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Showing posts from September, 2014



NOT A LOT TO WRITE HOME ABOUT

POOLS 0 - TRANMERE 2   League 2 Saturday 13th September 2014

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at The Vic

____________________________________

After last week, I guess we were all expecting to see our team resume the excellent play we witnessed again this week.

The Ditchburn Poolie made a low-key return to the Vic, this time with his carer.

After winning the toss again we kicked up the bank for the first half. It was a continuation of last week’s play, Wyke chased after a long ball that their keeper should have made his own but Wyke harried the keeper as he came out and he panicked under the pressure and made a mess of the clearance. It was good to see a Pools striker put the frighteners on a keeper this way. He had a good game throughout and won a lot of headers but the follow up was just not there today.

Brobbel again was excellent with some great play down the wing. Sadly this threat seemed to be snuffed out after thirty minutes and the service to Brobbel reverted to the long punt that we have found to our cost many times does not work and invariably the ball was carried back to us and once again we finish up on the back foot for most of the game."If we thought the last fifteen minutes was bad for Pools, the second half was a lot worse"

Their big striker Stockton was a physical handful but his shooting was abysmal and I think he only had one decent header that he managed to put over the stand. One chance he did have was gifted to him by Richards, whose back pass under pressure was too short, and as Ned rushed out the striker hit the ball, which bounced off Ned. Fortunately for Pools Harrison is no slouch and can stand his ground with these big fellers and he certainly did that today thankfully. The last quarter of the first half was poor from Pools as we just did not have the fluidity of last week and were defending hard right up to the whistle.

If we thought the last fifteen minutes was bad for Pools, the second half was a lot worse as we looked to be under pressure continually, barely making it into the opposition half. The only real chance of the half for Pools came after a Compton run and cross that Franks tried a cheeky back heel inside the box that nearly out foxed the visitors, but sadly this was a poor day at the office for the Pools team and not a lot to write home about.








THOROUGHLY
DESERVED WIN


POOLS 2 - SHREWSBURY 0   League 2,  Saturday, 6th September 2014

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at The Vic

____________________________________

On the way into the Vic I was given the latest rumour, which was shocking. Administration. 

The bearer of this shocking news, who shall remain nameless, is usually of sound mind, but as you know, Mr Central Park, I just report the facts. Apparently this rumour had been all the rage on a Pools message board. Says it all really - a couple of bad results and the natives go ape on their keyboards. According to that same message board we have sold Luke for one and half million, so how is it possible we are skint? Looking at it logically, the bearer of this bad news had apparently forgotten the golden rule: never believe anything you read unless you have written it yourself, and even then check it out first. That is why I say we are "allegedly" hoping to sign a Toon player who scored two against our reserves last week.

With the loss of Luke James and the poor form we have been in, I decided against taking my boots to the game today as I felt a twinge in one of the few remaining muscles I have left.

On the way to the ground I heard that feller off the wireless, err whatsisname, him with the brown sparrow legs, I know this fact as I saw him in WW2 khaki shorts at the Whitby Town game. Ivor Rash or something like that. Anyway he was waffling about the opposition for Pools today. Ivor was extolling the virtues of the shrewd Shrewsbury board who had had a total clear out, manager and players, and spent a lot of money in the hope of bouncing straight back. A new manager, in Mickey Mellon, who brought in fifteen new players.

It has to be said some of his players looked quality, in particular the ginger no 4, Woods, who ran the show. While some of them really looked the part there was a chink in their armour, at least after a tackle with Wyke they had to swap their full back, and one of the biggest players you have seen at the Vic came on and he was pants.

As the Ditchburn Poolie was attending a family gathering he did not let me down with the SP on Mr Jeremy Simpson the ref for today. Card-happy, and how right he was; couldn't get much else right all day and between him and his co-conspirators, managed to be pretty useless when it came to the rules of the game.

