Showing posts from October, 2011

the online fanzine for Poolies

CENTRAL PARK celebrates

I have a well established routine on match days that helps me to get to the ground with the minimum of fuss and the maximum comfort. My wife drives me there in the car so there is no stress. Just how I like things.

I always stand in the same spot (leaning against a girder at the town end) and of course I am always in the company of the usual bunch of wiseacres - well-informed friends who can be relied upon to fill in any lacunae in the fast-paced all-action entertainment with sparkling conversation and illuminating wit. (Yes it is Hartlepool I’m talking about). Of course this conversation can only take place during the match as you still can’t have a reasonable conversation before the game due to the noise coming from the public address speakers. These are still too loud despite my years of moaning about it; does nobody in the higher reaches of the club read these articles?

Generally speaking my match day routine hasn’t varied for quite a few years. However all that changed a couple of weeks ago." I used to watch Sunderland years ago when their matches didn’t clash with ‘Pools. Those were the days when Charlie Hurley and Stan Anderson played for them – I just missed out on Charlie Buchan apparently"

My daughter, who has taken up with a Sunderland supporter (not as bad as it sounds – he is actually from Sunderland and has also bought a season ticket for Hartlepool) thought it would be a good bonding experience for us to attend a Sunderland match together when ‘Pools were not at home. I didn’t take any persuading (just as well really as my daughter has inherited my wife’s ability to get her own way when she has a ‘good idea’) as I used to watch Sunderland years ago when their matches didn’t clash with ‘Pools. Those were the days when Charlie Hurley and Stan Anderson played for them – I just missed out on Charlie Buchan apparently.

An added incentive to attend was her very kind offer to pay for my ticket as a present for my forthcoming birthday. Things started out in the usual fashion on the big day, my wife drove me to the railway station, or should I say the Hartlepool International Transport Interchange and then the rot set in. Despite there being two ticket points open, a big queue developed because some bozo wanted to buy a season ticket for his son to travel to and from university. I’m not an unreasonable man, but what a time to pick – about 12.30pm on a Saturday. Not only was he being a pain in wanting to know the fine detail of everything, and wanting a written receipt, it was patently obvious that the bloke in the ticket office didn’t really want to serve him. The look on his face clearly said that he didn’t want to be at work on a Saturday and if he had to be there then he certainly didn’t want to be doing anything other than to dish out tickets while practising his surly expression and offhand manner. (This was the first time I had been on a train since that trip to Cardiff six years ago, so it was nice to see that some things hadn’t changed, no matter who is running the railways.)

The second ticket point was taken up by an old couple who didn’t know what they wanted, but by God they weren’t going to move until somebody provided it. All the while this was going on an ugly queue was getting bigger and more and more restive. The fact that some of them were huge and were wearing red and white stripes didn’t add to my sense of well being. So having done the sensible thing and arrived at the station 20 minutes before the train was due to leave I found myself desperately checking my watch and wondering what I would say to my daughter, that she would believe, if I didn’t make it.

Fortunately I made it with 5 minutes to spare and wondered what I had been fretting about. I must say I was surprised by the number of people waiting for the train. As I’ve said there were some in red and white stripes so it was a fair bet as to where they were going but there were also dozens of others who wanted to travel north for reasons of their own. Then the train arrived. Saturday peak time or no Saturday peak time two carriages were all that were provided. Trying to look nonchalant I managed to push my way to a handy position for the door and then with an agility belying my years I managed to get a seat. What a stroke of luck that was. The carriages were absolutely packed and I even felt uncomfortable sitting down.

Then we arrived at Seaham where the platform was thronged with mostly young lads wearing red and white stripes. I’m sure that what followed must have been illegal. There was no room on the train but nevertheless all of the waiting passengers were somehow forced onto it. It was so packed that the automatic doors couldn’t operate so people were forcing them closed with their feet. It was a bit like the way they forced people onto commuter trains in Japan that I used to see on the newsreels years ago. God knows what would have happened if we had had only the slightest of accidents. I decided there and then that I would write to the Health and Safety Executive or some such, but eventually I couldn’t be bothered.

