Showing posts from February, 2014
NEWPORT - As I Seen It


Pools 3 - Newport County 0   League 2 Saturday 15 February 2014

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at The Vic


There was an early warning before today’s game about the official, from The Ditchburn Guide, the comprehensive tome of football officials that have plied their so-called trade on the lush Victoria Park turf. Mr. Kettle, today’s official, comes very low down in the standings according to Professor Ditchburn.

I am usually unaware of the official before the game but a recently retired person like the Ditchburn has time on his hands to while away. Apart from the obvious jokes about Kettle and boiling point he had little to say about the man before the game. Well at least till half time.

The visitors looked a handy side and both teams had chances early on but it was Burgess who side stepped his marker and hit a forty yarder that skimmed the bar. Through some really incompetent - nay, horrendous decisions by Mr Kettle the game was becoming a farce -throughout the half we were batted and trampled by some very vigorous man-handling from the opposition.

It was sad to see in a way as they looked like a good side but were let down by their physical game in which they brought out all the dirty tricks of the trade which Mr. Kettle totally ignored. Officials like today’s give football at our level a bad name. Pools were given no favours and we had to be on our mettle to stop the visitors gaining the advantage that was given to them on a plate.

A great cheer went up half way through the half when the linesman on the Millhouse side remembered he had a flag and waved it in favour of the home side. There was a long spell in the first half when we tended to give the ball up too easily under pressure. They had a couple of handy players who were running the game and we had to be resolute in defence and the veteran Sam Collins made a great block on the line to stop a certain goal.

Walton had one of his better games and it was his efforts that brought about the first goal. Chasing a lost cause out to the corner flag he checked back and played a low fast ball into the box where Luke James made a superb turn and hit his shot past the visiting keeper to give Pools a much-deserved lead in the game to take into the half time break.

The talk at half time was whether we could see off Newport despite them looking a threat at times. I must say I spotted a crack in the amour of our striker today, which was worrying. Marlon did not look like he was happy and never settled throughout the game and talked himself into the book. He was lucky not to have been sent off or even pulled off for his own good. Some of the tackles looked mis-timed or over the top and if you can’t keep your mouth shut, and your anger is directed towards the kettle then you are in hot water.
"A great cheer went up half way through the half when the linesman on the Millhouse side remembered he had a flag and waved it in favour of the home side"
The Ditchburn was so confident in his prediction that Pools would never score three today after I had told him my prediction was once again 3-1 to the Hartlepool, he made a promise. Something along the lines that if Pools managed three in this game he would come to the next game in multi-coloured harlequin chef's trousers and I could take a pic. Now I was never bothered before about the Ditchburn habits but by next week I could find myself standing in the Millhouse once again. I honestly think he has bought these pants in the past and has been looking for an excuse to wear them in public. Watch this space.

The second half with Pools kicking down bank was a repeat of the first. Pools looked to be easing back and then a corner from Walton hit two defenders and went into the Newport net with their defender taking the blame and Walton taking the credit from his team-mates.

Pools had their tails up now and were playing some great football. Holden, who is really benefitting from a run in the side, linked well with Monky down the left, playing a one-two which brought them into the box, but the move broke down with a poor shot on goal.

Mr. Kettle once again blotted his copybook when he booked a Newport player. It was obvious that he was apologizing for the card before he booked the man. I know we all say that the officials have a bad name but this feller takes the biscuit when you have seen him in action.

The game was well and truly in the bag as Williams, who again showed some real class, hit the third goal. After swapping passes with Monky he ran across the box and hit a great shot past the keeper, sending most fans home very happy, while the Ditchburn was shouting for Newport to keep the score down to two.

A great three points and a great performance from the lads. Monky needs a special mention as he was up and down the field all day today. Also Luke James with a sterling effort against some harsh treatment gave another man-of-the-match performance.

As an aside, before the game Cooper was on the wireless talking about how Marlon takes the heat out of the way of Luke. Well I have to disagree with him on that as Luke is still getting battered as the opposition do their homework and see Luke as a bigger threat than Marlon.

Unbelievable, Jeff!

A book review from KT POOLIE

Owing to a cock-up by my ex-publisher, my first book, Unbelievable, Jeff! (recollections by me, a fan, about some record-breaking things what have happened at Pools games), was not available in time for the Christmas sales. I shall now be setting up a stall outside the Raglan next Wednesday – and at just £39.99 a copy, Unbelievable,Jeff! is sure to be snapped up.

A fellow aesthete and part-time author was kind enough to return his copy of Unbelievable Jeff! with a note which I’m sure he won’t have minded me placing on the back cover:
“I weep for the lost trees. A banal, unconvincing, turgid and uninspired pile of putrefying drivel; at best, very nearly competent” – Stephen Fry

Here is a sample of Unbelievable Jeff! exclusive to Monkey Business ...

Worst Free-Kick Decision
Referee Walter Bungler made an extraordinary decision during the half-time interval of the Pools v Mansfield encounter in Feb 1983. Trailing 3-0 at the break, in a match they were to eventually lose 4-1, the Stags’ boss sent his players back onto the pitch five minutes early. Bungler, thinking he was late, raced onto the pitch, tripped over his untied shoelaces and collapsed into centre-half Bill Hardknut. Slightly dazed and embarrassed by the laughter from the terraces, Bungler issued himself a booking and awarded a free-kick to Mansfield instead of the usual kick-off.

Most Extra-Time
York City ran away with the Division 3 trophy in 1983 amassing a record number of points. In November the match against Pools became infamous for the extra time awarded by local referee, Geoffrey Boycott Rowntree. With 90 minutes gone the sides were locked at 2-2. Rowntree played on for 283 minutes explaining afterwards his watch was ‘running a little slow’. York skipper Freddy Truman Rowntree (a nephew of the official) scored from a fourteen-time retaken penalty seconds before the whistle went.

"stopper Baz Knapman changed his boots twice and moved his car which was causing an obstruction on Clarence Road"
Quickest Sending Off
The bizarre dismissal of captain Ray Kennedy during Pools’ match with Northampton Town in 1983 is recorded on page 121. Having recently arrived from Swansea, the ex-Arsenal, Liverpool and England midfielder was given his marching orders on his debut. The Cobblers kicked off, playing the ball back to the goalkeeper, who immediately launched a clearance into Pools' half. Bringing the ball under instant control in one deft movement, Kennedy glided past the onrushing centre-forward, ‘megged his opposite number and leapt over a two-footed lunge before threading an inch-perfect pass to Paul Dobson. The striker took five or six touches to bring it under control and scuffed a shot from the six yard box, hitting the corner flag.

