Showing posts from December, 2011

the online fanzine for Poolies

GRANDAD SHOUTY has nice words about FIFA ...only joking!

Well, its been quite a month for Sepp Blatter and his minions at FIFA, hasn’t it? Their influence has spread far and wide in the game - even at Pools.

I refer, of course, to the first round cup tie against Stevenage - and the sending off of Scott Flinders. OK, I agreed with the award of the penalty but the sending-off after only seven minutes effectively destroyed the game. Maybe, we should send our ticket stubs to FIFA for a refund - as they were the guilty people. In my opinion, sendings off should only be for violent play and the game shouldn’t be clogged up with all that nonsense about the ’last player’ or ’preventing a goal scoring opportunity’. Surely, the award of a penalty is sufficient punishment.

At one time, referees were told at the very outset that there are seventeen laws of the game and that the eighteenth law is ’use your bloody loaf’. Yet referees aren’t allowed to use their loaves any more - and its all down to those dickheads at FIFA. They, and their president, are a bloody menace. I’ve got mixed feelings on referees. OK, some of them are incompetent but most of them do a good job given the difficulties that other people place them in."Maybe, we should send our ticket stubs to FIFA for a refund - as they were the guilty people."

Then, of course, we had the FIFA-inspired shambles over England players wearing a sewn-in poppy on their shirts in the game against Spain. This particular time of year sees a close association between the game of football and the remembering of our fallen heroes. In the game against Stevenage, the two minutes silence was impeccably observed by both sets of supporters (as it would have been at all other grounds) and Stevenage supporters joined in the applause for the service and veterans’ representatives. Yet, in come those idiots from FIFA who forbade the display of the poppy on the England shirts on the grounds that it could be construed as a political message.

In the end, of course, the England players wore an armband with a poppy embroidered on them - the reality was that the armband was more prominent than having a poppy embroidered on the shirt. I suppose we could maybe excuse an organisation that is based in Switzerland. I can only think of only two prominent Swiss - William Tell and Roger Federer - and as for fallen heroes, I would suspect that they haven’t any. Maybe the Swiss army tank has seven gears - two forward and five reverse.

Then there’s the issue of racism in the game. In this country, we’ve come a long way in recent years but Sepp Blatter simply buries his head in the sand and pretends its not a problem in football and that black players should remember its only a game and shake hands with their abusers. Black players have enriched the English game and we are better for their participation. If racism is not a problem, how is it that England’s black players are regularly abused in Europe - Bulgaria being the latest country to be hit with a nominal fine by UEFA. These remarks come in the wake of other ludicrous statements - that gay people should refrain from sex if they go to the World Cup in Qatar and that women players should wear tighter shorts to show off their bottoms. Again, to repeat, the man’s a bloody menace.

Then there’s the FIFA-inspired transfer window. It becomes more like a circus every season as Sky Sports News, in particular, counts down the hours, minutes and seconds to the end of the deadline. Now, I’m no legal expert, but I would have thought that the transfer deadlines were a ’restraint of trade’. But has anybody challenged this through the courts? My opinion would be that the authorities are scared of Blatter and FIFA and would never go down that road. Perhaps, the British Attorney-General could go through FIFA’s regulations line by line to see which parts are incompatible with British law. We might get a shock!

All of these rantings of Sepp Blatter lead me to think that we could revive some of the old jokes that were prevalent in the 1980s, particularly those about Irishmen. How about the following?

Sepp Blattter was given water skis for Christmas. He’s now going round to see if Lake Geneva has a slope.

Sepp Blatter was asked ‘Who was born in a stable and followed by millions. He replied ‘Was it the English racehorse, Red Rum’.

Sepp Blatter rang Swissair and asked how long it would take to fly from Zurich to London. ‘Just a minute, sir’ the call centre replied. Thank you, said Blatter, and hung up.

