An upbeat assessment of Pools by BILLY'S CONTRACT

It is nearly the end of yet another footie season. As ever with Pools, in retrospect there has never been a dull moment. The season ticket offer kept our interest during the close season. Hopefully something similar will be repeated over the summer.

Mick Wadsworth sadly lost his job. I had a lot of time for Mick, but I think the step up into management was a bridge too far. I have previously stated that he would have been an excellent foil for Neale Cooper. Very much Ying and Yang. But alas not to be.;"Problem was, too many people were blowing his own trumpet for him even before he kicked a ball for Pools"

I hate to say that I told you so, but I did type on this keyboard that I did not think that Nobby Solano was going to cut the mustard, which indeed was the case. I will admit that he did have a couple of good games (only a couple), but once Wadsworth had gone Micky Barron dropped him and Neale Cooper followed suit. Basically in the main he was a passenger. He was never a ninety minute player, and to my mind a bit like David Beckham - no substance and a lot of a luxury. Solano was going to be subbed pretty much every game as he was not up to the rigours of League One football. Basically he should stick to trumpet playing. Problem was, too many people were blowing his own trumpet for him even before he kicked a ball for Pools.

Luscombe was another that many fans here on the terraces and the message boards were demanding should be in the team ahead of the likes of Ritchie Humphreys. Ritchie may well be nearing the end of his career but he is the consummate professional. If Luscombe took a leaf from Sir Ritchie’s book he too might have enjoyed a successful career. As it happens unless Luscombe has been handed a two year contract he will be heading down the non-league road ...if he is lucky.

Talking of Sir Ritchie, before a recent home game it was great to see him pitch-side, presented with a framed football shirt bearing the number 500 on the rear, to commemorate his 500 appearances for the club. A few weeks later James Brown received a similar accolade with a shirt bearing the number 5 on the rear ...this was celebrating five consecutive appearances without injury. Joking aside I think Brownie has done well and deserves to be given a contract for next season.

For me the worst of the season was that we got well and truly found out, mainly due to lack of pace, and some very below-standard performances, particularly from some of our more senior players. As a result ...or not a result, we lost 8 league home games on the trot. Even if we had won three of these games or drawn a few more, with a fairly average side we could have made the play-offs. Which just goes to show how poor this league is (think Stevenage).

Without doubt the defining moment of the season was the rightful reinstatement of The Laird Neale Cooper as manager. Like Burton and Taylor, Hurst and Peters, Laurel and Hardy (perhaps not), Cooper and Pools are a great double act. They were made for each other.
It has to be said that as yet we have not seen the fast-flowing attractive style of football we saw under his last tenure, but he has had to make do with the resources he has inherited, and to be fair, if the football hasn't been pretty as it once was, at least the results are pleasing.

I envisage a mass exodus of players leaving the club at the end of the season players including a few of the fans’ favourites.

If Cooper gets his men for next season I would not mind taking a bet on reaching the play-offs or even a good run in the JSP.

Hats off to Micky Barron for his out with the old (Solano), and in with the new (Luke James) policy. In Luke James we have one of the most exciting prospects to have come through the youth academy for some time. In many respects he has eclipsed Jack Baldwin who has largely gone unnoticed, but who in turn I feel will become a first team regular who I am sure will progress to a much higher level at centre back.

I am already looking forward to the new season, particularly if IOR take ownership of the Vic.

The future is bright. The future is Hartlepool United.