Man in the middle, Kenneth Smugfellow, red-faced and breathless from his 50 yard run, brought play back to the Pools half. Despatching Kennedy to the stands for ungentlemanly conduct, Smugface explained his actions, post-match, “I dislike fancy-dans and Kennedy would do well to acknowledge the lower league convention to hoof it out of play.” There were exactly 0 seconds on his watch as Smugmug forgot to start it at kick off.

Lengthiest Time-Wasting
October 1983 saw Pools behind 1-0 to an early goal by Tranmere who deployed delaying tactics for the remainder of the first half, including a slow restart while the Whites’ stopper Baz Knapman changed his boots twice and moved his car which was causing an obstruction on Clarence Road. After a word from the Pools manager at half-time the referee, Timothy Tardy, agreed to clamp down on sluggish play in the second period. His chance came 2 minutes in when Knapman delayed once more, this time to take an “urgent” telephone call from his mam. The match official waited patiently then threatened the ‘keeper with a booking during a lengthy lecture which lasted for the remaining 26 minutes of the game. He blew the full time whistle as the belated goal kick was in the air.

Longest Injury
Pools faced a protracted journey to Torquay back in Dec 1983, a trip made all the longer by an extraordinary on-field injury to Torquay defender, Bobby Earnockle, early in the first half. Ambling over to collect the ball for a throw-in, Earnockle turned his ankle on a patch of overly wet grass. The Gulls physio, concerned by the pallor of the young fullback called for the team doctor. Twenty minutes went by while the linesman tracked him down to the club bar and directed him onto the pitch, where he arrived just before the two 25-stone St John Ambulance pitch-side helpers. Suspecting imminent kidney failure, the medic performed an emergency transplant in-situ, using an organ donated by a nearby fan. Three days, 8 hours and 47 minutes later, consultants from Torquay General declared Earnockle fit enough to move from the Plainmoor pitch via air ambulance and the match resumed, finally ending 0-0.

It later transpired the doctor was having an illicit affair with a till operator from Waitrose and had not been to a match for three seasons. He paid a young steward to act as stand-in and the hapless teenager had been too frightened of punishment to own up.

Tests later proved the removed kidney to be in perfect condition. Fortunately the steward had the presence of mind to preserve the removed organ in a nearby bottle of Lucozade and saved himself from further punishment by successfully inserting it into the fan, who expressed himself “pleased with the results, to be honest”. Together player and fan hold the World’s Unnecessary Cross-transplant survival record. The steward meanwhile underwent medical training and enjoyed a successful and lucrative career in France until 2010 when he was struck off for using B&Q budget mastic in hundreds of breast enhancement operations.

Lengthiest Journey
Medical identity cards were introduced ten-years later, following Lady Justice Gaga’s Kidneygate Inquiry which means the Torquay meeting is likely to remain the longest injury hold-up during a game. However, it is not the lengthiest overall journey which occurred in Pools’ match in the same season at Cambridge, when travel on the 15 mile stretch of the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon took just under 7 days at an average speed of 0.09 miles per hour.

Funny Old Game

Time to Take Stock

CENTRAL PARK... er... takes stock


Well, here we are, just over half the games played and sitting at 14th in the table: 12 points short of a play-off position and 8 points from oblivion. If I had known that this was going to be the case back in August I would have been spared a lot of sleepless nights. 

 I know Colin Cooper was proclaiming his confidence all along, but I have to say that I was listening to such sentiments back in the 1960s and the manager’s early season confidence wasn’t always borne out by events on the pitch back then. In those days we usually knew by well before Christmas that he had been a little over optimistic and the depths beckoned once more. Colin Cooper’s reassurances therefore seemed all of a part with what had gone on previously and fitted the pattern that is found throughout football.

It is part of every manager’s approach irrespective of their team or division that, no matter the results of the first six games or so, all will be well once the lads have settled into their rhythm for the ‘marathon’, not the ‘sprint’, which lies ahead of them. After a few more games with improved results still eluding them they usually make reference to the injuries that are holding them back and looking forward to showing what the lads are really capable off when the medics have done their stuff. Then in the month leading up to Christmas the penny drops with the board of directors/owner finally losing patience and replacing the manager (or head coach) with somebody else who has had the same kind of failure at another club(s) as the man who has just left. The new man will then begin in the usual fashion by saying that he has not come in to criticise the old regime, and then will go on to do precisely that.

He will talk about getting the whole squad in a position where they will be up to the physical challenge that lies ahead. In other words he has inherited a bunch of slobs who can’t get out of bed on a morning. He will talk about them having a more professional attitude, meaning he will be wanting them to get out of their own bed on a morning and not that of the love of their life, who they met the night before and whose name they just can’t quite remember.
"he will be wanting them to get out of their own bed on a morning and not that of the love of their life, who they met the night before"

Next comes talk of strengthening the squad, meaning he has identified three or four first teamers who should be making their living as pie tasters for a local supermarket. (We had one like that who was so indecisive that by the time he had tasted enough pies to make his mind up there were none left to sell). When it finally dawns on him that, notwithstanding the additions to the squad, the pie taster mentality still prevails he will make some remark about them ‘playing for their futures’ and finally it will come to the point where he says that he won’t accept that relegation is inevitable until it is ‘confirmed mathematically’.

So, despite Colin Cooper’s standing in the game both as a footballer and a man I don’t mind admitting that back in August/September I was looking at the league table and paying very little heed to his words of comfort and thinking ‘here we go again, another manager whistling in the dark, we’re doomed’. However as stated above I have been somewhat reassured by the results obtained so far.
I’ve just reread that last sentence and have realised that I am reassured by being 14th in the table and 8 points from oblivion. What sort of life must I have been living?

There have now been enough matches played to let us take stock of the season and to make informed guesses at what is likely to come.

Well at this stage of the season what have been the highlights so far?

For me the number one highlight was the signing of Michael Duckworth. When I first saw him in a pre-season friendly I had no idea who he was or where he had come from but in common with those around me I was immediately impressed and wanted him to be signed up straightaway. However when I heard he was 21 years old and had come from Bradford PA then, being a long standing Hartlepool supporter I, in common with those around me started to look for the catch. The prevailing thought was ‘there must be something wrong with him otherwise we would never have got him’. (How’s that for a positive self image?).

