Showing posts from September, 2013


Pools N - VISITORS N   League 2 Saturday MM DD YYYYY

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at The Vic






Wycombe Wanderers - As I Seen It


Pools 1 - Wycombe Wanderers 2   League 2 Saturday August 10th 2013

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at The Vic


On the way to the ground today the man on the wireless gave out the good news: no changes from the side that had humbled the Bradford City side on Tuesday night. A plus for Cooper - I thought he must have read my last piece in the Bizz on the jolly jaunt in the Tin Pot Cup, and taken notice.

On the same wireless I caught the end of a conversation between A.N.Other and Eddie Kyle, a summarizer on radio Tees, who claimed that it would have been better for one player to have scored three than five different players scoring a goal apiece against the Yorkshire side. Initially my reaction was “Why?” He reasoned that it would have given confidence to a striker to get three and he would be up for it again today, aiming to be a twenty-plus goal scorer for the season. Well I do not think anyone in our present squad fits that bill so I will gladly celebrate spreading the goals around the squad, offering us three or four players making double figures. He also said that Scotland would never qualify for the big events any time in his life, or what he has left of it, blaming lack of investment in Scottish football. I guess he will not be going home to visit any family soon.

A crowd of three thousand six hundred and forty there for the game today with only a smattering of Wanderers fans making the trip. So not many floaters coming to see the triumphant Galacticos re-enact the exploits of Tuesday night.

The same side scenario lasted five minutes as Walker went off and my heart sank when his replacement Walton took to the stage. As those of you who read my ramblings will know I am not a fan, nothing against the lad it is just in my humble opinion he has never fulfilled the promise we were given on this star from the south who, if you go on averages, cannot pass a ball consistently, cannot win a ball consistently, loses possession consistently and if he is not teapotting he is consistently raging at his team mates, especially the younger players, for being out of position. He is not a happy chappy at Pools and the body language says it all - he is average at best."After such a valiant performance on Tuesday this second half performance was hard to take"

It was a bright start by Pools but from the off the centre half who was twice the size of Luke simply laid all over him every time the ball was played up. It was annoying the home fans but went unnoticed by the officials. My mate Ken said it was the same feller that sent off Ned sometime ago so expect very little from him. Wycombe had a couple of shots blocked on the line but Pools were getting behind the visitors.

In the first real attack Wycombe appealed for a free kick twenty-five yards out after a nothing tackle from Burgess who was really upset when the ref gave it, claiming the Wycombe player was feigning injury.This became a pattern in the game and sadly due to the quality of the officials in this division they were falling for it. Fortunately the Pools wall did its job and did even better defending and clearing a short corner from the visitors.

Luke was given a free kick eventually after another foul by the centre half but it was given by the lino who must have felt sorry for the battering he was getting every time he went for a ball. This is going to be an obvious ploy against Luke as the season goes on so he will definitely have to toughen up and start dishing it out a little himself.

Monky had a chance when Franks fought his way into the box and chipped a ball to Luke who laid it on for Monky but his shot was wide of the mark. Pools were taking the game to Wycombe and kept them on the back foot for long periods with some slick football at times. Burgess had a header cleared off the line after some good play by Austin and Dolan.

Luke was given his second free kick after being pushed to the ground but this time the lenient ref got out his book after the lino once again flagged up the foul. Pools had a let off when a long cross from out on the left skipped through the box and evaded both attacker and defender and went out for a goal kick which brought the first half to a close.

As in the days of old, at the start of the second half the other Pools side turned up. Or should I say never turned up. We had missed our chance in the first half and once again the visitors came out full of confidence that we were never going to score and we became our own worst enemy. Passes were going astray, tackles were poor, we gave an awful lot of ball away and under pressure reverted to the hoof ball game simply because we did not get it on the ground and play football like we did on Tuesday.

Within a few minutes of the start we were a goal down from a low shot from outside the box, which again lifted the visitors. Poor passing was the worst thing to watch and after losing a ball on the edge of their box, their second goal really put an end to our game as a contest.

