September 06, 2013

The Future Revisited


by ALAN ESSEX 


Sorry, that sounds a little like an un-released Hawkwind album. Just out of interest (well my interest anyway) Hawkwind have now been going for 44 years with many different line ups and varying degrees of financial stability. When they started we had just finished 22nd in the fourth tier of English football. As I write this we’re 23rd in the fourth tier, Hawkwind are still playing ‘Master of the Universe’ and ‘Silver Machine’ so nothing much has changed.

"Chris Turner seems happily ensconced as chief executive at Chesterfield and even I’ll admit that Billy Horner is probably a bit old for the job now"Well, we’ve now reached that part of the season where we are wondering who our next manager will be. In the last MB I said that Colin Cooper and Craig Hignett may be our major signings for the coming season. I’m afraid that this seems to be something of an overstatement. Despite talking a good talk the results and performances have not lived up to even modest expectations. At the time of writing we’ve played 5 league games losing 3, drawing 2, goals scored 0. I’m sure the management team must have set achievable targets at the beginning of the season, I’m pretty sure they’ve not been met. Even the reserves have not scored in their 2 Central League fixtures, losing both.

I’m reminded of the 1983/84 season when Mick Docherty, ex Sunderland player, son of the famous Tommy became our manager. The first 19 League games yielded just one win although we did score 14 goals. Docherty lasted until 15thDecember, his last game being a 6-0 defeat at Colchester, it was dire, I was there. Billy Horner who was still on some kind of retainer at the club took over although it was never disclosed if he were caretaker, manager or coach. One of the first things Billy Horner did was reinstate Roy Hogan from Crook Town, Paul Dobson from Consett and John Linacre from Lahti (Finland), who Docherty had got rid of. I’d like to have said that the team did well from then on, but the truth is we managed just another 8 League wins all season and finished 23rd.

Another disastrous season was 1989/90 with Bobby Moncur the manager. He’d taken over from John Bird the previous November and guided us to 19th in the Fourth Division, a good achievement in those re election days. Hopes were relatively high as optimists like to put it. No wins in the first 8 games with just 2 draws and 3 goals scored. The next 9 games saw 2 wins and 1 draw but with 13 goals scored, yes folks that’s 13 goals in 9 games. Unfortunately we conceded 20 in those games. Bobby Moncur left on the 27th of November a couple of days after the 3-1 defeat at Chesterfield. Cyril Knowles took over and we managed to finish a creditable 19th again. The following season we were promoted.

More recently, last season 2012/13 was no great shakes either. 1 win and 4 draws in the first 14 games in the 3rd tier of English football saw Neale Cooper make his second exit as Hartlepool United manager. The circumstances this time being rather more transparent than the first exit. We did manage 12 goals in those games.

Now I know it’s early days and we are surely going to score sooner or later (just imagine going through a whole season without scoring) but things are looking grim. Should Cooper and Hignett be relieved of their duties who will take over? We don’t have Micky Barron and / or Ritchie Humphreys to call upon as caretakers, Chris Turner seems happily ensconced as chief executive at Chesterfield and even I’ll admit that Billy Horner is probably a bit old for the job now. Sam Collins is the senior professional and he does have coaching badges?

Looking at the longer term, what about ‘Il Duce’, Mussolini, up the road at the Stadio di Luce. He’ll surely be needing a new role soon and at least he’d get the training to run on time.