Showing posts from October, 2014


POOLS 1 - SHEFFIELD UTD 2   Johnstone's Paint Trophy  Tuesday 7th October 2014

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at The Vic


Arrogance or over confidence of the Young Man Clough, to name his side the day before a big game against Pools? 

My guess is he was resting his star players. As were Pools' new management combo of Collins and Kavanagh, The latter supposedly brought in to help Sam along, but not a contender for the post as it will be an outsider. Brian Laws seems to be the leading contender in the eyes of the fans I spoke to today. 

Another Pools man allegedly heading for L•••s is the Pools chief exec if you believe the gospel of the Town End Terrace grapevine. 

Flinders was given the armband tonight which meant no Master Bates, Parnaby, Holden, Walker or Harewood, all discarded for some fresh faces: Woods. Hawkins, Green and Jones, all who made a start in this game. A vociferous following for the Blades was raising the atmosphere for the game, which was needed to compensate for the low crowd. 

One blot on the landscape was the official, Mr. Boyeson, who rather plays at being the strong referee than being just a referee. As the Ditchburn Poolie said, he is either bad or bad, and today he was both. To be fair to the arrogant **** he did give us the benefit of a decision on an early fifty-fifty tackle, but that was the only one he gave us. Both the Ditchburn and I decided it was a personal thing he had towards the pair of us. 

Ned made a couple of early saves as the slick Sheffield side came at us playing some good football. Woods managed win a header in their box but only succeeded in landing the ball on top of the net. It was an end-to-end game with both teams having no luck in front of goal, but the Blades were getting more of the ball and closer with the shots. 

The Ditchburn was still counting the minutes since he had last seen a Pools goal and as he had missed the Shrews win it had been five games and twenty-three minutes. The consensus was he should go on an extended holiday as soon as possible. 
"after Saturday's dismal display this was a great performance from the team."
Wyke and Brobbel, although being the better performers on Saturday were even far better tonight, as was this Pools team. Sam Collins' selection looked a more balanced team. We made more chances in the first half than in all of the last four games and it was good to watch. Brobbel hit one from distance that the keeper blocked and he was there to pick up the clearance ball from the half way line and made a great run down the Millhouse side, cut into the box and forced a corner from the keeper. 

Sheffield made a break and scored a well-taken goal as Pools backed off and no-one got a real tackle in. Their tails were up now and they came at us again, this time Ned making a great save, diving bravely at the attacker's feet to smother the ball. Both Brobbel and Wyke went close before the break as Pools settled again. 

The Ditchburn was muttering something about four and a half games as he trudged off to the ladies again. Second half, kicking down bank, Pools looked as if their half-time drink had been Lucozade or even Tizer, as we set about the visitors. On five games and forty-nine minutes the Ditchburn was stunned into glorious silence as a rampant Duckworth hit a twenty-five yard shot that was deflected past the keeper. What a celebration for his first goal. A cartwheel and a somersault were good to see - it meant so much to the lad. 

In his next attack from the same position the roar of SHOOT SHOOOT SHOOOOT went up and he fluffed his shot. That sent cries of derision from the fans and the usual blaspheming remarks at the miss. Sheffield came at us with a vengeance and piled on the pressure, which only abated when Ned was fouled on his line during an attack. They blitzed our goal as they went for a winner and Pools made three blocks on the line in as many seconds. 

Ned made a great catch under pressure to dull the edge of the Blades play. This was followed by a good spell from Pools, attacking on both flanks and setting a little doubt in the minds of the visitors. Some of their tackles were getting a bit naughty too. Wyke was immense up front, holding the ball or laying it off for Brobbel, Duckworth or Hawkins, who made his debut really count with some great attacking play. 

Some of the through balls from Duckworth and Miller were causing the Blades a lot of problems. Hawkins on a run down the Millhouse side skinned two defenders and jinked into the box forcing another corner from the keeper. Flinders had to tip two over the top of the bar in succession as the opposition came alive again, and it was just the luck of the bounce that gave Ryce his chance to put the Blades ahead and run out two-one winners on the night. 

