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Ticket to Ride


JANE AUSTEN'S ALLEGRO



The good news: Pools are in the play off final. The bad news: The final is to be played, not at Wembley, Leicester or even Stoke as first mooted but at Bristol.

It couldn't have been much further away if they had staged the match in the Scilly Isles. Some conspiracy theorists believe that the venue was chosen as the powers that be, wrongly, believed that Sutton and Torquay would be the finalists and that after the final whistle their fans could be back home in time for Songs of Praise. Others maintain that Ashton Gate was chosen 'because it was cheap, Basil'.

The thing I was dreading was, not the long journey to the South West, the expense or the possibility of defeat meaning an even longer journey back home, but the actual hassle of getting a ticket.

The Cardiff playoff final aside, for which the tickets were issued by an external vendor, Pools, like a good many other clubs, haven't exactly covered themselves with glory when issuing tickets for the big occasion.

No criticism of the staff whatsoever who have to cope with the system of allocating tickets, short timelines, awkward customers and, owing to Covid, a lack of backroom staff.

Obtaining tickets for the the playoff final was probably the worst I have ever experienced.

As a season ticket holder I was guaranteed my playoff ticket and thankfully a friend (Thank you, Barbara.) offered to obtain mine along with her own. I later discovered she waited four hours in the queue for the privilege.
"The thing I was dreading was ...the actual hassle of getting a ticket."

Though extremely grateful, I pulled her leg something rotten for having waited so long in the queue. I reminded her that she didn't wait in file that long for the Boxing Day sale at Next.

As my old man used to say "He/she who laughs last, laughs loudest" and that indeed was the case. Drop down to the next paragraph, dear reader.

When tickets went on general sale I nipped down to the Vic to obtain one on behalf of my son who lives out of the area. It was finally put in my grubby little hand some eight and a half hours later. Which was pretty much the same length of time it took me to travel to and from Bristol. That said, I think I preferred the drive.

Some suggested improvements for ticket allocation:
I am not sure if it was available but if season ticket holders are guaranteed tickets, then they could surely be ordered online and be sent out by post or collected from the main office whilst allowing the ticket office to sell tickets to non season ticket holders. Any season ticket holder not requiring tickets would see their ticket go on general sale.

The day that tickets went on general sale it would have, subject to logistics and availability of staff, made sense to open the ticket office an hour earlier, along with the club shop, which also issued tickets as they had done the previous day to cut down waiting times.

Another thing which could have been done in advance to speed up general sale waiting times was to clarify the statement that you needed to have an account to get a ticket and if you did not have an account you would need to create one. I hadn't a clue what this account was. After some checking it turned out that I did actually have an account, which I did not know existed. It must have been created by the club when I ordered my first season ticket. I have no knowledge of creating an account. I later discovered the Bride had an account as well!

This meant that people in the queue who didn't have an account had to create one in the ticket office thus holding up the whole process whilst at the same time making queueing unnecessarily longer.

To avoid this, a pre-printed account application form for those who did not have one could have been handed out to supporters waiting outside the ground and could have been filled in whilst they were standing in line. I am sure they would have welcomed something to do other than just stand around.

Another cause of the slowness in issuing tickets on the day (no fault of the club) was Covid's impact on social distancing - organising tickets for fans who wanted to be together in their own secure bubble also considerably added to the delays. Ironically this exercise turned out to be a total waste of time and effort as. once in Ashton Gate, seat-wise it was a case every man for himself with little or no sign of social distancing.

I can confirm this as our travelling band of brothers consisted of myself, a pair and a group of three, who were initially spread around the ground. Half an hour before kick-off we were all sat or should I say stood together along with another friend who joined us. My excuse being that we were all doubled-jabbed.

Close season perhaps would be an ideal time for Mr. Singh, as a matter of urgency to review, revise and enhance the way future ticket sales are carried out at the Vic. as I have a premonition that with Mr Challinor at the helm we probably will be queuing for tickets again at some stage next season.

Queue for a song



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Funny Old Final


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I Would Drive 300 Miles


Match report by RUNNING MONKEY



Pools 1 Torquay 1 (National League Promotion Final)
Pools won 5-4 on penalties
Sunday 20 June 2021
Ashton Gate


A big weekend for Pools coincided with my daughter's birthday on the Saturday and Father's Day on the Sunday.

