October 05, 2012

Like Last Year's Snow - Just Melted Away


GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY on Opimism


As I write this piece, we’ve helped Colchester get out of the bottom four only to be dumped there ourselves. It’s difficult at the moment to see how we’re going to get out of the mire. 

A defence that’s leaking in a sackful of goals and an attack that can’t score goals. I did think that the signing of Steve Howard would solve the latter problem but it’s the same old story. Howard himself isn’t doing too badly, despite not scoring any goals - he’s not getting the support which he needs from those round him.

Tony Sweeney, Neil Austin and Paul Murray seem to have gone off the boil and so the problems pile up. Yes, we did go into the loan market for Craig Lynch - and he repaid in kind by scoring at Colchester. Now that Neal Cooper’s established good relations with Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Newcastle, how about asking them if they’ve got any defenders who can bring stability to the back four - if only in the short term?

One player who has proved to be a good signing is Jonathan Franks, and his strikes against Carlisle and Shrewsbury show that he’s got an eye for goal. My biggest disappointment is that we don’t seem to be making more of Luke James. In last month’s MB, I offered the view that he should be starting alongside Steve Howard. Come on, let’s give it a try.

The one player who has come out of the shambles of the last few weeks with head held high is Scott Flinders. The way things are going, we could lose him in the next transfer window. The scouts casting their eyes over Pools will have taken note. The other downside to all this is that it’s affecting the gates - the morale of the supporters can only go down so far before they start voting with their feet.

September has certainly been a month where things have been happening. First, there was the Hillsborough Independent Panel who exonerated the Liverpool supporters from any blame on that fateful day in April 1989. The blame has been put squarely on the police, Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, Sheffield City Council and the Football Association. The families of the 96 who died have now got the facts and hopefully it can only be a matter of time before they get justice.

I cannot help be moved by the dignity of the relatives of those who died at Hillsborough. An internet campaign is now apparently under way to nominate one of the leading campaigners, Margaret Aspinall, as Woman of the Year. I cannot think of a more deserving honour.
"Remember Tony Blair and his attachment to The Mags? I don’t think he’s been near the place since he left 10 Downing Street"
One of the problems of that particular period was the culture emanating from government (and others) that footy fans were potential hooligans and had to be controlled by the issuing of such things as identity/membership cards. The Secretary of the Football Association just before Hillsborough was a guy by the name of Ted Croker. He ticked a few boxes - playing the game at a reasonably high level and then becoming a successful businessman. At one time, a retiring FA secretary was awarded a knighthood and the expectation was that this might befall Ted Croker. However, one evening he was attending a reception at 10 Downing Street and he was handbagged by Margaret Thatcher. “What are we going to do about your football hooligans, Mr. Croker?” Thatcher is reported to have asked. Back came the reply, “They’re not my hooligans, Mrs Thatcher, they’re your hooligans who are latching themselves on to the game of football”. Thatcher stormed off and in those few words, Ted Croker buggered up his chances of getting a knighthood.

All this is different now, and those with political and financial power can’t resist getting their grubby hands on the game of football, particularly where the bog standard Premier League is concerned. It seems to be a prerequisite for political leaders and leading businessmen to parade their loyalties when it comes to footy. Remember Tony Blair and his attachment to The Mags? I don’t think he’s been near the place since he left 10 Downing Street.

This now begs the question: how many of you get your phone and broadband from BT? I certainly do and on 13th September I nearly choked on my cup of tea and my cornflakes. That was when I opened the Daily Telegraph newspaper and saw the headline “BT raises prices as it pays millions to show football”. The opening paragraphs asserted “About 10 million BT customers face price rises of up to 25 per cent for phone calls and broadband months after the company spent £738 million on a surprise move into football broadcasting. From January next year, the price of phone calls, line rental and broadband will rise by up to 5.9 per cent, more than twice the rate of inflation, which currently stands at 2.6 per cent… BT’s price rises will lead to speculation that households are paying the price for its move into football”.

Although, BT have denied there’s a link between the two, I’m very sceptical. At least if you don’t want to help fill the coffers of Premier League clubs you can refuse to get Sky; this latest development, however, starts to link everyday things which some might regard as a necessity. I am a customer of BT for telephone and broadband facilities - not as fodder for subsidising the bog standard Premier League. So, I’ll have to put my thinking cap on.

And then there’s the John Terry affair. Frankly, I think it had gone on long enough. Mind you, the original problem was that the court case was held back until after Euro 2012 - surely, the justice system can work better than this. Can you imagine a Poolie being charged with speeding and asking for the court case to be delayed because he’s off to an away match? No chance of that being agreed to - why should the former England captain be treated any differently?

Finally, there’s the question of Princess Kate’s topless photographs. How can this be linked into our beautiful game? Perhaps a post on Facebook provides the answer. “The French have confirmed that they printed the topless pics of Kate Middleton in retaliation for us sending Joey Barton. It’s clearly a case of t*t for tw*t”.

Anyway, as I’ve said before, don’t get too despondent and keep the faith. We’re not as badly off as Darlo and Glasgow Rangers.