Having arrived in Sunderland more or less in one piece we set off on the trek to the Stadium of Light. It was a bit more tiring than the usual casual stroll from Morrison’s car park to the town end gate but that was made up for by the plethora of food outlets on the way. If you made your mind up to it you could arrive at the ground looking like Billy Bunter. It smelled like the town moor during carnival week. It would be to Sunderland’s advantage if they could arrange for the police to escort the visiting teams to the ground via those streets so that their opposition would feel sick before a ball was kicked.

The game itself wasn’t really much of a contest. Chelsea were skilful and assured and looked like they were going through their training ground routines while Sunderland, though they had plenty of ability looked like a bunch of strangers who didn’t believe that they could prevail, and so it proved.

There was plenty there to be appreciated but the whole game had an air of inevitability about it. Mind you I was more than a bit miffed when I realised that they only gave out the half time scores for the Premiership, but fortunately my daughter had one of those extremely complicated electronic devices that tells you the weather forecast for Namibia, the state of the cotton crop in Egypt and even more importantly the half time scores in the first division of the English league. Marvellous, I don’t know how they do it for only 15/6d.

Game over, I was given a lift back home buoyed by the knowledge that we had won at Carlisle and looking forward to seeing the league table on Ceefax. All in all it was a very pleasant way to fill in a Saturday afternoon when ‘Pools were away and I would be happy to do it again in such circumstances.

The following Saturday ‘normal service was resumed’. A lift to the ground, my usual spot beside the girder, a comfortable home win and a lift home. What could be better? (Answers on a postcard to the director of public prosecutions stating your full name and address please).

ED PARKINSON gives the view from France

Ed's been writing in an English-language newspaper in France for a while, and has passed on some of his offerings featuring Pools


This season’s home game against Sheffield Wednesday was very special for me. As well as being my first home game of the season, it was the first ever Pools match I’d taken my eldest son to. It was the culmination of three and a half years of indoctrination, which will continue unabated until I am convinced that he has been well and truly Pooliefied.

Ewan should have been born on Saturday 8th March 2008. On that day Pools thrashed Gillingham 4-0 at the Vic, and it’s a real shame that it didn’t come to pass. He actually showed his face at three minutes past midnight, after an hour or so of nearly dropping. I’m convinced that the midwife didn’t encourage our lass to give the final push until midnight as that was when her shift officially ended, and she needed a bit of overtime.

The brainwashing process started on day one. After going home for a bit of shuteye, I sauntered back into the maternity ward in my Pools top. When I held him, I made sure that Ewan’s head end was on my left side so that he would get maximum exposure to the Pools badge. Even though I was told that bairns can’t really focus properly at that age, the sentiment seemed right.

I appointed myself chief teddy-namer as well, and it wasn’t long before Ewan’s collection of cuddly animals had been called after Pools players of the past – Tunks, Borthwick, Godwin, Doigy, and Shug. I explained to our lass that no other sprogs would have teddies with these names, so there would absolutely no confusion in a lost-property scenario." I managed to convince Ewan that going to watch Pools was very important, a duty more important than work."

Ewan was soon clad in Pools babygrows and bibs, and perhaps the best garment of all was one knitted by our lass's mate Dee to celebrate the clubs centenary year. It was a blue woolly jumper with the letters ‘HUFC’ on the front and ‘100’ on the back in white writing.

Once Ewan started talking, he was soon aware of the importance of football and Pools. This was further reinforced when he started taking an interest in books and magazines, as I would leave copies of Monkey Business and programmes lying about for him to flick through. He soon knew who H’Angus was, especially as he had a clay model of him hanging on his bedroom wall.

I managed to convince Ewan that going to watch Pools was very important, a duty more important than work. I would return home with tales of heroic performances and superb attempts to score, even if we had been thrashed. It was hard to keep my spirits up during Turner’s grindingly poor second spell as manager, but once Wadsworth got a grip of the team it was easy to communicate my enthusiasm for all things Pools.