Mind you, we have had plenty of experience over the years to more than justify that dismal outlook. Players arrived who showed so much promise only for us to find that they had come with an already existing injury that meant they were playing on borrowed time, or who had particular personal problems that meant them having to leave the club. We didn’t want to find something wrong with Michael but it seemed just too good to be true; the way he just slotted into the team as though he had played there for years and would continue to do so for years to come.

Not only was Michael Duckworth such a good find in himself, he also allowed Neil Austin to move to left back where he has played very well throughout the season so far and has made the doubters among us forget our disappointment when Evan Horwood was allowed to leave the club.

The continuing improvement of Christian Burgess and Jack Baldwin has been very encouraging along with that of a fast maturing Luke James. However the down side to the improvement of Christian Burgess is that the better he plays the more likely it is that he will be taken back to Middlesbrough sooner rather than later. James Poole has shown that he has talent above this division but I feel we haven’t yet found a way of getting him the chance to display it consistently. Brad Walker was a revelation when he first got into the team and looks to have a very bright future ahead of him. Andy Monkhouse has very largely confounded the doomsayers by turning in some first rate displays and retaining his combativeness. So much for the positives. It doesn’t do to dwell on the negatives, so I won’t.

Despite the talent at our disposal why are we still only fourteenth in the table? I suppose it is the old story of inconsistency. We have some excellent players but it is not realistic to expect them all to play at their maximum potential in every minute of every match. If they were doing that then they would pretty quickly be snapped up by teams in a higher division. So do we have enough at our disposal to let us be confident that we will be playing league football next season?

We have seen more than half the teams in the division and so we know that there isn’t an awful lot to be afraid of. Why then am I looking over my shoulder at the bottom teams in the division and counting the points difference? I am being constantly assured by one long standing supporter, with a not very good track record in the prediction business, that there are at least two teams in this division worse than us, but he always stops short of telling me which two teams they are. For once I sincerely hope that he turns out to be right. I’ll even be happy to put up with the inevitable gloating from him if he is.

My own view is that we will ‘get away with it’ this year and build a team to challenge at the top of the table for next season. I’m sure you will all sleep more soundly in your beds from now on having read that.

Shown the Door

The view as seen by WAGGA MOON 

So wins are still proving elusive for Pools with only two in the last 15 games meaning we are entrenched in the bottom half of the table. 

And it seems that some of the decisions from our beloved chairman are coming back to bite him on the bum.

Rejecting Phil Brown for the manager's job has seen him go to Southend and take them into a promotion place. Sacking John Hughes has seen him take up a position in the Scottish Premier League. Evan Horwood was shown the door when we did not have a manager and found employment at a club in a higher league. Richie Humphreys was shown the door after a decade of loyal service and is now leading his new club to promotion and regularly getting a game.

And the players he gave contract extensions to have hardly set the division alight. Collins has hardly played a game, Monkhouse has forgotten where the net is while Austin is doing a steady if unspectacular job.

And last week Hodcroft's latest decision was to sell the family silver letting Jack Baldwin go to the mighty Peterborough for an "undisclosed fee". Why is it that he is never prepared to divulge a transfer fee. What has he got to hide?

"It was nice to see three players coming in but they were certainly needed with Hartley, Howard, Dolan and Baldwin leaving the club"
The Hartlepool Council's reluctance to sell the ground to him and his cronies looks a sound decision as I do not think the ground would be in safe hands if our present owners got hold of it.

After all the years of IOR running the club what progress has been made? When they arrived we were within a few points of the bottom of the Fourth Division and did not own our ground. All these years later and it looks pretty much the same position from where I am looking.

It was nice to see three players coming in but they were certainly needed with Hartley, Howard, Dolan and Baldwin leaving the club. We are looking a bit short at the back with Baldwin going and Duckworth injured, and Sam Collins is certainly not the answer. Not on a long-term basis. He has spent most of the season warming the bench and has no pace and the turning circle of an ocean-going cruise liner. With Dolan going we could do with a Tommy Widdrington-type midfield enforcer to bring some experience and bite into the side.

But one of the most worrying things is the slump of goalkeeper Scott Flinders. His form has been atrocious and it seems any shot on target will get past him and into the net. His indecisiveness almost caused a punch-up with Christian Burgess in a recent game. He is showing the command of a drunken sailor in a free bar in our penalty area at the moment and his ability to unerringly kick a clearance directly out of play is uncanny.

And yet we have some "experts" on a well-known Pools messageboard claiming he is the best goalkeeper outside the Skybet Championship. Yeah, right. He is not even the best goalkeeper at Victoria Park.

In a division where there is not an outstanding team we are struggling to make the top half. The honeymoon period is over for Colin Cooper and though he has got some promising young players playing some nice football his tactics and substitutions leave a lot to be desired.

I think Marlon Harewood will prove a shrewd signing when fully fit but a couple of players in the mid-twenties with a fair bit of Football League experience are needed to get us up to speed.

I see the Fans' Flannel has reared its ugly head again. I thought it had been discontinued due to lack of interest but there appeared to be a meeting last Saturday.

So maybe we can expect a bit more meat in the pies and some proper tops on the lemonade bottles. But if you wanted to know who was dishing out contracts and releasing players last summer when we did not have a manager I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for an answer.

January - The No Steps Forward Month!

GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY on Pools, and more.

Unbeaten in the league in December, Poolies can be forgiven for thinking that, at last, we might launch a challenge towards the play-off places, particularly after two very good results against Chesterfield and Morecambe. 

Yet, it all went pear shaped and three defeats against teams from the historic county of Lancashire saw the wheels well and truly come off. As at 1st February, Pools are twelve points off seventh place but, worryingly, only six points off the 23rd placed club. It seems we can dominate games yet are unable to break down teams when they defend in depth, the Scunthorpe game being a good example. Hopefully, the signing of Marlon Harewoood will bring dividends; certainly against Scunthorpe, he produced some nice touches when coming off the bench and seems prepared to create his own chances. Was there a first against Scunthorpe? I refer to Tony Sweeney having to go off and come back on again to allow the fourth official to put up his trusty board. Obviously, busting a gut to get on!

The last day of the transfer window was the one when we bade farewell to Jack Baldwin. Plucked out of non-league footy by Mick Wadsworth, Baldwin oozed class from the time he came into the team and was also able to clock up important goals from time to time. It was only a matter of time before he went to richer pastures. Maybe it was a bit of a surprise to see him join Peterborough bearing in mind that a number of clubs in the Championship and Sunderland were supposed to be interested in him. However, we know that he can hold his own in League One and the fact that Peterborough have a chance of reaching the play offs may yet give him a chance of playing in the Championship. Had he joined a Premier League club, he would have spent most of his time on the bench - maybe not the best way to develop his undoubted talents. A pity that Pools weren’t able to start an auction and get even more cash!