There was no disgrace in this defeat as the whole side contributed to the game, and after Saturday's dismal display this was a great performance from the team. 


POOLS 0 - CARLISLE 3   League 2 Saturday 4th October 2014

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at The Vic


Very little on the rumour front this week other than the club was trying to shift a Smoggie defender and a non-striking striker off the books allegedly, and Cameron’s Brewery showing interest in the club. Have we not been there? 

The Ditchburn Poolie had his lucky charm with him today, but he was a bit hesitant over today’s official. He just said he was bad, but he said that last week and he got that one wrong too. 

With four games without a goal he constantly reminded me through out the game, 4 games and seven minutes without a goal. 

Compton out for three months is a bad sign, as he and Duckworth have been the most productive players in the side. Bates made his usual gaff chasing a ball back into our box and touching it past the approaching Flinders, and of course he could not pick it up and was in no position to boot it clear. Bates then had words, shifting the blame onto Flinders as the ball went for a corner, which Aussie cleared up field. 

It was all action for Flinders as Carlisle piled on the early pressure, the keeper making a great punch clear under pressure and going down at the feet of an attacker right on his line with the forward kicking out at the ball Ned was smothering. Brave goalkeeping from the Pools stopper. Ditchburn reminds me 4,10 no goals. The visitors were really pegging us back and we once again resort to hoofing it clear and the ball coming straight back. 4,17 - no goals. 

Wyke managed to get onto a header that was close but then the Ditchburn said "4,21 - have you had your eyes tested?" just because I asked him if it was Wyke or Marlon that had had the header. Ok, it should have been obvious but because I left my specs at home I only saw a melee of players and it could have been either as they stood together. 

The game was getting niggly, especially at dead ball situations, with some of the Carlisle players throwing their weight around in the line up and some underhand tactics being shown by them. Harrison made a good clearing header. 4,31 - no goals. "You have to give credit to Cooper for resigning and not clinging on when he knew the game was up."

Marlon managed a shot over the bar but it was all Carlisle, who were playing the better football. A foul in our box laid out Aussie and the actions of the ref demonstrated that the attacking player that hit him was looking the other way. So now you can take out a player and use the excuse you were not looking at him and get off scot-free. Looking or not, it was a take out and he got away with it. 

"4,48 and no goals" was the half time comment from the Ditchburn, who went off to the ladies toilets to cheer himself up. Don’t ask, I do not want to know. Some hard comments from the fans at half time and you have to agree. The manager has lost his way and in truth did that when Hignett left, and Cooper has never recovered. His hands are tied you might say but the previous Cooper and John Hughes all operated under the same restrictions and did a better job. 

In my humble opinion, and I do not like to see anyone lose their job, but it looks as if Colin Cooper's first managerial journey was a step too far. What would he have known of lower league football? It was obvious he was looking around at his old friends who, to put it bluntly, let him down in his hour of need. 

Fans are fickle but when you hear a dyed-in-the-wool Poolie say "I shouldn't have come to this game, I had some paint to watch drying" you know it is bad. Ever the optimists, we knew, like last week, we could turn this around.

Kicking down bank the second half, a good rollicking from the boss at half time and we would stuff this team bottom of the league, everyone else has. Franks was off the bench warming up and came on for Holden who was not at his best today. I consider this another black mark against the manager, who time and time again has played some players out of position. Maybe to accommodate others but when you have a winger sitting on the bench and you play a full back on the wing then fans will question your judgement. 

Carlisle came out of the blocks meaning business as a screamer shot wide and Ned made a great block from a close range shot. Desperate play by Pools was making things easy for the visitors who were now full of confidence. Marlon, who was fired up at times, won a ball and set up an incoming Franks whose drive was blocked. 4,53 and we see a goal but not for Pools as poor defending at the corner and a scrappy goal sealed our fate. 