And then there’s the story of Ken Hodcroft, Sepp Blatter, a retired doctor and a fourteen year old school boy travelling together on an aircraft.The plane developed engine trouble and the passengers had to bale out. Unfortunately, there were only three parachutes. Ken Hodcroft said that as he’d turned Hartlepool United into a well run football club he was deserving of one. He took one and baled out. Sepp Blatter said that as the president of FIFA - and organiser of World Cups - he was entitled to one. He took one and baled out. Two left - and only one parachute. The doctor said to the schoolboy that as he’d nothing left to offer the world, it would be nice if the young man took the remaining parachute. Oh, don’t worry, said the young man. There’s still two parachutes left - Sepp Blatter took my school satchel. Boom, boom!!

Another possibility is to put the celebrated photo of Vinnie Jones and Paul Gascoigne onto a t- shirt. Paul could become Sepp Blatter - any suggestions as to who could become Vinnie Jones? Perhaps Prince William, uttering the words ‘Take that, you little creep’.

Finally, of course, there’s Pools. How on earth are we going to stop the home losses? As soon as Yeovil scored, I knew that was it. Midfield packed and there was nothing we could do. We never looked like scoring and there was an air of despondency right round the ground. Yet, Yeovil were very poor side and are destined to stay near the bottom of the league. Yeovil’s goal was another case of slack marking following a corner and we paid the price. At one time, we could put these mistakes behind us but seemingly not anymore. It seems as though if we want to see Pools win, we’ll have to travel to away matches. James Poole, for example, is a different player away from home - it's as though he lacks confidence at The Vic.

SNOWY has reservations about some fans

When it comes to the brain function of the average football fan, I'm tempted to paraphrase the words of Churchill describing the Germans...they're either at your feet or at your throat. And never more so than when it's opinion time.

I never fail to be amazed how some frothing, bulging-eyed beast wanting the manager's head on a stick can be transformed into a simpering lap-dog by the occurrence of a couple of wins, their world transformed.

Now while I have no problem with reasoned dissent post match, I still can't come to terms with the sort of 'fan' who assumes that it helps the team and its players to subject them to gormless abuse while the match is actually in progress. It's a bit like being cast adrift in a rubber dinghy, finding it has a tiny leak and taking a Stanley knife to it, slashing it a few times to teach it a lesson and then wondering why you're drowning. Totally failing to comprehend that in this particular instance, they need the dinghy more than it needs them. Anybody terminally dim enough to believe a player will improve by regularly abusing them should be sectioned." Anybody terminally dim enough to believe a player will improve by regularly abusing them should be sectioned"

The worst of these characters is the early bird. We all know one, they saw the player they love to loathe for the first time in a pre-season warm up, and knew before he'd kicked a ball that he was basically useless, and like a demented Doberweiler pit bull, was not going to let go once they'd sunk their teeth into the player, a sort of sad fatal attraction.

One of the real irritants of the game now at all levels is the rise of the Gobsh*te, the expert, the wise one. The one who should be managing the club, the great unused font of footballing wisdom giving his words of wisdom freely to those who will or won't listen, as his dulcet tones boom out from the terrace the sum total of his footballing wisdom, as if addressing a public meeting where no one is listening willingly. Being lectured whilst doing your job by a confirmed idiot is hardly likely to increase productivity, especially so in football.

That's the trouble with the game now, there's just too much football, feeding unrealistic expectations and creating unreasonable demands. On the box, in the papers, message boards, you can't escape and I fear that one day the monster will devour itself and implode as constant exposure to the game eventually turns pleasant anticipation into reluctant duty. A diet of rich food soon turns tedious.

a bit of festive goodwill from CENTRAL PARK

Well here we are again, the Christmas issue and everybody full of good will towards everybody else, except perhaps for the unfortunates from down the A66; back to them later.

The last five at home lost and already out of the cup. Am I down hearted? Well just a bit, but not too much. We have had bad runs before; I was there for the one that lasted from 1959 to 1964 so this is just a blip to me. I remember that whenever I was fed up with something when I was a kid my mother would try to cheer me up by saying that I should remember that there were other people worse off than me. Quite how that was supposed to relieve the current predicament was not made clear. I used to think, ‘so bloody what – they might be living in mud huts in Africa or have to spend their time listening to a David Whitfield concert or some such but they don’t have to go into a woodwork lesson run by the mad carpenter from hell next week like I have to’.

