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Showing posts from November, 2012
Tranmere - As I seen it!


STILL NOT
UNBEATABLE

Pools 0 - Tranmere   Tuesday November 7th

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at The Vic

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Nothing like a top versus bottom home game to whet the appetite once again after being put to the sword in the first round of the cup by lowly opposition, speaking of which just when should footballers retire?

A bloke called Whitaker has blighted my life for long enough now. I have been patient and got to the point of ignoring him even if he was on the bench for the opposition, hoping against hope he was injured and just making up the numbers. My blood would run cold at the mention of his name. This gentleman, and I use the word as a compliment, has run my team ragged for what seems like a millennium. He pops up all over the place, is a superb advert for Royal Jelly, does the business against us every time he plays, then he is off. He is a superb athlete for his age; he makes the game look simple by doing the basic things simply. He looks like a bleached Mo Farah and runs just as good. Sorry to digress, but at least he was not turning out for Tranmere, so we had a chance.

Four changes from the last outing and some of the fans were still not happy. The buzzword around the ground was not relegation but managers. Half a dozen in the stand either waiting for the call into the IOR Chambers, or were they only vultures ready to pick over the carcase in the next game? An announcement is due on Thursday by all accounts. So if you are reading this after that day, best wishes with the new regime.

I spoke to Gary Liddle, who was taking in his first Pools game as a fan and he said everything was going well for him, player of the month recently. I commented it looked as if he got out just in time, to which he gave a wry smile. I was left to my own devices for this one as my mate Ken was on a gynaecology course or something like that.

Enough of the side show onto the main event, the return of Ronnie Moore without the errant son. Word was, they were top of the league that had faltered a little of late. So where better to end a run, yes the Vic. Over the years I bet we have started and ended more good or bad runs for the opposition than any other team in the divisions, or am I just being sarkey in my dotage?

One player, Cassidy for the opposition was reported to have scored ten goals from thirteen shots. At the Vic last night he was pretty anonymous but when you switch that statistic round, thirteen shots in thirteen games is a poor average for even a on-loan striker. That is the trouble with on-loan players, sometimes they have to go back.

Tranmere started brightly and Jervis in particular looked dangerous, and Hartley managed to scramble a ball from over the goal line to save our early embarrassment, but it was in, so a little luck to Pools but we could have been two down in six minutes.

For the rest of the half we competed and Franks was going great guns down the left. We were so good I saw one midfielder for Pools make THREE tackles and he also spooned a drive over the bar from the edge of the box. Robinson the Tranny midfielder was running the show and was summarily booked for simulation after his expert dive on the edge of the box. I may be naive but it beats me why people who are privileged to play football for a living feel the need to cheat.

"Over the years I bet we have started and ended more good or bad runs for the opposition than any other team..."
Aussie made a run on goal and his shot screamed just wide of the mark but it was a good effort from the full back. It was a decent half were we did compete, but again some fans in the town end started to sing "Kumbayah", finishing off with "We Shall Overcome". How times have changed on the terrace.

Second half started with a great run into the box by Franks who hit his shot at the keeper. Watching the ‘MIDFIELDER” I got the impression he was dumping the ball either that or his one touch football skills were rubbish. Ned was having a good game. Rumours were that he was being watched by Villa, so this game won’t have done him any harm.

Robinson again tested Ned but he was equal to it. As the game wore on we were looking to be under pressure as Tranmere stepped up their game and once again we were lacking in the attacking department around the box. Hartley stuck out a leg in the box for the attacker to dive over but you cannot argue with the decision and Robinson sent Ned the wrong way from the spot.

Buoyed by their success Tranmere ran out the half with another goal as their fans chanted "Top of the League".

Seems so long ago now that we were unbeatable.
Chesterfield - As I seen it!


ARE WE 
DARLO IN DISGUISE?