One Carlisle idiot was ejected for coming onto the pitch to celebrate their goal. I suppose the Ditchburn would feel the same way had we scored one. 4:64 no goals. The official site will say for all the decent approach play Pools had little to show for it. Aimless football to the edge of the opposition box time after time is just not good enough no matter how you serve it up. Brobbel, who was one of the more capable players today was making searching runs but no one was in there to attack his crosses. The comment behind me asking if this team actually trained together was spot on. 

Duckworth and Aussie were amongst our better performers today as was Flinders, who kept the tally down to three. Wyke and Harrison did well and the comment from the Ditchburn was how could teams allow the loan players to stay at this club when they must be suffering just the same trauma as the fans. 

A sad day in the history of this club when the bottom team come and play like they did and we had little to offer in return. 

You have to give credit to Cooper for resigning and not clinging on when he knew the game was up.

MB133 - October 2014

No Strikes and We Will Be Down

GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY on the lack of goals

The game against Portsmouth gave out some encouraging signs. Although, we failed to score we kept a clean sheet and, after recent games, this was a plus. The defence certainly held firm and Bates and Harrison more than dealt with the Pompey attack without too many problems.

The problem is, of course, the lack of goals and although Colin Cooper assures us he’s trying his hardest to solve the problem, you’re not going to get proven strikers. They’ll simply go elsewhere for more money. Are we being too restrictive in tapping the loan market? The evidence would seem to suggest that we are - Middlesbrough and Sunderland cannot solve our problems every time. Certainly, when Danny Wilson and Chris Turner were in charge, we seemed to be able to go outside the North East for players. Why aren’t we doing the same this time? In September’s issue of MB I took a despondent line - nothing has happened to change my mind."In September’s issue of MB I took a despondent line - nothing has happened to change my mind"

I have a very radical solution which will be very unpopular in many quarters. The Sheffield United and Wales striker, Ched Evans, leaves prison this month and there has been much opposition to him returning to Sheffield United. An online petition against him returning has attracted over 65,000 signatures. His conviction for rape resulted in a prison sentence - he’s served his punishment and now seeks a way back into the game. A low key return would be more preferable and, in this, Pools might help by taking him on loan. There have, of course, been a number of cases where players have been released from prison - Lee Hughes and Luke McCormick being examples. Evans’s family are mounting a further appeal against his conviction and have, quite rightly said that if he’d been in any other occupation there’d be no problem. His standing as a professional footballer makes things difficult - hence a more low key return would be beneficial. In previous editions of Monkey Business I’ve stated that Hughes and McCormick have served their punishments and its time to move on. Maybe that should be the case with Ched Evans. As I’ve said, very radical!

Talking of the Portsmouth game, it was a tribute to the 501 Pompey fans who made the journey up to Pools. Working it out, they put over £12,000 into Pools' coffers - very much appreciated. They certainly made plenty of noise and its just the same further down the coast where, I recall, Southampton brought a similar number with them on a Tuesday night. It must be one of the few occasions when Poolies have applauded the visitors’ supporters.

Elsewhere, I was somewhat amused at the idea that Chelsea might ’borrow’ Twickenham for their home matches when Stamford Bridge is extended. The situation is that the RFU would need to get a special licence to stage a footy match and you can bet your life there will be fun and games - as well as a good pay day for lawyers. Some years ago, when a Spurs v Arsenal FA Cup semi final had to be played at Old Trafford, it was suggested that the game be played at Twickenham. “They have a very determined and vociferous residents’ association in Twickenham” was the response. I shall follow developments with interest.

George and Vera

Episodes of TV detective shows "Vera" and "Inspector George Gently" are both being filmed on the Headland at the same time.

Drawing a Blank

WAGGA MOON wants a goal

All we are saying is give us a goal. Another blank last Saturday and the present set of forwards look incapable of doing the business in front of goal. 

That was a really smart decision to sell our top scorer without signing a replacement for him. Indeed Jon Franks looks as likely to score a goal anytime soon as I do, and I stand on the Mill House Terrace. I am sure Colin Cooper has some master plan to get us out of this mess but it does not look like it to most long-suffering supporters.