After the birth of his younger brother Ross in the summer, Ewan matured a great deal. His attention span grew longer, he became increasingly obedient, sensible, and also more interested in footy. The season ticket offer made it easy for me to make my mind up – this would be the season that I would start taking him to matches.

To ease him in gently I took him to watch Hucknall Town v Rainworth Miners Welfare in the Evo-stik First Division South at the end of August. This division is three steps down the non-league ladder from where the Darloids currently ply their trade, and proved to be a great introduction to a live match. A small crowd, choice between standing and seating, and an entertaining match was a good start.

Granted, Ewan was more interested in playing with his toy cars and lorries than watching the events on the pitch, but he lasted the full match without causing chew, and was excited at the prospect of going to a Pools game.

Because of work and other commitments, the Wendies game was the first one I could take him to, and it couldn’t come round soon enough. Arriving in town, we picked up some bottles of Strongarm from the brewery visitor centre, then went on to the headland to get some proper fish and chips from Verrills. Parking up, Ewan spotted that the van next to us had a Pools badge in the window.

I explained to him that he would see lots of Pools badges during the rest of the day, and produced his otherwise plain grey sunhat onto which I had cunningly attached a small pin badge with the Pools logo on it.

After a bit of scran on the beach, we headed to the ground to pick our season tickets up. There were lots of Poolies about, especially in the club shop. It was in here that I bought him a blue t-shirt emblazoned with an embroidered Pools logo, something he was very keen to put on. In the queue at the ticket office he did a quick change, and he was absolutely over the moon. “This has got a Hartlepool badge on!” he excitedly exclaimed to anyone within earshot.

The Mill House pub was thronging will similarly-clad Poolies, which reinforced Ewan’s pride in his new garment. It was great to see the huge queues at the Vic, and even better to see how quickly they moved. I started to well up as we got nearer to the gate, and I had to fight back tears as the clanking turnstile span him into a Poolie world. It wasn’t quite the same as seeing him or his brother being born, but up there with some of my proudest moments as a dad.

It was a shame that Pools lost their unbeaten run, especially to a side managed by Gary Megson, but Ewan did his bit – he needed a slash after about half an hour, which meant we missed the Sheffield Wednesday goal. Again his toy vehicles held more fascination than a top-of-the-table League One clash, but he was good for the full 90 minutes and he responded positively to the prospect of going to watch Pools at Meadow Lane the following week.

An incident the next morning proved to be the icing on the cake. As soon as he woke, he wanted to wear his Pools top, something he has never done with any item of clothing before. Needless to say he had it on all day Sunday, and it was hacky black by bath time.

As an exile living in Nottingham, I have to work extra hard to make sure Pools are the team for Ewan. I’ve no doubt that as he grows up he will come under the influence of Forest or County-supporting mates, and I will not be too upset if he wants to support either of them (NOT when they are playing Pools though). After all, they are his local teams.

What I will really object to is any swaying towards one of the glory sides – Chelsea, either of the Manchester teams, or whoever is next to have obscene amounts of money thrown at them. The insidious creeping of the all-pervasive Sky Sports world-view – one in which the Premiershit is hyped to buggery and everything else becomes irrelevant – grows stronger year by year.

Supporters of smaller clubs are slowly being sucked up by the so-called ‘big’ teams, and it will not surprise me if some teams in the fourth tier need to turn semi-professional in order to survive in the next five to ten years.

I would like to think my influence will really plant Pools in Ewan’s heart, and although one day he will come to realise that he has been brainwashed, he will thank me for it. If nothing else I will need his help to continue the process with his younger brother!

KT POOLIE wonders what all the fuss is about

All except the game’s administrators recognise football has some fundamental financial problems. Now however, the pundits are waking up to another development, one which has been creeping up slowly, but steadily, for ten years.