Chesterfield 6 - Pools 1   FA Cup, First Round   Saturday November 3rd

Match report by POOLIE IN NOTTNGHAM at The Proact Stadium

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What a game. In the week that saw hatfuls of goals in the dramatic League Cup ties, who would have thought they would witness a 7 goal ‘thriller’ in the first round of the FA Cup?

It was Andy Ramalamadingdong’s turn to drive, so he picked me and Ewan up at about half one. After a quick couple of junctions up the M1, we headed into Chesterfield town centre and parked up at a secret location very close to the ground but entirely free. We were sworn to secrecy by Andy’s Chesterfield-supporting mate, so I can’t reveal the whereabouts, but when we play them next season in League Two it probably won’t be there anyway due to development.

We met Andy’s mate for a quick pint in the Casa hotel bar, a rather swanky establishment for this part of north Derbyshire. Andy’s mate has the distinction of being on Chesterfield’s books many years ago, making a number of appearances for the reserve team. The closest he got to turning out for the first team in a proper league fixture was when they had a Tuesday night game at somewhere far-flung like Southend, and he was an unused sub. Close, but no cigar or what?

Me and Andy were full of optimism after the improved performance at Brentford, but we should have kept our mouths shut. After meeting Andy’s nephew Tom outside the ground, we took our seats along with a couple of hundred or so other Poolies behind the goal Chesterfield were attacking. Nowt really happened until after about quarter of an hour, when a frankly very good ball was played from Chesterfield’s midfield, Flinders couldn’t get near the finish, and we were one down.

This did nothing to dampen our spirits of the very vocal Poolies, until a few minutes later. I’ve heard Evan Horwood is a canny lad, and he was certainly very polite to the Chesterfield right winger, stepping aside with an “after you, sir”, allowing him to nip in and square the ball for an easy second for the Spireites.

Ewan needed a slash shortly after this, so thankfully we were in the bog when the third went in. We heard the cheer, and somehow our grim location seemed appropriate, being surrounded by the smell of excrement and piss. I haven’t seen the replay of the goal yet, but by all accounts we were again showing exceedingly good manners to the Chesterfield forwards.

I seem to remember us nearly scoring in the first half, with an effort being cleared off the line, but by and large it was as bad as it sounds. We then spent the entire half time break queueing for a Bovril, the refreshment stand being staffed by robots who were stuck on the slow-motion setting.

The second half was just more of the same, and it didn’t take long before the fourth went in, thanks again to those generous Pools defenders. Howard nearly pulled one back with a header that was well saved by the Chesterfield keeper (who according to some of the Poolie faithful chanters is the illegitimate son of Jimmy Savile).

Talking of Jimmy Savile, me and Andy debated the merits of Jimmy Savile fancy dress, and whether or not it would be bad form to attend the Crawley game on the last day of the season dressed as the be-tracksuited, cigar-wielding Yorkshire nonce. The jury is still out, and we may well just go as Gary Glitter and Jonathan King, as we had originally planned.

Sweeney did manage to pull one back with a header from a corner, which prompted the prophetic roar of “five-four, we’re going to win five-four” from the Poolie faithful. This soon stopped however, when Chesterfield skipped up the field to restore their four goal cushion. Not to be outdone, the chants were then changed to “we’re so shit it’s unbelievable” and “are we Darlo in disguise?” At least the gallows humour hasn’t disappeared. Nor has the sense of injustice, with “we want our money back” probably being the song sung the loudest all afternoon.

Chesterfield rounded things off with a sixth near the end, and the ref finally put us out of our misery. I waited to see if any of the Pools players would come over to applaud the gesticulating, understandably pissed off and justifiably baying-for-blood fans. Sweeney shuffled past the half-way line, clapping at waist height looking thoroughly embarrassed, but soon joined his spineless colleagues down the tunnel. To be fair to him, you could not fault his effort during the game, and I felt sorry for him having to play with such a bunch of pea-hearted posers.