With the Ditchburn absent I had to get Mick Bell to tell me what was going on at the other end of the pitch. Glasses left at home again, not that it makes any difference to my reports, I hear the Ditchburn cry. Who, incidentally lost his nerve and went for the draw in his prediction today. Mick was unusually in collar and tie and a suit that was too tight. I asked if he had been to court but he said no a family wedding. As you can tell, Mr Bell cares more about our team than the Ditchburn ever did.

The game itself started well enough as we won the toss and kicked up the bank for the first half. We looked comfortable on the ball apart from an early blip for Parnaby, playing full back, on the edge of our box scooped a clearance up and over his head but managed to get a toe onto it before any damage was done. Wyke was very busy and it is nice to see a Pools player dish out some stick for a change. "A GOAL AT HOME,  A GOAL AT HOME", was the shout from Mick as an early goal came after Compton showed great effort to lay the ball off for Wyke to stroke a low shot past the keeper.

Brobbel mis-hit almost on the line after connecting with a Franks cross. Shrews, who had been unbeaten in the league, were possibly a little over confident against this Pools side who looked like a team for the first time this season, and looked to be panicking a little under the Pools pressure. Brobbel was having a field day against his marker and it was a shame that his efforts were not always matched by his team mates. On a number of runs to the line he crossed and the box was empty of attacking players."Pools possibly played their best home game in a long time and thoroughly deserved the three points"

Aussie had a good game and was often the last man at the back tidying up. Shrews did manage a free header that sailed over the bar, but Shrews midfield always looked dangerous going forward. Shrews were making progress down our right side as Parnaby at times looked jaded or lazy and drifted into the middle leaving the flank open. Ned made a couple of good saves as Shrews came into the game a bit more near the end of the half. Parnaby was out of sorts and after stretching out for a tackle looked to go off with a hamstring injury.

Ned was in action again as he pushed one shot away then the big forward Vernon tried to lob him from inside his box but he was alert to it. After the break once again Brobbel made a great run into the box and should have had a penalty after being floored but the man in black saw nothing. Compton made another great run down the line and hit a great cross but both Wyke and Brobbel were inches short of connecting with the ball.

The big number two was now pushed out wide and even managed to dummy himself as he went down the line giving the ball to Compton who again managed to get his cross in but the ball was cleared. There seemed to be a bit of a tete a tete at the Rink end that the ref took a couple of chances to sort out before booking Harrison. Compton was the instigator of Pools' second goal as he robbed his marker and hit a low ball across the box that Walker connected with, and as he raced in, lifted the ball over the on-coming keeper.

Ned was hit with a hard-driven ball close in that rattled him a little but he managed to make the save. Late in the game the man in black once again bottled it as Brobbel was brought down in front of the Town End on the penalty spot, and with him being twenty five yards behind the play did nothing and he was in line with the tackle, but obviously short sighted.

Two nil it was and at the end you cannot argue with the facts. Pools possibly played their best home game in a long time and thoroughly deserved the three points against a dangerous side. Shrews made us work hard for this victory, which makes it all the sweeter. This was probably the best set up team Cooper has put out, whether it was by good luck or good management only time will tell. Today as I said earlier we looked like a team. No more square pegs in round holes as the proof was there today.

Some good individual performances today. Walker, and Wyke both scoring, and Franks, Man of the Mach. After the game I spoke to a couple of Shrews fans who both had differing expectations, One had been before when Shrews had won 3-0, and expected to get beat. The other fan had not been before and on current form expected a win. I of course always expect a win.





MB132 - September 2014





It's Going to Be a Long, Cold Winter!!


GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY looks at things


As I write, its played five - won one and lost four. Hardly a good start to the season and its one which hardly inspires confidence. 