We were making Wycombe look better than they were with our own failings to play the simple ball to a teammate not to the opposition. After such a valiant performance on Tuesday this second half performance was hard to take and Pools fans were leaving with twenty minutes to go, which is sad to see. The early leavers missed out the time in the season when Pools ‘’TURNED THE CORNER’’ or at least we hope they have as Poole scored the first goal of the league campaign. It was a well-worked goal too.

Whether it was shame or whatever, at the death Pools attacked in numbers trying to force an opening and we went close a couple of times as we tried to put pressure on the visitors. Dolan went close with a free kick when all around were expecting a cross. Monky hit his shot wide but James Poole scored our first goal of this campaign with a close-in header as he raced into the box.

Little consolation after the first half domination. We are mounting up the cards too as three were booked but I would take issue with most of them considering the quality of the officials today. In no way am I blaming officials for our plight, as Ken says we are our own worst enemies when the chips are down. Talking of chips, Ken hung up the full issue of gear he was wearing on Tuesday and brought it out for today. Mrs. Ken queried the logic of this on a hygiene level but thankfully she will be washing his kit as I write this.

How BILLY'S CONTRACT is seeing things

I have to say by nature I am the original eternal optimist. You can't knock me down with a big stick and I am always looking on the bright side. I am definitely in the glass full camp ...preferably the glass full of Guinness camp that is. 

However to my everlasting shame I will be the first to admit that the thought of this season fills me with a dread and pessimism on a level, and on such a scale that I have never previously experienced, apart from when I first heard about the amalagation of West Hartlepool with the Ancient Borough in 1967.

What on earth is going on at Hartlepool United. Firstly step forward the person (or clowns) responsible for the players retained/released list. IOR, Russ Green, Colin Cooper or the girls in the ticket office?

Letting Ritchie go was laughable especially when the nucleus of the team that got us relegated in the first place are still here. I am a little surprised that the directors did not hang on to Nathan Luscombe who made Ali Gibb look like Lionel Messi.

So the club have made a massive dent in their wage bill by letting the likes of Ritchie, Horwood & Hartley leave the club. How much more could they have saved if they had let Sweeney, Walton, Collins, Austin and Poole go as well?

Worryingly, the signing of players to take their places at the club looks as if it has been done on the cheap. Pay peanuts and you get monkeys, and I am not talking about club mascots either!

The players that we have been linked with are predictably Boro reserves or ex-Boro players, carrying injuries or baggage. When we do spread our horizons further to look at new signings where do we look? Non league. Take for instance Michael Rae, someone who could not get on the bench at Spennymoor Town. So what chance has he got with a football league club."...the hierarchy at 'Pools seem to be Hell-bent on resuming derby matches with Darlo."

Chris Turner during his first stint at the club quite rightly stated that in order for a football club to progress they should be signing players from the league or leagues above and not from leagues beneath them. It would seems that the hierarchy at 'Pools seem to be Hell-bent on resuming derby matches with Darlo.

Add to that, that the ticket pricing on the turnstile for anyone who wants to turn up on spec on the day to take in a match is a real deterrent for the casual fan, which in turn equals lost valuable revenue.

For my part the jury is out on Colin Cooper. I wish him or any Hartlepool United manager well but when the team sheet was passed around the social club we were in prior to the match against Rochdale there was a collective groan. A team full of defenders and midfielders with pretty much all the forwards on the bench. After Walker's substitution 60 minutes into the same game, 'Poolie faithful chanted 'you don't know what you're doing' Not a good omen.

Cooper also stated in The Mail that he was looking for his sides to hit the opposition on the break. This was well and truly reflected in today's stats v Torquay. The home side had 4 attempts at goal in the first two minutes against 'Pools as well as having 60% of the overall possession. This to me harks back to Cooper's/Hignett's pedigree of life at the boring Boro. That is dull unentertaining football of the highest order with the odd foraged-out one nil win. Not for the purist. 

One of my ex-Sunderland supporting mates who I have badgered for ages to get himself to the Vic took his son to see the Southend game and later genuinely and 'concernedly' asked me how do I watch that rubbish season after season.

The strangest decision that Cooper has made so far was giving the team captaincy to Tony Sweeney. Sweeney should have left the club a couple of seasons back for both his sake and the club's. He looks low in confidence and he admitted that he does not have a vocal presence on the pitch. Cooper said he can lead by example but as he goes missing for long periods in a match he is not in a position to have a go at any of his team mates if the need arises.