"It seems we can dominate games yet are unable to break down teams when they defend in depth"A pal of mine once said that if you ever get a good offer for your centre half then take it as you’re better placed to get a replacement. It’s the striker that you’ll have difficulty replacing. Anyway, Jack, all the best for the future. I’m sure you’ll get a good reception when you come back to Pools. Gone but not forgotten. Just like Ritchie Humphreys.

If we have a problem with the centre half spot then Colin Cooper can always tap into the loan market - he hasn’t done too bad so far. I did think we’d miss Matty Dolan when he was recalled by Middlesbrough - in the short term we did but the arrival of Luke Williams looks as though it could more than compensate. Its also great to see Darren Holden doing well on his recall. Since Michael Duckworth’s enforced absence, he’s turned in good performances. So far as this season’s concerned, Michael Duckworth has been a real find. Another one plucked from non - league football - another Jack Baldwin?

On the day that we played Scunthorpe, we saw another worrying feature of Tyne-Wear derbies and that was the idiosyncrasy of Mags’ supporters taunting the police horses. OK, you might have issues against Ashley and Kinnear but its not the fault of the equine animals, is it? Sunderland and Newcastle do have problems with Northumbria Police over kick off times and the latest bout of post-match violence could be counter productive in that the police may decide its not worth it and apply to the courts to have the derbies played behind closed doors. If Liverpool and Everton supporters can act with dignity before, during and after their derbies, why can’t Mags’ supporters do the same?

Then we had the Home Office putting the cat among the pigeons. They’ve ruled that there’ll be no national extension of pub licensing hours for England’s opening fixture against Italy on Saturday, 14th June. The Home Office apparently wrote to the British Beer and Pub Association and gave as their reason that they didn’t consider it an event of national importance. Any extension that pubs want will have to go through the courts on an individual basis and that will cost them. An official of the Football Supporters Federation was quoted as saying, “For many fans the next best thing is the communal vibe of the pub” I’ve got a better suggestion. All England’s games are on terrestrial television so why don’t fans get some cans in and invite their mates round? You don’t have to go to the pub to have a good time and it will be cheaper! On the other hand, maybe the Home Office think there’ll be nothing to celebrate.

Lastly, I have an apology to make. I misjudged the influence that Sir Dave Richards would have on Leicester City where he’s chairman. At the moment, they look as though they’re running away with the Championship - ten points ahead of the second placed club and thirteen ahead of the third. Normally, the Championship is one mad scramble but this season, it looks like the scramble will be for second place.

Finally, back to Pools. I know a lot of Poolies will disagree but I’ve been reasonably impressed with the refereeing this season. OK, you’re not going to agree with everything they do but they’ve controlled things reasonably well. Quite often, dodgy decisions will often even themselves out and refereeing in League Two has never been an issue - unlike, of course, the bog standard Premier League where refereeing is a side show. As I’ve said before, People in the game wittered on about getting full time referees but has it solved any problems? If anything, its created more.

As I Seen It - Scunthorpe (h)

RUNNING MONKEY sees the start of life after Baldwin

Pools 0, Scunthorpe 0   League 2  Saturday February 1st 2014

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at The Vic

I was running late today and as I walked from the car park I could hear the chant “He is back, he is, the Ditcburn is back”. Sure enough the happy smiling rejuvenated Ditchburn Poolie was back where he belongs on a Saturday, in The Town End at the Vic.

He did explain that his forced absence from the win against York to attend a family wedding was very stressful but tempered by a text he received soon after the game which said “We were s@(^* but we won 2-0."

With all the pre match talk of Baldwin going to Peterborough for a handsome fee of anything between £250,000 to £750,000 with a sell on, of course the talk turned to what we spend it on.

Where do these people get the idea that this windfall would be spent? The consensus was that we may get the pitch re-laid for next season or there would be quail's eggs on the menu at the food outlet. The truth is even stranger than that, as I have it on good authority that this transfer shock was good business on Pools' part for what the Posh manager, whose name slips my mind at the minute, described as the best young player in the Football League. As we are now a feeder club for Muddlesborough, we were persuaded to let Jack go on the strength that Muddlesborough could buy the Posh striker and they would fill our team with promising young potential stars of the future. Well it sounded plausible to me when I read it on the netty wall.

The Ditchburn was unusually coy about the ref today who he insisted in calling by his first name, Jeremy. Apparently referee Jeremy Simpson is a popular boy in the Ditchburn circle of friends, along with Quinten, Chervaise and Bob. What a gay day.

The Ditchburn was excited by the fact it was his second visit to the Vic and last time he sent off Howard, so he can’t be all bad.

We won the toss so that was a good start, apart from the hurricane wind blowing over the Town End that was going to make it a fun day. As the Ditchburn commented, the new look line up for Pools was full of youth and vigour.

" it was his second visit to the Vic and last time he sent off Howard, so he can’t be all bad."
The first attack from the visitors made Ned look decidedly dodgy as he came, he went and then ducked out of a leap for the ball that he should have claimed easily from the dangerous McSheffrey but fortunately the ball was cleared by Walker. Pools were straight back at them as Williams danced his way past what looked like a very old Iron defence, some of which made Sam look like a boy.

McSheffrey was back again beating Ned with a good shot but the bar saved Pools this time. Pools had the edge from the off with some fast one touch football, both Monky hitting the keeper with a shot, and Williams again on a run, tested the keeper with a long range effort that the keeper palmed away.

The Poolie youth were having a field day against the visitors, Luke James again getting special attention, but this left Williams, Barmby, Monky and young Walker with a bit more space and they were causing Scunthorpe lots of problems.
 The Ditchburn friend Jeremy blotted his copy book: booking number 67 this season went to Barmby as McSheffrey hit a quick free kick into the back of him as he walked away from the placed ball. It was farcical and even the Ditchburn was embarrassed by his “friend's’’ error.

Pools had two shots blocked on the line following a corner. The Scunthorpe centre half tried a rugby tackle on Walker, as he broke free and outpaced his man but Walker hit his shot over the bar. Ned made a great leap and caught a ball high in the air that could have quite easily dropped into the net as Scunthorpe tried to get something out of a half that they had been played off the park in, and a great rebound ball back in by Walker sailed just past the far post after a Holden free kick was blocked just before the break.