I did think that as Bury had lost their opening home game we might see Pools overcome them in our first opener. The sad fact is that Bury played us off the park and David Flitcroft seems to have brought together a useful side on limited resources. As I saw it, Bury employed three basic principles:

1. That players move quickly into space.

2. That the most effective way to start off attacks is to pass the ball along the ground to one of the players in space.

3. That the opponents' goal is in front of you.

Pools, I’m sorry to say, rarely did any of those things and were taught a sharp lesson. How often was the ball hoofed out of defence/midfield - only to land at the feet of a Bury defender - and so Bury were able to build up another attack and so put the defence under pressure again. The way things are going the Vanarama Conference beckons and a quick look at the table reveals its not an easy league to get out of. It took York, Luton and Oxford a few years to re-establish their league status and the current league indicates a number of clubs who have been relegated from the Football League - for example, Bristol Rovers (who haven’t set the league alight), Grimsby, Wrexham, Lincoln and Torquay - to name but a few.

What even makes it worse is the transfer of Luke James to Peterborough. I find it incredible that we should lose two players - Jack Baldwin and Luke James - on the last days of transfer windows . OK, I don’t blame the two players for wanting to better themselves but there’s something wrong somewhere. The transfer of Luke James means that we now have no way of signing replacements on a permanent basis and are having to rely on loan signings who might not fit the bill. It means now that we have no recognised goal scorer and it's difficult to see where goals are going to come from. "The way things are going the Vanarama Conference beckons and a quick look at the table reveals its not an easy league to get out of."

I don’t think there’s ever been so much pessimism around and I suppose we have to aim any criticisms at performances on the field and off it as well. By a quirk of our holiday arrangements and the Football League fixture list I’m going to miss the two home games against Shrewsbury and Tranmere. I’ll be keeping in touch with events but I’m not optimistic. I’ve always been one for saying ‘Keep the Faith’ but find it difficult to do so now.

One of the options that Colin Cooper looked at was obtaining the services again of Christian Burgess on loan from Middlesbrough. However, any such possibilities came to nought as Burgess was signed initially on loan by Peterborough and then signed permanently on a four year contract. Despite the disappointment, it was nice to see Christian Burgess acknowledge his season long loan at Pools. Speaking to the Peterborough Telegraph, he said, “The season I spent at Hartlepool was crucial in my development. The Football League is so different to the development football I was used to playing. It was a great experience and I enjoyed playing alongside Jack (Baldwin) as we were both learning the game. I needed to learn a few tricks of the trade” Who knows, but for Christian Burgess we might be in the Conference now. Best of luck -you could be in the Championship next season.

One of the issues that has recently been raised is the question of bringing back standing areas in the Premier League and Championship. Apparently, this came about because of a commitment by the Liberal Democrats to include something in their 2015 general election manifesto. Although the re-introduction of standing areas might bring down prices for punters it's something which needs to be very carefully thought out. Personally, I’d be against any such move - seating areas are easier to steward and, of course, safer. The only time I go in the Town End is for Johnstone’s Paint Trophy matches, and you’ve got plenty of room to move around. The Hillsborough disaster must always been in our minds and it’s the memory of this that would make me nervous of any changes. Let’s hope the Premier League and Football League stick to the status quo.

Turning away from Pools - how about our former manager, John Hughes? As I write, his club, Inverness Caledonian Thistle, sit proudly at the top of the Scottish Premier League. Although Celtic will no doubt win the SPL again, it’s a credit to the club and they may well be knocking at the European door next season.







Funny Old Game






GCSE exam paper


(examination paper kindly supplied by KT POOLIE) 


 





Funny Old Game





Hopeless and Helpless


WAGGA MOON sees no rosy picture


Disappointing start to the campaign compounded by the deadline day sale of Luke James leaves Pools in touch with the bottom four and a complete shambles on and off the pitch.
 
Selling one promising youngster on deadline day in January is one thing but doing the very same thing in September is another. And in neither case is a replacement signed. And this from a chairman/owner who claims he likes to to things the proper (professional) way it shows he is not fit for purpose. 