Sweeney needs to concentrate on his own game rather than be given the responsibilty of cajoling his team mates along. Furthermore his confidence must be at rock bottom when as captain he was subbed in his first two games.

Colin Cooper has spoken about his long term plans but has not mentioned what is the game plan for this season. Automatic promotion? Play off ambitions? mid-table mediority? or just hanging on to league status?

IOR have got to take the bull by the horns and give the manager some funds for a pacey midfield player and a centre forward and not wait until the last few matches of the season when we are staring into the abyss as we have done in the past before putting their hands in their pockets.

It goes without saying that a recognised goal scorer is a priority. One would have thought even at this level Stevie Howard would be knocking a few goals in but having said that, if the midfield and wide men are not doing their jobs...

Generally speaking when the forwards are going through a barren spell the midfield players take up the slack and chip in with a few goals (I am thinking of players of the calibre of Darryl Clarke, Mark Tinkler, Brian Honour etc.) but I can't see anyone in the current set up who could rise to the challenge.

So ever the optimist, here are my predictions; 'Pools will beat our previous record of 1227 minutes of not scoring a league goal, and be relegated with the lowest amount of points ever, but we will win the F.A. Cup thanks to a Steve Howard hat trick.

Again, if anyone doubts my optimism, I have a bet on that Stevie Howard will crack in ten goals this season. Now that is what I call optimistic!



So that’s it. After the Torquay game its Played 5, Won 0, Lost 3 and Drawn 2. However, the big concern is that in those five games we haven’t scored a single goal.

Its not through lack of effort. We have a very capable midfield but everything seems to fall away in the final six yards. In the Fleetwood game, Steve Howard had a good game; good in the air, he would surely have been on the score sheet but for the brilliance of their keeper. Then there was the pass back to their keeper in the second half. Nialle Rodney had only been on the field a couple of minutes and it looked as though he might get to it but their keeper was able to clear. On a better day, Rodney would have been on the score sheet.

"So, how do we turn things around? I believe that Steve Howard must be the focus."
It's not that we’ve got good opponents to face.
Before the season started, Fleetwood were tipped as possible promotion contenders - forget it. Pools should have buried them without any great difficulty. So, how do we turn things around? I believe that Steve Howard must be the focus. Poolies are divided on his abilities but I belong to the camp that believes that Steve Howard has a big part to play in reviving our fortunes. Get the midfield players to arrive in the box to take advantage of his height and hopefully we may see some goals.

Visiting sides recognise Howard’s ability by close marking him yet he’s still able to win the ball. After all, if visiting sides are close marking Howard then they’re leaving someone else spare. Further recognition of Howard’s threat is the number of times he gets fouled.

Obviously, as our season’s start stutters, so some Poolies are looking at the worst scenario and dreading being relegated to the Skrill Premier League (I had to actually look that up - still call it The Conference). That’s a long way off and a couple of wins will see us shoot up the table. Colin Cooper has instilled the basics in terms of a good defence and midfield and he’s got to be given a chance to sort out the problem of lack of goals. Is there to be an opportunity in the loan market or can we sort it out in-house? Maybe Zak Boagey and Greg Rutherford can add some sharpness. 

Come to think about it, two of the goals conceded at home came about through mistakes. I really felt for Darren Holden in the Southend game - but credit where credit’s due. He put the mistake behind him and thereafter had a tidy game. If all else fails, we may have to rely on the weather. The recent warm weather has probably suited our visitors so let’s give our opponents a good old Hartlepool wind off the North Sea, along with freezing temperatures. I’d have to put on five layers of clothing but when you’re winning what does it matter? 

If you want to look on the bright side, don’t forget that at the start of the 2005-6 season we made a sluggish start to the season and look what happened. I’m not suggesting that this will happen again but there’s hope that we can get into a mid table position.

On to other matters. Last month, a part of Pools departed to The Pearly Gates on the death of Trevor Storer. Never heard of him? Well, he was the founder of the firm that provides half time sustenance at Pools, namely Pukka Pies. Thought the clubs who sell the product might have had a minutes silence for his contribution to full bellies. In his obituary, the Daily Telegraph reported thus, “They (Pukka Pies) are also popular fare at British football stadiums. Premier League customers include West Ham, Aston Villa, West Bromwich Albion and Southampton (among other outlets is Rotherham United, whose fans are said to consume more meat pies per head than those of any club in England.) Bet you didn’t know that!