Who was David Whitfield? Well he was a boring singer of the most boring songs you could imagine; classical he was, like a failed opera singer, straining his puddings to reach the high notes. He had just established himself with a couple of hits when along came Elvis who finished him off and consigned him to the workmen’s’ clubs, and quite right too. The mams and dads weren’t too happy about it, but the kids cheered in the streets when rock ‘n’ roll came on the scene and delivered us from David and others of his ilk like John Hanson. This is getting out of hand; it’s supposed to be about football. "As long as they had lost then any disappointment at our result was rendered less painful."

Back to the point I was making about being cheered by the fact that there was always someone worse off than me. As I grew up I began to appreciate just how useful an approach to life this could be. It wasn’t long before I was looking for other teams’ results on a Saturday night just to make me feel better. Fifty odd years ago it was usually Arsenal that I wanted to see on the receiving end of a good stuffing, though I have to confess that the football they have been playing since Mr. Wenger took charge has won me over. If it wasn’t them then it would be some other bunch who had incurred my displeasure for no good reason that I can remember.

However there was always one constant, much closer to home. Not Gateshead, not York but ‘you know who’ as mentioned in the first paragraph above. As long as they had lost then any disappointment at our result was rendered less painful. Of course on the other hand it was a sickener every day they were above us in the league, or got a good result, or an approving mention in the national press.

There was even a two year period when they were in the division above us, and what a marvellous day it was in 1987 when their relegation back to the doldrums with us was confirmed. It can hardly be imagined what they must be going through knowing that we have finished above then in the league for the last ten years and are currently two divisions above them. In consolation I can only repeat the words of Windsor Davies in his role as Sgt. Major Williams; “Oh dear, how sad, never mind”.

But, here we are in the season of ‘peace on earth and good will towards men’; but does that include them? There was a time when I thought that the phrase was ‘peace on earth to all men of good will’ which allowed me to exclude them with a clear conscience but I think that the theologians have over-ruled me on that and removed my justification for leaving them out of the good wishes for the festive season.

I must admit that I have been conflicted about their plight of late. Yes I was jubilant when Peterborough beat them in the play-off final in 2000 and I have rejoiced at their every downfall both before and since then. I remember their crowing when ‘the mad hair grip’ took over as chairman and they sang to us ‘we won’t play you anymore’ (looks as though they got that bit right). I chortled when aforementioned chairman and the manager ‘the 50p header’ fell out and argued on the local radio for all to hear. I even (God forgive me) derived pleasure from listening to the anguished tones of Ray Simpson (surely a decent man in all other respects) as he described yet another debacle at the ‘Arena of Broken Dreams’.

I often imagine their chairman trudging the streets outside the council chamber on Christmas morning hoping that the window will open and a bewiskered old man (or woman it being the place it is) will shout ‘you boy - what day is this? ...Here, take this £5 note and improve your strike force’.

Yet lately I have been feeling like a bit of a bully. It’s all very well mocking them when they are a threat to us or when they could shortly become a threat by getting promotion, but their current situation is pitiable. A team with no motivation, a chairman losing £80,000 a month of his own money, an obstructive local council with no intentions of helping out (now why does that ring a bell) and precious little prospect of things getting better (I know we would be in the same boat without IOR but this isn’t about us).

It seems unworthy to take the Mickey out of them. All things considered it is the sort of thing only the likes of Frankie Boyle, Jimmy Carr or Ricky Gervais would do, and I like to think that Hartlepool fans are better than that. But I’m not so sure that we are.

I talk to quite a few lads at the town end that are quite genuine when they say that they would welcome them back into the same division as us so that they could resume the derby games because they miss them so much, and one or two who would just as soon that they went out of business altogether. There are even one or two, like me, who would like to see them linger on and suffer, so long as there is no danger of them ever overtaking us (I’ve always been a bit rotten like that).

Mind you, I’ve never really enjoyed the derby matches myself. Even at the last one when we were 0-3 up in injury time I was shouting for the final whistle because I was worried in case they scored 4 goals in 3 minutes. I’m not really a ‘glass half full sort of person’ I suppose.

All in all I think I will settle for my Christmas present being them surviving but never being allowed to finish in the football pyramid in a higher position than us. Thank you Santa Claus. As usual at this time of year I will conclude by wishing a very Merry Christmas to almost everybody.

