CENTRAL PARK continues his celebrations

Following my pre-birthday treat of a trip to the Stadium of Light (see last month’s Monkey Business), and our subsequent wins against Bury and then away at Bournemouth, I was really looking forward to the next match.

It would be on my actual birthday, and it was Sheffield Wednesday at home. Although they seemed to be picking up, I thought it was well within our capacity to beat them.

I’ve always considered myself to be a rational man – well during the hours of daylight at least – and the idea of there being such things as ‘bogey teams’ and the like generally leaves me cold. However, having said that, I do always wear the same shirt on match days to bring us luck. I also wore it during the 2005-6 season at the end of which we were relegated –so much for lucky charms. I checked on the excellent ‘Poolstats’ web site, and there was nothing in our record of previous meetings to suggest the need of lucky white heather or eye of newt or some such to see us through to victory.

(While I’m on the subject of the irrational and lucky charms, there is a certain medical man, well known to all of us, who did confess that he always wore the same pair of lucky underpants throughout that wonderful run of 23 unbeaten games in the 2006-7 season. I’m sure it came as a great relief to his family when that run came to an end.)

So, yet another birthday on the way, the team playing well and getting results - ‘happy birthday to me’ it would seem. Yet there was still something disquieting at the back of my mind. I didn’t remember there being very many happy birthdays as far as watching Pools is concerned, so back again to the Poolstats website. It has a feature that shows all the fixtures and their results on any specified date since the club was formed.

I looked up 1st October and there it was: since 1910 Pools have played 25 league or cup games prior to our match this year, and the record was won 5, drawn 4, lost 16. What a record to mark your birthday. Having now read the ‘history of the date’, my earlier confidence was a bit undermined and I once again had to remind myself that a past sequence of results is no guide to the present.

Refortified I went to the game with my expectations newly underpinned. Sadly nobody informed Sheffield Wednesday. Unbeaten run ruined, birthday ruined, generally fed up and hoping that we would not be playing on my birthday in the near future. I checked this out, and have calculated that as we generally play on Saturdays or Tuesdays and next year is a leap year, then the next probable year for us to be playing on my birthday is 2013. What a wonderful life I must be having if all I can worry about is football being played on my birthday. Euro currency going down the pan, the Middle East in flames, the country’s economy on the brink of recession, but things aren’t too bad because it will be at least two years before Pools have to play on my birthday again.

I think this shows that I *have a balanced and mature approach to life/am a small minded and inward looking individual.

I mentioned my concerns to my good lady wife and as usual, got a robust response - it was along the lines of ‘you should be grateful for any bloody birthday you get at your age, no matter what happens’. Thank you dear, perspective restored.

While I was looking up the match information on the Poolstats web site, I also found out that other significant events in the life of the club happened on my birthday. No less than six managers have been appointed on that date, and two left by ‘mutual consent’. I love that phrase. It can be used for a multitude of situations. I’ve even used it when arguing with vegetarians at Christmas by telling them that the chicken was on my plate ‘by mutual consent’.

Well at least St. Michael got past my birthday this year without any change in his status, ‘by mutual consent’ or by any other management speak gobbledegook, so it looks as though he will have at least another year to get things right. I certainly hope so, as it is my belief that our current tribulations will be solved by an application of the Great Man’s football knowledge, probably via the sole of his boot, and ‘mutual consent’ won’t come into it.

Back to counting the number of points for safety then. There are still some constants in life, lucky shirt or no lucky shirt.

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