News also reaches me from the other side of the Atlantic that American Football fans are being prevented from bringing bags into NFL stadiums. Instead, they will only be allowed to bring in small airport-style clear plastic bags the contents of which can be easily seen by stewards. Here comes the crunch. The bags are official NFL merchandise and are available at club shops. Wonder how long it will be before the bog standard Premier League latch on to this one? Speaking of which, I heard the most pathetic interview with Richard Scudamore last month on the finances of the Premier League clubs who were lashing out transfer fees as though there were no tomorrow. The interviewer put it to Scudamore that the bubble could burst and that a lot of clubs would be in trouble; his response seemed to indicate that this could never happen. Beware, we didn’t think that banks would have to be bailed out - but they had to be. Give me the realities of Pools any day. Where I find a lack of reality is the Bale transfer saga. How were Real Madrid were able to pay out that amount when Spain’s economy is belly up?

Finally, it was great to see Rickie Lambert called into the England squad for the game against Scotland - and even better to see him score the winning goal. Lambert is another one of those players who were a pain in the butt whenever he came to Pools - along with Windass and Lee Hughes - but things are on the up and up for him and its great to see. Congratulations to Southampton for spotting home grown talent instead rather than bringing in overseas players.

Meanwhile, by the time the next MB appears we’ll have played the first round of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. Last season’s game against Bradford City was pitiful to say the least and led one Poolie in the Town End to shout out to the referee during the second half, “Blow the whistle for time, ref, and lets have the penalty shoot out so that we can get home”.


The Retained

KT POOLIE on the Transfer Window

It’s stupid season again, only now it eats into the real season. I’m talking about the strange, media-loving, bore-fest that is the football transfer window. An artificial time period during which all clubs must ditch their current partner for their latest love, like some FA sanctioned wife-swap.

Twelve interminable weeks from June to August turn into a frenetic auction run by pimps masquerading as ‘agents’, who profit from the pressure on hapless managers as each angst-ridden day in the window passes. You can almost hear them, whispering into the ears of the increasingly dishevelled and baggy-eyed unfortunate as his head hits the pillow.

“It’s time to break-up the partnership. Everyone told you it would end in failure. Separate from them. You’ve given 9 months lavish attention and it’s left your newly-painted trophy room barren. Best thing to do is pass the word round discreetly, and trade-in.”
"We can tell everyone it’s the one you were really trying for last year, before you settled for second, third, or tenth best."
“The beauty-parade has been announced and, with double your investment, my dating agency contacts and the stamina and nerve to last until deadline day, the ideal partner is available. We can tell everyone it’s the one you were really trying for last year, before you settled for second, third, or tenth best.”

“Remember to play it cool. Don’t go gushing to the local or national press about your latest love. Think of it as a poker game type of courtship, full of bluff and double-bluff, with 19 other eligible bachelors eyeing up the same talent. Your rivals are in disarray. Especially the suave Frenchman, il fait attention à son argent, the old skinflint. And the new man in charge of the champions – he seems intent on bringing in his old lovers. Even the Special One seems intent on chasing a red devil. The time’s right for you. It’s rich pickings. Go on. Do it.”

Meanwhile, back in the world of the ordinary fan, the whole window depicts scenes from the Rake’s Progress where money is wasted on luxurious living, prostitution and gambling. The madness of it all is clear. Emulating the banking crisis, the risks to organisations, shareholders, employees and the public are huge and obvious to all but those too engrossed in the nonsense to see it. Yet we love it. Newspapers thrive on every story or press conference; whole websites are dedicated to gossip; twitter feeds and Facebook comments are misinterpreted as FACT.

We know it’s crazy and it will end in disaster. But the real problem is it’s infectious. I keep checking for Pools’ rumours. It’s like a bloody addiction. I can’t stop. I need help.