It seems a small, un-fancied and un-fashionable team from the North East of England is not obeying the natural order of things and this gives all the so called experts – journalists, ex-players, managers, fans, TV producers - a headache. Should they ignore the evidence before their eyes and keep their cameras and commentators hanging around outside the stadiums in Sheffield, Huddersfield, Milton Keynes and Charlton, or grab a warm coat and head for Hartlepool where a real story is taking place?

Some are confused. “It's clear to me,” comments Lee Roy Ross Snr, pointing to the league tables, “that as long as we tolerate the kind results taking place every week in League One, we will continue to see street riots, a lack of respect and contempt for football as a game”.

Others fear for their reputations. “I’m becoming a laughing stock in my own manor”, says co-presenter Steve Cabbage. “How many times can I express surprise and yet take credit for suggesting I knew all along it would happen?”" Do the betting companies do any research? Did no-one spot Nobby Solano’s signing and the reasons he gave?"

Whatever the reaction, the football revolution taking place at Hartlepool is having an effect. Players ignored or written off for many years are suddenly finding they are on first name, if not best-mate, terms with football analysts. Comments such as, ‘I’ve been a big fan of Adam’s football for years’, ‘It wouldn’t surprise me if someone offers several million for Gary during the January window’, ‘I’ve written repeatedly that Peter should be playing in the Championship at least’, are trotted out every Saturday, usually accompanied by some reference to the club being under the radar, or punching above its weight and the results being quite a shock.

In the town there is incredulity that the authorities and commentators have taken so long to realise what’s going on at Pools. Do the betting companies do any research? Did no-one spot Nobby Solano’s signing and the reasons he gave? Did none of the scouts notice the club snatching James Poole, Evan Horwood and Nathan Luscombe to play alongside Sam Collins, Ritchie Humphreys and Paul Murray?

The signing of good young prospects to complement experienced heads is one thing, but sensible budget control, an innovative season ticket scheme and non-payment of agents’ fees are also applauded by the public and bring a sense of togetherness at the club.

It would be naive to suggest this will inevitably lead to success – it is still too easy to buy short-term results – but when owners, management, players, staff and fans are united, big things can happen to small clubs.

For the Journey

BILLY'S CONTRACT relives his musical youth

Went to see The Almighty Jethro Tull at The Sage recently doing an unplugged set. "What?" I hear you say, "Are they still on the go?"

Very much so, a bit like Ritchie Humphreys, 43 years on the road. Admittedly Ian Anderson vocally can no longer hit the high notes, but that still doesn't stop them from being one of the biggest touring bands of all time, who still regularly sell out all their concerts, unlike a lot of bands/artists I could mention. As Ian Anderson once said a few years back 'We may no longer be top of the Premiership but we are certainly in the top three of the Championship'.

Anyway it was during one of their songs, fittingly called 'Up the 'Pool', that got me thinking of the easy way to fill a few columns for Monkey Business by listing a few of their songs/album names in relation to all things Pools.

Sadly the song 'Up the 'Pool' is about Blackpool but none the less, the lyrics always put me in mind of the Fish Sands on a Sunny day.

Passion Play: Neale Cooper and Brian Honour
Under Wraps: Jack Baldwin
Love Story: Hartlepool United
War Child: Roy Hogan
Fat Man: Nathan Luscombe (when he first joined 'Pools)
Inside: Bob Newton
My God: Ritchie Humphreys
Sweet Dream: Boydy's stunner against Sheff Weds
Teacher: Mick Wadsworth
Dark Ages: The Re-election Years
Black Sunday: The day after Cardiff.
Protect and Survive: Mick Wadsworth's tactics
Beastie: Sam Collins
Fallen on Hard Times: Darlo
Saboteur: Scotty
When Jesus Came to play: Gordon Watson
Kissing Willie: After Willie Waddell's winning goal against Darlo 71/72 season
Overhang: The Well Hung Monkey
Steel Monkey: H'Angus
Velvet Green: Pools' Pitch
Reasons for Waiting: H'pool Council procrastinating about sale of the Vic to IOR
This is not Love: The Boro ...or Leeds at a push
Wind up: When I first heard of the £100 season ticket offer
Crazed Institution: The governing bodies of the football league and the F.A
Cup of Wonder: The Johnstone's Paint Trophy

I have my own ideas who should be credited with or related to the following Tull album, but I will let you the reader decide.

