November 02, 2012

Last Minute Blues and Cooper's Resignation


GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY reviews recent Pools events


A last minute leveller for Pools at Brentford - and it was an own goal would you believe! Could this be the break in fortune that we’ve been looking for?

Over the past few weeks it's Pools who have been hit with last minute goals - Carlisle (lost 2-1), Bournemouth (winning 1-0 but drew 1-1), Sheffield United (lost 2-1) and Doncaster (leading 1-0 but drew 1-1). All that adds up to six points lost and we can surely come to the conclusion that our concentration at the back was all haywire in the last few minutes of those games. For it to happen once can be put down to bad luck; for it to happen twice might raise an eyebrow; for it to happen three times might cause both eyebrows to be raised; for it to happen FOUR times is surely ******* diabolical.

 The Crawley game perhaps epitomised what’s been happening over a number of games - a non existent midfield that couldn’t create anything - or put another way, Crawley hardly broke sweat; they knew their one goal lead was secure. As an ex-Poolie, Richard Barker must have been wondering what’s happening to his former club.

Obviously, the main issue for Poolies has been the resignation of Neale Cooper. Personally, I was sorry to see him go; he always wore his heart on his sleeve and the phrase ‘blood, sweat, toil and tears’ comes easily to mind. There were times last season when we thought that Neale Cooper was starting to take us somewhere. A pitiful home record to contend with on his arrival, we managed to chalk up impressive victories against Carlisle (4-0) and Notts County (3-0). In addition, we also managed to grind out points on the road - Exeter and Yeovil come to mind.
"There will never be a shortage of applicants for a Pools vacancy - after all, if you can make it at Pools you’re in line for a better job"
Yet it all went wrong - clearly the players have to take the responsibility and the side which Cooper inherited was nowhere near the side which he inherited in 2003. Take Ritchie Humphreys, for example. When Cooper arrived for his first spell as manager, Ritchie was a key player in midfield who could take on defences and, at the same time, find the net. Fast forward to 2012 and Ritchie is a shadow of what he was. And then there’s the biggest mystery of all - Tony Sweeney. He’s certainly been putting in the effort but it seems to be leading nowhere. And then there’s the signing of Franks and Walton. Despite initial optimism neither have made a significant contribution. - although, of course, Franks has found the net twice this season. As I’ve said before, Steve Howard has been a good signing - the problem has been that there’s been nobody there to support him.

What did give us some optimism was the emergence of Luke James but injuries and his latest hernia problem have turned him into a ‘bit’ player. We did get a glimpse of what he’s capable of with his goal against Scunthorpe. But that was it. So more bad luck for Neale Cooper. There’s still a lot of respect for Neale Cooper’s commitment to the club - as has been pointed out many times he’s the most successful manager we’ve had. I’m sure he’ll be back amongst us sometime in the future. In the meantime have a good rest in Scotland and recharge the batteries.

Who follows Neale Cooper is going to fill the column inches of the Hartlepool Mail. Some of the names put forward -for example, Phil Brown and Dave Penney - are quite reasonable but I think someone’s been eating too many wine gums by suggesting the names of Paul Ince and Dennis Wise. Obviously, Pools' next manager will be someone who is out of work from a third or fourth tier club - or indeed a recently retired player who has managerial ambitions. There will never be a shortage of applicants for a Pools vacancy - after all, if you can make it at Pools you’re in line for a better job. That happened, of course, to Brian Clough and Len Ashurst.

Such has been my despondency, that I even suggested to one of my friends that she give me one of her spare slots in her counselling sessions. Couldn’t believe that we took the game so seriously! And then there’s my record as a gambler. To be quite honest, I’ve neither the expertise nor the instinct to win money by gambling so on the day of the Bury match I put a bet on for Pools to lose the game by 2-0. That’ll do it I thought! But to no avail - Pools lost but not by 2-0. So my money still went up the spout.

Other things have, of course, been happening. On Friday, 19th October the Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper, Chris Kirkland, was assaulted by a Leeds United supporter and what shocked me was that the attacker was able to get back into the spectator area without being apprehended by the police or stewards. What the hell were they doing? Clubs shell out a fortune for policing inside their grounds and we can only come to one conclusion: that those in charge of security were paying more attention to watching the game rather than safety. The following day saw the game at its very best. On 25 minutes of the game against Crawley, Poolies had a two minute clap-in to salute the memory of Michael Maidens. Most of the Crawley fans joined in and I thought it showed that there can be a community spirit in the game that we love.

And then there’s the financial situation in Greece. So cash strapped are amateur clubs in Greece that they’ve been forced into taking on brothels as sponsors. Supporters of one club were apparently shocked to find that the club’s training kit was emblazoned with ’Villa Erotica’. (Didn’t say whether they included the telephone number or a website). Then, of course, there’s the Ryder Cup victory by Europe over the Americans. The winning putt was, of course, made by Martin Kaymer of Germany. Which proves one thing - you can always rely on the Germans in a shoot - out. Finally, there’s the heroics of the Austrian skydiver, Felix Baumgartner. Was this the biggest free fall since Rangers dropped into the fourth tier of Scottish football?

By the time this piece is published, we will have played Chesterfield in the FA Cup. Cup competitions have not been our forte this season, so hopefully its going to be third time lucky. It was pretty grim against Bradford City in the Johnson’s Paint Trophy tie - so much so, that some were wanting the referee to blow for time early so that we could get to the penalty shoot out.