Sorry, that sounds a little like an un-released Hawkwind album. Just out of interest (well my interest anyway) Hawkwind have now been going for 44 years with many different line ups and varying degrees of financial stability. When they started we had just finished 22nd in the fourth tier of English football. As I write this we’re 23rd in the fourth tier, Hawkwind are still playing ‘Master of the Universe’ and ‘Silver Machine’ so nothing much has changed.

"Chris Turner seems happily ensconced as chief executive at Chesterfield and even I’ll admit that Billy Horner is probably a bit old for the job now"Well, we’ve now reached that part of the season where we are wondering who our next manager will be. In the last MB I said that Colin Cooper and Craig Hignett may be our major signings for the coming season. I’m afraid that this seems to be something of an overstatement. Despite talking a good talk the results and performances have not lived up to even modest expectations. At the time of writing we’ve played 5 league games losing 3, drawing 2, goals scored 0. I’m sure the management team must have set achievable targets at the beginning of the season, I’m pretty sure they’ve not been met. Even the reserves have not scored in their 2 Central League fixtures, losing both.

I’m reminded of the 1983/84 season when Mick Docherty, ex Sunderland player, son of the famous Tommy became our manager. The first 19 League games yielded just one win although we did score 14 goals. Docherty lasted until 15thDecember, his last game being a 6-0 defeat at Colchester, it was dire, I was there. Billy Horner who was still on some kind of retainer at the club took over although it was never disclosed if he were caretaker, manager or coach. One of the first things Billy Horner did was reinstate Roy Hogan from Crook Town, Paul Dobson from Consett and John Linacre from Lahti (Finland), who Docherty had got rid of. I’d like to have said that the team did well from then on, but the truth is we managed just another 8 League wins all season and finished 23rd.

Another disastrous season was 1989/90 with Bobby Moncur the manager. He’d taken over from John Bird the previous November and guided us to 19th in the Fourth Division, a good achievement in those re election days. Hopes were relatively high as optimists like to put it. No wins in the first 8 games with just 2 draws and 3 goals scored. The next 9 games saw 2 wins and 1 draw but with 13 goals scored, yes folks that’s 13 goals in 9 games. Unfortunately we conceded 20 in those games. Bobby Moncur left on the 27th of November a couple of days after the 3-1 defeat at Chesterfield. Cyril Knowles took over and we managed to finish a creditable 19th again. The following season we were promoted.

More recently, last season 2012/13 was no great shakes either. 1 win and 4 draws in the first 14 games in the 3rd tier of English football saw Neale Cooper make his second exit as Hartlepool United manager. The circumstances this time being rather more transparent than the first exit. We did manage 12 goals in those games.

Now I know it’s early days and we are surely going to score sooner or later (just imagine going through a whole season without scoring) but things are looking grim. Should Cooper and Hignett be relieved of their duties who will take over? We don’t have Micky Barron and / or Ritchie Humphreys to call upon as caretakers, Chris Turner seems happily ensconced as chief executive at Chesterfield and even I’ll admit that Billy Horner is probably a bit old for the job now. Sam Collins is the senior professional and he does have coaching badges?

Looking at the longer term, what about ‘Il Duce’, Mussolini, up the road at the Stadio di Luce. He’ll surely be needing a new role soon and at least he’d get the training to run on time.

WAGGA MOON on the season so far

Well four games in and second bottom of the league again with no goals scored and this time in the basement division.

Those who thought this league would be a breeze are having to have second thoughts. But the league position does not tell the full story as the standard of football is certainly more pleasant on the eye than the turgid rubbish we had to endure last season. When the object of the game is attack we defend deep and hang on for a point home and away. And use a bunch of tired old pro's to make this work.

Our new managerial duo thankfully appear to be looking towards youth and there are some encouraging signs in our play this season. But again it is the lack of goals that is holding us back. I thought everybody accepted last season that the attacking options were not up to it. Howard, Poole, James, Franks and Monkhouse all having a go and failing miserably.
"...the standard of football is certainly more pleasant on the eye than the turgid rubbish we had to endure last season"

So the No. 1 priority for this season had to be a goalscorer. Yet of the four players Colin Cooper has brought in only one is a striker. And a rookie at that, with hardly any Football League experience. Nialle Rodney may turn out a good signing but he is not ready at the moment although he may come good with a bit of coaching. 