I think rookie manager Colin Cooper has shown he is not up to the job whith his odd team selections and poor substitutions. With a record of 6 wins in 26 games his record is far worse than his predecessors and in a lower league. John Hughes is making Hodcroft's decision not to renew his contract a very poor one. He has taken his new team Inverness Caledonian to the top of the Scottish Premiership. Just imagine what he could have achieved here if had been given some backing and funds for players. Or even if the Chief Executive would have spoken to him. And this is the guy who said the Scot was always our first choice for the job. Yeah, pull the other one."John Hughes is making Hodcroft's decision not to renew his contract a very poor one. He has taken his new team Inverness Caledonian to the top of the Scottish Premiership."

While Cooper relies on his old Boro acquaintances and young loan signings it seems the players he has brought in are worse than those we released. I am especially glad I waited to see who he brought in before I purchased a season ticket. Needless to say observing the dross heading our way I kept my money in my pocket. 

Stiil I am sure Hodcroft's idea of charging up to £25 on the day will be a great success. Give us a bad name with away supporters though and one day we might get all four sides of the crowd shouting "Hodcroft Out." 

I don't know who Cooper thinks is going to score goals now James has gone but if Charlie Wyke is meant to be his replacement I think we will wait a long time before the goals flow. He will work hard but will never be a natural goal scorer. 

Although Cooper deserves the sack, and will get it before Christmas, the man who should go will still be there taking his time in picking a new manager while pondering the picture of Alan Shearer in the club lounge. What the hell is that all about? 

Before Cooper goes I would like him to explain what were the thoughts behind signing Stewart Parnaby in the summer, apart from him being a former Borer player. Parnaby is a good journeyman defender having played right back and centre back most of his career. So what position was he going to employ at Pools? Right midfield, centre midfield and right wing he has had a go at. When he joined he was the fourth right back on the club's books alongside Michael Duckworth, Neil Austin and Jordan Richards. 

The striker position which has been our main concern for a couple of years was not sorted out and indeed going into the first game it looked like we might not have enough players to fill all the subs positions.
 
Of course then Andy Rafferty left in mysterious circumstances. Hodcroft saying he was looking for non-football employment with Rafferty refuting this and saying he was actively looking for a new club. Who is kidding who? We have a kid from Sunderland on loan and a kid from the youth team at present. An injury to Flapper Flinders, which some might say would be a good thing, would leave us up another creek without a paddle. 

I have seen some poor teams in the many years I have been watching Pools but this lot are up there with the worst of them. And to make things worse, a few of them appear to be gutless AND useless.
I think Bobby Moncur's reign was probably worse till Sir Cyril Knowles came in and turned a bunch of non-achievers into a promotion outfit. That is the sort of character we need here now, someone who has been around the block a few times and knows the lower league,s but would such a person come and work under Hodcroft? I very much doubt it.




Pools Match Predictor

KT POOLIE reveals his amazing chart


This chart was held over from last month. If the lettering's too small to read on your screen, you can also download it from here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/238731570/Match-Predictor







Funny Old Game





Crest of a Knave


BILLY'S CONTRACT discusses club badges


I read with interest that ahead of their move to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park (The Olympic Stadium to you and me mate) that the directors of West Ham United polled their supporters with a view to having the club badge updated. Turns out the Hammers fans were in favour of such a move, after all it was ten years since the badge had been previously revamped.

I must admit that, along with Liverpool, Tottenham and a few others, West Ham's current crest is one of my favourites in league football, particularly as it is a history lesson in itself. 

The castle on the crest represents that of the Boleyn family, which was said to be sited near Green Street, down the road from Upton Park.