"I seem to remember us nearly scoring in the first half, with an effort being cleared off the line, but by and large it was as bad as it sounds."
I assured Ewan that Pools wouldn’t be as terrible as this next time I take him to a match, and with all the naive charm that can only come from a four year old, he stated that the players should say sorry for not trying. I was difficult to agree with him, but I can’t see someone like Simon Walton losing much sleep on Saturday night.

On our way back to the car we passed the Pools team bus parked up outside the ground. If I didn’t have Ewan with me I would have waited there for the players to come out, not to abuse or attack them, but just to ask some simple questions. Such as how they can look themselves in the mirror after such half-hearted performances, and what they think they can do to turn things around.

I was unfortunate to witness the 6-0 defeat at home to Donny Rovers back in the dark days of the late 80s, and it’s the first time I’ve seen us ship more than five goals since then. In terms of performances, I can only recall one which tops this one for lack of effort - the utterly disgusting 4-1 defeat at Bristol Rovers on the last day of the season, when only results elsewhere kept us up. 

Whoever takes over is on a hiding to nothing. The chances of us staying up are smaller than David Foley when viewed in ‘the shrinker’ at a hall of mirrors. I can only hope a great big enema is applied to the playing staff during the close season, where all the dead wood is cleared out (not to mention all the parasites). The club’s owners will hopefully take the view that significant rebuilding is required, if nothing else to arrest the slide next season as well. I really can’t imagine us struggling at the foot of the fourth tier any more, it would be like nothing has changed since IOR took over.

At least we can concentrate on the league now though eh? 


THE ONLINE FANZINE FOR POOLIES




GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY reviews recent Pools events


A last minute leveller for Pools at Brentford - and it was an own goal would you believe! Could this be the break in fortune that we’ve been looking for?

Over the past few weeks it's Pools who have been hit with last minute goals - Carlisle (lost 2-1), Bournemouth (winning 1-0 but drew 1-1), Sheffield United (lost 2-1) and Doncaster (leading 1-0 but drew 1-1). All that adds up to six points lost and we can surely come to the conclusion that our concentration at the back was all haywire in the last few minutes of those games. For it to happen once can be put down to bad luck; for it to happen twice might raise an eyebrow; for it to happen three times might cause both eyebrows to be raised; for it to happen FOUR times is surely ******* diabolical.

 The Crawley game perhaps epitomised what’s been happening over a number of games - a non existent midfield that couldn’t create anything - or put another way, Crawley hardly broke sweat; they knew their one goal lead was secure. As an ex-Poolie, Richard Barker must have been wondering what’s happening to his former club.

Obviously, the main issue for Poolies has been the resignation of Neale Cooper. Personally, I was sorry to see him go; he always wore his heart on his sleeve and the phrase ‘blood, sweat, toil and tears’ comes easily to mind. There were times last season when we thought that Neale Cooper was starting to take us somewhere. A pitiful home record to contend with on his arrival, we managed to chalk up impressive victories against Carlisle (4-0) and Notts County (3-0). In addition, we also managed to grind out points on the road - Exeter and Yeovil come to mind.
"There will never be a shortage of applicants for a Pools vacancy - after all, if you can make it at Pools you’re in line for a better job"
Yet it all went wrong - clearly the players have to take the responsibility and the side which Cooper inherited was nowhere near the side which he inherited in 2003. Take Ritchie Humphreys, for example. When Cooper arrived for his first spell as manager, Ritchie was a key player in midfield who could take on defences and, at the same time, find the net. Fast forward to 2012 and Ritchie is a shadow of what he was. And then there’s the biggest mystery of all - Tony Sweeney. He’s certainly been putting in the effort but it seems to be leading nowhere. And then there’s the signing of Franks and Walton. Despite initial optimism neither have made a significant contribution. - although, of course, Franks has found the net twice this season. As I’ve said before, Steve Howard has been a good signing - the problem has been that there’s been nobody there to support him.

