August 10, 2012

There is Optimism - and it Could Be All Around You


GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY looks back and forward


Here we go again - the start of a new season. Dare we hope for something to cheer us up? The signs are good - at least, we’ve now signed a proven striker in Steve Howard who should help us to increase the goal tally. Forget about him being nearer 40 than 30 - he’s got the experience under his belt and, just like Kevin Phillips at Blackpool, he’s got the young ‘uns to run round after him.

Last season wasn’t really depressing - more like frustrating. Had it not been for the away victories then we could have been sucked into the relegation dogfight. Buoyed by the sale of over 4,000 season tickets there were grounds for believing that we were getting somewhere and the early unbeaten run added to the optimism. Yes, it all went pear-shaped and we were all left wondering where a home victory would come from. (Britain’s sluggish start at The Olympics brought back memories of the previous season at Pools!)

For me, the Chesterfield game summed everything up. The expectation that we would finish off the season with a bang just disappeared. Pools, already assured of a mid table place, could have thrown caution to the wind against a side just about relegated. After taking the lead, we caved in and were beaten 2-1. Three things stood out in that match. Firstly, over twenty minutes elapsed before the first foul, secondly, there were no cards issued by the referee, and thirdly, neither physio was called into action. The referee must have thought that it was his birthday and Christmas rolled into one. The level of commitment from both sides was evident and as I sat in my trusty seat in the Niramax Stand I could be forgiven for thinking, “I’m paying for the privilege of watching this crap”.

Elsewhere, it now looks as though Victoria Park could revert to Pools’ ownership in the not too distant future - and this can only improve still further the facilities available to spectators. One area, of course, where an investment would bring dividends is the away end. There have been occasions where demand has exceeded supply and the proliferation of League One with ex-Premier League clubs should further benefit the coffers. I’ve been trying to think of ex-Premier League clubs who have played (and will play) at The Vic. The following come to mind: Leeds, Charlton, Southampton (they once brought over 500 for a Tuesday night game), Coventry City, Sheffield Wednesday, Sheffield United, Nottingham Forest, Portsmouth and Leicester City. They all bring with them large followings, and there’s no reason why we shouldn’t cash in on their presence."...All that happened at the Ibrox club should serve as a reminder to those clubs who overstretch themselves and try to achieve dominance."


How will things pan out this season? Looking around, I can‘t think of any club that will dominate proceedings this season, so I’ll have to go for the top six - Doncaster, Sheffield United, Carlisle, MK Dons, Coventry and Pools (definitely not Portsmouth!) The punters’ favourites will, of course, be Sheffield United, but after Ched Evans’ stupidity they may find goals hard to come by and could struggle to make the play-offs. Still, there’s enough quality there to mount some sort of a challenge. At least this season, the Football League computer has been kind to Pools. We’re at home in the first game, but maybe they could have given us a better last game - away to Crawley. Maybe the Football League wanted a game where Pools supporters would have to travel on the London Underground and so bemuse all those Cockneys on their way to the match.

Looking further afield, a number of things caught my attention - some good, some bad. At the end of last season, the FA decided in their wisdom to start the FA Cup final at 5.15pm instead of 3pm. No problem for Chelsea supporters, but it was then discovered that there were no trains out of Euston to get Liverpool supporters home. No doubt the decision was made to reach a global audience via television, but don’t our supporters who go to games matter just as much? I would suggest that if overseas audiences want to watch our show games then they should get up early or go to bed late. We’d have to do the same if the boot was on the other foot.

Later on, of course, the FA appointed Roy Hodgson as England manager and, for this the FA deserve a pat on the back. It meant that the England manager was chosen by the FA and not the London-based tabloid press. And so to the GB Olympic team which was dominated by English players and a few Taffies thrown in. Here Stuart Pearce resisted the tabloid press and left Beckham out. Good on yer, Stuart. I don’t think that Beckham would have made for a more successful team - there were a lot more things going on without him being the focus of attention. Are the FA starting to get some backbone?

Then there was the double header of warm up games at the Riverside Stadium. Anyone who attended both games couldn’t leave the stadium between games. Why - was it that they wanted a captive audience for the food? Anyone who went for both games would have been imprisoned in the Riverside Stadium for six hours - more like, life in a padded cell don’t you think?

At the beginning of June, me and my good lady escaped to the solitude of Scotland and cruised round the Western Isles on a paddle steamer. No escape from the good old game though, as their local newspapers were devoted to the goings-on at Rangers. The whole business seemed so complicated - or should I say a mess? All that happened at the Ibrox club should serve as a reminder to those clubs who overstretch themselves and try to achieve dominance. I think we can sleep safely in our beds that nothing like this will happen at Pools. For that, we should be eternally grateful.

It’s not all doom and gloom in Scotland, though, and that well-known ex-Poolie Jon Daly seems to be going from strength to strength since he joined Dundee United. Last season, he scored 22 goals in 43 matches and was nominated for the PFA Scotland Player of the Year - just losing out to Celtic’s Gary Hooper. In addition, there’s been the experience of European football.

By the time these offerings appear, we’ll know how the new signings are coming along. Whatever happens, keep the faith!!