GRANDAD SHOUTY reflects on an interesting month

Well, January came in like a lamb and went out roaring like a lion, didn’t it? Home wins against Rochdale and Carlisle, plus draws against Exeter City and Sheffield Wednesday, see Pools back in the top half of the table.

After the Wednesday game, I checked to see Gary Megson’s reaction and read a Sheffield Star report; both effectively said the same thing: that Wednesday were hard done by and should have won. So what, I mused, we were hard done by when Wednesday brought an end to our unbeaten run at The Vic last October. ‘Don’t worry’, an Owls sympathiser said to me, ‘Wednesday always say that. They think they’re still in the Premier League’. Ouch!!

The victory against Carlisle was a fantastic performance. I’ve always thought Carlisle to be a proverbial pain in the butt – we don’t have the best record against them, home or away, do we? Remember the 4-0 drubbing at home last season? We were awful and on returning home said to my good lady, ‘you think we enjoy ourselves, don’t you?’. For once, there was no reply – not even sympathy. However, after last week’s Carlisle game, it was all about Luke James and no one would begrudge him the plaudits that were heaped on him. We’ve certainly unearthed a little gem there and, at last, we’ve got something to get excited about. Who knows, maybe the play – offs aren’t out of reach? However, what gave me the most satisfaction in the Carlisle game was the performance of James Brown. To come back from one serious injury is an achievement in itself; to come back from two serious injuries shows what a dedicated soul he is. He fought for every ball and caused quite a few problems out on the left. I thought his yellow card was unjustified but you can’t win ‘em all, can you?"it was all about Luke James and no one would begrudge him the plaudits that were heaped on him"

Mention of Luke James brings me on the subject of young players. As far as I’m concerned, clubs like Pools are by far the best breeding ground for young players because they’ll always get a fair crack of the whip. I cannot work out why clubs in the bog standard Premier League bother to have academies – the number of young players who come through the ranks seems to be a diminishing return. Whenever a bog standard Premier League club have a problem they go to the continent to unearth someone and they don’t always deliver the goods. There’s no point in bringing up the Bosman Ruling and free movement within the European Union – you don’t have to sign them. And then there are clubs who complain that African players have to be released for the African Cup of Nations. Quite easy to solve that particular problem – don’t sign them in the first place!

The issue of young players was also prevalent in the ongoing saga of Darlo. Because of a threadbare squad, Craig Liddle was forced to include some players from his youth squad in the game against Hayes and Yeading; not only that, his substitutes bench was composed of youth team players. All because of an embargo imposed by the Blue Square League who forbade other clubs from helping out Darlo. As Craig Liddle told the Northern Echo, “The FA go on about protecting and producing young players, but it’s ludicrous for that many of them to go out there on a Tuesday night at Hayes and Yeading”.

Neale Cooper has, of course, played down expectations that he can put in young players at will and expect them to turn in good performances. They need to be nurtured and brought along slowly. The ideal time to bring in young players is, of course, when there’s nothing at stake and we’ll have to wait two or three months for that – assuming we aren’t near the play – offs.

I sometimes wonder what afflicts some of our administrators – it must be something they put in the tea. At least they didn’t object to Darlo entering the loan market to borrow some grass cutters from Pools. Which brings me on to Pools’ offer to play Darlo in a friendly game to raise money. This is a brilliant idea in theory but I wonder whether it's a practical proposition for the simple reason that Durham Police will want an arm and a leg for extra policing. That would defeat the object of the exercise – after all, it would be to raise money for Darlo not to pay the Police Authority for overtime incurred.

Although Darlo have been the focus of attention over the past few weeks, don’t forget that Portsmouth are in trouble again. What price them going into administration and turning up at Pools next season?

At the time of writing it looks as Darlo will be saved. If they aren’t, then all will not be lost. Remember Accrington Stanley, AFC Wimbledon and Aldershot? They went out of business for one reason or another but all three clubs now sit proudly in League 2 having overcome all the odds and clawing their way back. There is life after death.

For a brief time I worked at Darlington and always got on well with Quakers’ fans. Pools were always referred to as “your lot” and one New Year I decided to give three of them a Pools wall planner. The first one opened up the planner and replied by saying he would give it to his son -along with a set of darts. The second one broke into a smile and said he would put it in the smallest room of the house. The third one scowled and refused to take it away. Again, you can’t win ‘em all, can you?

Finally, its strange that we should get goals in consecutive weeks that will be in the frame as goals of the season. Firstly, of course, there was Luke James’ goal against Rochdale and Antony Sweeney’s cracker at Hillsborough. The latter, of course, will give him his confidence back – and this was much in evidence against Carlisle. Neale Cooper’s certainly got the place buzzing again and some of the things he’s done have definitely come off. When Colin Nish came on against Carlisle there were one or two boos from the Town End. I thought to myself ‘That’s a bit thick, wait till he gets on the field’. Still, he answered the critics by scoring and that’s what we’re hoping to get out of him – lots more goals.