What did give us some optimism was the emergence of Luke James but injuries and his latest hernia problem have turned him into a ‘bit’ player. We did get a glimpse of what he’s capable of with his goal against Scunthorpe. But that was it. So more bad luck for Neale Cooper. There’s still a lot of respect for Neale Cooper’s commitment to the club - as has been pointed out many times he’s the most successful manager we’ve had. I’m sure he’ll be back amongst us sometime in the future. In the meantime have a good rest in Scotland and recharge the batteries.

Who follows Neale Cooper is going to fill the column inches of the Hartlepool Mail. Some of the names put forward -for example, Phil Brown and Dave Penney - are quite reasonable but I think someone’s been eating too many wine gums by suggesting the names of Paul Ince and Dennis Wise. Obviously, Pools' next manager will be someone who is out of work from a third or fourth tier club - or indeed a recently retired player who has managerial ambitions. There will never be a shortage of applicants for a Pools vacancy - after all, if you can make it at Pools you’re in line for a better job. That happened, of course, to Brian Clough and Len Ashurst.

Such has been my despondency, that I even suggested to one of my friends that she give me one of her spare slots in her counselling sessions. Couldn’t believe that we took the game so seriously! And then there’s my record as a gambler. To be quite honest, I’ve neither the expertise nor the instinct to win money by gambling so on the day of the Bury match I put a bet on for Pools to lose the game by 2-0. That’ll do it I thought! But to no avail - Pools lost but not by 2-0. So my money still went up the spout.

Other things have, of course, been happening. On Friday, 19th October the Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper, Chris Kirkland, was assaulted by a Leeds United supporter and what shocked me was that the attacker was able to get back into the spectator area without being apprehended by the police or stewards. What the hell were they doing? Clubs shell out a fortune for policing inside their grounds and we can only come to one conclusion: that those in charge of security were paying more attention to watching the game rather than safety. The following day saw the game at its very best. On 25 minutes of the game against Crawley, Poolies had a two minute clap-in to salute the memory of Michael Maidens. Most of the Crawley fans joined in and I thought it showed that there can be a community spirit in the game that we love.

And then there’s the financial situation in Greece. So cash strapped are amateur clubs in Greece that they’ve been forced into taking on brothels as sponsors. Supporters of one club were apparently shocked to find that the club’s training kit was emblazoned with ’Villa Erotica’. (Didn’t say whether they included the telephone number or a website). Then, of course, there’s the Ryder Cup victory by Europe over the Americans. The winning putt was, of course, made by Martin Kaymer of Germany. Which proves one thing - you can always rely on the Germans in a shoot - out. Finally, there’s the heroics of the Austrian skydiver, Felix Baumgartner. Was this the biggest free fall since Rangers dropped into the fourth tier of Scottish football?

By the time this piece is published, we will have played Chesterfield in the FA Cup. Cup competitions have not been our forte this season, so hopefully its going to be third time lucky. It was pretty grim against Bradford City in the Johnson’s Paint Trophy tie - so much so, that some were wanting the referee to blow for time early so that we could get to the penalty shoot out.










VARIOUS POOLS FANS give their thoughts


I'm sad because the guy was held in high regard from his previous spell. (Never go back???).
I think we will have a problem recruiting the sort of manager we need - a disciplinarian like King Cyril - since a new manager will almost certainly have to be prepared to work with the current backroom staff.
In my opinion the main reason for his demise is that Cooper fell for the same problem that has plagued recent regimes - far too big a squad too low in quality.
Ken Cairns 

Sad but necessary. Hopefully the replacement will manage to get through to the players.
Cooper must be devastated at how it has turned out.
I can only hope we bring someone with a ruthless streak in, Paul Ince would be my choice as he has done well at this level.
John Cooper "not even Sir Alex could have done more with the resources available."

