The Wagons Are Rolling -at Last!


Although October finished with a defeat, don’t be too depressed. The good news is that this may have stopped Colin Cooper from winning the award for Manager of the Month. Its one award that’s the equivalent of the Black Spot - get that and you’re on a slippery slope. Remember when John Hughes won it last Season ? (I think it was for our performances in February and the goal drought resumed straight after).

Well, the game against Plymouth was hair-raising stuff, wasn’t it? Like most Poolies in the ground, I thought that Pools’ heads would go down after the sending-off of Jack Compton and we’d get clobbered. But it didn’t happen. The defence performed heroics and we managed to conjure up a fantastic goal from Luke James. I’ve never known so many fans stay till the end - their ovation at the end of the game was richly deserved. The statistic which astounded me was the fact that Plymouth were awarded 15 corners to Pools' nil. How’s that for dominance? 
"I’ve seen teams beat us at home, but I’ve not seen teams beat us that well!"

But we saw a different Pools and the good turn out from Plymouth fans must have wondered how they could find the net. The only blot on the horizon was the treatment of Plymouth’s keeper, Luke McCormick. OK the guy did wrong in killing the two boys but he’s served his sentence and should be allowed to get on with the only profession he knows. Its not the first time that Plymouth’s manager, John Sheridan, has helped an erring player to rebuild his career. Whilst at Oldham he brought Lee Hughes back in from the cold and indeed Hughes played his first game after leaving prison at Pools (it was a 3-3 draw). Since then, Hughes has appeared at Pools for Notts County; thankfully Port Vale were promoted at the end of last season so we won’t have him being a pain in the butt at The Vic during this campaign.

And so to Wimbledon. They caused Pools a number of problems with their direct play but once again the defence were up to it and we took our chances. What I liked about Wimbledon was that they restricted Luke James by tight marking - unlike Wycombe who thought the best way to restrict him was by fouling - nudge, nudge every time the ball was played to him. 

Prior to this, of course, there was the 3-0 win at Exeter, and I was interested in the post-match views of the Exeter manager, Paul Tisdale who said on their website “I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen us outclassed so much in a game of football. I’ve seen teams beat us at home, but I’ve not seen teams beat us that well!.” When it comes from an opposing manager we must have done well. Would you have got such honesty in the bog standard Premier League?

Reference has been made in the Hartlepool Mail to the contribution Neil Austin makes in holding together the young defence of Jack Baldwin, Michael Duckworth and Christian Burgess. From 1922-1939, the then Austin Motor Company produced a car that was known as the Baby Austin. The 1950s, of course, saw the Busby Babes so is it now, in 2013, Austin’s Babes?

Subsequent to the JPT game against Sheffield United, The Blades sacked David Weir as their manager. This is not the first time a club have sacked their manager after being beaten by Pools - good job they didn’t sack him before the game as they seem to have found a new lease of life. The husbands of a couple of the administrators where I work in Sheffield both support Sheffield United; one paced round the house complaining ‘We can’t even beat Hartlepool United’ and the other stormed off to bed not a happy chappy. Oh, dear!! Is there a simple explanation for Pools' newly found success? Obviously, Colin Cooper is getting the balance of the team right but it seems to me that Pools don’t play well when they’ve got the sun on their backs. Even though, for me, it will mean five layers of clothing, bring on the bad weather. The southern teams don’t like it up ‘em. (With acknowledgements to Corporal Jones).

Some people seem to have got their bowels in an uproar over Roy Hodgson’s monkey joke, haven’t they? Of relevance to Pools is that a number of visiting teams refer to us as The Monkey Hangers and some even relate the story about the Napoleonic Wars in their club programmes. Others even refer to us as Jeff Stelling’s Monkey Hangers and I once saw on Plymouth’s website : Preview: Pilgrims versus Monkey Hangers. No offence is given and nor are we offended. I really wish people would grow up and stop their fixation with political correctness.

Well, Greg Dyke’s going down a well-chosen route in setting up his commission to look into the state of English football and the failure to produce English-born players. If you’ve got a problem, set up a committee but then, of course, you’ve got to remember that a camel is a horse designed by a committee. Some years ago, when Liverpool were at their best they provided few England players. Why? Because most of their team were from Scotland, Wales and the Republic of Ireland! I was interested in the remarks of the Stoke City chairman, Peter Coates, when he was addressing the problem. He didn’t think there was an issue - the main problem being that crap managers of the England team were appointed - Sven (what’s he done since giving up the England job?) and Fabio.

Still, at least we’ve got to the World Cup finals in Rio and the main thing this time around is that there are going to be no high expectations. According to information coming through there aren’t going to be many English fans in Brazil as its going to cost an arm and a leg for hotel accommodation and internal air flights.