So the tickets were bought, the hotel booked and even the event parking was organised by the daughter.

We had planned for a lunchtime set-off but it was two o'clock by the time, with scarf and monkey displayed in the rear window, we headed up the A179 to the A19. The weather was fine so a good journey down to Bristol, hopefully.

The Vanarama National League Promotion Final to give it its right name was held at Ashton Gate; why you might ask? Two teams so far apart on the map could and should have had a more convenient ground that had equal distance between them. 300 miles for Pools fans, only a third of that distance for the Torquay fans. The fact that Gary Johnson had managed the club for five years made me a little suspicious. The whole set up seemed to me to give him an advantage and to my mind it was geared up to get Torquay promoted. They had the huge stand on the dug-out side of the pitch. What I thought was really funny was that when Torquay scored they played Sweet Caroline, the song that Pools' players use in their dressing room after a game to celebrate a win.

The day before the game a bunch of egg-chasers had used the ground, Harlequins and the Bristol Bears. The home team won apparently.

This Covid season has added to the stress as fans were barred from attending games. One advantage is that this season I have seen every game home and away, albeit that apart from those covered by BT Sport, they were mostly streamed. Some of which were poor quality, but the entertainment was often in the commentary which from some of the away games was hilarious.

Starting a season by getting stuffed five-nil at home and finishing it against the same team is unbelievable. Torquay probably looked at that and felt confident against us. I had been more concerned about Bromley than Torquay but an early three goals had soon put that worry to bed.

AFter four service stops we made Bristol by sevenish. There was a National car park next to the the hotel in the centre of the city. On the way down I was told the tale of the physic sheep at Tweddle Farm, a children’s animal pet farm. Frank Reid [of the Mail and its sister papers] was sent to photograph this mystic sheep as it was tipping Hartlepool to win. it was set two bowls of food and it would only eat out of the Hartlepool bowl and ignored the food in the Torquay bowl. FR asked the staff if the sheep had a name as radio Tees wanted to interview it. [??] The staff said no so FR decided to name it Oatsey and the staff all agreed. Any help is good, I would say.

We left the hotel and made our way to Millennium Square, the internet-designated meeting place for the travelling fans. It was a fifteen minute walk in the rain so we tried to hire one of the scooters that were on every corner but the useless thing would not recognise my licence. Mind, it is ten months out of date due to the D.V.L.A. not getting their fingers out during this COVID break.
Saturday night in Millennium Square

We took a short walk through the dock area which seemed to be the in place for the local Brizzle punters, a bit like Church Street on Friday night but with water. There were few cheers and thumbs-ups from a few Poolies at the tables as they spotted the vintage DNO and Heritage Homes shirts we were wearing. As we rounded the corner into the square there were hundreds of Poolies on the drink going mental to the sound of the drum, creating a fantastic atmosphere as only they can. Apparently they had been going since three in the afternoon - and still were at going on for eleven.
"the police turned up and asked what was going on. They had no idea that a big game was on in their town the following day"

There was a lot of booze and it looked like most of it was being thrown in the air. Give the fans their due, they did clean up the square after them. One Poolie was telling me that the police turned up and asked what was going on. They had no idea that a big game was on in their town the following day; they only answered a call about a disturbance in the square but they were happy to let the Poolies have their party. After the game I spoke to the top steward and he praised the Pools fans especially for the clean up and said they would be welcome in Bristol anytime. I bet it will be the first away game. [It's actually in January, as is Exeter away. Does that suggest the fixture list was set up for Torquay? - ed.]

After a good night's sleep, a shower and a full English we made our way to the event's parking area which was signposted but then we were left guessing. If they had said event parking at the cricket ground it would have made things a lot easier but not bad - all day for a tenner.

A short walk to the ground and another Poolie beer fest in full swing in the street. An impromptu footy game was manic as the ball was booted high in the air and masses of heads were trying to head it back and forwards over the main road. All of this to the beats of the drum. This came to an abrupt end as two balls were launched onto a roof. The four horsewomen of Bristol arrived to clear the street as a double decker bus driver was trying to continue on his route. The Bristol police were still standing back and not interfering in the celebration.