After his initial time at the club, for which all Hartlepool United supporters must be thankful, he has not been able to rekindle that success. A genuinely passionate and enthusiastic manager who has run out of options, not aided by the present rules regarding clubs expenditures.
Alan Essex 

So sad to see Mr Cooper leave the club but it has not worked out this time round. I think some of the squad need to take a good hard look at themselves and their contribution to the position we now find our club in.
Ian Malcolmson 

He did a lot of good work at Pools.
It was hard to see where he could go in the current situation.
The new manager will need some new players.
David Shedden

Sorry to see a big man brought down. He was dealt a losing hand from the outset and can console himself with the thought that not even Sir Alex could have done more with the resources available.
Steve Hall

Hugely disappointed that Neale Cooper has left the club. Reading between the lines it would appear that he was in the same position as Mick Wadsworth who publicly stated that He too, was at a loss as how he could get the team back to winning ways.
If the players had half the heart or passion that Neale Cooper has for this town and the club we would be top of the league by a clear margin. A good many of the players should hang their heads in shame. Legend let down by Leg ends!
John Raftery

Very sorry to see him leave. Neale Cooper has been good for Pools - pity that the players didn't show the same enthusiasm. Maybe some of the players should have been shown the door instead of Neale Cooper. Best of luck for the future.
Michael Squires





KT POOLIE on internet controversy


Social networking sites have become de rigueur amongst the nation’s footballers in recent years. Now in a shock move, a leading provider, Twatter, plans to ban Hartlepool United players from its micro-blogging site. 

The move is not totally unexpected. For many years the site gained popularity as followers sought out banal, unintelligible drivel spouted by famous sportsmen. At its height in 2010, two-thirds of the world’s population is believed to have been checking the site every 15 minutes to see whether Wayne had arrived back home from the match, or to check out Robbie’s savage comments on the latest minor refereeing mistake.

As the recession hits, Twatter executives worry the general public has become more interested in fending off imminent redundancy or making a few quid on E-bay from that junk in the loft. Alarm bells ring as the latest snooping software discovers time spent in the office on work now takes almost as much of the working day as time spent browsing. Blogging is in decline.
"Alarm bells ring as the latest snooping software discovers time spent in the office on work now takes almost as much of the working day as time spent browsing."
Premier League footballers too panic at the thought of a downturn in interest for their self-promoting drivel. Sponsors are nervous – surveys among 14 and 15 year olds show many have named their first born Prof Green or 1D, ditching the traditional Raheem, Theo or Oxlade.

The fightback begins this season. Major twatterers enliven their cyber-speak by taking swipes at opponents, team-mates, the football authorities – even anti-racism campaigns are targets in an attempt to court controversy and, in so doing, ‘up’ their diminishing online profile.

The networking sites help by providing new features such as automatic re-twats, pre-supplied trolling insults (140 characters or fewer) and auto-correction features to turn laughable spelling such as ‘moron’ into the street correct ‘moran’.

So how did all this lead to a ban for the Victoria Park favourites? It appears that the team lacks the right characters. There is no player with the blogging skillz of Ferdy, or SwuĆ£rez or VanP; no one willing to call into question the ability of a match official; no one to slag off the FA or League; no one to make overtly racist remarks about an opponent.

With no controversy, HUFC fails to trend. In today’s society, it is a cardinal sin.




 



BILLY'S CONTRACT on Neale Cooper


I’m absolutely devastated at Neale Cooper's departure from the club. However I am disgusted at the players for forcing Cooper’s hand in tendering in his notice. 

It would appear that a section of players did not want to play for him or share his passion. Another group of players, mainly the younger ones, were bereft of confidence and then there were those who are just not good enough. I am not saying that Neale Cooper was not responsible in part, for the situation the club finds itself in. I am sure in retrospect he would do some things differently.
"One thing is for sure, Neale Cooper’s name will always be revered by the club and the supporters, which is something many of the current squad could only dream of."
At least Neale Cooper can hold his head up high and has retained his dignity, unlike many of the current first team squad. If any of them had an ounce of moral fibre about them, one or two of them should also hand in their notice of employment as they have not been putting a full shift in for the best part of the season.