Legend has it that King Henry VIII came a-courting here when he fell head over heels in love and lost his head to one of the Boleyn girls called Anne. She in turn later lost her head through Henry.
The two crossed hammers on West Ham's crest represent the Thames Ironworks ship builders, who formed a football club that later became West Ham United. This is how the club derived their nickname 'The Hammers'. However,more traditional West Ham fans prefer the moniker of 'The Irons'.
"Newcastle United: Would feature a clown's car. Along with a smoking gun pointing at a foot."
Heres another history lesson. The Thames Ironworks Company were the manufacturers of no less a vessel than HMS Warrior, which, as all 'Poolies know, was taken to Hartlepool (pre-Marina days) for remedial repairs against the owners' snagging list due to faulty workmanship by the East London shipbuilder.

West Ham's new club crest has been unveiled, showing two heavy-duty crossed hammers.
The castle along with Anne Boleyn has been axed. Above the crossed hammers is the club name and underneath is the word 'London'. The word London has been included as a marketing exercise as London at this moment in time is 'The City' to do business in. Goodness knows how much West Ham paid the consultants to carry out this re-branding exercise.

Another poll was carried out amongst the West Ham faithful asking what they thought of the new crest. I think 53% of fans said that they liked it, which obviously means that 47% did not!

I am sure that when you study the origins of most football club logos, with the obvious exception of MK Dons, they all have some connection with the past or their Town/City heritage. If you think I am joking have a look at Accrington Stanley's club badge. There is even a playing card in it. What's that all about?

Many clubs in recent years have changed their logos albeit subtly, take Everton and Arsenal. Others have gone the other way. Look at Bolton's logo. Looks like an advert for a company supplying party balloons for hen nights.

Fulham's is a bit scary, a cross between what the military were wearing in Germany 1939-45, and George Orwell's 1984.

Why am I banging on about football club logos? I think is about high time that Hartlepool United looked at changing our current crest. Indeed they have made some slight alterations to the original ship's wheel by dropping that awful tag line "The Towns' Club", which in itself is a starting point.

Why should we change the existing badge?

1) It is Bloody Awful
2) I hate football club badges that have ...a football in them, though I have to admit Man U do it very tastefully.
3) The current Pools logo looks like a child designed it. Oh, I have just been informed, through my ear piece, that a child did in fact design it. Nuf said.

I think the club should hold a competition for the fans to come up with a design for a new image to represent Hartlepool United, If nothing else this would avoid paying mouth-watering fees to consultants for the privilege.

I have three preferences:

1) A gadgie wearing a 'Pools top, fishing from the Pilot Pier, reeling in a bike wheel/supermarket trolley from the North Sea. Our 'Chorber' would have a tab in his mouth, preferably a 'rollie' and a tin of Hansa lager beer resting on the pier wall. In the background, or should I say the backwater of this idyllic scene, a dredger doing what it does best.
Space permitting I would also include Verrills chippie in this montage, with the words "Closed all day Saturday and every weekday lunchtime."

2) A bus driving by itself. This would be an old Blue Hartlepool Corporation AEC double decker blasting through Throston Bridge on its way to 'West'.

3) My own personal preference would be to re-introduce the crest that Garry Gibson had designed. Hart /Stag rampant with the letter H in the background. (You could say that that was A Crest of a Knave!)

In fact I have decided that I am going to offer my club badge rebranding services to other football clubs. So far my portfolio includes:

Newcastle United: Would feature a clown's car. Along with a smoking gun pointing at a foot.

Darlow: Would show two chaps on the footplate driving the Locomotion steam engine which is in the process of jumping off the rails.The destination board reads 'Oblivion'.
One chap, presumably the driver, is bravely holding one hand on the throttle and the other holding onto his Quaker's hat. The fireman is looking aghast, having one hand holding his comb-over in place and the other hand pointing at his Quaker hat which has been blown away, along with lumps of coal falling off the tender.
A logo underneath, preferably in Latin, saying: "What goes up must come down heskylators"

Boro: Would just be a rework of Edvard Munch's "The Scream"

Sunderland: Would be an image of Steve McQueen and Richard Attenborough with a tag line of "The Great Escape"

Man U: Would be a Dutch cap ...with holes in.

