Showing posts from August, 2013
Southend - As I seen it!


Pools 0 - Southend 1   Saturday August 10th 2013

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at The Vic


It was a brisk start by the visitors with Phil Brown hoping to prove a point after he lost out on the job to Hughes, or did he? We will probably never know but all water under the bridge as they say.  

Youth is the way forward for Pools under the guidance of Mr. Cooper who probably has little choice in the matter. Rumour is there will be three signings next week, One possibly will be the twenty year old lad from Bradford, Duckworth who has been funding himself in a bid to get a place at Pools even though it as possible there would be no job for him he stuck to the task and has won himself a place by sheer grit and determination, so good luck to the lad. I only hope the other two are a striker who can score and a ball player that can make this team tick.

OK, it is early days but from the four games I have seen, we still have the same problems from last season, which took us down. Young Holden took some stick for hoofing a ball out of the box to an opposition player who crossed for their striker Eastwood to score an easy goal. That hoof could have come from anyone of six players’ as they were all guilty in the first half of just hoofing it away under pressure but some call it one touch football. It was classic Pools, gift an early goal and heap pressure on themselves.

Walton came on for Sweeney who seems to get injured a lot - maybe the armband is too heavy for him. It was backs to the wall for Pools, as Southend looked the far better side in a good spell after the goal. We were on the back foot for a long time. Poole managed to break free and run on goal but a poor shot let him down as the keeper saved, but we struggled to hold onto the ball for any length of time to build an attack.

"Walton came on for Sweeney who seems to get injured a lot - maybe the armband is too heavy for him."
Just before the break there was a sending off for Southend when Corr elbowed Jack Baldwin. He had been doing this throughout the half - I was just amazed the ref took so long to take action. Speaking of refs you thought they were bad in the last division we were in - well if this is the standard down here then be prepared for some slagging off.

I thought the sending off might give us a bit of a lifeline till someone told me it is fifteen years since we have beaten ten men. It makes me wonder where these statistics are plucked from when standing on the terrace. No I have no smart phone either.

Luke went charging into the box after a ball when he was bundled into the back of the net by the defender and again due to lack of attention by the ref this incident was overlooked.

We battled more in the second half and were making chances but a well-drilled Southend defence were just going to sit back and run the clock down. Poole had a snap shot blocked and Howard, who was on for Luke, was tripped in the box but nothing given.

A great cross from Poole saw Walton free in the middle but he was showboating and skied it when it was easier to tap it past the keeper. It was desperate measures for Pools trying for the equalizer but it was all in vain as Southend went home with three lucky points. Overall Eastwood made the difference between the two sides but it was a spirited second half by Pools. 

Some fiscal proposals by KT POOLIE

Many think it is their duty to right the perceived wrongs of their club. Often it’s not an explicit criticism of the current regime; it’s an indication the fans’ hope and excitement, their desire to see the club progress and their frustration over things they cannot control.

To me, there are some simple things we could do. And we should not be ashamed to look at examples around the country where clubs have identified shortcomings and made changes. Hartlepool may have hard-working, passionate and committed players, owners and staff. But is that enough? What we lack is creativity, imagination, a spark of genius – and not just on the pitch.

Clubs are suffering with the economic climate and the ever-changing fair play rules; indeed the chairman has written several articles explaining the financial issues facing all clubs. So let’s look at what other clubs have done during the summer to address the problem. Following their example and identifying small changes might just allow the manager to bring in that one player he needs.

" Don’t try it if you are one of the little clubs - you’ll be seen as ‘a valiant but poorly run organisation who won’t be missed’"Waste
I don’t mean cutting down on staff, after all every job is crucial to the economy, but surely there are areas of waste we can eliminate. Look at Arsenal, this year they have decided not to renew the annual redecorating contract for their 30 square metre trophy room. Wasted money, saved.

Sunderland too has identified surplus. Now that Titus Bramble is gone, they have moved quickly to redeploy all the ball boys working above row QQ – the ball is rarely kicked so high now. Looking to the medium term, Paulo has plans to avoid translation costs by employing only Italian players. Little things, but big savings.

Liverpool is located on the wrong side of the country for games in Europe so they save on expensive flight tickets by playing for fifth position only. Similarly, Newcastle arranges their end of season party in February- venues are always cheaper in midwinter – why wait until May?