It has been said the club has joined a messageboard for divine intervention. That is a very strange decision as the said messageboard has more numbskulls congregated in one place at one time than anywhere else in the country. The thought of asking Colonel Chip for advice on football is as ludicrous as going to Gary Glitter for advice on how to run the Rotherham children's homes.
Not so much a Chip off the old block as a Chip off the butcher's block.

A couple of bright sparks even dreamed up a protest idea at the ground involving tennis balls. As if they don't spout enough balls with each post they dream up! They should have been sent behind the stand and made to stay there!"What sort of club would sell their star player on transfer deadline day without having a replacement signed up? ...we did, TWICE in one year"

That is why it is so great to be a Poolie. Even in desperate times on the pitch with the club sinking to a new low there are always a few halfwits to give you a laugh however unwittingly. If they were a bunch of teenagers they could be forgiven for such nonsense but they are mostly twisted old gadgees who should know better. Half of them don't even go to matches yet come out with chapter and verse of what is wrong with the club.

Getting back to normality it seems we are staying with the current managerial duo for the current time although with the current crop of results they must be on borrowed time. It would be interesting to see who Ken would turn to as a caretaker if he swung his axe. Sam Collins or Tommy Miller. My money would be on the latter who I believe has done a spell at Swindon and has an allegiance to the Pools.

There are a number of experienced managers out there looking for work. Micky Adams, Mark Robins, Dave Jones, Brian McDermott, Ronnie Moore, Tony Mowbray and Paul Sturrock are all men who have the experience we are going to need to get out of the mess we are in. It is all well and good giving youth team coaches a break but when your Football League position is in danger you need someone who has been there and done it.

Of course there would be a few who would not work with our owner. And as football men why would they? What sort of club would sell their star player on transfer deadline day without having a replacement signed up? A Northern League club would not think of doing this. Yet we did, TWICE in one year.

If Ken Hodcroft were to write a book on How Not To Run a Football Club it would be a best seller. And this from someone whose favourite sayings are "Do Not Embarrass the Club" and "Do Not Get Relegated" which he does not appear to rely on anymore.

This is the man who for the last four years has been slagging off clubs for overuse of the loan market, Yeovil in particular, who made the Championship with this method, yet has sanctioned six loan signings before the end of September. Any hopes we ever had of reaching the Championship have gone as long as this lot continue to hang on but not invest.

It is a pity our manager hasn't grasped the fact we are desperate for a goal scorer as he has only signed one striker out of his loan men.

The latest is another defender (yes, we really need one of them, Colin) from his favourite football club, Middlesbrough. Any chance of setting your sights a little higher or farther afield, Colin. If you hadn't noticed we are perilously close to the Conference and defeats to Carlisle and Exeter would see us bottom of the table.

Funny Old Game

What We Did on Our Holidays

ALAN ESSEX comes north

With a nod towards Fairport Convention’s second album, the first to feature Sandy Denny, my better half Maureen and I decided to have a long weekend in an exotic location. We had originally booked to stay in Seaton Carew the weekend before the Portsmouth game - madness, I know, with no game on - but it was the only date we could do. 

As luck would have it a gig (‘Enemy of the Lion’ for anyone interested) got cancelled due to the venue closing, our reputation preceding us – they usually close after we’ve played – meaning we were able to re-arrange the visit.

The journey up was slow and gruelling – accidents, roadworks, volume of traffic, speed restrictions, lorries in the fast lane on uphill stretches of the roads, alien abductions, zombie uprisings, road blockades at Peterborough checking for Hartlepool United players, road blockades at Middlesbrough asking if we’d like a fringe player on the cheap – you name it, it was there.

Phil Dunn with a couple of other Passion Killers
We were booked into the Marine Hotel in Sunny Seaton Carew and it was actually sunny and warm the whole time we were there. On arriving we saw that a band was due to play in the bar that evening, the band being ‘The Passion Killers’, yes Phil Dunn’s band. So that was an early and pleasant surprise.