I could go on and on.

Do any MB readers have any ideas for Pools' or other teams' revised motifs? The editor will award a magnum of champagne for the best suggestions. 

Sorry that should read a Champagne Magnum ice cream/lolly. (Nothing to do with me - Ed.)






Funny Old Game





As I Seen It - Dagenham (h)


RUNNING MONKEY finds it worrying 


Pools 0 Dagenham 2  
League Two, 
Victoria Park, 
20th August, 2014

On a fine night for football the sun shone on Victoria Park and not surprisingly there were a few who had decided to stay away after Saturday.

The second home game would give the team and the manager the chance to make amends for that shambles. The wireless had said Marlon was dropped and Compton reinstated, a positive move I thought. As usual the wireless was only half right: Marlon was out but Compton only made the bench. Miller was out injured so Woods, the ex Chelsea /Harrogate midfielder was to start.

Things were looking up as we also won the toss and kicked up the bank for the first half. This advantage soon faded as, in their first real attack on four minutes, Ned palmed a shot into his own net. The official report will read differently, but the truth was that panic had set in. Pairs of players were passing the ball back and forward between each other, no one daring to take control.

Missed passes were abundant as we gave the ball away so much and our only progress was to go out wide then pass it back or hit another aimless long ball. It was awful and frustrating to watch a team with no apparent tactics or ability to take the game on, and we are the home team; the fans expect it.

The clouds of doom descended over the Vic as fans around me reminisced about how we compare with teams of twenty years ago.

We did win a free kick from a tackle from the out-of-sorts Walker who was suffering the same malaise of going backwards. The problem for the fans was that our tallest player was taking free kicks and not in the box waiting, as he is big enough to take on these not-too-big defenders.
"the much-maligned Simon Sideways has left us a legacy that these new Boro boys are keen to follow."
There was a train of thought, in our desperation, that Walker could do a job up front, but as his wont and his liking is for square pegs, the manager plays him on the wing. Walker did send a decent ball into Franks who, through poor execution, hit the hoarding four yards wide of goal. Walker did start pressing on his own and came close with a header, and a smart low shot that was beaten away for a corner.

Once again the midfield seemed to be on holiday, and the Ditchburn Poolie, in a rare moment of excitement, renamed our captain “Marster” I did tell him this is a family show.

Bates missed out on a tackle on the edge of our box and the attacker hit his shot over the bar. Franks did the same at the other end when it would have been easier to score. Once again as they broke, a path opened and Ned was stretching again to push a ball wide of his post. The Ditchburn suddenly has a spell of unbounded optimism, and explains that he was glad that Dagenham were keeping us in the game simply by missing all the chances they were making. The official report will call it domination, but as stated earlier, the much-maligned Simon Sideways has left us a legacy that these new Boro boys are keen to follow.

We did have one ray of sunshine break through, which proved the lino on the Millhouse side was awake, as on forty-one minutes we got our first offside decision. Still, the boos of derision brought the half to a close, and the rumour mill started. Burgess, on loan to Posh, apparently signed on loan then was given a four-year deal. Quite a combination - Burgess and Jack Baldwin, who is obviously tipping off Ferguson on our talent. Luke James was supposedly the next player on the Posh list, reportedly for one and a half million, and was to take himself off for a medical after this game. By the end of the break even the woman that fries the chips was off to Peterborough. As I am writing this on the night of the match, everything could be ok in the cold light of day, and the woman that fries the chips is only going to visit a relative in Peterborough.

Second half, and the fight back was on. Well almost, as we did start to make a little progress down the wing with Luke, but there was little help once he reached the box. Franks nicked a ball off a defender and raced for the line and tried to lay it off for Luke but - poor execution once again  - played the ball behind Luke, who was following up. Luke did have a good shot from the edge of the box that the keeper managed to get to but it was probably our best effort of the night.