Well, what do you know? I’ve been able to write an article without mentioning Alistair Brownlee – DOH!

POOLIE IN NOTTINGHAM witnessed Pools break an away day jinx

There have been many memorable Pools games over the years. They may be distinctive for an exceedingly bad performance or great result, a superb goal, controversial decision, a sending off, or crowd trouble. When it comes to Pools, the last few years have produced loads.
As well as all the play-off games, I would include the cup game at Sunderland, the superb comeback from 3-0 down to earn a draw at Stockport during that amazing unbeaten run, and the demolition of the Darloids at the Arena. The Scott Flinders equaliser against Bournemouth was also quite memorable, as was that Bjornsson miss at Huddersfield when it seemed impossible to score.

Go a bit further back, and there have been many games which are remembered for the wrong reason. The 6-0 defeat by Donny Rovers at the Vic will forever be etched on my memory, as will be the capitulation at Mansfield when we managed to lose 4-3 after leading 3-1 with a few minutes left.
A couple of seasons ago in a printed issue of Monkey Business, we featured an article from one of the ‘Swansea Sixteen’ – the small group of Poolies who were there at Swansea in 1968 to witness Pools win 2-0 and secure promotion for the first time in their history.

Whilst I have been part of some small Pools crowds, the only one which really stands out is the 5-2 victory at Port Vale, where there were under a hundred Poolies present, in stark contrast to the 10,000+ following at the Stadium of Light a few weeks earlier. Despite leading comfortably with only minutes to go, there was still an air of nervousness in the away end, thanks to the heavy snow which was starting to cover the lines on the pitch. Although we half-joked about the possibility, it would have been typical for Pools if the ref had abandoned the match in the 89th minute."until Saturday 19th November, Scunny was one of those places I just expected to come away from disappointed."

One of the weirdest games I have attended was at Scunthorpe in 2003. We were spanked 4-0, but thanks to results elsewhere, this was the game that saw us secure promotion out of the bottom tier for only the third time in our history. It’s difficult to describe the atmosphere in the Pools end during the second half, but let’s just say that it was really difficult to celebrate.
Since that game I have been to every league fixture at Glanford Park, only to come away disappointed. I’ve seen us lose there in the LDV/Johnstones Trophy too, but was fortunate to see not just one but two David Foley goals to come away with a win in the League Cup. Yet until Saturday 19th November, Scunny was one of those places I just expected to come away from disappointed.

I had no idea how long it had been since we won there in the league so I looked it up on the excellent site – getting on for 22 years. Paul Dalton scored the only goal of the game in March 1990. We’d played there in the league 11 times since, with only a couple of draws to shout about. So it was with a feeling of impending doom that I set off to Derby to Andy Ramalamadingdong’s house. He was upbeat about our chances, despite him knowing all about our dismal record. After a bit of discussion, we decided that statistics and the law of averages was on our side, because the more games we played there, the more likely we were to win at some point.

Thankfully Scunny were feeling generous. Pools went in at half time with a deserved lead, Monky scuffing a shot into the bottom corner. The second half saw Pools still in command, with a Sweeney flicked header taking us over the finish line. Although it was difficult to criticise any of the Pools players, it had to be said that Scunny were pretty poor.
As well as breaking the hoodoo, the game was memorable for a couple of atrocious refereeing decisions. Firstly, Peter Hartley was booked for daring to resemble Evan Horwood. Horwood committed a yellow-card rated offence, and between them the linesman and the ref decided it was Hartley who should go into the book.

Thankfully this was overturned on appeal, and hopefully while the powers that be were reviewing footage of the game they will have also looked at the unbelievable decision which led to Pools being awarded a throw in. Despite the ball clearly crossing the goal line right in front of the linesman, he held his flag aloft to signal a throw. You couldn’t really blame the ref for following the lino as he was probably unsighted, but you’d have thought the body language of the players and the resounding laughter from the Scunthorpe fans would have given him a clue. Thankfully it wasn’t a decision which made a difference to the game, but you have to wonder what the match officials drink at half time.