Pools started the second half in the same fashion taking the game to Scunthorpe. Holden took a kick on the ankle early in the half but the lad was determined not to go off and after limping for some time soon got back to his best, and had a great game overall.

The Poolie Youth were really testing the visitors and making chances but the luck was with the visitors after shot after shot was either blocked or went wide from the Pools attack.

Aussie took one for the team which laid him out as the number four lined up for a shot. The number four was taken off later but the opinion was he was their best player along with McSheffrey. Attacking the Town End the lads were showing some great touches around the box Williams and James, Barmby and Walker all showing great talent and effort for the cause.

Sam Collins had a good game as Pools came under just a little pressure as Scunthorpe rallied half way through the half but the defence held their ground. Sweeney substituted for Austin who had taken a knock, (in fact Sweeney came on twice having been waved on then sent off by the ref until the fourth official produced his board, this putting another black mark down to the Ditchburn's friend.) Then Harewood and Compton, on for Monky and Barmby, gave us a bit of a lift. Harewood in particular showing quick feet in the box to side step a tackle hit a blaster just wide of the post. He raged at the Town End to make some noise as they went for the kill. Good to see such passion from the striker.

Pools could have nicked it just on time as a Compton cross to the far post just evaded the efforts of James and Harewood who raced in on the keeper who missed the ball and it went wide.

Once again the lack of an early goal probably robbed us of what could have been a great victory against a side second in the table who looked decidedly second best to Pools today. Some great individual performances, especially from man-of-the-match Williams, who showed great skills, Barmby, again showing some lovely play on the ball, and Walker, who for such a young lad was superb and could have got the man-of-the-match accolade as could James for his non-stop running at the opposition. A nil nil draw, but a very good performance, which sent the faithful home very happy indeed.

As I Seen It - Wimbledon (a)

ALREET goes up the Thames

AFC Wimbledon 2 POOLS 1 League 2, at Kingsmeadow, Tuesday January 28th 2014

This was supposedly a 'home' game for me but it still involved a two hour journey across London to reach the venue. I had (no doubt deliberately) almost forgotten about the joys of travelling around London during the evening rush hour but a combination of the Underground/ Overground and National Rail brought it all back to me. 

Having been sniffed and coughed over from both sides on the train to Clapham Junction, the perpetrators stepped aside to be replaced by a couple of schoolgirls, complete with micro scooters, and the one who was standing with her back to me had a musical instrument in a case slung over her shoulder and the end of its finger board was 'tickling' my nose, presumably to stretch my nostrils to allow even better access for the germs to enter.

Having arrived at Norbiton station, a fifteen minute walk down the dark side streets and the old Kingsmeadow ground hove into view with floodlights peering out from a gap in the houses along the major road. Although part of "The Smoke", the last time I can recall being in this area was over twenty years ago when I owned an old Rover P5B and I visited a French chap, suitably attired with beret, who lived in the vicinity and who supplied me with a replacement part for the car.

The ground itself around the visitors' entrance is a hotchpotch of portakabins, housing the refreshments, loos etc. Having asked the programme seller about the location of the latter, he said, "There's one here, one there and the jacuzzi is round the corner". The one I visited consisted of just three cubicles which could clearly be seen from outside as the door was permanently open, offering a "ringside dekko at the old fella" to any woman who visited their adjacent loo (also with outer door wide open).

Pools were attacking the home end from the off and quickly got into their stride, knocking the ball about with precision and purpose. It was good to see that we were playing it on the deck from the back and we created a couple of early chances which weren't converted. Williams was making himself available and seeing plenty of the ball which he used to good effect.

Walton made a mess of a tackle but redeemed himself by regaining possession and setting us off on another foray. Walker weighed in with a couple of decent shots on target. Baldwin made a brilliant sliding tackle with the outside of his right foot on an attacker who was motoring down their right flank. Then another rare break saw a shot hit from distance which bounced just in front of Flinders and, for a nervy moment, it looked as if the ball might squirm through his legs but he retrieved the situation and the danger passed.
"We had the game in our pocket for the most part but were found wanting when they applied a spell of pressure"
Burgess looked secure and with Baldwin back to his best and providing good cover, we looked comfortable against a largely ineffective attack. Holden, however, was not above allowing the occasional cross to get in and his distribution wasn't too clever on occasions. Nevertheless, we kept our grip on proceedings and eventually took the lead when a cross from Williams on the right was headed back across goal by Monky for James to turn home. This was no more than Pools deserved for their overall play and suggested that we could go on and gain the three points as the Dons, at that point, didn't appear to have much to hurt us.

The Dons made two substitutions for the second half but, initially, it was Pools who were still controlling play and Walton hit a screamer from the edge of the box which was well saved by their keeper. Harewood outmuscled two defenders in a similar position box before powering in a left foot shot which just cleared the bar. Williams then put James through with an incisive pass but the latter, unfortunately, slipped over at the crucial moment.

A neat turn from Harewood on the right gave him room to get in a cross which fell to Monky whose low volley was straight at the keeper. Despite Pools' pressure, the Dons were beginning to gain a foothold and they made a decent chance only for the shot to sail well over for a worthy three points. James was battered on the edge of their box and spent the next minute or so crawling around on his hands and knees and looking none too bright. It didn't look good as play continued but he eventually rose to his feet and after hobbling around for a moment returned to the fray.

For the first time in the match we were now coming under pressure and the inevitable happened. A long free kick into our box was headed towards goal and there followed a double cheer before the ref gave the goal. This happened at the far end of the ground and to be honest, I couldn't really say precisely what happened peering through the mass of bodies from a distance. I haven't seen any replays but it looked as if Flinders was caught in no man's land although there still appeared to be a couple of defenders on the line. I'm assuming that the second cheer was the lino confirming that the ball had crossed the line?

In an exact replica of the Fleetwood game, two minutes later and we had conceded again. This time, their attacker worked his way through and from the edge of the area, hit his low shot across Flinders and into the net. Pools now had to rally and Harewood was replaced by Barmby. We won a free kick just outside their penalty area on the right but the resultant kick from Barmby cleared everyone by a mile and dropped harmlessly into their keeper's gloves. Holden was then put through into acres of space on the left flank and under no pressure, managed an equally inept cross which sailed high over the stand.