 Choosing the right business partner is essential. A controversial sponsor will alienate some players, meaning you can leave them behind on the pre-season trip to Portugal. And this saving is boosted by any fine the club can hand out for refusal to wear the shirt.

Leave your troubles behind you
Blue Sky thinking allowed one club to stay in their division last year. Following a rent row at their white elephant stadium, they took the bold decision to simply walk away and ground-share with a near neighbour. Fans will put up with a seventy mile round trip every home match in return for another season in a higher division.

Note: The press will be sympathetic to the unfortunate ex-Premier League giant. After all they are ‘a famous old club who has fallen below their natural level’. Don’t try it if you are one of the little clubs - you’ll be seen as ‘a valiant but poorly run organisation who won’t be missed’ and will find yourself fined and relegated several divisions.

Creative Accounting
Tax evasion is all the rage. Not tax avoidance - that’s clearly wrong. A little-known loophole allows organisations to re-direct 90% of their income through their in-stadia coffee kiosk franchise. Clubs offer a ewe’s milk, half double decaffeinated half-caf, with every season ticket. Known as the SaveBucks initiative, the club’s tax bill is immediately reduced to zero under clause 17.3b of the Exchange Gains and Losses Regulations (offsetting the costs of overseas coffee bean production) – see your tax adviser for details.

Pools are too late for this scheme, of course. The league is negotiating its own deal with HMRC. All clubs will be forced to install coffee experience kiosks and hand over the tax benefits to the management committee.

So there you have it, my suggestions for managing our budget. I’m sure with the right focus groups and public consultation there are many more opportunities. The point is it takes more than hard-work, loyalty and passion to be a club owner in the current climate. So come on Pools, get your thinking caps on! Show some creativity, imagination and genius and we could be flying up the league in 2013/14.

ALAN ESSEX introduces them all

Well, around this time of the year, in preparation for the new season, I like to give a light-hearted and totally irreverent view of the new signings we have made.

"With ...some big name departures and some big belly departures there were high hopes of a new crop of players"With last season’s disappointments firmly behind us, some big name departures and some big belly departures there were high hopes of a new crop of players signing up.

As usual there have been rumours and speculation, some far fetched and sometimes plausible but little has transpired at the time of writing. So, I’m limited to only one player signed and one trialist who may.

Jack (Denis) Compton

Represented England and Middlesex at cricket. A right handed batsman who also bowls slow left arm chinaman (or should that be chinamen – you decide?). Fortunately he also plays football, having played for Arsenal for most of his career. Very experienced, he was born in 1918, making him nearly as old as the now departed (to Chesterfield not heaven) Ritchie Humphreys.

Nialle Rodney

Yes, yes, I know it would be all too easy to mock this poor lad and put a picture of Rodney from ‘Only Fools and Horses’ on here and call him a ‘plonker’. That would not be fair to him, recovering as he is from having played for Darlington, albeit on loan from Bradford City.

Well, that sums up our signings so far. It could be argued that both Colin Cooper and Craig Hignett are the major signings this season. Much is expected from them in organising and motivating what we are hoping was an under performing team last season. Their contacts should also see a batch of promising Middlesbrough players join on loan when required.

That just leaves me to say that I hope everyone has a happy and enjoyable season and that I’ll meet up with a few of you at the midlands / southern away matches.


Oh and before I go, I thought I’d put up a picture of Niall Rodney’s car.

DIZZY DEAN marks Brian Arrundale's retirement

At the end of last season the long-serving Poolie Brian Arrundale retired from his job at radio Tees after thirty-three years of watching and commentating on Pools home games.

The club gave Brian a season ticket, I am not sure if it was for the press box, but a nice gesture anyway. His colleagues at radio Tees decide to dip into the petty cash and give Brian a much-deserved treat, but the powers that be at the BBC drew the line at spending money on alcohol. Flowers, chocolates, maybe a bottle of squash, but not alcohol.
"I did a quick ip dip dip and found four suitable bottles and headed for the checkout"
This misdemeanour was picked up by most of the national newspapers and an eagle-eyed southern-based Monkey Business staff member, obviously a well-educated gent as he reads Private Eye, spotted this article in that publication.

We at Monkey Business decided that this wrong should be put right immediately. After a quick phone call to Brian on the pretext of a phone survey I found out his favourite tipple was red. Armed with a pocket full of Monkey Bizz funds I set off to the nearest shop to purchase some drink for the thirsty radio commentator. 