Obviously Steve Howard deciding to stay on and complete his contract has restricted the opportunities Cooper has to bring in his own choice of striker. Why we gave a 36-year-old striker with a poor recent goalscoring record a two-year contract on a reputedly huge salary beggars belief. Didn't the club learn anything from the Nobby Solano fiasco?

Mike Duckworth, Matty Dolan and Christian Burgess look really good young players and it is good to see youth being given a chance over last season's ageing failures. With money again very tight it seems another loan signing may be the only way to solve our goalscoring problem. Maybe Paulo Di Canio could help us out and send Duncan Watmore down to the Vic for a few months. Very good reports of him when he was in Non-League suggest he would find it no bother to step up to League Two.

And unlike two of our previous managers it is good to see our loan players put straight into the first team and not left on the bench as it was under Turner and Neale Cooper.

Very disappointing to see James Poole failing again to live up to the early promise he showed when first joining the club. Hard to tell whether he is afraid of getting injured again or he has the heart of a dormouse.

And Scott Flinders threw in another one against Fleetwood. All those who were expecting him to be off to a bigger club in the summer were living in Cloud Cuckoo Land. He is a journeyman Fourth Division goalkeeper who is probably at the same level as Andy Rafferty.

Having said all that I like the cut of Colin Cooper's jib and am more hopeful of some progress than at any time over the last two years. And for our chairman's sake I hope he got the right appointment this time appointing someone with no managerial experience. 

Because if we are relegated this season I fear it will be a long time before we return to the League.

RUNNING MONKEY reports on home defeat no.2

After the soaking we got at York last week it was good to be under a shelter in the Town End again despite the rain. Mr. Cooper in his wisdom decided to switch things around today, bringing in new signings Matty Dolan and Michael Duckworth for their debuts.

One doubt I had was moving young Bradley Walker out wide to accommodate Walton in the middle after young Walker had been making M O M appearances. It was the visitors who chanced their arm first but it was a weak shot after some good approach play. Compton sent in a good cross that Howard could only get half contact on with his header, which was cleared off the line. Howard, taking a ball in mid-field. went down like a sack of potatoes after the slightest touch and the ref waved play on, which is what the dive deserved. Howard complains a lot throughout the game but his early dive set the pattern for the ref ignoring his every plea, even when he deserved better.

We went a goal down when we had the edge in the game when Ned dived and parried a strong shot into the path of a Fleetwood player, who bundled the ball in with his knee while we were all still appealing for a foul on Jack in the initial attack that the ref had ignored.

Heads were down again but Duckworth and Dolan did their best to raise the team with some good runs at Fleetwood. Duckworth racing down the wing sent in a cross to Howard at the back stick but his effort was wide. Walker had a chance finding himself free in the middle of the area and his snap shot sailed just wide of the post with the keeper grasping thin air.
" Shame on you, I hear you say after just three games but little has really changed since last season."
As you know I never blame referees for our predicament, but when Duckworth was scythed down in the box by a Fleetwood defender and the man in the middle turned a blind eye to the criminal act, no wonder he brought some grief on himself from the Pools fans, when minutes later he gave Fleetwood another free kick on the edge of our box. Pools were getting nowhere after their goal and it was a little too easy for the visitors to run at us down the flanks, we were lacking cohesion and looked totally disjointed in a game where we needed players to stand up and be counted.

There was an incident when Ned was running in his box to punt the ball out and he tangled with a Fleetwood attacker who put his foot up and nicked the ball with the aid of a hand, and the Fleetwood man was booked for protesting after his foul. The ref was finally warming to Howard as he did give him one free kick on forty-four minutes.

At half time the new tactician who has taken up residence in the back row of the Cyril Knowles stand, waving and gesturing at the club doctor who was trying his best to calm the man down, entertained us. My mate Ken, who is back from his jet-setting, was taking in his first game of the season and was underwhelmed by our first half performance, said he knows the tactician and he should be avoided.

