Back to Normality -Yippee!!

GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY on both Englands - and Pools

So that’s another Sepp Blatter sideshow over or another four years. Mired in accusations over corruption and the nonsense over Qatar’s staging of the 2022 World Cup, world football is something which makes the eyes glaze over. 

You have the situation where a country can spend millions (nay, possibly billions) staging the event yet neglects many of its population who live in dire poverty. I was once talking to a Tory councillor in Hartlepool who had been all over the world on business and he told me that there was nowhere like Rio for poverty - many just didn’t know where the next meal was coming from. But all that would matter not to Blatter and his FIFA cronies as they lord it over our beautiful game. 

Looking back, I suppose, there were two things of note which emerged from the tournament. First there were popular winners in Germany and the way they took Brazil apart was incredible. One scribe writing after the tournament was over said that never have Germany been so popular in this country. It was richly deserved. Secondly, there was the emergence of the United States as a world footy power. The 2014 World Cup certainly caught the imagination of the Yanks and their achievement in reaching the last 16 was highly creditable. They had a difficult group to contend with - Germany, Portugal and one of the better African nations, Ghana. Even then, they only went out after extra time against one of the fancied sides, Belgium. 

"No shirts were removed on scoring a goal (which would have pleased Sepp Blatter) and the players didn’t wear close fitting shorts (which would have disappointed Sepp Blatter)."
I suppose enough has been written about England - suffice to say, that expectations were not raised. The pubs and bars certainly weren’t able to cash in on England’s performances and the original decision not to have blanket extensions to licensing hours seemed to be vindicated. After all, someone from the Home Office leaked the fact that there’d be nothing to celebrate so far as England were concerned - so why give a blanket extension to bars and pubs. 

One thing which did encourage me about England was the revelation that the FA wouldn’t be bidding to host any FIFA sponsored tournaments - well done, it took a long time for the penny to drop. Next year will be the Women’s World Cup and this is being held in Canada. Canada are ranked 7th in the FIFA rankings - one place above England. What did surprise me was that Sweden are ranked 5th and Sunday, 3rd August gave we Poolies an opportunity to see 5th v 8th.

Realistically, England made heavy weather of it at times but a good second half performance gave England the victory they deserved. What impressed me was the confidence and ability of the back four and they should be in with a shout next year. At least the women seem to be doing better than the men at the moment - something worth shouting about. All in all, it was a carnival atmosphere at The Vic and I’m sure the punters enjoyed getting out of the house for the afternoon. And what of the Mohican hairstyle of Lianne Sanderson? Keep popping them in and no one will notice your hair, Lianne. 

Many years ago, Derek Dougan shaved all his hair off and Joe Mercer, his manager, asked why he’d done it. ‘I want to get noticed‘, Dougan said. To which Mercer replied ’Well, how about scoring a lot more goals - you’ll get noticed then’. No shirts were removed on scoring a goal (which would have pleased Sepp Blatter) and the players didn’t wear close fitting shorts (which would have disappointed Sepp Blatter).

On to more important matters - Pools. The retained list wasn’t really surprising. Andy Monkhouse was no longer the player he was and some of his performances of late showed signs of petulance - maybe a sign that he was no longer standing the pace. At least, he won’t be coming back to Pools next season to haunt us having signed for ‘Trigger’ Clarke at Bristol Rovers. 

One released player who will be coming back is Tony Sweeney who, during the past two seasons, has been a disappointment. I remember one match where the opposing side had two players marking him - such was he seen as the danger man. 

And so to James Poole and Simon Walton. Poole maybe lacked the consistency last season - hence he was never able to win a regular place in the side. Walton was one player I could never make up my mind about. He had a good delivery at set pieces but in some games could a worthy Man of the Match and in others turned in moderate performances. His sending off against Morecambe - a straight red card - completed his season and probably sealed his fate. Fortunately, we still have Luke James but if he continues to score goals on a regular basis can we keep hold of him come the January transfer window. Already, its been mentioned in the Hartlepool Mail that Sheffield Wednesday are interested but my contacts in The Steel City say there’s been nothing in their evening paper. 

Maybe there’s been some frustration at a lack of signings. One of two thoughts spring to mind. Firstly, there could be a lot of jockeying around as available players size up their opportunities or, secondly, promotion isn’t going to be a realistic target.

And we have the suggestion that under 21 Premier League teams join in a new pyramid system. The Football League quite rightly, threw out the proposals but this didn’t stop Danny Mills from saying that Hartlepool supporters would rather see the under 21 teams from the Premier League than Torquay United. You speak for yourself, Danny. Although Torquay are no longer in the Football League, Exeter City are, and I know where I’d rather go, and its not to see aspiring bog standard Premier League teams. So far as the FA are concerned, keep you noses out of the affairs of the smaller clubs and concentrate on getting the England team sorted out.