Baldwin collected a yellow card for an 'exuberant' tackle near the half-way line which left both him and his victim buried among both benches. Their keeper was then forced into a great save before the ball fell to Monky but his attempted right foot shot was lamentable and barely connected and his expression said it all. And that was just about it.

What a kick in the "chandeliers" that result was. We had the game in our pocket for the most part but were found wanting when they applied a spell of pressure in the second half. Apart from the goals, they rarely threatened us except from a couple of set pieces and skirmishes. Even so, we played some good stuff, controlled the majority of the game and had enough chances to have put the game to bed. 

It is obviously vital that we get that second goal and, despite our dominance, it was a game where I started to feel that they might just nick an equalizer and even a winner. I think we've all seen it before from Pools but I must stop having those thoughts! A huge plus was the performance from Williams. I hadn't seen him before but he looks a class act with energy in abundance, always looking to link up play, the ability to provide probing passes and beating opponents with a shimmy and not touching the ball. Interestingly on the walk back to the station, I overheard several comments from the home fans concerning their first goal. One said, "Personally, I didn't think it was a goal" while another added, "It was only when the crowd shouted that the linesman raised his flag".

It was just before midnight when I reached home, had a hot drink and went to bed but, unfortunately, no sweet dreams!

As I Seen It - York (h)

RUNNING MONKEY on a derby win

POOLS 2  York City 0 League 2, at the VicSaturday January 25th 2014

The visit of our near neighbours today was reminiscent of the August game, when we stood on the terrace at York, nearly all of the Pools fans dressed in fifty pence bin bags sold by the York outlets, trying to stop the Pools fans suffering hypothermia, even though it was August. 

There was no covered stand at the away end and it pelted down all through the game and we never had a look in, coming away with nowt. Well at least this time we had the decency to furnish the visitors with overhead cover and the sun did shine some of the time.

I was like a fish out of water today as the Ditchburn was indisposed, something about a wedding. Who in their right mind would organize a wedding in the middle of the football season and even have the cheek to make it on a Saturday when Pools were at home. I bet the Ditchburn was spitting feathers by kick off time.

One great loss for the day was the absence of any input from the Ditchburn substitute on the referee today. This imposter spent his time signing autographs and having his photo taken by his adoring public. But on this season the substitute Ditchburn has a great record. Played five, drawn one, and won four. I did ask him what he was doing next week but he is booked for a gig at, of all places, York. So get well soon Mr. Original Ditchburn and don’t take it too badly that you missed probably two of the best goals this season, and the debut of two much-needed, very handy looking loan players to our ranks.

Almost a full away end at the Vic boosted the crowd to the 4600 mark but they were quiet apart from a spell in the second half when they got all excited, winning three corners in succession.

They started briskly and tested our resolve in the first minute when Ned had to punch a high ball clear. Luke had another great game but the tackling from the York defence was so bad at times we should have called “Child Line” They had done their homework and doubled up on him every time he got the ball, and one point in the second half he whipped past his markers and sped away, only to be trampled to the turf by a bloke twice his size while the other defender held on to him.

That lad must be black and blue on Sunday mornings after the treatment he gets. At least today there were some cards shown but not enough for the amount of fouls we had to endure. Without the Ditchburn Ref Rater, we had no idea on this bloke, or his two sixteen year old linesboys. One of whom ruled out a Pools goal, claiming Harewood was offside. Speaking of which, I know you should not make a judgment on a player after just sixty eight minutes, but not a lot different to the other big middle man we have just shifted out. Maybe a bit harsh to say that as he did win a few headers and had a couple of shots, but time will tell.

The Ditchburn also missed another treat today when ex-Loid Bowman went down injured and was taken off after less than half an hour. What he was doing in the side in front of his replacement, I have no idea; he must have been as old as me, well, nearly as old.
"Panic was setting in for the visitors, and the wrestlers came to the fore"
It was a scrappy first half; possibly it was windier than what we realized as both teams were missing passes and hoofing the ball out of play, but we were never really threatened other than a couple Ned punched away and a shot to the side netting.

One comment I must make is about the number of battle-weary and wounded soldiers that York had in their side. At every opportunity they writhed on the ground after some collision or tap, but it was so galling to see professional players pretend to be injured in a collision, to cover up when they knew they had fouled one of our players. Their physio spent more time on the pitch than some of their players.

As we turned around to kick down bank, one thought that crossed my mind was that we were too crowded in the middle. Players carrying the ball forward were looking for an outlet on the wing and there was no body there. One wag commented that he thought we were playing a "diamond".

Maybe it was a lack of preparation to accommodate Williams, the other loan player, who incidentally had a great game and really had some nice touches, liked to be on the ball and linked up with Luke and Walker throughout the game. He brought a good save out of the visiting keeper late in the half and could possibly have made the man-of-the-match spot, but I think the goal Luke scored just shaded Mr. Honour's decision.

The other signing Pools made this week, Jack Barmby, came on in place of Monky, and once again this kid looks good. A free kick Barmby won was headed on by Jack, and Luke skipped in and hit a tremendous low shot into the net, giving the keeper no chance.

Panic was setting in for the visitors, and the wrestlers came to the fore. There was one incident as Pools took a free kick on the edge of the box and five players, three from Pools and two from York ended in a heap inside the keeper's box.

It was a special goal that made the game safe for us. As Pools pressured York, young Barmby, making his league debut, capped a fine performance with an individual goal; after some nice footwork he made space for himself and hit a sweet shot past the keeper to make it two nil to the Hartlepool.

On the way to the ground I was listening to Cooper talking of the loan signings and apparently Manure have something like thirty talented kids like this sitting on their arrises waiting for one or ten of the foreign imports to be dropped. So they may not even get to make the bench. Between the ages of eighteen and twenty one they have to be superstars to be even noticed. Most of these kids will probably never experience league football, so their potential would be wasted. The loans they have with Pools are possibly only for one month but what a shame we cannot get these players on season-long loans to help us and help them develop.

Onwards and upwards

Funny Old Game

As I Seen It - Fleetwood (a)

ALREET does marathon training (and bussing)

Fleetwood 2 POOLS 0  League 2, at The Highbury Stadium, Saturday 18th January 2014  

Fleetwood Town FC; a new team and a new ground for me. My first decision was, "Should I drive?" or, "Should I let the train take the strain?"

Despite my piss-poor record on public transport, I opted for the latter and decided to purchase my ticket on Friday afternoon to avoid faffing around with any problems such as the booking office being closed early on Saturday morning. Of course, this was a bad move as said office was actually closed for improvements which left me talking to a chap on the outside and the infamous ticket machine. Surprisingly (for me), he managed to issue me with a ticket without too much hassle but as I walked away, I realized that he had given me a ticket for Friday despite me asking him about the train times for Saturday morning!