Pools needed to lift their game and lift the crowd, as today I never heard one song from the fans in support of their team. Jack was being fouled continuously and his first retaliation ended with a booking for him, yet the forward had persistently niggled at Jack throughout the game. In the first Pools raid we almost had an equalizer as a defender sliced a ball from Austin that skimmed just wide of the goal. Aussie was in action again making a great tackle in the box, which had the Fleetwood players howling for a penalty but by some miracle the ref waved away their protestations.

Monky made a good run down to the corner flag beat his man twice and sent in a cross that Howard connected with and brought a scrambled save from the keeper Walton tried to hit the return ball but that was also blocked. Shortly after we had another penalty shout refused after Burgess shot into a crowded box from distance.

Walker was unlucky chasing a ball down in the box and the keeper dropped it but unlike Flinders their keeper got away with it as Walker could not get a boot on the ball. Duckworth set up what was the best chance of the game for Pools with a cross to Howard who lunged desperately at the ball but failed to connect as the ball skimmed past the keeper and him.

At least Howard now looks to be interested in playing the game for Pools which in pre-season was the opposite. Despite more effort from Pools it was another defeat and as one punter said on the way out of the Vic "If we had played another hour we would never have scored a goal". After a chat with the tactician who came down from his perch in the CK stand, we agreed that we have to take issue with the manager on first his initial selection of moving Walker to accommodate Walton who on the day made some good passes, probably upped his average in this game but still not enough to justify moving Walker for. Then Monky for Poole when Poole was playing well, similar to last season so can Poole only play sixty minutes. Then Rodney for Compton, another player who had earned his corn this afternoon. Cooper needs to start Rodney to assess his ability, not give him ten minutes per game.

What was the point of bringing Luke on when the game had gone? Whatever has Franks done to deserve the boot, as he has played well in the games I have seen this season? Early days, you say but surely Mr. Cooper knows by now what his best team is, and if he does not get his act together soon he will be looking for a job by Christmas.

The squad looks to have some talent and some experience but we have not gelled as a team yet, the natives are becoming restless, and we look as if we are heading for the lower division. Shame on you, I hear you say after just three games but little has really changed since last season.


Michael Mackay was released by Hartlepool United (where he scored 10 goals in 64 games over four years) in the summer of 2011. He returned to Consett, where his first spell had brought 82 in 70 games. Ever-present last season, his 45 goals in all competitions included hat-tricks against Tow Law and Northallerton. He stuck four past Guisborough, and Jarrow Roofing leaked, letting him put five past them. Goals are what Pools used to score, ironically, but rarely after they released Michael Mackay.

Gareth Bale finally signed for Real Madrid after stringing it out for months, the deal being done for a mere £85 million or 100 million Euros. Which makes him the most expensive player in the world, and relegates his new team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo to being the has-been former most expensive player in the world. Will that have any effect on how Mr. Bale is accepted at the Bernabeu? We shall see.

And talking of Mr. Ronaldo, comment has been made about the likeness between him and Pools' young midfielder Bradley Walker (right). There is certainly a bit of a similarity there, but promising as he is, just at the moment Pools might be prepared to swap him for the real Ronaldo. Sadly that now won't happen, what with the transfer window now being closed.

Finally, a big thank you to Hartlepool United. After a dire August for the team, the Monkey Business contributors duly did us proud with a load of stuff, much of which was commenting on the grim state of Pools. Then, shortly before the launch of the September Bizz, Pools go and tonk Bradford City. And there's hardly any time to do anything to reflect the change in mood. You can always rely on Pools to be unreliable.

about Time


I didn’t really want to write anything this month because those of you who actually read these offerings must be as heartily sick of things as I am, so why would you want to read the same old moans just expressed in a slightly different way?

On the other hand if I were to write a hugely optimistic up-beat article predicting a promotion push then I would rightly be dismissed as a crackpot, with no grasp on reality. Rather like a man who believed that the financial fair play rules were introduced to help teams like ours to prosper.

So what can I say except...

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

For the benefit of those of you who did not enjoy the advantages bestowed by an education at the Henry Smith School (with in my case the added bonus of a year sitting beside an attractive girl who knew twice as much about French as I did and who was happy to share her knowledge) the foregoing translates as ‘the more things change the more they stay the same’. Who would have thought that Hartlepool United, with a poorly performing team at the bottom end of the fourth tier of English football and no money to improve it, would, sixteen years after having been taken over by a hugely successful international oil company, have a poorly performing team at the bottom end of the fourth tier of English football and with no money to improve it?