Brian Arrundale, newly-retired
 from the Beeb, with the bottle,
newly presented by the Bizz
Asda was the venue, but I know as much about drink as George Osborne does about getting the deficit down. I did so many u-turns up and down the drink aisle I was getting dizzy staring at all the different bottles. I decided to enlist a member of staff who was about a good as myself on making a choice. I did a quick ip dip dip and found four suitable bottles and headed for the checkout. At the till there was a Poolie I half recognised from the Vic who was purchasing his own supply: six bottles of wine, a carton of lager and a bottle of milk. 

He looked like a man who knew how to shop so I asked him about my selection. I like that red and that red and that red and I really like that red was his response. I was on a winner, I was tempted to purchase some salted nuts with the change I had left but decided against it due to time constraints. I was off to see Pools v Billingham and I was running late. I made my way to the Arrundale spread and admired the recently-cut lush green lawns as I waited at the door. Brian invited me in and I explained what we at Monkey Bizz were doing and he said I should not be spending money on him and that I should give it to the youth team. I explained that I was not allowed to give drink to minors! 

Brian finally accepted the Bizz gift and explained that eventually he did get a huge bottle of plonk from the BEEB, supplied by Paul Addison, who had found a way around the rules. The moral of this tale is, do not let the truth get in the way of a good story.

BILLY'S CONTRACT comes around again

Don't you just hate 'close seasons'? Well I do, or should I say I did up until recently.

I would readily admit that by February/March time, well if I am brutally honest by Christmas time I could not wait for the football season to end. Pools relegation was by any standards a long slow and drawn out lingering death which in my case was a relief when they went down. Talk about trying to avoid the inevitable.

Having said that, I have to say for my own part that I have thoroughly enjoyed the close season no end. The weather has been exceptional, The British and Irish Lions beat the Aussies, Looks as if the Ashes are heading our way, Chris Froome won the Tour de France and to top everything on the sporting front even Andy Murray broke into a smile of sorts.

I had a cracking three days away at Head Office (Rome) where the temperatures were well into the nineties. Added to that I got to see the Mighty Jethro Tull at The Royal Albert Hall, and in between at no less a venue, The Belle Vue Social Club,  'Sinner Boy' the number one Rory Gallagher tribute band who put on an outstanding performance the Guinness was of an acceptable quality and was reasonably priced to boot.
" Ritchie had his critics towards the end ...but he was one of only four what I would class as proper outfield footballers that we had at the club"
For me 'Pools were well and truly on the back burner on my list of priorities particularly when I saw the retained list. Basically we have kept the same players who performed so poorly and contributed to our relegation. Personally I would have scattered four of the most senior players who have been retained. I would put their names down in writing here but it hurts me to even think of their names let alone write them down.

I have a certain amount of sympathy for Evan Horwood being released, considering the players whom we have kept on at the club. I must admit I would have let him go. Yes he had most assists at the club but when you consider how many goals we scored it is not a great record. Evan's problem was his defending. Chesterfield in the cup springs to mind.

I have to say that I was not only surprised but disgusted in the well documented manner in which Ritchie Humphreys was let go, so much so, it was only a last minute decision that I decided to renew my season ticket. Ritchie had his critics towards the end mainly due to his lack of pace but he was one of only four what I would class as proper outfield footballers that we had at the club (Baldwin, James definitely, and possibly Hartley on a good day).

My mate has been a critic of Ritchie's for the last few seasons and asked why I was applauding him off after he was subbed after a not so good performance against Brentford. I told him that unless he went to the Stevenage match for the final game of the season he would not see Ritchie in a 'Pools shirt again. With that my mate joined in the richly deserved applause for one of the Hartlepool greats as he left the field for the last time at at The Vic in a 'Pools shirt. In fact I know someone who said if Ritchie scores the winning goal for Chesterfield that sends 'Pools down to the Conference he will give him a standing ovation. Whilst I don't agree, I can understand his sentiment.

Then came the appointment of Colin Cooper and Craig Hignett. I wish them every success as I would anyone who is connected with 'Pools.
This apparently is Cooper's second application for the 'Pools manager's job and to say that he is prepared to leave the relative security of the Youth team job at Muddlesborough must say something about the man when one cosiders how many managers have been shown the exit door at 'Pools in the last 36 months.
My main concern about the ex Notts Forest/Sunderland man is his connection with his former Teesside employers Muddlesbrough.