The one disappointing thing about the day was the away turnout – only a couple of hundred Poolies were there to witness the historic victory. If we have to wait another 20-odd years to see a Pools win at Scunny, at least I will be one of them who can say “I was there!”

a picture from SNOWY for all you Bunkerites out there

ED PARKINSON daydreams about the Gretna-like rise of Montpellier

Ed's articles first appeared in a now-defunct English-language newspaper in France

Monkey Bus-ness

ELMO brings you the Monkey Business Christmas Decorations

It's December. And that means the Christmas bus will be out again, going round the town with Santa on the roof. Or at least it used to in the days before Stagecoach. So we decided to recreate it as a cardboard cutout model. It's a bit of nostalgia for those who remember it, a history lesson for those who don't, and something to do over the holiday for those who are bored.

Just print out the PDF file via your computer's printer onto printer-compatible card (glossy photo paper will give the best result. Simply follow the instructions on the PDF file. You'll need scissors and a glue stick. Don't risk using thicker card than your printer is designed for.
"It's a bit of nostalgia for those who remember it, a history lesson for those who don't, and something to do over the holiday for those who are bored"

Hartlepool Corporation Transport used the same bus every Christmas for many years. OEF77K was new in 1972, was sold off after serving the people of Hartlepool for a quarter of a century, and was still being used in 2010 at the age of 38 years.

The PDF file can be downloaded from here:

RUNNING MONKEY describes another home defeat

Just before the kick off my mate Ken had his head in his hands after looking at my team sheet. 

On my arrival he had been fretting about the possibility that the man in black warming up with his mates just could be Mr D Coote. Ken often frets about these things but he was regaling his brother in law with the past form of this man who handled the game between Pools and Southampton and ran willy nilly amongst the Pools players while letting far too much go by the opposition. Ken had checked the stats after the game and come to the fact if the fouls had be 8-18 in Pools favour this ref was a big time Charlie who followed the big club banners who ever they were. 

Ken was elated, well just for a minute, when the nearest steward claimed that because of an incident with one of the officials, the game would be delayed. Ken had never moved from his spot so he was not to blame for any mishap that had plagued the official team. Once again Ken was deflated when on the stroke of three the teams were led out with Mr Coote at the head. For the first time I can remember we had a female covering the fourth official spot. The moral of this tale is: take no notice of rumours from stewards and (as it turned out) your friends, as the man in black had a canny game overall. 
"If Preston come up on Tuesday and do the same job on us then questions will have to be asked"

 In the first minute Ken even warmed to the ref as he told a diving Kieran Agard to get on with it when he was shot by a sniper from the town end at the edge of the Pools box. Pools made a good start against what looked like a very nervous Yeovil side. For the first twenty minutes we played all the football, Hartley making a great tackle to stub out a rare chance for Yeovil, but it looked like slow progress for Pools. 

The first real chance came as a Lidds header down for Monky gave him the space to blast the ball but his effort hit the bar. From then on it went down hill. Agard the diver was complaining to the ref all the way through and when they won a corner he went into the box and started to hassle Flinders, and both Flinders and Aussie were wrestling with him on the line. It was a bit like human tug of war and it had the desired effect, both Pools players losing their concentration giving the huge centre back a free header that went between Horwood and the post. Once again Pools on the back foot at home after having all the possession. 

Yeovil were really boosted by this and even scored a second that was offside thankfully. It was desperate at times as they came after us, and Wright made a very good last gasp tackle to deny the visitors. They were in our faces all the time, it was like a massed ranks of Coldstream Guards and you have to be eight foot tall to join that regiment. You have to give Yeovil credit for their performance especially when they were a goal up considering their position. If only Pools had a bit of this attitude. 

 Boydie came on the start of the second half and we looked a bit better and he was the first to test the Yeovil stopper as he raced through onto a ball and tried to chip the keeper but he was even taller than his defenders and made the catch look easy. Both Lidds and Monky had shots saved but sadly there was no venom in the efforts. Pools did step up their effort when Luscombe came on but it was all in vain after Luscombe crashed a ball against the post. It was never going to be our day. 

Once again Pools fail at home and to a bottom team in the division. Just where are the goals going to come from? Poole tried hard against the giants today but even Monky struggled to win any headers to give us any decent position with the ball and enable us to threaten. If Preston come up on Tuesday and do the same job on us then questions will have to be asked.