The ground looks impressive, especially the concourse under the stand. It looked new and was clean and bright with good facilities and food outlets.
The Poolie view of the presentation

By now we all know what happened in the game but I will make a few observations. The bias towards Johnson and Co. was blatant. Not only in the venue choce but the fact that the main stand and behind one goal were given over to Torquay fans but they never came up to the level of support that Pools gave, despite what you saw on TV. Even their players were trying to fire up the crowd; you never see a Pools player having to do that.

I was told that the police ordered the penalties to be taken at the opposite end as it might be unfair to Hartlepool.

Torquay's keeper should have been warned for intimidating the penalty takers. And what was the lino watching when Covolan was off his line to make those saves?

Cameron’s assault on Armstrong as he laid on the ground - the defender put a boot into his groin and tried to lift him with it. Also similar treatment was meted out to Sterry.

After all this we are now an English Football League team once again. But the news of Armstrong going to Harrogate is not what I wanted to hear.

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Back Where We Belong!



WAGGA MOON


Well we are back where we belong after a great season was topped off in the best possible way.

And some silverware to go with it. with enormous thanks to the players, Dave Challinor and all his staff and Raj Singh for sticking with it when all the odds piled against him and coming up with a well-deserved promotion.

And we did deserve it after battling our way through the season and achieving something I thought we would never get to. League football again after the nightmare years in the National League and we must make sure we never go back there again.

It's onwards and upwards now and our thoughts should be to get away from the bottom half of League Two and start aiming for League One. It's no good being happy where we are - let's look to move the club forward. Manager Dave Challinor has some big decisions to make in the next few weeks: what players to keep for the new campaign and how to strengthen the squad for the tasks ahead.
"Manager Dave Challinor has some big decisions to make in the next few weeks"

I have the utmost faith in our manager bringing in the right players with his fantastic knowledge of the lower leagues. I certainly hope some of the players who got us up will be given the chance to take us forward but some new additions are a must.

It would be nice to give loanee Brad James a contract after that penalty save which has made him a Poolie hero for life. And I particularly liked Danny Elliott's attitude when he smashed home his penalty and then turned and gestured to the Torquay goalkeeper to get back to his feet and try to save a penalty. This was the keeper who thought he was Bertie Big Bollocks after heading a goal, saving a penalty and then trying to wind up every Pools player who stepped up to take one.

A word here for the captain Ryan Donaldson who has taken quite a bit of stick in the last few months. Superb penalty, skipper, which silenced a lot of your doubters. Me included.

The turn-out at Ashton Gate was superb and, although I was one of the unlucky ones who failed to get a ticket, I was very pleased for the guys and gals who got there. They did Pools proud with their wonderful support and singing and it seemed more like 10,000 Poolies there than the 3,100 there were supposed to be.

Also I must mention referee Simon Mather who was one of the few all season who gave Pools a break. Well two actually. I could not for the life of me see anything wrong with their two "goals" although I was pleased he ruled them out. No wonder Torquay manager Gary Johnson was going apeshit after the match. Not that I have any sympathy with him after what happened to us at the Millennium Stadium in 2005.

By the time this has been published we will know our fixtures for next season and hopefully will be able to return to the Vic and watch the boys. Let's all turn up in numbers and give them the support the deserve.

Come on you Pools!

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Funny Old Final


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Home Match


BILL THE BIRO


When we went to Cardiff, many years ago, it was so easy. There were more tickets than Poolies, and you could buy them online.

We whinged about the price. And about the booking fee. But we couldn't complain about the simplicity of it all and we realised that, given the amount of tickets which needed to be shifted in a few days, Pools' own resources wouldn't be able to cope.

Then, sixteen years later, we again found ourselves in a playoff final. Our opponents, for probably the same reasons we had done so previously, went with the online option but Pools, being Pools, turned back the clock twenty years to the old queuing and telephoning methods and the frustrations they bring with them.

So, since Ashton Gate was a poor substitute for Wembley or even Cardiff, and with the hassle involved in the ticketing process when you live miles away and don't have a season ticket as well as the limited ticket allocation due to Covid, I decided to watch the final on TV.