Twenty minutes later, following explanatory calls to his boss, the obligatory form filling blah, blah, I finally scurried away with the correct ticket! And so it was that, at 7:20 am, I found myself standing at my local station waiting for the first of my FIVE trains that would take me as far as Poulton-le-Fylde.
Amazingly, all my connections turned up on time which just left the bus to complete the last leg to Fleetwood.

The bus stop is directly opposite the station exit and although Routes 80 and 82 are shown to go to Fleetwood, worryingly, there was no information to be found for the 80. A lady who eventually joined me at the stop said that they had recently changed the buses so I was left to rely on the 82 which runs once an hour. When it eventually arrived, I asked the driver about the 80 to which he replied, "Don't ask me about them!" I then asked if he could let me know when we were near the ground and he said, "When I go round the big roundabout, look out for the Queens on the right and have a word". After traversing several roundabouts, I eventually spotted, well, yes, and had a word. The driver then explained something along the lines of, "not having his mind cluttered with directions while driving" and then proved very helpful in offering directions to the ground, and advising that the bus stop outside Aldi's was the best option for the return journey as all the buses from there went to Poulton.

Although being told that the ground was,"only two minutes" down this residential street, I couldn't see any sign of it until, looking down an alley between two houses, voila! Approaching from this direction, the ground is protected from the alley by a metal fence topped with razor wire and put me in mind of the long walk down to Millwall's New Den, although nothing like as long or intimidating.

Inside the ground, Pools fans were located behind a goal which was one of three traditional-looking areas while the fourth was a much larger modern metal structure, comprising the main stand, dressing rooms etc. and housing a section of seating for visiting fans.

From the kick off, the ball was played straight out for a throw in with Pools attacking the home end. Almost immediately, disaster struck as Richards launched himself into a ferocious tackle which sent their player spinning through the air. I know I have thought that we need a bit more bite in the side but this looked really bad and despite a few Poolie comments to the contrary, I wasn't surprised when the red card was produced.
"I have to say that I thought Baldwin wasn't at his best; despite some classy touches, he looked casual at times and wasn't always aware of opponents"
Apart from having to contemplate playing virtually a whole game with only ten men, this was further compounded by Cooper hauling off James and replacing him with Big Sam and Baldwin being asked to play wide right. This set the pattern for the game and it wasn't long before the portly Parkin tried his luck from 25 yards but his volley sailed well over. He then managed to turn Collins but his weak left foot shot trundled harmlessly past the post.

Flinders decided it would be a good idea to fly out and punch the ball from the edge of his area but his poor effort landed at the feet of an attacker whose resulting shot was saved by the retreating keeper. A short corner on their left found its way to Taylor who hit a shot which was deflected and Flinders made a good save. Flinders then had to save at the feet of an attacker just outside his post and on the goal line but the ball squirted free only for the subsequent shot to somehow drift past the far post from a yard or so out. Parkin got the better of Baldwin and hit a low cross which travelled right across the face of the goal without anyone applying the final touch. Pools, starting with Monky on the right and Compton on the left, had offered little in the first half with long balls up to Harewood, a couple of surging runs from Walker where he ghosted past opponents, and the occasional foray from the rest but that was it. That said, despite Fleetwood having the lion's share of the play, Pools had looked reasonably comfortable as the half-time whistle blew.

It was business as usual as the second half opened with Burgess heading off the line after Flinders' failure to clear the threat, followed up by a superb low-down save, yet again from Parkin. The pressure on Pools was growing by the minute and the feeling that we were about to concede was immense. The inevitable happened when Parkin hit the ball against the legs of Burgess and as he attempted to clear the rebound; the ball fell kindly for Parkin who cracked home a powerful left-footed drive which flashed past Flinders into the far corner. There then followed a little tune which they use to celebrate their goals and while I was, annoyingly, struggling to name it, we were treated to a second rendition as we fell further behind. (I was later reliably informed by Edith that it was the theme from Captain Pugwash!). Baldwin was relieved of the ball inside their half and the lad we were supposedly interested in raced through the middle before switching the ball through for Marrow to slide the ball past the advancing Flinders with the outside of his right foot. I believe Cooper suggested that Baldwin may had been fouled in the build-up but I couldn't see this myself.

Walton then earned a yellow card for a heavy challenge before releasing Monky who turned his marker, took a pace and unleashed a 20 yard rocket which smacked against the bar before bouncing to safety with their keeper well beaten.

Franks and Sweeney were introduced at the expense of Compton and Baldwin respectively and although neither contributed massively to Pools cause, we did at last show a bit of spirit at the sharp end without really threatening and, of course, by then the game was already over. There was still time, however, for Flinders to get laid out while diving at the feet of the marauding Marrow and this resulted in a melee and a yellow card for Burgess. Franks did get a tame shot in but it went well wide and that brought a bad afternoon for Pools to its end.

Fleetwood looked a more than useful outfit with Parkin posing a constant threat until his substitution. They got plenty of players into attacking positions when breaking forward and played some neat stuff when bringing the ball out from the back. However, both comments have to be tempered by the fact that they were only playing against ten men and therefore had extra space in which to knock the ball about. Pools, for their part, settled for damage limitation but failed to last the course.

Regarding the players' efforts, Flinders produced a couple of really good saves in a steady performance. I have to say that I thought Baldwin wasn't at his best; despite some classy touches, he looked casual at times and wasn't always aware of opponents when passing back and across. His long passes constantly only found an opponent and he seemed to spend a lot of time almost playing on the right of a central three, giving acres of space for the dangerous Taylor to run and cross etc. In fact, I think that was the poorest performance I have seen from Jack.

Collins and Burgess didn't perform badly on a busy afternoon and the same could be said for Austin. Compton made a few mazy but unproductive runs and Monky obviously got his shot his away but in all honesty, I don't know whether they are the best two to rely on for cover in the circumstances. Walker had a few effortless runs past opponents but doesn't seem to get a foot in very often, and Walton, I thought, had a decent match. He made some telling tackles and kept possession with neat, short passes to feet.

Which just leaves the poor bugger making his Pools debut. I felt sorry for him, ploughing a lonely furrow up front all afternoon in the company of two or three defenders. Even so, he managed to win some decent headers, held the ball up well and did so with a style suggesting his lofty past. It will be interesting to see how this combines with a pacy colleague (James, presumably) in future games. Harewood was quoted as saying that he, "wants to enjoy his football once again", well, Marlon, as they say, "Things can only get better".