Thick As A Brick..............

(send your suggestions to Bizz Co at the unusual address.)

Forthcoming editions of Monkey Business will compare all things 'Pools related to the music and albums of the following artists: Tom Waits, Rory Gallagher, Bob Dylan, The Doors, Dr. Feelgood, and The Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, to name but a few.

(No they won't - Editor)

Congratulations agents Arnison and Lee. Your work is nearly done.

GRANDAD SHOUTY asks an important question

"What's going on? I don't think I've heard of you winning so many matches" That was my Canadian friend's reaction to Pools' five on the trot victories which saw us unbeaten at the end of September. Unfortunately, our unbeaten run came to an end against Sheffield Wednesday and I didn't get the satisfaction of seeing Wednesday falling on a Saturday.

It was a lot different to last year, wasn't it? Then, we were in the depths of despair as Wednesday tonked us 5-0. The writing was on the wall and it seemed that we would be involved in an eternal struggle at the wrong end of the table. Fortunately, we turned things around and Mick Wadsworth was able to field younger players towards the end of the season to give them experience.

In the Wednesday game, I thought that Pools more than matched their opponents and the 1-0 defeat was rough justice. The reception from Poolies at the end of the game more than indicated they were satisfied with the performance - if not the result. Providing we can keep defeating the teams below us everything should be ok.

The fact that we were early pace setters focussed the minds of some as to whether we would be candidates for promotion. Could we cope with it? In all honesty, I would have to say: I don't know. However, we have to look at the case of poor old Plymouth Argyle. In 2004, they came to The Vic in the last home game of the season already crowned League One champions - the Rink End was just about full of Pilgrims who had made the long journey up from the West Country." Alex Ferguson complained that television was controlling the game. Stone the crows - its taken a long time for the penny to drop, hasn't it. Where's he been living for the past few years?"

Initially, Argyle held their own in The Championship but eventually dropped back into League One. Last season, of course, they went into administration with the requisite deduction of ten points. This season, they're struggling at the foot of League Two and, at the present rate, could drop out of the Football League altogether. Cases of players and staff not being paid and the ex-manager paying the heating bill out of his own pocket give further emphasis of Plymouth's problems.

How has this come about? Essentially, its one of The Championship being clogged up with teams who have been relegated from the Premier League and receiving parachute payments thus creating financial disparity. Then there's the question of what the players receive. Players who play in the Championship receive wages appropriate to that division. Sign players on two year contracts and then get relegated and you're asking for trouble. Let's hope that Plymouth can claw themselves out of trouble. It would be a shame to see them go out of the Football League.

The disparity between the upper and lower reaches of the game were highlighted last month when Alex Ferguson complained that television was controlling the game. Stone the crows - its taken a long time for the penny to drop, hasn't it. Where's he been living for the past few years? The BBC Football website outlined just how much the Premier League has been raking in over the past few years:

1992 -97 BSkyB 60 games per season £191m per season
1997 -01 BSkyB 60 games per season £670m per season
2001 -04 BSkyB 110 games per season £1.2bn per season
2004 -07 BSkyB 138 games per season £1,024bn per season
2007 -10 BSkyB and Setanta 138 games per season £1.706bn per season
2010 -13 BSkyB/Setanta (replaced by ESPN) 138 games per season £1.782bn per season

From those figures, you'll see just how much the Premier League is dependent on television. Not only that, but the tradition of 3 pm kick-offs on a Saturday now seem to be a thing of the past so far as the Premier League is concerned. What's more, they want more cash. The clubs complain that there are too many fixtures yet think nothing about going off on junkets to exotic places in the hope of flogging more replica shirts. Still, they're stuck with market forces - and they can turn against you. Which is why we're in a recession.