The previous week's pub meeting, watching some Euro match or other, had gone too well, meaning that I hadn't seen much of either the match or the following morning, so I decided to just watch the final at home with fellow Bizz contributor Shedrick, and drink sensibly enough to actually follow the match this time. He arrived not long after my other half left, having preferred to spend the afternoon with her sister rather than possibly watch history being made.

The beers were all lined up ready when BT's coverage was about to start at 1pm, but, mindful of our pub session a few days earlier, we started with - tea and coffee!
"Another Torquay goal was disallowed but the replays didn't show any reason why it should have been. We felt we were lucky there."

BT filled the next hour pleasantly with the usual stuff - how the teams got here, the club itself, a bit about its players and manager. pundits spouting forth etc, and the co-commentators got to face the cameras for once. Adam Virgo even put Rhys Oates in his league team of the season - unlike the National League itself.

By the time kick-off approached, we'd moved on to the beer and watched the players lining up in the tunnel and saw the little radio-controlled Land-Rover carry the ball onto the pitch and pretty soon we were off.

Torquay had the better of the first 15 minutes and had a goal disallowed but Pools gradually took control with Luke Armstrong causing all sorts of problems for Torquay and getting a goal, and just one pint later it was half time with Pools looking fairly comfortable. The peanuts and Pringles were lasting well.

The half-time punditry was as expected, the gist of which was that Pools were doing well but it could still go either way, which is exactly what we were thinking.

The second half and second pints got under way and as expected Torquay came more into it. Another Torquay goal was disallowed but the replays didn't show any reason why it should have been. We felt we were lucky there.

Both sides had more chances, with Torquay desperate to claw back that goal, and the two of us were both relaxed and tense at the same time as added time arrived and the second pints were finished. Then the 95th minute excitement of a late, late Torquay corner, which their keeper Lucas Covolan came up for. Memories flooded back of Jimmy Glass doing the same for Carlisle many years ago and scoring an unlikely goal. And of course history was repeated and we, along with every Poolie, were thinking this was the end.

So Torquay were now fired up for extra time and Pools had to somehow respond. Neither of us wanted another pint.

As expected, Pools had to weather a storm in extra time and were looking vulnerable when Torquay sub Andrews was injured. However, the time wasted by his treatment, his adamant refusal to come off and his subsequent replacement took the wind out of Torquay's sails while Pools, with nothing else to do, had both a breather and a chance to psych themselves up again. We and the commentators noted that the long stoppage was working in our favour.

Play restarted and it was edge-of-the-seat stuff but eventually we got to penalties with beer and Pringles forgotten.

We suffered alternate depression and elation as our first two penalties were saved and their first two were missed but then everyone was scoring until we got to sudden death.

After Donaldson confidently scored, it was the turn of Matt Buse, whose strike was knocked onto the crossbar by James. I thought it had gone in and it took a few moments for it to sink in. We were promoted!

No doubt it might have been better to have been in Bristol for the atmosphere, nevertheless BT did a good job and allowed us to experience the same highs and lows of a match that had almost everything except what we Poolies most expect - defeat!

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That Was Better than England v Scotland


SHEFFIELD POOLIE


After a long hard season. Pools managed to get promotion with the last kick (or should I say save) of the season.

I cannot praise Dave Challinor and his staff enough for what they have done for this club. At the start of the season we were signing inexperienced unknowns who hadn't played in this league. It took a while for them to settle and for DC to work out what his best team and tactics were.

After the horrors of Halloween at home to Torquay, he went out and signed Armstrong and Sterry, plus playing Oates up front alongside another striker. The 5 - 3 - 2 system suited us perfectly and, apart from a few blips when the status quo was tinkered with, we never looked back. One of the most pleasing aspects was, after years of poor returns, our home form became almost unbeatable. It's just a pity the fans weren't allowed to be in the ground to watch it.
"I get the impression they all seemed to enjoy their time at the club"

I watched every home game (for the first time in over 53 or so years I've been able to manage that!) and every away game which was televised and I got more and more impressed as the season wore on and I really enjoyed it. Do we have any idea how many used the streaming facility or what BT Sport's viewing figures were? I wonder if streaming will continue next season. It could be worth a try but I suppose it all depends on how much money we made from it this season.