"If Preston come up on Tuesday and do the same job on us then questions will have to be asked"

BILLY'S CONTRACT looks on the bright side

What a miserable lot us Poolies are. Moaning about the team, the tactics, the hoofball, having a go at the manager (myself included), as well as the Council to boot. Reading some of the recent comments in Monkey Business and on some of the message boards you would think that Pools had hit rock bottom and were all set to fold.

As bad as things are down at the Vic at present, let's face it, they are not that bad at all. Sitting 'comfortably numb' in mid-tablesville in League One, playing in front of crowds of 5,000 plus. A well-run club backed by the ever generous IOR, and a Council who in the past, when things have gone pear-shaped for Pools, have stood by the football club. So all in all, things aren't really that grim on the coast. "That gap they were referring to is now a bloody big chasm of Grand Canyon proportions"

Meanwhile, down the A66 things could not be worse. Who would have thought that a few short years ago, when their fans were singing to us ' We'll never play you again'. Which at the time, I thought, with George Reynolds' backing might well be the case. How wrong both they and I could be. On message boards we were all warned by their fans 'To mind the gap'. That gap they were referring to is now a bloody big chasm of Grand Canyon proportions in terms of where both clubs are at present.

I can't image what it must be like to be a Darlow fan these days. Pools have known and had some really dark days in the past, but somehow or another they have got off their death bed more times than Lazarus.

We might well have the worst record in English football history for applying for re-election to the Football League; thirteen times to Darlow's five, but unlike Darlow we have never had the distinction of being relegated to non-league football not once but twice. Putting it in perspective, that was the 20th Century - we are now living in the 21st Century and things are now different. In other words the boot is now firmly on the other foot!

I have some empathy with the average Darlow fan, particularly as Pools could have been in the same boat but for the grace of IOR. I was going to say I can't imagine how exciting it must be going to a home game to watch Darlow, but I can, as having nothing better to do the season before last I took in one of their home games against Dagenham & Barnet or some team from the South. The Arena was a combination of a morgue and the moon rolled into one, ie. a few bodies there and devoid of any atmosphere.

They have a section on their message board showing photographs of the fans at such and such a match. Click on it, and you will see that their home end resembles Torquay's away end on a Tuesday night when playing Pools with very few bums on seats. The away photographs on this site are even more depressing. The grim resignation on the faces of their few fans hoping for salvation reminds me of the scenes from the beaches of Dunkirk...let alone the fish sands.

I am not saying that we would fare any better if we were in their situation. I can recall in the 1987 season Pools finishing 16th in the league, and for our penultimate game of the season against Cardiff our attendance was 1,101. Then for our last home game (a 2-1 win over Hereford) a paltry, but loyal 823 fans turned out. I count myself as being one of the few there that day.

I have to say that I thought that their average crowd attendance would be a lot less given their plight. What must be absolutely soul destroying for your average Darloid, apart from seeing Pools flying high, is the not knowing from one day to the next if their club will survive financially, especially as their chairman Raj Singh looks set to throw the towel in.

When I think about it, the reason Darlow's crowds are not too bad at his awful time for them could be purely historical. Many fans might want to tell their grand children that they were there for the last match ever played at the Arena ...the only snag is that no one is quite sure when that will happen, so many of them are hedging their bets and going each week to make sure they are in attendance when they finally do close the turnstiles for good. I noticed that yesterdays crowd against Tamworth was nearly one hundred up on their last home game, so that does not bode well at all. They must have got wind that the end is nigh.

A number of their fans on their message boards have more or less accepted that they will go out of business, and will have to be reborn and come back in some other guise like AFC Darlington and play their games at Bishop Auckland or Darlington RA, and hopefully attempt to do an Aldershot. I might be wrong but I do not think that they own the White Elephant Stadium but pay rent on it. Another drain on resources.

On top of that the local Council receives a substantial percentage of the club's match day gate receipts. I stand to be corrected but I think that the only thing that the Council have done to assist the club over the last few years is allow them to hold a car boot sale every Sunday in the club's car park ...and guess who gets a chunk of the vendors fees? The Council. I get the distinct impression that the Council do not want a football club in the town.

