March 01, 2013

Dare We Hope for the Great Escape?


GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY thinks the thinkable


As I write these notes, we've just defeated Scunthorpe, making it six on the trot undefeated. All the talk is now about re - making The Great Escape with a possible screening next May. Which misfits will play the roles made famous by Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson, James Coburn, James Garner and others is anyone's guess. Something to tax the mind in the dark nights.

The main advantage for Pools came before the game against Notts County - namely, that Lee Hughes wasn't in the side. He had, of course, been transferred to Port Vale in the transfer window and wasn't I relieved. Another Windass, he was always a pain in the proverbial when appearing against Pools. And then there was the sacking of Keith Curle the day after Pools beat them 2-1. This was the second season running that Notts County sacked their manager after getting beat by Pools. Martin Allen was, of course, the unfortunate one last season. Must be something in the sea air that does it.

"Perhaps the most disappointing result in the unbeaten run was the 0-0 draw against Portsmouth. It was pretty dire stuff"Then there was the game against Leyton Orient. I know that Russell Slade felt hard done by losing those two late goals but, in this case, it was deja vu. The number of times that Pools have been victims of late goals shows that what comes around goes around. Having said that, I liked Leyton Orient's style of play - disciplined at the back and a midfield that was prepared to move into the open spaces and adopt the notion that the best way towards the opponent's goal is to advance in a forward direction. Too often, Pools play the ball back thus giving their opponents time to regroup and organise themselves. After Pools got the equalising goal, the fans weren't going to let them sit back and get the draw. With five minutes added time, a victory was the only option. And the Poolies let them know. One up for fan power.

Perhaps the most disappointing result in the unbeaten run was the 0-0 draw against Portsmouth. It was pretty dire stuff - maybe nerves got the better of Pools in that game. Still, Pools are now off the bottom of the table and the only way is surely 'up'. What was heartening about that game was the turn out of Pompey fans - one hell of a trip on a Tuesday night. It now looks as though the fans' buy out of Portsmouth will now go ahead thus avoiding an expulsion from the Football League.

We've got some crucial games coming up - not least home games against Colchester, Bury and MK Dons, who have slipped behind the pace setters just recently. And then there's an away game against Oldham. Other reasons for keeping the faith. I've never known such a long period when Pools have fielded an unchanged side - even the substitutes are predictable. Glad to see Luke James getting his chance - he's one of the players who can take advantage of Steve Howard's superiority in the air - witness the winner against Leyton Orient.

Whatever the outcome for Pools' quest for safety, one thing is for certain - we now need other results to go our way. In previous seasons, we could always say that our destiny was in our own hands - not this season, it isn't. Only last week, when Oldham played at Stevenage I was heartened when Stevenage took a 1-0 lead only for my hopes to be dashed by two Oldham goals. There are going to be more results like these which will test the nerve ends.

Goings-on elsewhere also caught my attention, particularly those at Swindon. They were a club who signed Uncle Tom Cobbley and all at the start of the season, and it now looks as though they overstretched themselves. It all finished up with Tommy Miller helping to run the side. Had they beaten Pools, they would have gone top of League One -hardly a good moment to have turmoil within a club. Then there was Oldham who lost manager Paul Dickov soon after dumping Liverpool out of the FA Cup. Ungrateful lot - beating Liverpool must have put thousands in the coffers.

A lot of discussion has centered around the FA Cup and whether it has been devalued, particularly by the big clubs. For clubs like Pools, the FA Cup can be a good diversion from the league and if you reach the third round there is always a chance of drawing a club from the bog standard Premier League. My ambition would be to draw Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea or Arsenal on one of those special Poolie days - a force 10 wind blowing off the North Sea and lashing it down with rain. The chances of the game being shown live on TV would be good, thus ensuring that the game wouldn't be postponed.

In terms of the League Cup, I've never seen so much interest in the competition, bearing in mind the two clubs' past histories - Swansea when they nearly dropped out of the Football League and Bradford City who are using the final to remember those fifty six supporters who died at Bradford in 1985. In terms of the Champions League, we could see the last eight line-up without an English club. Chelsea and Manchester City are out; Arsenal are just about out; and Manchester United are by no means certain to get through against Real Madrid. Maybe the Premier League isn't as strong as certain vested interests think it is.