The hard work now begins. We need to tie DC down to a contract and I'd try to do the same with all of his staff. Obviously we also need to sign players. How many of the current players would he want to keep and would those on loan be released by their clubs? I get the impression they all seemed to enjoy their time at the club and I don't think it would be too difficult to persuade many of them to sign on.

Can Gary Liddle, who was superb when he came back after injury, manage a full season in the Football League? Despite what he did this season, can Rhys Oates hack it in Division 2. I would suggest he's worth a try but he needs to be given a training programme during the close season to improve his fitness, as there will be more games to play. We need to sort the goalkeeping situation out and I'd like to see Brad Young given a try.

Interesting times ahead and let's hope Mr. Singh stays with us and backs the manager in the transfer market as much as he can.

P.S. Message for Andrea and Andy who I shared a taxi with from the station to Ashton Gate. I got to the arranged meeting point straight after the game but every time I rang the taxi firm their number was engaged. I eventually walked on and waved a taxi down. I just managed to catch my train and I hope you both got home safely.

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Funny Old Final


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Lazarus Strikes!


GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY


Many events have been described as the greatest come-back since Lazarus. Well, we can now add Pools to the list.

Struggling in the first part of the season, Pools put it together and landed the ultimate prize - being back where we belong. This was achieved by astute signings on the part of Dave Challinor - in particular, Lewis Cass, Jamie Sterry, Luke Armstrong, Gary Liddle and Ritchie Bennett.

Two of those players had Newcastle connections and that should bode well for the future should we wish to tap the loan market. Despite having his critics, Steve Bruce hails from the North East and we shouldn't forget that Middlesbrough's manager is an ex-Poolie. (Not sure about Sunderland - maybe Lee Johnson will send his loanees down to daddy at Torquay United). The core of the team is still there - with a little tinkering we should be set fair.

Getting up to League Two couldn't have come at a better time. The National League is going to be one hell of a scramble next season as ex-EFL clubs battle it out. I'll wait until mid-season to see who's in the frame. An added advantage for Poolies is that more away games will be within easy reach. Harrogate and Carlisle are just two examples - come to think of it, in four meetings over two seasons, we failed to beat Harrogate.
"it was more entertaining than watching England against Scotland two days earlier"

Overall, I was reasonably satisfied with the media coverage, particularly from the BBC and Tyne-Tees. Maybe we'll get more coverage next season. Whilst the national media covered the game at Bristol, the Daily Mirror and Daily Telegraph concentrated on the added time equaliser by Lucas Covolan. What is it about Brazilian goalkeepers?

One thing everyone agreed upon was that it was more entertaining than watching England against Scotland two days earlier. At least Pools and Torquay knew where their opponents' goal was situated.

Yes, Sunday, 20th June was a fantastic day. Father's Day and Pools getting promoted. What more can you ask?

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Goodbye National League


BILLY'S CONTRACT


Well how was it for you? The playoff final I mean.

Three days have passed since Brad James tipped Matt Buse's penalty on to the crossbar, propelling Pools into League Two. Mentally, psychologically and emotionally I am destroyed but in the plus column my heart rate has now levelled off to an acceptable 298 beats per minute and, much like the Wingfield Castle, I am still a quivering wreck.

It is fair to say that the one thing about Pools is that they don't go about doing things the easy way. They keep their followers on the edge of their seats until the very end.

I thought Torquay did well closing Pools down and preventing them from playing their usual passing game by building up from the back and carrying the ball from the defence and as such it took Pools a while to settle into the game.
"with the blue and white faithful getting behind them once more they came off their life support machine and reverted back into 'Never Say Die' mode"

If I am brutally honest, having watched the highlights, I could not see anything wrong with Torquay's two disallowed goals. Mind, in the first, Oates was pushed in the back but in reality he wasn't that near the action. That said, the ref missed a a handball by a Torquay player which should have resulted in a Pools penalty.

In the early stages of the second half a number of Pools players looked leggy and seemed to be running out of steam. Then with the last minute of 'Gary Johnson time' their keeper scored a soft equaliser and in those few seconds, like many Poolies, I believed that our dream of returning to the Football League was over.

In truth, as Torquay celebrated their goal, I thought we were down and out as I watched several Pools players sink to their knees in despair - coming so close then having it snatched away. At the same time the vociferous Poolie faithful were stunned into silence for the first time in the match.