It was about this time that the Ditchburn had his next big idea. Ever since he retired - I think he worked for the Exchequer - he has been determined to make even more money. So the plan this time was the “Guess the time of the opposition's second goal" game. Self-explanatory really: guess when the second goal is going to go in. So I paid my money and plumped for seventy-two minutes, the Ditchburn going for sixty-eight, We did not last that long, as on his official timing he was closer, as it went in on sixty three minutes. Dagenham doubled their lead as they raced through our defence and stroked the ball past Ned. All over bar the shouting. The second half rally was better than Saturday as we did get out of our half!

Once again there was cries of derision as Walker, moving forward to the edge of their box, had nowhere to go and laid the ball back to Master. Despite Luke Holden and Aussie pushing forward we still lacked any real threat to Dagenham. There was a good call for a handball in the box that the officials failed to see but everyone in the Town End was witness too.

There was a little spurt of pressure from Pools at the death as Compton, who looked lively when he came on, skinned his man who gave away a handball decision that was spotted outside the box, but the free kick was cleared. Aussie came close with an overhead kick but the game petered out. It was another defeat which looks ominous, considering what we have brought in and what we could lose in terms of players.

Despite the claim of a lot of possession we did little with the ball and that is worrying.








As I Seen It - Cheltenham (a)


Cheltenham Town 1Pools 0


League 2  Saturday August 30th 2014

Match report by BILL THE BIRO at Whaddon Road


A new season, a bad start, a bit of controversy with the transfer window, a surprise away win, and then my first game of the season.

I varied my usual trip to Cheltenham by using the Park and Ride rather than the increasingly more difficult search for street parking – and it was free – parking AND bus.

The Park and Ride car park is actually at one of Cheltenham's more famous locations, the Racecourse, which attracts half of Ireland's population to these parts every March. I arrived just before 2 and had done the trip in only 45 minutes -and the bus was there waiting. I expected to queue but the bus left very sparsely laden, and the driver told me the club were looking at whether to continue with it. So that'll be gone for next season then.

Arriving at the ground I looked in vain for something that was different since our last visit, so decided to walk into the town and have a pint at the Sudeley Arms, as per previous pactice. But looking through its windows there didn't seem to be any Poolies (not many people in fact) so I walked around and spotted the birthplace of Gustav Holst, composer of the well-known Planets Suite (and nothing else even moderately known). I'd been round Welsh poet Dylan Thomas's house a couple of weeks before, so having already filled my quota of celebrity house tours for August, I decided not to bother, and to go back to Whaddon Road ins>

Once in the ground, I had a £2 coffee, and reflected that a pint in the Sudeley Arms might have been better value than half a pint of coffee in the away end at Whaddon Road.

Pools were warming up as I took my seat and I noted that they were wearing blue socks and shorts, so I wouldn't be seeing the infamous pink strip, and after his recent problems, it was nice to see Luke back in the squad.

With it being my first match of the season, there were new faces to identify, although two of them were also old faces. And with Walker now rising towards Peter Crouch proportions, he seemed like an old face on a new body at first."fluorescent boots were much in evidence ...but mercifully those colour-coded pairs we saw in the World Cup would seem to be too daring for League Two."

I met up with my old pub-quiz mates, Whisky and Mick, who had organised a pub outing and brought a coachload of 25 the 15 miles from Evesham to swell the sparse Poolie ranks.

When the players lined up, fluorescent boots were much in evidence (mostly on Pools' side, with Bates, Wyke, Marlon and Tommy being the culprits) but mercifully those colour-coded pairs we saw in the World Cup would seem to be too daring for League Two.

Considering it was still only August, the pitch was surprisingly cut up in the corner near me.

The match began and it was a fairly even but scrappy affair with wingers doing nice things at times but to no effect, strikers who weren't achieving much, defences which were coping, and goalkeepers with little to do.