Another gripe - this time with the BBC. On Tuesday, 27th September MK Dons played Charlton and Wycombe played Preston and both games were relevant in terms of Pools' league position. However, on the sports bulletins on Radio 5 no mention was made of the results of those games - so the only BBC option was to look them up on the BBC website. Now I wasn't going to get out of bed to switch the computer on so had to wait until the following morning to see the results in the paper. However, all the papers had only one news item to write about - the Tevez affair - and after seeing the results I wanted, the sports supplement went into the blue bag in the recycling bin. The guy is an absolute pain in the butt and I wish Theresa May at the Home Office would find some way of deporting him back to Argentina so that we can all have a bit of bloody peace.

Some months ago, of course, the BBC announced that they were looking at their local radio network with a view to taking out local footy coverage. This would be transferred to Radio 5 but if they can't even give the results what hope is there? Fortunately, the local radio thing looks as though it has been kicked into the long grass.

Finally, it was great to see Richard Barker back at The Vic in his capacity as manager of Bury. One other ex-Poolie seems to be doing well for himself and that's Jon Daly - now captain of Dundee United and banging in the goals with regularlity. Opinion was always divided on Jon Daly but after coming off the bench at Cardiff in 2005 to score Pools' second goal, he'll always have a place in our history.

another French piece from ED PARKINSON

BILLY'S CONTRACT on being a Poolie

I wish Pools would hurry up and get on a losing streak, as there is nothing to moan about these days. I have always felt the direr the straits that 'Pools were in, the funnier the articles are in Monkey Business. The reverse tends to apply when we are winning on a regular basis, it is as if the gallows humour seems to desert the contributors when we do well. So as I cannot think of anything 'sarky' to write about 'Pools I thought I would turn my attention to the town itself and its identity.

A few weeks back I was driving along the A689 into God's own backyard when I noticed a new sign which reads: Cameron's Welcome to Lion Country. Whatever happened to Monkey country I asked myself? I cannot recall the good folk of Hartlepool hanging a Lion - a lot more difficult than string a chimp up, I dare say.

Just above this sign is another which reads: Welcome to Hartlepool in the Tees Valley.
Since when did Hartlepool become part of the Tees Valley? I don't recall voting for it. As far as I am concerned Hartlepool always was and always will be in County Durham, the Land of the Prince Bishops, and not part of the Middlesbrough-based Cleveland County... Land of  the smog.

I do fear that sometime in the not too distant future there will be created a county called Tees Valley. Sadly I fear that Hartlepool will fall under its control and more worryingly, County Hall / head office call it what you like, will be based in Darlington. Being ruled by Cleveland was bad enough all those years ago, but can you imagine sending you rates bill to Darlo. I think not.

Can anyone tell me where on earth is the Tees Valley anyway? Is it some mythical place like Brigadoon or Narnia. I have looked for it on a map and can't find any trace of it.

Hartlepool itself is certainly not in a valley, and the town is a fair walk from the Tees to boot. If there was such a place as Tees Valley, to my mind it would be plonked somewhere near Cow Green resovoir  the other side of Middleton-in-Teesdale, near High Force (logic tells me that they would need to have a valley to accommodate a reservoir).
" rumours have it that, as part of their continuing fight for independence from West Hartlepool, the Headlanders are amassing weapons of mass destruction"
There is also a 'hoarding'  at the Vic' which reads, or rather states, that Poolies are born not made. I can't quite get my head around that one. I and a few of my mates who stand in the Town End are not by birth Poolies and for three of us, Pools were not the first team of our choice when we were youngsters. So in our cases Poolies are made not born. To add further to the confusion, come the forthcoming closure of the maternity unit at The General Hospital, strictly speaking there will be no such thing as a Poolie, as in future, if not so already, they will all be born at North Tees hospital. Which effectively means that forthcoming generations of 'Poolies, will in fact be Stocktonians. So it will be a definite case of Poolies being made not born. Confused? Well, so am I.