For the first few minutes of extra time it certainly looked like a case of when and not if Torquay would take the lead.

Then something happened which I believed changed the course of the game in Pools' favour, when one of their players went down injured for what seemed to be an age and for a time he refused to leave the pitch.

I am of the opinion that his fifteen minutes of fame broke his team's rhythm and fired up Pools, and along with the blue and white faithful getting behind them once more they came off their life support machine and reverted back into 'Never Say Die' mode and finished the stronger side, almost snatching the winner at the death.

Prior to the penalty shoot-out I said to the bride that I could almost see the back pages of every newspaper celebrating not only Lucas Covolan's late goal in added time but also the two or three penalty saves he would make that would take Torquay out of the National League and on to the next level.

We all know what happened next.

A very special mention to Luke Molyneux. I think his penalty was his first and only kick of the game. Well done that man.

I will never forgive the referee for putting that six minutes of added time on, which in turn, owing to the injured Torquay player being stretchered off, led to to an extended extra time which in turn led to us missing by twenty minutes our target of getting to the Wetherby Whaler before its 9.30pm Sunday closing time. Damn that man and damn him again.

All in all a grand day out.


Some Poolies ...and more Poolies!
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The Ghost Has Been Exorcised


DARREN KNOWLES' TASH


Before Sunday, the only time that Pools had been in a playoff final was 16 years ago.

We were in the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, then known as the Millennium Stadium, battling for a place in the Championship for what would be the first time ever in Pools' history. I made the trip down to South Wales that day, so did my late father actually, but that’s where our paths diverged. For there was I, behind one goal, supporting the underdog whilst Dad was at the other end of the same said stadium ...supporting the favourite and bigger club.

We all know how it turned out, eight minutes away from glory and cruelly snatched away from us by a still a ludicrous decision by referee Phil Crossley of Kent. The whistler turned into the dreaded man in black that we all loathe when he awarded a penalty against Chris Westwood for an apparent professional foul on Sheffield Wednesday’s Drew Talbot. Not content with that, he also dismissed Westy and left us to soldier on with ten men. To add the coup de grace, Pools had used all their substitutes so if they picked up any more injuries then the numbers would be depleted further.

MacLean converted the resultant kick from twelve yards despite Dimi getting close to it, but Pools were done for. We lasted for extra time but couldn’t hold on further. Dad had the final say that day, so when we got to the National League Playoff Final then you could surmise that I was dreading it. I was hoping that lightning wasn’t going to strike twice.

Not as many as Poolies made the trip to Avon on Sunday, the recent climate made that impossible, but it seemed a daft decision to hold it there anyways. Bristol is nearer to Torquay than the Midlands. Was there no other stadium available? But it was what it was, and we had to go up against the team which had finished second in the regular campaign and had humped us 5-0 on home turf. Compared to Pools, the Gulls had only one game to make the Final; Pools had had an extra one. Again we were, in most eyes, the underdogs. This time, could the underdog succeed?
"Pools fans here, there and everywhere celebrated, we are back in the Football League."

Both sides had first half goals disallowed, and Adam Virgo on BT Sport was definitely proving his anti-Pools bias as he couldn’t see anything wrong with the Gulls' “goal”. Look closer Mr Virgo, maybe borrow your namesake John’s glasses, and you will see the push on Oates clear as daylight. But Pools grew in confidence and just before half time, Luke Armstrong spun his marker to crash a shot off the crossbar and in! Pools fans in the stadium and in their respective homes, me included here in Northern Ireland, went nuts. Sheer bedlam indeed.

Yet in the second half, we seemed to allow Torquay to come to us and pick us off. A second Gulls “goal” was chalked off, again correctly, but again not so according to the oracle that was Mr Virgo. But somehow Pools were hanging on as if their collective lives depended on it. The time ticked on and on, fingernails were being chewed, and a collective gasp emanated when six minutes additional time were displayed by the fourth official. Surely no more heartache? Time continued to tick, and Gulls had to go for broke ...send the keeper up for last chance saloon set-piece. Then just as we thought we had gotten away with it, young Brad James comes nowhere near for a cross and Alisson Version 2.0 heads into a gaping goal.