Apart from the two or three years when Bryan Robson was in charge with Ravanelli and the little Brazilian lad in the side, Boro are notorious for playing dull boring football. I would hate to think that we will become a feeder club for the Boro. That is letting our best talent like Baldwin and James go to them for peanuts whilst we pick up their rejects (mostly ex-Hartlepool lads whom our scouting system should have picked up in the first place!)

Hopefully discipline is maintained within the club. M'bro Football Club a few years back had a reputation for having a big drink culture (indeed one of their now ex players was barred from every pub in Stockton). When I lived in Teesside it was common knowledge that a certain pub in Yarm was their second training ground.

Hopefully Colin Cooper has other contacts within the game apart from making Middlesbrough his first port of call for signings/loanees.

As the football season gets closer I still have not got fired up about it. So far no new signings of note, presumably because we have not been able to unload Steve Howard and get him off the wage bill. Talking of whom I thought the reception he received from a section of 'Pools fans when he came on as a sub against Muddlesbrough was shameful. Yes he said a few things in the press which he probably regrets but I think he gave a few home truths as well about promises not being kept. Who knows, big Stevie (hopefully) might turn it around for us.

Normally I give pre season friendlies a miss ...particularly at £13 a pop. However some of my work mates from the Boro persuaded me to go to the Muddlesbrough match. From what I saw of that match we have the same problem as we have for the last couple of seasons - that of creating chances and scoring goals. However in Scotty Flinders we have one of the best custodians outside the Premiership.

It was great to get the season ticket offer once again but obviously the club must be disappointed with the take up otherwise why would they extend the offer until the beginning of the new season. I think considering we are stuck with a lot of the old brigade and have not made any decent signings (we will be probably be relying on loans from the Boro) has not sent the fans' pulses racing I don't think the figure of just over 3200 season ticket sales are too bad.,

Where Russ Green/IOR have shot themselves in the foot is, unless I am mistaken, that any punter who turns up at the turnstile on the day for a match will be charged £20 for the pleasure. Even in the unlikely event that 'Pools are going for promotion, that price will deter a lot of fair weather fans from attending. To me the price on the gate should be £12 max and hopefully this would would encouraged a few more fans to go through the gates.

Hopefully my enjoyable close season will all be a distant memory as 'Pools go on a promotion push. I for one am looking forward to the first away game of the season at Rochdale ...if nothing else, for the suet pudding and chips from the chippy opposite the ground. 

 The H'Angus Twins

As you can see, Martin Levinson's twin granddaughters Izzy and Heidi both have H'Anguses (or are they their H'Angi? Latin scholars please comment). 

We can guess who provided them, because the girls have a Black Cat mother, and a Man U. father, despite which, Martin claims, they are Poolies.

Of course, keeping Grandpa sweet is what little girls are very good at.

The Arena Revisited

Billy's Contract recently called in to inspect the Darlington Arena now that it no longer entertains football fans (not that it ever did!) He thought it was a bit too dangerous to wear a Pools shirt to do the inspection, so had to make do with his trusty Monkey Business cap. Sadly, in a few short years, George Reynolds' stadium-on-the-cheap is showing severe wear and tear, and as you can see, the gold taps and heskylators are now long-gone.

CENTRAL PARK tells us what he really thinks

I finished last season in a state of despair and with a deep foreboding of what the new season would bring. Well, I’m not feeling very much better. At the time of writing nothing has happened to make me feel more optimistic about the forthcoming season.

Unlike most previous seasons I feel downcast; not just because of the recent relegation but because so little seems to have been done to rectify matters and engender optimism. 

Even in the bad old days of the 60s, 70s, and 80s there was some activity on the player front to give the illusion of firm and decisive action being taken. Players came and went (about ten out and ten in) and most of us went along with the idea that we had got rid of ten duffers and had just beaten Manchester United to ten top notch players. 

Of course doubts set in at the first probables v. possibles match, and were confirmed by twenty past three on the first day of the season. But at least we had something to cling to over the summer months. Not this time round though. I don’t think that have looked forward less to hearing the sports report signature tune since August 1989. 

Isn’t it strange how your words can come back to haunt you? I have been reading my last contribution to Monkey Business and it is amazing just how wrong you can be and how this can become apparent in so short a time. For instance, I referred to Alistair Brownlee’s co-commentator at Middlesbrough as ‘his scouse mate, Super Brain’ in what may have been interpreted as a disparaging manner, when all along I meant to say that this man’s experience and knowledge of the game would make him an ideal choice as second in command on the playing side at Hartlepool United FC. I am confident that such opinion will continue to be held for the duration of his stay.