I want Pools' and Cooper's successor to do well, however if the same group of players do manage to salvage something from the season (like the small matter of avoiding relegation) then it will speak volumes of their poor commitment to Neale Cooper. If on the other hand Pools drop into division two it will just confirm that we just had a poor set of players in the first place, which Neale Cooper or anyone else could do little with. I think the saying goes that you can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear...or was it something to do with polishing turds?

One thing is for sure, Neale Cooper’s name will always be revered by the club and the supporters, which is something many of the current squad could only dream of. Many of which will be long forgotten a few weeks after they have been given free transfers at the end of next season. Most of which will be lucky to secure employment with another league club.



 






RUNNING MONKEY sees things go from worse to worse


I think this was the first time we have met Crawley, but if it isn’t I would expect someone to put me right.

Before the game my mate Ken, ever the optimist, had a strange aura about him. At first I thought it was the curry he had had for lunch. He insisted he had his ritual fritter and chips but it turned out it was Mick who stands behind us that had had the curry, which explains why he left with twenty five minutes on the clock.

I realised that Ken’s aura was far more serious when, without a ball being kicked in the game, he announced that Pools would not come within three goals of the visitors today. I put this down to the fact that Ken had watched the warm up, which I deliberately missed out on after the last home game warm up, when the shooting practice was abysmal and continued into the game. I felt a little buoyed by the write up on the Crawley site where the manager stated he told the fans to expect a tough game at the Vic. I bet he was pleasantly surprised today.

Three changes today by Mr Cooper, with Hartley suffering anything between a virus, an infection, or virus-infected blisters, according to the rumours, so take your choice. Murray was injured and RH was dropped, making way for Sam Collins, Poole and the enigma that is Simon Walton.
"Today there was only one brief patch where we looked like we might know what we were doing"
As you all know, I do not go in for slating players, just honest criticism, but Walton has been a total disappointment since he joined in the summer. His first two touches today were very poor passes giving away possession on both occasions, which did little for his standing with the fans.

Our first effort on goal came on eleven minutes when Noble blasted a ball over the Town End stand. Walton got his first assist of the season with a poor header from him which led to the Crawley goal, a twenty-five yard drive that Ned had no chance with. Ned made up for it in the next Crawley attack, blocking a close-range shot that Baldwin scrambled away.

Aussie managed to get a long-range shot in but it was too easy for the untroubled visiting keeper. Once again Ned was called on to again to make a great save as he palmed away a vicious cross as Pools were under real pressure. Spontaneous clapping broke out all around the ground at twenty-five minutes as the fans remembered the fifth anniversary of the death of Michael Maidens, whose parents attended the game today. Nice to see the visiting manager Richie Barker joining in with the salute to the former player.

Holden and Poole linked up for a great run down the left but we wasted the corner that came from their effort. Crawley did have the ball in the net but it was ruled offside, which even the Town End fans thought was a little unjust.

Consensus at half time was “we are goosed”, but as I tried to explain to those that would listen, despite Crawley looking by far the better team, with the wind on our backs and kicking down bank in the second half we could make a game of it. To prove my point we won a free kick on the edge of the box which astonishingly Walton lined up to take. The man who could not even make a forward pass was being trusted to have a go at a free kick. As it happened he had two shots in succession. The first rebounded off the wall to him and of course his second shot did exactly the same, causing very slight irritation to the Crawley wall.

Pools continued to waste possession and made very little impact on the Crawley defence. Aussie took over from Walton on the next free kick and at least tested the keeper, who made a diving save to palm the ball wide. We took the corner, which was cleared upfield and once again they tested Ned, as the defence was so poor and the midfield non-existent.