Paul Staff and me
After a meal we wandered through to see where the band would be playing and met Phil lugging in some band equipment. After the initial greetings he said “I’ve got someone for you to meet.” He then introduced me to Paul Staff. Paul was there with his wife and we sat down and had a chat, expecting to leave them in peace after a short while. Anyway after 4 hours we were still chatting about football, music and other miscellany. He and his wife are a really lovely couple and Maureen & I had a great time in their company. He regaled us with anecdotes of his time with Pools in the 80s and also his time at Aldershot, where he was transferred. 

Paul with his lovely wife
He didn’t mention it but I know that at Aldershot his goal ratio was a goal every three games, oh how we could do with the likes of that at the present time, or in fact at any time. Paul is also a natural at story telling with passion and wit that would grace any ‘Sports’ dinners, presentation nights or fund raisers. He speaks with great fondness of his time at Pools and of fellow players, management and owners. This is not something he does but believe you me he is a natural. For those interested Paul now works in a hospital in Durham.

On Saturday morning we walked along the front at Seaton and then went to the Headland and walked around there for a couple of hours. The weather being truly wonderful was an added bonus and the place really looked splendid.

So to the afternoon and I was sure my good weekend so far was going to be ruined by Pools. I’d arranged to meet Running Monkey and watched the game with him and The Ditchburn Poolie. I was also introduced to a whole host of other MB contributors and Pools sympathisers, putting a face to this magazine's aliases. The general consensus was that we were in for a defeat.

I’d not met The Ditchburn before and his dry wit and encyclopaedic knowledge of referees did nothing to add to my fast-fading and misplaced optimism. He informed me that this was the referee that had sent off Flinders early on in the cup tie against Stevenage and that we’d never won in the 5 games he’s officiated, to which Running Monkey rapidly responded "could be said about the majority of referees."

This was my first time in the Town End since 13th May 2000 and it was not as crowded as that day (versus Darlo in the play-offs). Portsmouth had a few players I’d heard of and seen before, Joe Devera, a competent central defender who’d played for Barnet and Swindon, Paul Jones, a goalkeeper who I’ve seen play for Leyton Orient and who had recently been with Crawley Town, Andy Barcham who had been Scunthorpe’s leading goalscorer in the 2012-13 season, Craig Westcarr, who finished last season as Walsall’s leading goalscorer, Patrick Agyemang, who in 2005/6 was Preston North End's second highest scorer. Also they have David Connolly – 187 goals in 485 games, and he wasn’t even in their squad. I was fearing the worst."The journey up was slow and gruelling – accidents, roadworks, ...road blockades at Peterborough checking for Hartlepool United players"

Portsmouth started off quite promisingly (for them that is) stringing together some good passes but a lack of accurate finishing and sound Pools defending kept the game level. Pools too had a few long range efforts and these were blocked by the packed Pompey defence. Harrison and Bates were looking safe in the centre of defence with Austin and Duckworth providing strength defending the wings. Duckworth was having an especially good game defending and supporting the midfield even having a good effort blocked. Just before half time Compton who had been having a quiet game was injured and replaced by Holden who took up Compton’s role on the left side of midfield / left wing.

The second half continued with the balance of play switching between the sides, scrappy at times. Wyke was playing very well but definitely needs someone else to help him in an attacking role. For a while he was back defending which meant our chances of getting the ball into their half, let alone a chance on goal, was minimal. Franks was too easily pushed off the ball and beaten in the tackle. This was not one of his better days. Both sides had half chances but again they were either saved, off target or blocked. Harewood replaced Franks with a quarter of an hour left but by then both teams were settling for the draw.

A fair result with the Pools defence having a good game, the midfield was okay and Wyke good up front and in defence. My man of the match would be Michael Duckworth, closely followed by Charlie Wyke. The official sponsors chose Tommy Miller who did have a good, steady game. I cannot help but think what a difference a player like Roy O’Donovan would make playing alongside Wyke. O’Donovan now plays for DPMM in Brunei and we probably couldn’t afford him (or even his fare back to the UK).

Me with prospective new
Pools manager
I have to mention that at 19 minutes 08 seconds there was a mini revolt when a small number of supporters showing their displeasure with the management and ownership of the club walked out for 10 minutes. Not many people involved but I know some of them and they are true and passionate supporters of the club which shows the level of frustration that many have with our current position.