It really gets my hackles going when Hartlepool is referred to as Teesside in the media - the Middlesbrough-based Evening Gazette being among the worst offenders for this obscenity along with Radio Tees (soon to become Radio Tees Valley?), who broadcast before each news bulletin 'Serving listeners in Teesside, North Yorkshire and County Durham.' Needless to say in their eyes Hartlepool would  fall under the Teesside bit. I would much prefer it if they said 'Serving listeners in Teesside, North Yorkshire,  County Durham and HARTLEPOOL. If they did this, Alistair Brownlee excluded, I might listen to this radio station a bit more. Come to think of it, no I wouldn't.

A couple of Sundays back I spent an enjoyable hour or so at a vintage car show at the Marina (it was frightening how many of the exhibits I previously owned).  There after, for the first time in 'Giddy Yonks' I had a wander around the Museum of Hartlepool, after which I boarded The Wingfield Castle. (I did not realise that part of the film The Elephant Man was shot on board this vessel ...think it was the bit where he was looking for his trunk).

From here it was a short jaunt over to the Ancient Borough and a first visit to the restored Heugh gun battery, and though it is in its embryonic stages, it is well worth the £4 admission. Mind, the Battery could be getting a visit from a NATO delegation, as rumours have it that, as part of their continuing fight for independence from West Hartlepool, the Headlanders are amassing weapons of mass destruction. I did note that most of the guns were actually trained on the Marina.

Someone once said to me that if the town has an elected mayor, then the Headland should, at the very least, have a king. I wouldn't disagree with that myself. 

Feeling nostalgic for my old stomping ground, I had a leisurely stroll along the promenade taking in the sea air. It was then it hit me (no, not a brick thrown from Poolpower's bedroom window) that I was experiencing a really enjoyable day in this fantastic town of ours. I swear it was almost like being on holiday. This view was further reinforced when that same week six of my relations came over from the Emerald Isle and spent three days in the town, and with the exception of the early closing times in the pubs, and the fact that they had expected to see 'Pools play Preston (cock up on the fixture list there) they thought Hartlepool (West included) was a wonderful place.

I am  not saying that Hartlepool hasn't got  its faults. When I first moved here from Stockton  in 1965 at the age of eleven, I was beaten up three times in a fortnight by three different gangs from the Headland, so it wasn't exactly love at first sight for me. But to my mind, shopping experiences excluded, Hartlepool has far more to offer and is far nicer than many other towns I have visited, and it stands head and shoulders above any of those within the so called Tees Valley area. I firmly believe that Hartlepool has a unique identity that no other town in the area possesses. I don't know if this is because we have a strong history or the fact that we are out on a limb geographically with our backs to the sea, or the fact that we hung a monkey and saved the country from invasion, but there is something very special about Hartlepool.

I have yet to hear of any one from Stockton/Boro/Billingham say that they are proud to hail from these towns in the same manner someone from Hartlepool would.

 I might not have been born in Hartlepool but I am proud to be a Poolie.

RUNNING MONKEY sees the the unbeaten run end

It was a long week waiting for the arrival of our nemesis from Cardiff, probably more to do with the fact that, like a good wine, I do not travel. So two weeks without live footy is a long time in anybody’s life. It has been one of those fixtures that when the games for the season are announced, you just want to get at 'em and try and get the taste of defeat out of your system. This is “The“ team that every Poolie wants to give a good stuffing to, and the truth is we have not done it now since the first time the giants of Yorkshire football joined little 'ole Hartlepool at this level, and the Boyd danced around them in the rain. 

I could go on for page after page on how they mock our lowly position in the football world, with quotes like “we will never play you again” after the Cardiff stitch up. NO we are bigger and better than that and I will just ask what are the likes of you, the mighty Wendies, with all your wealth and massive support, doing scratching around the lower reaches of the Football League? You should be up there with the elite but sadly you have been rubbish at that level for some time now and you will have to make do. I was in fact tempted to stay at home today and watch the tide come in, after reading the message boards such as Owls Talk where the Wendy supporters were predicting 4,5,6 goals against us, and how terrified we would be when they let Madine loose on us, what a hoot. 