Unless a multi-millionaire or some other lunatic benefactor comes to their rescue, I really cannot see Darlow surviving much longer in their present form, and certainly not at their current location.

For my part here is a prediction: I firmly believe that it will come to pass that Darlow will have to switch George Reynolds' Heskaltors off once and for all (apparently, in any event, they have not been switched on for a number of years now, in order to keep the electricity bill down!) and that one of the newest stadiums in the Football League will be demolished, partially or otherwise, to make way for a supermarket, a housing estate, or a site for travelling people.

It could be renamed The Dale Farm 2 Arena.


Match report on the Stevenage game:
Total utter garbage from beginning to end.

Match report on the Yeovil game:
1% improvement on the Stevenage game.

KT POOLIE does a bit of astrology

The recurrent nightmare in which you are slowly suffocated by a white elephant shows no sign of abating. Many of your workmates jump ship as a new performance related pay scheme results in a 50% pay cut. Famous Cancerians include Craig Liddle and Exodus Going-on.

Your month is ruined when colleagues ignore your meticulous planning. Everyone at work ends up bickering and a drunken episode results in an embarrassing early return from your overseas assignment. Famous Arians include Mike Tindall and Rob Andrew."The recurrent nightmare in which you are slowly suffocated by a white elephant shows no sign of abating. "

If you have a job with responsibility for equality and diversity, then take extra care when speaking to the press. It is easy for the general public to get the wrong impression, after all they aren’t all like you – quite a lot of people these days oppose homophobia and racial segregation. If you find yourself offending, and a simple handshake at the end of your speech doesn’t calm things down, then try to deflect attention by calling for backup from that dark-skinned bloke in the PR department. Famous Sagittarians include Sepp Blatter and Anders Behring Breivik.

An unbelievable week at work as, under your skilful guidance, your team somehow becomes world-beaters. Now is the time to press for that pay rise and an improved contract - £5m should be easily achievable. Act quickly though because you cannot be that lucky again and things don’t look good for the future. Famous Taureans include Fabio Capello and Andre Villas Boas.

Your marriage goes through a sticky patch and you must act quickly to achieve reconciliation. Misunderstandings occur in every relationship especially if your partner is an impetuous Latino and you are an impulsive Mediterranean. If one of you walks away now it could ruin your planned adventure in Europe. Kiss and make up before your loved one falls for an Italian lover. Famous Geminis include Roberto Mancini and Carlos Tevez.

In hard economic times, look out for every opportunity to screw someone over. Start up your own bank offering accounts for anti-capitalists reluctant to leave their money with those unscrupulous financiers who got us in this mess in the first place. Famous Capricorns include Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair.

another piece from our French correspondent, ED PARKINSON

SNOWY on half-time entertainment

BILLY'S CONTRACT looks at midfielders

A lot of fans are having a go about the defence and the forwards, but for me the real problem is staring a blind man on a galloping horse straight in the face. It is the midfield that is letting the rest of the side down, big style. It is they who are responsible for making the forwards look inept and the defence woeful, and more importantly costing us games.

The midfielders currently do not create, make the themselves available, have no pace, do not track back enough, can't tackle and when they do get the ball, do not want the responsibility and as such spend most of their time passing the ball back to the defence for them in turn to hoof it up into no- man's land for our lightweight forwards to do a job.

We do have some talented midfield players at the club, but many are of the same type. To my mind Gary Liddle and Paul Murray are a similar type of player. Defensive midfielders who both lack pace . At a pinch, they could be both played in the same team in an away fixture, but definitely not in a home match. When they do play together (I use that phrase loosely) one is no more than 6 feet away from the other, and tend to get in the way of each other. Distribution of the ball is not their strong point, and neither are their scoring records."It is the midfield that is letting the rest of the side down, big style. It is they who are responsible for making the forwards look inept and the defence woeful, and more importantly costing us games.-"

I would play Paul Murray ahead of Liddle every time. As I said in the last edition of Monkey Business, Luscombe is a trier and one for the future, but again his distribution lets him down and he needs to be bedded in gradually and stop running around needlessly like a daft Alsatian.