Yet in extra time we had chances to win but then again so did Torquay. Therefore it was down to the lottery of a penalty shoot out, and the nerves must have kicked in as both sides missed their first two kicks apiece. Then players got into scoring games, and we endedp ugoing to sudden-death. Pools have had heartache in this; remember Cheltenham? So on the seventh round, club captain Ryan Donaldson stepped forth. Donaldson, who has been victim to many a bit of stick throughout the season, netted. Buse then had the pressure on him and although he did strike it well enough, James turned from villain to hero with a save onto the crossbar and away from danger. The ghost of Cardiff had been exorcised good and proper! Pools fans here, there and everywhere celebrated, we are back in the Football League. Sorry Helen Chamberlain, you’ll have to wait that bit longer!

So to Dave Challinor, Raj Singh, the off-pitch team and the players, we as fans thank you. Now let’s kick on further and make more memories, yeah right? We NEVER SAY DIE, BECAUSE WE ARE UNITED ...HARTLEPOOL UNITED!

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Funny Old Final


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Football Shorts


BILLY'S CONTRACT



Will Richie Bennett be entitled to a winners medal? Apparently he went on line and congratulated Pools on their promotion and was slaughtered by the Stockport fans for doing so.

Another story, made up or otherwise, was about the lady in Bristol who rang the police and complained about the noisy Hartlepool fans who were keeping her awake. She was informed that the Hartlepool contingent were a mile and a half away.

My son is considering changing his mobile ringtone to be the noise of the ball hitting the bar after Brad James saved Matt Buse's penalty.

Amazing that 6,000 plus fans travelled to Ashton Gate and back, without a thought for the Euros. Had it not been for Covid I believe that the attendance would have been nearer 25,000.

I tuned in to the England v Czech Republic match the other night but after ten minutes I set up my laptop and re-watched the Pools v Torquay playoff final, occasionally lifting my head up to have a quick look at the television to see how Gareth Southgate's mob were doing. I think this example mirrors what the ordinary fan in the street thinks about the proposed so called Euro Super League and it should be a concern to those who run the game; why would someone rather watch Hartlepool United (or any lower league side) than the national team?

I'd take another Hartlepool promotion over England winning the World Cup, let alone the Euros.

The man Pools must tie down as a matter of urgency before the season starts is not Jamie Sterry, Rhys Oates, Mark Shelton or Gav Holohan but Dave Challinor. The Tottenham job aside, the bookies have made Dave Challinor the favourite for every vacancy that crops up in the Football League or National League. Wrexham being the latest.

Much like when he was linked with Tranmere, Wrexham are on his doorstep. However the one thing that Pools have in their favour is that we are now a Football League club and Dave Challinor may now have had his fill of non-league football and all its antics.

Let's all hope and pray that Raj puts a decent offer on the table for his consideration and get that extension to his contract signed as quickly as is possible.

According to the Mail, Harrogate Town are keen to acquire the services of Luke Armstrong. Harrogate, I ask you. Harrogate? Granted Harrogate have a sugar daddy who could offer a superior wage package that Pools could only dream of and Armstrong by his own admission has not settled in Salford and wants to be nearer to home.

If I was Dave Challinor my message to Luke Armstrong would be "Do you really want to play in front of home crowds of just over two thousand spectators in a tin pot stadium with little or no atmosphere or passion and a paltry away following?" Salford is 125 miles from his home whilst Harrogate is 68 and Hartlepool is next door. Still a fair old daily travel, Luke.

I read that Torquay's keeper Lucas Covolan didn't mope about for long after being on the losing side of the playoff final, having today signed for Port Vale. That said, our very own keeper Brad Young by all accounts is off to Leicester next week. I wonder what sort of deal was struck with Pools.

My son was close to tears when Torquay forced the game in to extra time. He later confided in me that in the 89th minute he put a consolation bet on, that Torquay would equalise. Seven minutes later, ker-ching, two hundred found its way into his back pocket and half an hour later a Hartlepool win.

Come to think of it, having previously beaten Stockport to reach the final I was extremely confident that Pools would win the playoff final so I had a naughty £1 bet on the full time score being ...a one-all draw. However, as yet I cannot decide what I am going to spend the £9 winnings on.

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