The only good thing about today’s visit was the fact they brought 1002 fans and they had to pay top whack to see us. My guess is there were a few Wendies sprinkled around the other three stands too. Either that or the cheap ticket deal has attracted a lot of Yorkshire people to the Vic. You can pick them out by the way they walk and how silent they are when the Pools fans are in full voice. 

An unchanged line up for Pools sounded ok, old heads for what could potentially be a tough game. The devil was at work from the off, the dreaded “CLEM” was here with his entourage, doing a feature for the Footy League Show. What a patronising bar steward he is. "I will just ask what are the likes of you, the mighty Wendies, with all your wealth and massive support, doing scratching around the lower reaches of the Football League?"

Then the Wendies won the toss and turned us round. I hate that, and think it should be stopped (memo to the FL, home team picks the way they start a game, it will stop fans like me getting upset). First attack and a Solano trademark cross almost caught them out, but it was too high for the Boyd and Sweeney stretching headed it wide. Pools were switching the ball .RH chipped in a ball and won a corner and Murray skinned his marker but his cross was too deep, but good stuff from Pools ,taking the game to them. Solano was having a field day out wide wining the lost cause then sending in some superb crosses that set panic in the Wendies' back line, but no one was connecting with them. 

On the break they were fast and stretched us at times. It has to be said we lacked pace all over the park today. Sam was booked for a challenge on him after he won the ball. The attacker clattered him and went down in agony, and once again the big time Charlie fell for it hook line and sinker. It is not the first time I have complained about this type of refereeing but lets just say it was “free kick day for free for the Wendies" today.

A long ball was pushed out by Pools, and the resulting throw was met by the biggest man on the pitch, who just glanced it past Ned and in off the side netting at the back post. It was a very good goal and Pools will be disappointed at conceding the way they did. Pools tried to get back on terms but it was looking increasingly more difficult. Nish did win one header that Boydie picked up and a clever back heel to Lidds set up a chance but his shot was blocked. Ned was at full stretch when he made a two-handed push of a save over the bar from a speculative Wendies shot but it was becoming too easy for them. The next Wendies attack, Ned jumped for a ball and set his knee into the back of the forward, no not deliberately but the ref did see it and waved play on with the player writhing in agony in the Pools box. Once the game did stop and he was attended to he attempted to carry on without going off much to the chagrin of the faithful. 

Second half Pools stepped it up a bit, and Solano, making good use of the free kicks, almost sent in a ball that Lidds and Nish combined to hit wide of the mark. Sweeney also headed his effort wide as Pools piled on the pressure. Monky blasted a shot in that came back off the post and Horwood saw his effort bounce off the bar but that was the nearest Pools got to getting an equaliser before the Wendies closed the game down and were content to stroke the ball around and play out the game. Even Ned went up for one corner hoping to emulate last season's scoring spectacular. 

The Wendies could have made it two when their striker raced through unchallenged, took it wide of Ned - and shot past the empty net. The 6800 gate was good to see, but once again the theorists talking of Pools never performing in front of a big crowd had their pennorth. On the day they were just too good for us. I just went home to dream that one day we would stuff the Wendies and found that the tide had come up after all.

KT POOLIE has some interesting software for Poolies

Are you a collector of the printed copies of Monkey Business?
You might want to make use of a web application called Weevl which manages online lists. Developed by a Poolie (me), and a mackem, the application is free to use, free of ads and no spam.

Are you chalking off the 92 league grounds?
It will allow you to keep track of your progress, record the date, match and score and even keep a note of the best pubs and food. And it works on your mobile ‘phone too.

Check out the Pools Man of the Match list. After each game record your vote on

While you’re on the site have a look at some the lists others have created such as the Harry Ramsden’s chippies, the Grand Slam defeats of Andy Murray, the Wainwright fells, the CAMRA champion beers. Even better, be adventurous and create your own.
I’d be grateful for any feedback, or suggestions for improvements – there’s a contact facility on every page.