Despite the many good times during the last sixteen years it now feels like they never happened, a bit like when the last day of the summer holidays arrived when you were at school, the previous six weeks seemed to have gone in a flash and all the fun you had had was no consolation for what faced you tomorrow.

I can empathise with Father Jack of Craggy Island, who in his one moment of sobriety despairingly exclaimed, ‘oh no; I’m still on that bloody island aren’t I?
"...we really do have to start putting some positive results together soon, before Colin Cooper’s post match interviews begin to sound like the briefings of Comical Ali"
That’s what I feel like now. Here we are again, normal service has been resumed. The last time we were in this position was under the chairmanship of the late Harold Hornsey who had risked all he had to keep the club going and who through no fault of his own had reached a point where the club was about to be swamped financially. Towards the end of his stewardship we knew that he had nothing left to offer in the financial sense and he did his best ensure the survival of the club he loved by allowing the present owners to take over.

Despite the huge amounts of money put into the club by IOR, and some excellent performances this enabled the team to produce on the field, we still find ourselves in real danger of dropping out of the league altogether, just like when they arrived.

How did things come to this – yet again?

Well it seems pretty obvious. You only get what you pay for, and over the last three or four years despite IOR's continuing financial support in respect of essential off field activities, money spent on the recruitment on the playing side has been woefully inadequate. I know all the reasons given for the lack of money being spent, they have been explained clearly by IOR over the last few years and have been debated quite extensively on the Poolie Bunker message board. However I retain the belief that if IOR really wanted to spend money on the team then they could easily do so without breaking the letter of the law. Mind you, all this is said on the blithe assumption that IOR have the money to spend. I don’t know the state of the oil industry so I could be asking for money they just don’t have.

Nevertheless, unless IOR's policy in this regard changes significantly, and soon, then I can see no alternative to our relegation from the Football League; and, as Mrs. Slocombe would have said, ‘I am unanimous in this’.

I have friends and acquaintances all over the world, who if they were asked to agree on one thing about me it would be that I like to be right. As I have often remarked about myself, ‘I would rather be right than rich.’ Mind you, I have not yet been put to the test on that. However, for once in my life I would dearly love to be wrong, and this concerns the outcome of the present season. I don’t know if I am just being overly pessimistic so that I can prepare myself for the worst, with the small consolation of saying ‘I told you so’ if that transpires, or whether I really have read the signs correctly and that this team is headed for relegation to the conference. Judging from the comments on the Bunker I am far from being alone in my pessimism.

There will be pessimists all over the football world thinking and writing in similar vein (think of those poor souls who follow Arsenal for example; one game played and they are convinced that they will not finish higher than fifth in the Premier League – oh the shame). Some will have more cause for concern than others but in our case we know that the team that played last season clearly demonstrated that it was not good enough for the division it was playing in, we didn’t even come close to salvation despite the goings on in February, which in my view were an aberration, the other eight months of the season being the norm. That team has not been strengthened, although I accept that it would be churlish not to acknowledge the efforts of Burgess who has shown definite signs of promise; but then again, if he really plays well he will be taken back to his parent club to do a job for them. I know management need to sound up beat and find silver linings and all that, but we really do have to start putting some positive results together soon, before Colin Cooper’s post match interviews begin to sound like the briefings of Comical Ali.

Still, before this turns into another diatribe about the team, the chairman and anybody else who I can possibly blame for our plight I will leave this world and escape into a more congenial place. I therefore have two choices; the future or the past. Which seems to be the more pleasant? Well I can’t imagine anything good happening in the immediate future so the past it is then.

So here I go, re-living all those wonderful triumphs of years gone by.

Well that didn’t take long did it?

Like most condemned men I still cling to a sliver of hope – no matter what the facts. I am writing this before the Fleetwood match so if on 7 September you see a man, who is obviously old enough to know better, tap dancing along Church Street, swinging an umbrella and singing ‘Singing in the Rain’ like Gene Kelly, then you will know that there have been a couple of unexpected results culminating in a victory at Victoria Park. The birds will be chirping and all will be right with the world, until the next week.