After the match we went for tea with the wife of an ex-director from the Vince Barker era. More reminiscing and talking over current local news. A great end to a wonderful couple of days. And we avoided defeat.


Back to the Future

BILL THE BIRO wonders where it will all end

I was reading the other day about the fall in attendances at lower-league clubs. Across the board they are losing out to televised football.

Virgin is asking the government to investigate the television rights market in football, but really all it's saying is "we want a slice of the action". The Premiership does its own thing, makes its millions in collusion with television, and the rest of the world has to just get on with it as best it can.

How can the likes of Pools compete when fans are faced with a choice of watching Lionel Messi for free in a warm pub, or standing in a freezing ground watching dross - and paying £20 for the privilege? What attraction is there for youngsters to start supporting Pools? A few diehard Poolies brainwashing their offspring may help, but won't stem the tide. Eventually as the old Pools and Scunthorpe fans pop their clogs, there won't be anyone to replace them, and their clubs will simply die through lack of support.

Meanwhile, at the other end of the football world, I can't see the powers that be, the TV companies, being content to show the likes of Swansea playing Stoke. The European Super League and then the World Super League will surely at some point replace the Premiership. There may then be a market for a Premiership leftovers / Championship League, but by then the trapdoor between them will have been closed."A few diehard Poolies brainwashing their offspring may help, but won't stem the tide"

So I was wondering if that really is the fate of many old clubs. Could Darlo for instance, be trendsetters for the future. Will that future be much slimmed-down but famous clubs playing in very regional leagues? That could take us back to the future, full circle, back a century to the old North Eastern League, where Pools and Darlo came from.

It could be that football eventually splits into two different sports. One is a game played on recs, in schools, and by local teams in local leagues in small stadiums, while the other is the television version, completely separate, watched in the pub unless you're a rich millionaire in Madrid or Manchester who can actually afford to watch it live through the window of your hospitality box.

Of course, that parting of the football ways may lead to new generations of fans evolving who don't regard watching football as an outdoor experience at all, but a flat-screen experience inside a warm room. The idea of standing on a terrace for two hours in January will then be looked on as bizarre, a bit like those old Cadbury's Smash ads from years ago when the spacemen laughed at people on earth who peeled potatoes.

And then, as with Rugby Union and Rugby League, in time the TV version would be able to change the rules, to eliminate for example the unacceptable problem of 45 minutes of television without any adverts.

It may even be that the recent phenomenon of showing live events at cinemas, such as operas, stage plays and concerts - the recent Monty Python show being one - may give an opportunity for making yet more money out of football by taking it away from pubs and into cinemas.

Who knows what will really happen? But whatever it is, I don't think it will end happily for the likes of Pools, certainly for Pools as we know it. Greg Dyke's ideas on Premiership reserve leagues may have not gone down well in 2014, but I fear that they were just the first shots in a long campaign with an inevitable result.

As I Seen It - Pompey (h)

RUNNING MONKEY sees a good point earned 

Pools 0 Portsmouth 0  
League Two, 
Victoria Park, 
27th September, 2014

As usual there were rumours flying all over the Vic before the game today against The Peoples republic of? I guess it was Pompey or even Portsmouth but I couldn't see the bottom of the flag hanging in the Rink End. 

Another rumour, untrue, was that the Mail was once again banned from the Vic over an article asking in Darlo parlance "Where has all the money gone?” An obvious reference to the transfer loot coined in recently by the club. A topic for discussion was the statement by the manager that he has money to spend. The cynic would say "Money to spend when the transfer window is closed?" Will he still have money to spend in January?

Some of the even more cynical would say "Would you trust the incumbent with any money to spend?" He has up to now had a tendency to spend it on old friends. To be fair to the owners, whoever they are these days, as a seasoned Poolie at half time mentioned, the players brought in still have to be paid and still sometimes command a signing on fee, so the critics of the owners need to take heed. Rather than condemn, yes we could change the manager tomorrow but to lose the owners would be a different matter. Would fans really like to see the owners pack their bags? I think not, so be careful, as you might just get what you wish for.

