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BILLY'S CONTRACT isn't impressed

Just back from the game against Oxford United. I am sure there will be match reports and plenty of comment about it in this edition of Monkey Business so I won't dwell on it only to say that the best team won by a country mile.

My summing up of  'Pools based on what I have seen so far this season: decidedly average.
We might, allied to the fact that there are worse teams than us in this division, just have enough about us to avoid dropping into the Conference, which if it turns out that way I would consider as a Success.

Looking at the team overall it is a right old mix. A blend of experience, not all of it good, a lot of inexperience and a squad overall lacking in quality. You only have to look at the subs bench to see that. Not a match changer or match winner to be had.

As of the last three if not four seasons our main problem has been midfield. We have not had a player in there of the calibre of a Mark Tinkler since er... hum, er... the days of ...Mark Tinkler. Which brings me on nicely to our two problem areas, those of midfield and defence.

Firstly Walton and Dolan should not be in the same side in a month of Sundays. They are too similar and greatly lack pace. If money was not so tight I would have neither of them in the team. At times they look like retired footballers who are turning out for a testimonial match.

"At times they look like retired footballers who are turning out for a testimonial match."Baldwin and Burgess, two youngsters who I am sure will have big futures in the game, make too many costly mistakes. Between them in the matches I have seen they have cost us at least 5 goals in the against column that I am aware of. Baldwin, dare I say it, needs resting and, dare I say it again, I would bring in Sam Collins as his or Burgess's replacement, as with the exception of Austin there is no experience along the back four, as Duckworth too is on a learning curve.

Baldwin at some stage could play in midfield but again like Dolan and Walton is not a speed merchant so if he did occupy a midfield spot we would have to bring in someone with pace who could play alongside him.

Jonathan Franks really needs to get his act together. He is totally inconsistent and has the heart the size of a pea when called 'to get stuck in.' The same player very occasionally shows flashes of brilliance that puts real fear into opposing full backs. If I was in Frank's shoes, or rather his boots, I would be asking myself why successive managers don't give me ninety minutes on the pitch ...and in today's match I would be asking myself why I was subbed after a mere 35 minutes against Oxford.

Basically he needs to apply himself more both on and off the pitch. Compton has got pace and the ability to beat his man but again for large periods the game passes him by. Truth be told I cannot recall him ever having a pop at goal. James Poole, who probably had one of the best games for 'Pools today when he replaced Franks, should be comfortable at this level of football and by the same token should establish himself as a regular in the team. He is a bit like Tony Sweeney. What I class as an unlucky player. Things seem to go against him in a match, whether it is not coming out of 50/50 challenges with the ball, the ball bouncing off his backside to roll out for a goal kick,n or falling over the ball when in possession. He is one of these players who needs to make it happen and most importantly to have some belief in his own ability.

Far from being his biggest fan, I must say that the most improved player in the side is Andy Monkhouse, whom I would have let go last season. If I was The Manager, Russ Green, I would be delighted with his performances so far this season.

I still have to make my mind up about Colin Cooper and Craig Hairnet. I will be the first to admit that they have not inherited a great squad of players or that they have the cash to go out to bring new faces in. However some of the substitutions they have made over their short tenure at the Vic have been strange to say the least. Notwithstanding, many of us said the same thing about Chris Turner's Mick Wadsworth's and Danny Wilson's substitutions over the years so what do I know.

I hope IOR wake up soon before the next transfer window and give The Manager the funds to improve the squad and that in turn Colin Cooper looks beyond the Transporter Bridge for his playing staff.


Great comment at The Vic against Accrington Stanley a few weeks back when some one in the Town End shouted. 'Wheres our Midfield?'
At Chesterfield came the response.


I welcomed the news that the Club has initiated a Fans' forum whereby there will be some lines of communication opened between the Fans and Russ Green.
Their views will be confined to the off-field experience of coming to the Vic. This in turn could have a knock-on effect and indirectly benefit the playing side in terms of increased revenue.

Some of the things which were touched on were the matchday programme as well as the catering/disabled facilities, not to mention relocating the home fans back into The Rink End.

I was surprised when I heard that 'Pools sold as many as 300 programmes per match. I stopped buying it when it went up to £2.50 per issue. Plus there was little of interest in it to make me want to buy it in the first place. The trouble with pretty much any matchday programme is, in this day and age of instant communication through the internetty thing, it is out of date before it is even printed.
The chairman's article in the programme was always an interesting read, as was the commercial section of what was going on at the club. Apart from that it was not worth the paper it was written on. This is the same reason why I have stopped buying the Sheffield (aka Hartlepool) Mail.

I may be corrected as I have not purchased a programme for several years, but if not already included they should re-introduce a players profile with some light-hearted/in depth questions. E.g. What is their favourite TV show, last film they watched, favourite cartoon character, favourite music ...or indeed favourite poetry (I could imagine Sir Ritchie saying how he preferred Peruvian poetry over its Bulgarian counterpart.)

The programme should have a lucky number for a slap up feed in the Victoria Lounge/Cyril Knowles. Say a 10% discount voucher for the club shop with expiry dates. Or the club should liaise with local businesses and pubs for money-off vouchers to be printed in the programme. I believe Krimo's used to do this (still do?).

As for the catering facilities they need to be quicker and slicker at pulling a pint.(sell chilled tins!) Today at half time was my first experience of using the catering kiosks behind the Cyril knowles stand. My mate and I queued up for a couple of pints which took an age to get served. Which we then had to gulp them down at break-neck speed before the second half kicked off. Just as well we downed the gassy fizz quickly as we would have missed Luke James' goal! My mate's son wanted a Cola. We were told when we were purchasing our pints at the beer kiosk that we would have to go to the adjacent kiosk for this. Fortunately there was no queue there which in retrospect did not surprise me as the Cola was priced at £2.50 a bottle. Make a mental note: don't go back there again.

If I were a member of the fans' forum I would be asking/suggesting, nay telling Russ Green that the club needs to start to reconnect with the fan base, particularly regarding the players. I recall going to numerous functions and events either at the club or the Corner Flag where players and fans mixed and chatted etc. This brought the fans closer to the club and in my opinion made it harder for the fans to have a dig at the players when they were not performing on the pitch.

A few years back we went to a function at 'The Flag' where Leon McSweeney and deadly Denis Behan did a question and answer session. What a great night it was - they had everyone in stitches. As the Irish say 'the Craic was mighty' and unlike their on-field performances they were a great double act on the night. Subsequently when their form deserted them on the pitch I for one felt unable to criticize them vocally as it felt as if I was slagging off someone I knew.

I have heard that some players would like to mix with the fan base but apparently the club has a no fraternization policy, particularly with regards to their popping over to The Corner flag.
John Hughes stated in the Mail some time back that he would like a fans' "Meet the Manager" question and answer session but that never happened and I am led to understand that the club was not at all too pleased he had suggested it in the first place.

The club, once they saw money could be made out of it, hi-jacked the Player of the Year awards event from the Corner Flag. Admittedly they made a good job of it for a couple of years, hiring the Borough Hall on the Headland. However now things have gone pear-shaped on the field of play it must be at least 3 years since the last event was held. If we managed to hang on to league status this season even a low-key player of the year event at a smaller venue should be held in an effort to bring the club and the fanbase together again.