There was a female ref's assistant running the line near to us Poolies who, in heated moments, was being referred to as “linesman” by some Poolies - old habits die hard. And when a dubious offside decision went against Pools, the whole away end turned on the flag lady. The old “stay in the kitchen”, “shopping on Saturday afternoons”, “teach you the offside rule” taunts came out but she coped well with it all.

Marlon tried an overhead kick that wasn't too close to the target - he was actually stringing odd passes together, although they were outnumbered by the bad ones, and Wyke was trying but had little service from midfield. Towards half time Cheltenham ramped it up and it looked like the pressure might pay, with them hitting the post, but the half ended with Pools still in the game.

The second half was more like the end of the first with Pools being slightly battered, but holding on. Flinders made a few decent saves and one outstanding one, when he deflected a shot out via the crossbar.

Cheltenham ballooned a couple of chances over Pools goal, and the stand and the trees behind that. Then Marlon had a difference of opinion with the ref, costing him a booking. He was subsequently replaced by the lively Woods, who seems to me to be another “chase all day” player like Luke.

Then towards the end it was looking as though both sides would settle for a draw, which for Pools would have been a good result. Unfortunately Cheltenham spoiled things by scoring in the 90th minute with a good ball right into the top corner, which Flinders had no chance with, although he made a fair attempt. This left Cooper desperately trying to send in the cavalry, in the shape of James and Compton, to come to their rescue. Sadly, two minutes isn't a lot, even for Luke, even though he did give it a go, creating a chance that nobody took.

The players: Flinders did well and the result could have been worse with another keeper. Duckworth and Austin were both ok. Sam is still a rock, but Bates less so. Tommy was competent without creating much, and Walker seems to be continuing in the little-boy-lost mode he was in a few months back, except that he's now more a big-boy-lost.

Brobbel had a fair few good runs up the wings and was always trying, and Franks did a few less runs and was a bit more anonymous. Up front Wyke tried but needs a more industrious partner than Marlon. I'm afraid that while Marlon has undoubtedly improved in comparison to last season, he's still not very good. And as for James and Compton, they were brought on for one thing only and they failed to do it. Shocking!

When at the end the players clapped the away fans, I was looking for any signs that Luke knew he was leaving but didn't see any.

Last week at Wimbledon was a blip. Normal service was then resumed as soon as possible.





Any Other Business


MERVYN THE MONKEY mops up


Amazingly it's now ten years since Paul Mullen died. Paul was a co-founder of Monkey Business, who went on to be the club's first press officer/media manager and started their website.

Paul was extremely well thought of by everyone, as witnessed by the packed church for his funeral and the many tribute articles which flooded in for the special "Paul's World"/"Mullen Business" section we published in Monkey Business following his death.

The club have now taken this occasion to commemorate Paul by naming their pressbox in his honour, and done a nice piece about him on their website, http://www.hartlepoolunited.co.uk/news/article/040914-paul-mullen-press-box-hartlepool-united-1898564.aspx

Once again there has been a stream of comments and memories appearing in various places on the internet, and we thought it might be appropriate to reissue that tribute section to remind everyone of a true Poolie who was popular with, and trusted by all. You can read it here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/238738721/Mullen-Business

As we said at the time, thanks to all the contributors who didn’t need much asking to provide such touching pieces.



I noticed that the sign outside Cheltenham's Whaddon Road ground proudly sports the name of Mira Showers as their main sponsors.

I know that some clubs may be a bit of a shower but would they want to tempt providence by having the word on their shirts?

And that sign is reminiscent of another one a few miles away at Walsall, which carries advertising for profit rather than just being the club's welcome sign. Walsall's is similar in shape but is ginormous, so as to be visible from the elevated section of the adjacent M6, and covers a large area of the car park. However, Cheltenham's is in proportion with its genteel surroundings (the building behind is a Buddhist centre) and the sign has little impact on the car park.

Being Cheltenham, there were probably even discussions at the planning stage as to whether or not the club colour was too loud for the neighbourhood!