POOLIE IN NOTTINGHAM ahead of the game

I know the season isn’t very old, but I can never resist looking at the league tables above and below the one Pools are playing in, to see who we may be facing next term. The fate of the teams seeking promotion or trying to avoid relegation often isn’t sealed till the final day, and even later for those in the play-offs, but things are already starting to shape up.

What I dread most is seeing the ‘bad pennies’ return. Those teams who you were glad to see the back of when they went up or down, hoping you never had to face them again. For me the discrimination is usually based on geography – there’s nothing like the prospect of a long journey back from Brighton or Exeter when you’ve conceded late on to throw away a point or two.

I’m watching the progress of League Two pace-setters Gillingham in case Pools stay where we are, as they are the team I would least like to play again in the whole league. A dump of a ground in a town devoid of any decent pubs, too far away and one of those places we rarely get a result of any sort.

However, there are a few teams closer to home I’d prefer not to want to play in future. Elland Road was great to visit the first time we played there a few years ago, but the novelty soon wore off. I have to admit I was a bit narked when they finally made it into the Championship, but part of me was chuffed to bits that they wouldn’t darken our door for a season at least.

Not a million miles away from Leeds, the blue and white team of Sheffield are hanging above the relegation trapdoor, threatening to grace us with their overblown presence once again. I can’t work out what I dislike about them most – for nicking Chris Turner off us when we were looking unstoppable, the play-off final, the way a good number of their deluded fans seem to think they really are a big club who will shortly be reliving the glory days (what glory days though? I can only recall a couple of cup final defeats for them in the last 30 years or so), the way they lurch from one financial crisis to another whilst splashing the cash on transfer fees and wages, or the supremely annoying drummer that plies his trade during games at Hillsborough."I am far from alone when I say that I really miss our derby games with our poor cousins from down the road"

I’m pleased to see one of my main pet hate teams, Rushden and Diamonds, have dropped off the radar altogether. Sadly though, so too have Darlo. I am far from alone when I say that I really miss our derby games with our poor cousins from down the road. Other northern teams like Halifax and Scarborough are sorely missed too, and I hope that it isn’t too long before we see them back in the league again, even if they are in the guise of ‘phoenix’ clubs.

There are many teams I will up or down the divisions so that we have the chance of playing them, and I was chuffed to bits that Rochdale managed to finally make it out of the bottom rung a couple of years ago. I think I’m right in saying that after Darlo, they are the team we have played more than any other in the league. They only took two years to go back whence they came, but they are looking to bounce back, and I will cheer if they do.

We are long overdue a day out in York, possibly the best away fixture we’ve missed out on over the last few years. Hopefully it will be them getting promoted which will result in us sharing the same division though!

If I could have my dream division for Pools to play in, it would consist primarily of teams in the north and midlands, plus Orient, Barnet and Brentford thrown in for London trips. Basically anywhere that makes a good day out. Darlo would be in it, solely to fulfil the role of whipping boys, so too would Borer, so we can remind them that they wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for Pools. None of the other teams making up the numbers would be one with a ‘new’ ground which is miles away from a good cluster of pubs, or those that are hard to get to via the train.

There are a couple of teams that would need to fall from their lofty perches in order to have the pleasure of playing Pools, but ten years ago who would have thought we’d have faced Leeds, Forest, Leicester, Charlton, Southampton, Sheffield Wednesday, QPR, Portsmouth, Coventry, Sheffield United etc in a league match? Or even Crawley and Stevenage come to think of it. A lot of things are possible in football, so one day the good people in charge of the fixture generator will hopefully have to sort this lot out:

Burton Albion
Cambridge United
Carlisle United
Crewe Alexandra
Darlo 1984?/2-4-6-8 motorway?
Leyton Orient
Lincoln City
Nottingham Forest
Notts County
Norwich City
Peterborough United
Port Vale
Sheffield United
West Brom
York City