Finding myself back at Aldi's, I didn't have long to wait for a No.84 bus for Poulton to appear. Brilliant, I thought, as I gleefully boarded it. I spent virtually the whole journey in splendid isolation but what I didn't know was that it took me on a "Cook's tour", visiting places such as Cleveleys, which I had never heard of before, and the 20-odd minute journey out took the best part of an hour to return! Fortunately, I still had time to spare before my train arrived, the first of a paltry three to get me home!

Fleetwood: Alcohol Free Zone

  BILLY'S CONTRACT keeps dry

A second view of the same match as the previous article. However, Bizz match reports aren't really about the football, so it would be a pity to miss out on more misadventures from that day...

More often than not, travelling away to see Pools road anyway, involves travelling down the tarmac of the A1, M1, and M62 motorways. So one would have thought the uncharted territory of the A66 and M6 respectively would be a welcome change as we made our way to Fleetwood, the home of The Fisherman's Friend.

The only snag was that we had done much the same journey a couple of weeks earlier on our way to Morecambe so we knew what to expect. Lesson one, on the return journey do not stop off at Kirkby Stephen for Fish and Chips. Yuk.

The first part of the journey was reminiscent of when we played Fleetwood in the cup. Fog. Fortunately by the time we arrived at Blackpool's version of Seaton Carew it had cleared.
After enjoying fish and chips with the obligatory bread and a mug of tea at the Ferry cafe on the sea front we headed back into town in search of ale and observed that like Morcambe, Fleetwood is a typical run down British seaside resort, but with trams.

I am sure much of Life on Mars was filmed here. On my last visit to the town it was shrouded in thick fog could not see two feet in front of you. In hindsight that is probably the best way to view Fleetwood. In dense fog.

We parked up less than 50 yards away from the ground in almost the exact spot that I did when we came down for the cup match. I told my thirsty group that there was a good pub on the next street which was across the road from the world famous Fisherman's Friend factory. No sign of it.
I knew I was on the right street as I recalled a bloody railway line running up the middle of it!
We eventually found the pub but it had been turned into sheltered accommodation. I said it was amazing how things change in a couple of years but it was only afterwards I realised it was over 5 years since 'Pools played here last. How times flies.

We headed to the social club next to the ground. The kindly doorman (Think Max and Paddy) advised that away fans were not allowed in but Fisherman's friends were very welcome. Having told him I have no mates who catch fish or go out in trawlers he told me the Sports Bar at the other end of the stadium (he said the word 'stadium' without laughing) would let us into their drinking establishment. I then recalled that said Sports Bar had advertised on one of the Pools message boards inviting and positively encouraging any travelling Poolies to visit this drinking emporium.
"I pretty much scuppered any chance that we had of getting in when I said "Come on pet, Fleetwood haven't got ten fans""

As we made our way into this hostelry we were barred from entry by a small but stocky woman who resembled a 1970's clippie (bus conductress) and said that as it was two thirty no more away fans and only home fans were being allowed in, and that at that moment in time she could only let ten home fans in as the club was nearly full. I pretty much scuppered any chance that we had of getting in when I said "Come on pet, Fleetwood haven't got ten fans". Even some of the Fleetwood lads had a laugh at this.

Into the ground a few minutes before kick off only to be told by a friendly steward that we could get a drink in the main stand at half time. Since our last visit to Highbury, Fleetwood now have an impressive looking main stand, not that it held that many people, nor were there that many people in it, but impressive nonetheless.

The other side of the ground is really strange. they have a smallish stand which runs three quarters the length of the pitch. This stand has obviously replaced the old stand, however the old stand is still there right behind the new stand complete with roof. It looks as if the new stand is taking shelter within the old stand. Google, it dear reader.
One would have thought that by demolishing the old stand in its entirety that they could have put a bigger stand in its place. I bet the council were involved in that decision.

Game is only two minutes old and Jordan Richards puts in an awful and unnecessary tackle on Fleetwood's Jeff Hughes that not only sends the lad up in the air but also into the nearby Irish Sea.
I could not believe Colin Cooper's comments after the match saying that because the sending off was so early on in the game the ref should have shown Richards a yellow and as a result the match was spoilt as a contest. On the other hand if one of their players had committed a similar offence I am sure that the Pools management and fans alike would have been screaming for the dismissal of the offending player.

I'm sorry but I have to disagree with Cooper's remarks. If anyone spoilt the game it was Richards for his reckless tackle. Why he had to put a challenge in like that so far down the pitch was either plain stupid or lacking in experience. As for the consequences of Richards' dreadful tackle, not only did he break a bone in Hughes' leg, an injury that will keep the lad sidelined for several months, but he left Pools to play on with ten men for over ninety minutes, which was a major contribution to our losing the match. For Richards personally, it is a lesson learnt that he has let slip the chance for a run in the first team due to Michael Duckworth's injury.

Half time arrives at nil nil and I am in need of a drink so make a quick dash over to their new stand for a quick sherbet. Talk about slow in pulling a pint. Made the staff in the bars behind the Cyril Knowles look like greased lightning. In the end after 20 minutes of waiting I came away with a cup of tea.

As for the match itself, Pools' ten men bravely hung on until the 67th minute when the oak sideboard that is Jon Parkin scored. Thereafter game over. Had it not been for the sending off I am sure that we could have got something out of the game as, like many of the teams in this division, Fleetwood were nothing special.

Any Other Business


Strange old season
This is a strange old season for Pools. Most of us would have taken mid-table anonymity plus reasonably entertaining football at the start of the season. However, this division is so even that most of the teams below the automatic promotion places could still fall through the floor, some without realising they were in any danger. Let's hope that Pools' worrying ability to dominate yet lose matches doesn't turn into a relentless slide that's too late to rescue.

Strange old month.
Apologies for the number of match reports this month - and the
duplication of one.

Usually we post match reports from the first half of the month separately as Green 'Uns, and save the later ones to go into the Bizz proper, We quite often don't get any reports for away matches, but this time we've had loads. We even had two for Fleetwood. It seemed a pity to waste one of them as in both the match is only incidental to the trip.

Ronnie Westmoreland tells us that he has 200 Pools programmes for sale, from seasons 1999/2000 to 2006/2007, all in good condition. 
Contact Ronnie on 01429 872776 or 07722 856589