"he would have been prepared to manage Barnstoneworth United if the chance had cropped up"
I also expressed my belief that following such a disastrous season that all the senior players who were out of contract would be released and replaced with much cheaper alternatives. Wrong again! Players who had clearly seen better days were awarded contracts for the upcoming season to the astonishment of most of the ‘Pools supporters I have discussed it with.

Even more puzzling was the speed with which said players agreed to new contracts as the ‘common knowledge around the town’ was that they ‘wanted to be away’. Of course we will never know the full story of what went on, or why the people in charge of acquiring playing staff were not confident that they could improve on a squad that failed so comprehensively last season.

As far as I recall the only two senior players to leave the club at the end of last season were Evan Horwood and Ritchie Humphries, and Ritchie only left because he was unwilling to accept the deal proposed to him. I don’t include Nathan Luscombe in this, as whatever his shortcomings might have been his number of appearances on the pitch didn’t really make a material difference to our plight. Never has there been such a massive disparity between promise and delivery since the days of Peter Barlow.

I know that the club’s hands are tied as far as Steve Howard is concerned and I don’t think I’ll find much disagreement by saying that his last year has been a failure, by any measure. However I do think that there is room for argument as to why things went wrong for him at Hartlepool, and the fact is, he was highly praised by the fans of a club in a higher division when he went there on loan last season.

We are now in the unenviable position of being required to pay very substantial wages for a player whose strengths do not fit with the rest of the team and who we are relying on another team (any team) to take off our hands. While he is still an expense for the club that we cannot guarantee will be removed, then that expense will have to be included in the calculations when it comes to the salary cap, so until he goes there is a considerable amount of money we cannot use to pay new players. I can foresee the nightmare scenario developing where we agree to pay part of his wages if he signs for a new club. The only comfort is the accuracy of my predictions in the last issue – none of them came off.

When it comes to departures I have to say that I was neither surprised nor unsurprised by the demise of John Hughes. I have friends who are disgusted at him being sacked saying they felt he should have had another chance. However, despite all indications to the contrary, we are not a pub team where there isn’t anything really at stake, and it would have been a mistake in my opinion to let him commit any money we did have, only for us to sack him before Christmas. I seem to remember him arriving at the club making extravagant claims about what he was going to do only for our hopes to nose-dive almost immediately. I suspect that he didn’t really know what he was getting into, or if he did then he was so desperate to get into English football that he would have been prepared to manage Barnstoneworth United if the chance had cropped up. Well, he knows better now, and I hope he soon recovers from the experience and gets back into football in the not too distant future.

Mind you, the foregoing about his expectations in the job is only speculation because I had great difficulty in following his statements in the post match interviews. (He made Neale Cooper sound like Noel Coward).

I went on at some length in the last issue about the ‘salary cap’ and the adverse effect it would have on our prospects. I was secretly hoping that the chairman would simply pay lip-service to it and then lavish huge amounts of IOR share holders’ money on strengthening my favourite football team at the expense of their dividends. But noooo! The club saw fit to release a statement explaining the workings of the scheme and then went on to say how much the powers that be at Victoria Park agree with it. If this is one hundred percent accurate i.e. that they will always adhere to the letter and spirit of the salary cap then why on earth do they want to own Victoria Park? It can’t really be an ambition of IOR to own the ground only for us to be playing on it in the lower reaches of the conference can it?

As a long standing critic of the town council, on this or any other matter, I have to admit that they might just have had a point in not letting IOR gain ownership of the ground if they suspected that IOR would let the team steadily decline in the way it seems destined to.

On the other hand perhaps IOR really do have a plan in place for when they own the ground so that they will be able to generate enough profit to subsidise a team able not only to gain promotion back to the third tier of English football but also to realistically compete for promotion to the Championship? I say this because I seem to remember when IOR were optimistic of obtaining ownership of the ground they were talking of the need to own it so that they could ‘take the club to the next level’. However, ‘taking the club to the next level’, at the time IOR made that statement would mean we would be competing for a place in the Championship and, if successful, staying there.

Such an enterprise would, in my opinion, necessitate the spending of considerable sums of money that I just cannot see the club generating given the size, location and prosperity of our catchment area. Sadly I can see no way out of the dilemma that will fill me with joy.

