as RUNNING MONKEY seen it (before the retained list came out)

As the last season was ending, I had a look back at some of the players who could possibly shape the coming season. Or at least have an impression on how we perform. After the previous two awful seasons, one year ago the doom and gloom merchants were writing us off. That was until Mick Wadsworth took over the situation and at least made us look like a football team at times.

Yes we all remember the string of games when four or five nil was the norm. But MW eventually steadied the ship and I think most Poolies are more than satisfied with a position of sixteenth in the first division and three consecutive years to boot. I decided to have a look at the players you should be able to rely on to get you some goals through out the season. Despite being without what we would call a recognised ‘STRIKER’ I ran the rule over the contenders for that mantle. So looking at the period from 2009 to 2011 I picked out the players I thought you might expect a good return from.

Two players in particular, despite not being recognised strikers, stand out head and shoulders above the rest. Based on league goals only, Andy - the self-styled best player at the club - Monkhouse comes out on top with twenty four goals, followed closely by Anthony Sweeney on sixteen goals. Ritchie Barker is next - after just two season in the period looked at, he claimed thirteen goals. Shame his legs went really.
"He reminded me of a former player from way back, Kenny Ellis, who always seemed to be in a different game to his team mates"
We did have Kevin Kyle and Daniel Nardiello in the squad that season but neither of them could be called Poolies as both wanted to be away, and they only netted eight goals between them.

Despite two awful injuries and limited games as sub, James Brown got into double figures on eleven, for me one of the saddest episodes in recent years at the Vic, to see such a talent struggle to be fit enough for the rigours of league football.

It has taken Adam Boyd two seasons since his return to manage ten goals and for me he has been a huge disappointment. Whether it is down to application or not, who know,  but he has not been a happy chappy since his return.

The next two in line are Gary Liddle and Roy O’Donovan, both on nine goals. Liddle is probably rated as one of our best players, steady away and that has been a great contribution from midfield. Roy of the Rovers was for us a goal machine, again on nine goals in fifteen games and I think every Poolie was hoping that he would become a permanent fixture. But sadly he went off to languish in some higher division reserve team, such a waste.

Next up is the enigma that is Denis Behan, such a promising start but his tally is only seven league goals, which dried up along with his chances to improve on it. An old parish priest warned me at the time about bringing these oirsh lads into our game. He said the problem is they are all brought up on the Gaelic football and just cannot convert; those that do are the exception to the rule. To me one of the strangest characters to pull on a Pools shirt is Richie Jones (seven goals.) This lad tended to believe his own press clippings and always thought he was too good for Pools. Never have I seen a player to be so hot and cold on the same day, he could turn it on but could also be so wasteful with the ball at times. He reminded me of a former player from way back, Kenny Ellis, who always seemed to be in a different game to his team mates, in that he would dummy a ball leaving it for a player that just was not there.

Whatever you make of Colin Larkin, he scored four goals at the tail end of the season and probably won himself a contract. This after most of the season not being good enough to break into the team and when he had his chance he just ran a lot without the ball.

We now enter the realms of fantasy, a smattering of players who are just not up to scratch. They are all probably very nice people but not all nice people make good footballers. I should really re-phrase that last statement in the case of Leon McSweeney, as I consider him to be one of the most improved players this season. Despite having only scored three his contribution far out-weighs his lack of scoring prowess.

A big man and a big disappointment has to be Armann Bjornsson, but I blame Turner for this as the lad could never make his mind up if he was a centre half or a striker, but even from a centre half of his size three goals is not enough.

Michael Mackay, a great lad to talk to, very open and I bet he often wondered what he had to do to get a start. He was banging goals in left right and centre for the reserves but could not translate that to the first team. Two goals from him on limited starts, but it is anyone’s guess if he will be with us next term. Gateshead beckons I reckon.

Ritchie Humphreys has two this season but you could hardly put a “legend “ in the same category, could you?

James Poole, you could hardly call him a Poolie after just six games, scoring one goal, but another one that MW has his eye on. I suppose he is young and could be moulded but who knows? I liked David Foley but I guess he was another player that had to leave Pools to start scoring goals, which he is at his new club, Puerto Rico Islanders - a far cry from the team bus at Pools, as they have to fly every where. I bet the lad wishes he was still in the Football League, and my guess is he will make a return somewhere soon.

Ryan Donaldson, eleven games and no goals - to be honest the lad never really looked like scoring, and my guess is he won't make the grade at the Toon, and could be signing right now, as MW really rates him.

The player that comes to the bottom of my list has probably the worst stats of all the above-mentioned players. Seventy-two appearances and only one goal to show for his efforts, he should be kicked out now. FLINDERS OUT NOW I SAY.