Lightning Didn't Strike Twice


Those of us who recalled the 2006/7 season with affection might have been encouraged by the 2-1 victory against Accrington Stanley. For it was following a 2-1 victory against Stanley in October 2006 that sent us on the long, long unbeaten run. Further encouragement came with a good 2-2 draw against Bristol Rovers (two points dropped rather than one gained) but any optimism came to a halt against Oxford United. 

I must admit I was impressed with Oxford in the first half. They put Pools under the cosh - creating space for themselves, and their play oozed with confidence as well as the squad being superbly fit. Far better than Fleetwood and Wycombe who should have been swept aside.

However, my favourable impressions of Oxford disappeared with the second half. Pools had fought themselves back into the game but fell behind again after being exposed at the back. No fault of Oxford’s but what really wound me up was the penalty just before added time. No way was that a penalty; from my vantage point in the Niramax seats their gadgie fell over Flinders and I can’t help thinking that the ref was influenced by the good turnout from Oxford fans.

"Normally, I stay till the bitter end of games but on this occasion I was so wound up I stormed out of The Vic disgusted with what I’d seen."That killed it off for Pools. Normally, I stay till the bitter end of games but on this occasion I was so wound up I stormed out of The Vic disgusted with what I’d seen. Its not what I expect at a footy game and I hope that Poolies won’t be too hard on the team. If Pools are beaten fair and square then I’m the first to hold my hands up and say ’Fair enough’ but Saturday, 28th September 2013 left a nasty taste in the mouth. (As I’d left the ground, I didn’t see Steve Howard’s sending off and couldn’t possibly comment.) Suspicions remain, however.

Still, the consolation over the past few weeks is that we can at last score goals. Two days after the Bristol Rovers game, I switched on BBC Look North as I wanted to see Pools goals and where Luke James was positioned when he popped in his brace. Did I get to see both goals? No chance! They showed the first goal (an ideal position for Luke) and then that was it. What seemed to be more important for the BBC was the three goals which Sunderland conceded at West Brom. It makes you not want to pay the licence fee.

Looking further afield, I always make a habit of looking to see how teams are doing that have ex-Poolies in their ranks. Notts County (Gary Liddle) are one off the bottom; Stevenage (Peter Hartley) and Tranmere (Evan Horwood) are both in the nether regions of League One. I suppose it proves that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Michael Nelson, on the other hand, is getting good reports with his performances in the SPL with Hibernian.

However, Poolies will be delighted with at the way Chesterfield are setting the pace in League Two with Ritchie Humphreys in their ranks. His latest elevation, however, comes not on the field but off it with his election as Chairman of the PFA. At least, bearing in mind the problems in the game, particularly in the bog standard Premier League, he’s got his work cut out. Best of luck, Ritchie! I suppose his main job will be to look for a successor to Gordon Taylor who is looking more like an old biddy.

What of other non-Pools matters? I was interested in the news item that a member of the Saudi royal family has bought a 50% stake in Sheffield United and has been appointed co-chairman. Apparently, he’s called Prince Abdullah bin Mosaad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud; so much easier when your chairman’s called Ken. He’s promised “substantial funds” (heard that one before), he’s estimated to be worth £18 billion (heard things like that before); and the other co-chairman has said that money is being made available ...(to) get us back to the upper echolons of English football” (heard that one before). Wasn’t it strange, however, that the Saudi gadgie was appointed as the transfer window closed and so wouldn’t be spending any of his money.

Another interesting development was the intervention of American owners in the Rooney and Suarez affairs. Its always suggested that Americans don’t know any thing about footy but they made their views known on what they thought about players wanting transfers whilst still under contract - that the Americans did understand. Once the American owners got involved, they made everyone toe the line. Good for them! I would never have thought that Yanks could teach us anything about footy but life is full of surprises. And what of the salvage team who raised the Costa Concordia out of the Mediterranean Sea? They did a fantastic job and led one wag to say that the salvage team should be asked to keep Sunderland up. Let’s hope we don’t need them to keep Pools up.

Back to Pools. Despite being relegated, support is holding up and there’s still a good atmosphere at The Vic. A pity there were only just over one thousand hardy souls to see the mauling of Bradford City. This was an occasion when I vacated my seat in the Niramax Stand for the Town End. On entering the ground about fifteen minutes before kick off, I think there were more Bradford city fans than Poolies. Fortunately, the usual late flurry of Poolies gave us a reasonable turn out and, of course, they were treated to a stupendous display. Radio Five even gave us a specific mention in their sports bulletins. Just after MB comes out, we shall, of course, be engaged in the second round of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy against Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. No reason why we shouldn’t advance. The JPT can, of course, create momentum, particularly when things aren’t going well in the league. So bring it on.