As reported in the last edition I have now taken up residence in the Cyril Knowles Stand from where I expected to regale the match officials with my opinion of their performance as they left the field. I made use of the seat at the friendly against Middlesbrough and found that yet another of my expectations has ended in disappointment. I can’t shout loud enough for them to be able to hear me; it’s probably just as well, I’m too old to start doing time.

Happy New Season Everybody.

GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY gives his thoughts

Here we go and hope you enjoyed the close season and didn’t get too stressed out being dragged round the Metro Centre, Primark, Asda and other retail establishments

For me, the close season started off in style. On holiday in Oban, my mobile phone went off as my good lady and I were walking off the ferry terminal after visiting the Isle of Mull.It was my son and my immediate reaction was ‘Can’t he leave us alone when we’re on holiday?’ The subsequent conversation ran like this:

SON: Just thought I’d let you know that John Hughes and Mickey Barron have been sacked. 
ME: Flaming hell! You come away on holiday and the job goes to pot. Have Pools given any reason why they’ve been sacked?
SON: You what?
ME: See above (raising voice)
SON: You what?
ME: See above (raising voice even higher)
WIFEY: Will you keep your voice down. The whole damned ferry terminal doesn’t want to know that Pools have sacked their manager. 
Great Grandad Shouty was alive and well on Oban Ferry Terminal.

It all made for an interesting close season as Colin Cooper and Craig Hignett sought to get to grips with Pools’ biggest problems - a lack of goals and under performance of senior players. Whether they’ve solved the first problem is anyone’s guess but at least they seem to have some faith in the younger players who, at least, might put some pressure on the established squad. Obviously, expectations are high amongst some Poolies, particularly after bouncing straight back at the end of the 2006-07 season. 
"Well, we’ve got full time officials but has it solved any problems? If anything, it's got worse."

There are, however, differences between then and now. In the promotion season, we had proven goal scorers in Joel Porter and Jon Daly and then there was the inspired loan signing of Darryl Duffy. I have my doubts whether we’ll get promotion this season  -its going to be more of a consolidation season. The good news, of course, is that Scott Flinders will be staying and whilst we can’t rely on our keeper all the time to keep us in games, its at least a start to know he’s staying. 

One face which will, of course, be missing and that’s Ritchie Humphreys. He was a fantastic player for Pools but, sadly, all good things come to an end. There were some games when the old magic was there but in others he struggled, being caught in possession on a number of occasions - an example of this would be the final home game against Brentford.. With him signing for Chesterfield there’s a chance he could come back to The Vic - what’s the odds on him scoring against us? And so we prepare to visit League Two’s equivalent of the seven wonders of the world - Accrington, Burton, Fleetwood, Bury, Morecambe, Wycombe and Mansfield. Let‘s hope that we can manage to keep a clean sheet at Fleetwood - fancy hearing the strains of Captain Pugwash whenever they score a goal?

One club we won’t be playing this season are, of course, Coventry City. Although they’re still in League One, they’re having to ground share with a League Two club, Northampton Town. Well, they chased the dream and look where it got them! And then there’s Leicester City. If we do happen to get promotion this season what are the odds on us playing Leicester next season? You might wonder why I ask this. Well, in case you missed it, their new chairman is none other than Sir Dave Richards. Up to now he‘s buggered up everything he’s touched so there no reason to suppose he won’t be consistent. Watch this space. 

On to more mundane matters and its going to be a quiet time this season in the bog standard Premier League with no Fergie around to complain about referees and added time. The thing about refereeing is that for years part time referees were considered old hat and so there became a clamour for full time officials. Well, we’ve got full time officials but has it solved any problems? If anything, it's got worse. I’ve always believed that retiring players should be given the chance to be fast tracked on to the referees’ list and thus provide an alternative to coaching/management.  There’d be no problems with fitness, would there?  

I was once talking to a Poolie who watched Pools in the 1950s. At that time, there was a 5pm train to Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool and he said that you always knew if the referee was on that train. No added time and the referee was first off the pitch. Ah, those were the days!  