Even under the pressure we have been under this season we have at times played some good football in patches. Today there was only one brief patch where we looked like we might know what we were doing, but this spell was cut short when a Crawley player went down in their box injured and took a long time to get to his feet. Chants of ‘Going Down’ from the Town End rang out as the faithful turned on their team after a dismal performance.

Crawley did deserve the points; they played the better football, they were fast on the break and direct whereas Pools were so predictable, and some poor application led to another defeat which I think could end the reign of Neale Cooper at the Vic. Which in my opinion would be a shame.

OK people look at results and one win in about a dozen games looks bad on any CV, but I think some of the under-performing players are as much to blame for our plight as is the manager.

On the way home I walked down Clarence Road with a group of jubilant Crawley fans who between them were rating their trip to the Vic. On hearing one rate our chips as six out of ten I asked him how he would rate our team. His answer was four. So we have the official condemnation where a bag of chips rates higher than our team. Just how bad can it get?  




POOLIE IN NOTTINGHAM looks back


If a day is a long time in football, then I don’t know what 10 years equates to. It’s hard to believe that it was in the 2002/3 season that Pools got automatic promotion out of the basement for only the third time in their history. Since then, barring just a single season, we have been stalwarts of the third tier.

What is interesting about the last decade is the fortunes of other clubs in what was Division Three that year. Not long ago I had a quick glance at the final table, expecting to see the familiar teams in there – Rochdale being the prime example – but there were a couple of surprises.

Swansea City, currently holding their own in the Premiership, finished an impressive fourth from bottom, just a point from relegation to the Conference. It wasn’t until 2005 that they managed to haul themselves up a level, and they haven’t really looked back since. Another team to have enjoyed a bit of limelight in the top flight recently are Hull City, who ended the 2002/3 season in the bottom half.

There are plenty of football’s forgotten teams in there as well, now plying their trade in the Conference or lower. The list is like a roll-call of the darker days of Poolie past – Rushden and Diamonds, Wrexham (who finished third), Lincoln, Kidderminster, Cambridge, Darlo, Boston, Macclesfield – they all have the displeasure of not appearing on the Football League Show. Still, I suppose someone has got to make way for the likes of Crawley, Stevenage, Fleetwood and the rest.
"Swansea City, currently holding their own in the Premiership, finished an impressive fourth from bottom, just a point from relegation to the Conference."
Many of them dropped out but clawed their way back again – Oxford, Torquay, York, Carlisle, Exeter, and Shrewsbury have all proved that losing league status is not a one-way street to oblivion. With the promotion/relegation of two teams, the Conference has become more like Division 5, and should Pools ever find themselves down there I would be seriously advocating a three up/three down system be introduced.

Let’s face it, for Pools to get promoted out of the Conference as the rules stand at the moment, we would need to either win the league outright, or win the play-offs. Finishing runners-up after leading for the majority of the season and running out of steam at the last hurdle seems more like our style.

Looking at how the other tables ended up in 2002/3 is also a bit of an eye-opener. The third tier features another three teams who are ‘no longer with us’ in Stockport, Luton and Mansfield. Also a couple of teams now dining at the top table in Wigan and QPR.

The second tier contained the original incarnation of Wimbledon, before they mutated into the despicable MK Dons and a new club was founded in their place. Also there was yet another team now aiming to get back in the league, Grimsby Town.

The Premiership of 2002/3 featured a predictable finish with Manchester United at the top, trailed by Arsenal and the rest of the usual suspects, but also included some teams who have had the pleasure of playing at the Vic in recent times – Southampton, Charlton and Leeds.

I suppose one conclusion we can draw from this is that apart from the one blip, the last ten years (and the few before that) have been incredibly stable for Pools, both financially and on the pitch. We have got an uphill task in aiming to avoid the drop this season, but should we take our turn in the basement again, hopefully IOR will still be around to finance a promotion push. Who knows, we may stay up this season and get the added bonus of wresting the ground back from the ownership of the council. Who knows where we may end up in another 10 years?