Nobby Solano is a luxury. There, I have said it. I know it will upset a lot of people but heigh ho. We will always need a sub to cover him as he is not a 90 minute player. He is a two trick pony.

Trick one: Once he is in possession of the ball he will at once cross the ball from that part of the pitch, mainly because he has not got the legs to run up the pitch or get past his man.

Trick two: Pass backs. When the chips are down he is a passenger. Okay to come on for cameo role when we are three nil that is not going to happen is it?

As for Sweens, I do not feel that the manager is getting the best from him, as he does not know where to play him. He certainly is not a creative midfield player who can deliver a telling pass. Most of his goals come from his a la Martin Peters-type ghost runs into the box he is so good at, but it is not happening for him at the present.

To my mind we only have one creative midfield player at the club and he spends most of his time on the bench (except when he is asked to play full back) and that is Sir Ritchie. He came on as a sub for the last fifteen minutes against Yeovil playing at centre forward, and it was evident that he was the only player who could actually pass a ball. To my mind his name should be the first on the team sheet let alone within our midfield set up. Having Ritchie on the bench is like owning a Rolls Royce, keeping it locked up in a garage whilst driving around in Citroen.

Oh, while I am on about it Andy Monkhouse, God Bless him, will never in a million years make a centre forward...but I know a man who is. Who are we going to call...Sir Ritchie.

RUNNING MONKEY has seen it all before - a few days before!

After an awful display on Saturday, today’s game against PNE was the perfect chance to bounce back. 

Thirteen games without a win for Preston and six games without a win at home for Pools - it was a perfect recipe for disaster for one of the two. After the minute's “APPLAUSE” for Gary Speed I wondered then why have we changed from a minutes silence which I find more respectful, although the last one we had at Pools the turnstiles clanked all the way through it and people with big gobs stood and argued with the stewards once in the ground so maybe it is a better idea. 

The game started brightly enough, with the team everyone was supposed to be clamouring for. Boyd and Poole up front with Monky and Sweeny out wide and  Liddle dropped to the bench. Was this a daring risk or a clutch at a straw by the management? Time will tell. 
"again despite the change in formation you wonder where we are going to get a goal from"

Boydie looked up for it and is still the fans' favourite in some quarters. He turned and had a snap shot that went straight at the keeper. Ned was in action at the other end tipping a speculative shot over the bar. Pools won a cheap corner from a Flinders punt and Horwood sent in a good cross that Hartley headed over the bar. Sweeney had the same result with his header but in an end-to-end opening it was looking good. The ref did miss a penalty claim that everyone in the Millhouse saw, but I was too far from the action so I gave him the benefit of the doubt. 

As in the last home game, we were soon a goal down, after Mellor who I think put three past us for the Wendies, hit a good shot from outside the area to take the lead. This was so disappointing as we had played reasonably well, but once again lacked any real threat from our possession, and again despite the change in formation you wonder where we are going to get a goal from. 

Second half was just the same as Saturday, Preston buoyed by their success were up for the fight and in our faces at every opportunity. They broke well down both flanks and we were having a torrid time in defence as the service from their midfield was excellent, and we spent a long time chasing the ball then giving it back cheaply. 

Sweeney on a charge into the box could not connect with his header and the ball was cleared. Ned had to make two good stops in succession - first a low shot, and then, after Horwood had been skinned, he raced to cover the ball. 

Luscombe and Liddle came on and we did step up a bit. Poole was battered all game by the big centre half who for most of the game just laid over him pushing him to the ground. Poole did get one good effort on goal in that was tipped over, but was starved of any real possession against a determined Preston side. 

It was in the later stages of the game that the man in the middle seemed to spot the treatment meted out to Poole and got out the card. All in all I thought the ref had a good game. The game was becoming more physical and Wright was booked for a flying tackle, and Monky and Coutts almost came to blows as the ref stepped in and had a word. We could have gone two down as Preston missed a simple chance - the forward hitting his shot wide from close range.

I just cannot see how this team who for a lot of the game played us off the park could go thirteen games without a win. On the other hand it is plain to see why we could go seven games without a win. We lack a striker with a killer touch despite some of the forwards playing well enough. MW in the earlier night Mail said “Lets get ugly” The crowd of 4150 last night thought this was ugly.