The main story has, of course, been whether Rooney will stay with Man United .Whether he stays or goes doesn’t matter to me but I’ll enjoy any Rooney jokes as witness the following: “The Rooney hating thing has gone too far. Outside Old Trafford there’s a guy burning small effigies of Rooney and selling them to fans. Oh, hang on, it’s a baked potato stand”.  Meanwhile, the clubs are dashing off to far flung places to earn extra money and sell more replica shirts. Aren’t our top players supposed to be playing too much football? Naturally, its all go for them in the transfer market - falling over themselves to sign foreign players we’ve never heard of. Its been said time and time again that this only undermines the national side. It's touch and go whether we’ll qualify for the 2014 World Cup and it will be no good the FA wringing their hands in despair. They played their part in creating the monster. 

Obviously, when there’s no footy, your mind turns to other sports and I  followed Andy Murray win Wimbledon and even watched the last hour of the Open golf which, of course, was won by Phil Mickelson. I couldn’t help but notice how Phil Mickelson celebrated - not a security guard in sight and as he waited for the tournament to finish went and signed autographs for the younger spectators and had a word with each of them after he signed. A credit to the game of golf - perhaps Phil Mickelson could be a role model for our Premier League footballers who think they’re untouchable and prefer to live isolated lives. Most of them would need a conductor or a butler to push the trolley round the supermarket.
Anyway, soon after we go to print we’ll know how we’ve done against Rochdale. Keep the faith but don’t raise your hopes too much . I was optimistic last season and look where that got us. 

RUNNING MONKEY followed St. Hilda from the Headland to Whitby

Whitby Town 0 Pools 2

On my first trip out to watch the team this season, there were some great improvements on the same fixture last season (when it was persistently raining, the fish shop was closed and we went two down in fifteen minutes). 

A drawback though was the time it took to get from Wolviston to the Smoggie flyover, even with a detour to Port Clarence, but that was more the fault of the driver than the accident backlog. Once over the flyover we made good time and caught the fish shop close to the ground open but I only rated them four out of ten. Pools started with a strong side, Flinders, Duckworth, Collins, Baldwin, Holden, Franks, Walton, Sweeney, Compton, Monkhouse, James.

Compton, the new signing, did ok, and Duckworth, a trialist, also looked canny considering the opposition. It looks to me that Whitby look forward to this fixture, with the Pools connection of Darren Williams and Mark Robinson, who played the full game and looks a very competent full back. When you look at some of the replacements we have employed in that position  it makes one wonder why we let him go in the first place.
"don’t hold your breath on new signings unless one of our neighbourly giants feel benevolent enough to loan us a player or three"

The new captain, Sweeney, tapped home a sitter to make it one nil to Pools early on after Franks raced down his line and crossed a low ball that Sweeney could not miss. Despite the early lead it was a quiet half for Pools as Whitby held their own. 

This was the first time I have ever seen a water break twenty minutes into the game. The first half was a dour affair with only a couple of chances for Pools. Some of the same old stuff from last season - senior player demands ball -  senior player wastes ball. It was sad but not unexpected to see - even in a friendly game - Walton swing an elbow at a player who came in from behind, there was nothing in the tackle and a senior player like him should know better. 

Most of the stuff we did try broke down once we got to their box. Sweeney had another chance late in the half that was hit over the bar. The new management team changed things around in the second half giving some of the fringe players from last season a run out, as, by the looks of things we may need them - Rafferty, Austin, Richards, Hartley, Jones, Walker, Rowbotham, Poole, Hawkins, Rodney, Howard.

Despite losing a few from the squad, the relegation situation means we are under more pressure on what the club can pay out as wages, so don’t hold your breath on new signings unless one of our neighbourly giants feel benevolent enough to loan us a player or three. 

 I was surprised as anyone to see Howard warming up with the squad but he did his usual stint up front once again directing operations. At one juncture when a through ball was wasted he went through a system of gestures and arm waving, pointing here there and everywhere and it was laughable when he turned round to greet his audience - there was only one Whitby player standing listening as his team mates had departed to the other end of the pitch. 

After the game I noticed a friendly slap on the back of Howard from the CEO, was this a possible thanks but no thanks as he leaves for the Steel City? Walker is a Pools youth team player that seems to have grown a foot over the summer and now bears an uncanny resemblance to Ronaldo, and he had a tidy half.

You must take notice of another trialist by the name of Nialle Rodney. This kid can play a bit, has all the touches - drags the ball back, holds it up under pressure, can beat three men at a time, and he scored a canny goal after Poole put him through on goal. So after that glowing report we will probably not sign him, probably for the reasons given earlier. 

Poole looked sharp and was clattered a couple of times, once by former Poolie Mark Robinson, but shortly afterwards Poole turned on a sixpence, nutmegged the fullback and waltzed past him. After the game Mark claimed he saw the nutmeg coming, but could not cross his knees. 

