Franks. How this contrasted with my depression when at about the same time last year it was announced that Nobby Solano had put pen to paper for us.

Although a number of message board Poolies were not too keen on Stevie Howard signing for us, I think it is a massive coup to get him. In the one pre-season match I attended, he won every header put his way against both the Borer teams Tony Mowbray fielded on the day. He played the role of the traditional target man, holding up the ball, providing knock ons and knock downs, as well as making the opposition aware of his physical presence. Not sure how many times he will hit the back of the net this season, but he will make a lot of goals for his fellow forwards.

Simon Walton for me could be the pick of Neale Cooper’s signings. Plymouth’s captain and leading goal scorer last season, with an ‘I don't like to lose’ attitude. I have always said that Pools have never been the same force since Mark Tinkler was forced to hang up his boots. Tinks to me was one of Pools all time great but unsung heroes.

He was a box to box player like Sweeney who could score goals. He was a tenacious tackler and work horse, who could put himself about like Paul Murray. On top of that he could do whatever it was that Gary Liddle was supposed to do, whatever that was...only ten times better!

Basically, in Tinks you got three players for the price of one! From what I have seen in Simon Walton he could be the new Mark Tinkler. He has the type of hair that looks as if it will go grey quite prematurely, which is a good sign to start with. Plus, I like the fact that he was not afraid to rollock Horwood for being responsible for Borer’s first goal. He also gave Monky some grief over something as well. Hopefully he will be Neale Coopers voice on the park, as in the past we have had too many quiet players who perhaps did not like shouting at their 'mates' to get their fingers out.

I am confident that, provided the defence get their act together (and in particular the two full backs stop making basic mistakes and giving the ball away cheaply) we could nick a play-off spot at the very minimum.