The first impression is that unless he can strengthen the squad Cooper has his work cut out and it is glaringly obvious that we still need a striker.

WAGGA MOON's assessment

So the expected cull of last season's failures failed to materialise with only Evan Horwood shown the door, ironically not the worst player in the team by a long chalk.

And the two has-beens that are Collins and Monkhouse amazingly given contract extensions although what they did to deserve them is hard to fathom. And whose idea it was to give the deadly duo the time of day has yet to be revealed.

But one would have to look to Hodcroft who was likely playing at being a manager when no one was in place. Totally unprofessional and foisting another two players on the incoming manager and coach.
"one thing bothers me. If Cooper was not deemed to be in the top two candidates last November come by May he is the right man for the job."

With money allegedly so tight is it sensible two give two proven failures another crack of the whip? At the time of writing we have one newcomer to the club in Jack Compton and we will have to hope Colin Cooper has seen something in him to give us a boost this season.

I wish Colin Cooper and Craig Hignett every success in their new jobs but one thing bothers me. If Cooper was not deemed to be in the top two candidates last November, John Hughes and Phil Brown being Hodcroft's favoured choices, how come by May he is the right man for the job.

Among the disastrous choices of manager Hodcroft has appointed it must be remembered he got it right twice before. Danny Wilson and Mike Newell both took us to promotion but there have been embarrassing failures, notably Neale Cooper and Chris Turner, especially in their second stints at the club.

But it is time to get behind Cooper and Hignett now and hope he can bring in some exciting young loan signings as he must be well aware of the young talent at Middlesbrough and around the North East.

As for where we will finish this season, I reckon top half will be achieved and even better if Hodcroft opens the purse strings and stops hiding behind the Financial Fair Play argument for not investing.

Get Dove Energy or Bo Larsson to pay to rename the Vic, pump some oil money in and sign up a few decent players. Job done!

collated by MERVYN THE MONKEY 

A few months back Steve Howard went on loan to Sheffield Wednesday and said some uncomplimentary things about Pools. Then came relegation. Then John Hughes and Micky Barron went, as did Ritchie Humphreys and very few other squad members. Then came Colin Cooper and Craig Hignett, who as yet haven't acquired a shed-full of new talent. And Steve Howard returned from Sheffield Wednesday. Pools' early friendlies didn't set the world on fire, but the performance against Boro went down quite well, so as usual, who knows what's going to happen? A lot of abuse for Howard, that's what!

John Cooper has been the main man at the Bizz for the last few years. But now, with a growing family and career commitments, he has decided to retire from direct involvement with the mag. He took over the editorship six years ago, and put a lot of time and effort into it, which led to Monkey Business gaining a Fanzine of the Year award. John did a great job of keeping it going while printed fanzines were folding everywhere, especially in the lower leagues. Eventually the printed version bowed to the inevitable, and we all expected the Bizz to fold completely, but he had the idea that we could keep it going online ...and here we are today, starting our twenty-fifth season. So we at the Bizz would like to wish him well and thank him for his great efforts over the years.

Another former Bizz editor is Dave Shedden, who was one of the original three founders of Monkey Business. And since MB is now in its 25th season, you don't need a calculator to work out that he's knocking on a bit!
At the end of last season he got to grace the hallowed turf of the Vic, by playing a game with some fellow old timers, who included one Brian Honour, under the gaze of John Hughes and Micky Barron.
This picture of Dave at the end of the game shows how much he enjoyed it, and given that Messrs. Hughes and Barron were down the road shortly afterwards, it can't have been a highlight of their football careers either.

This flag was made specially for some Poolies (like Wickes, it's got their names  names on it) to take to the Third Ashes Test at Old Trafford. It's huge, and they were aiming to get it seen on TV.
As you can see, Mervyn the Bizz monkey appears (with permission) on it, and by the time you read this you may also have seen it on telly.

Finally we'd just like to say that anyone is welcome to write or otherwise create anything suitable for Poolies and submit it to us for inclusion in a future issue. It can be serious or humorous, complimentary or critical, current or nostalgic (for more info select the 'submitting stuff' link above). We like getting new contributors started, and we'll knock it into shape for you if necessary, so it doesn't matter how rough you think it is. Every one of us started with a first piece which we thought would be rejected, so why not have a go?

The Smurfs 2