Another rumour was that a winger who is a target for the club had moved into the transfer suite at the Staincliffe. After checking this through a reliable Southern contact it turns out it was none other than ex-Poolie Paul Staff. I discovered that another Poolie legend was also ensconced in the Staincliffe with a bird, This was the MB muso legend that I had the pleasure of spending the afternoon at the Vic with was none other than “Mr. Alan Essex”, A change from my usual company of the Ditchburn Poolie, who had ditched his lucky charm cousin Keith and kitted himself out with a swordstick. Dirty Dick comes to mind. The Ditchburn was claiming an injured ankle but my guess was he had had his collar felt by the DHSS and was covering all bases for his claim.

The Ditchburn gave us his usual s.p. on the official today and informed us he was rubbish, had a life long hatred of Pools fans and was the man who had sent off Flinders on his last visit, ten minutes into the game, so a real nasty piece of work. It turned out the ref was a perfect gent and handled the game very well.

Another rumour, seems like they were never-ending, was that there was to be a 1908 protest. The plan was that when the scoreboard clock moved on to 19:08 there would be a mass walk-out and the fans would congregate behind the stands. Sorry but it looked more like a early trip to the bogs, I suppose it was a safer bet than throwing tennis balls onto the pitch during the game which would have brought trouble to the club.

So finally on to the game itself. It looks as if most fans were expecting a roasting from the visitors and the early moves in the game suggested just that. They were a slick outfit - very fast on the break and attacked in numbers creating chances with some excellent football. They had one thing in common with the home side; they couldn't shoot for toffee. We could have been three down at half time and not complained as they were all over us. I suppose to a northern lad like me you would expect some southern softies to have GOBSHITE emblazoned across their chest but it was only when I put my specs on the right way up it was all clear and the word was “JOBSITE." Another loss of the toss meant again we were going to kick up the bank the second half."They had one thing in common with the home side; they couldn't shoot for toffee."

The visitors certainly looked a class side, I looked at the clock and it was about eight minutes before we even got a kick of the ball. That was a shot over by super Tom. Master Bates made a great tackle in our box to thwart the onslaught. Some good play between Brobbel and Wyke looked promising but we were always stalled in our progress by some good defensive work on the edge of their box. We were soon put on the back foot by some very good football and Ned made some great saves to keep us in the game when we were under a lot of pressure.

The Ditchburn grudgingly conceded that despite the lump on his head this lad Brobbel is a good player. This was a reference to the haircut the lad has, it makes him look like a samurai warrior with a topknot. You have to excuse the Ditchburn who sports a Beatle hair cut, which he claims is all the rage in his neck of the woods.

Just about the time of the 1908 protest the ref did produce a card when Compton was wrestled to the ground after skinning the full back. Pools were starting to play a bit despite the continuing pressure, possibly realising the opposition could not find their target. It was good to see some excellent stuff from Pools. Walker hit a low shot just wide and a great run down the Mill House side by Brobbel was spoiled by a poor shot.

Despite being under pressure for a lot of the time we held our ground and looked to be coming back into the game as half-time approached. Both Wyke and Brobbel had shots blocked in the same attack just before the whistle.

Pools had to be better in the second half and they looked like they meant business, spirits obviously lifted by the poor finishing of the visitors but they always looked more likely to score.

Flinders certainly saved the day when he blocked a close in effort from Portsmouth. Wyke latched onto a Walker cross but could only head wide. Pools looked the more likely to score in the dying minutes as they piled on the pressure as the visitors tired. No wonder, because they had run at us continuously for most of the game.

A good defensive display with no obvious calamities but again we lack the killer touch. At one point our striker Wyke was making a last-gasp tackle in our own box as we were pushed back by a slick Portsmouth side.

A good point at the end of the day.

Any Other Business


Pools went to Northampton. Charlie Wyke scored early, then got carried off with concussion and Northampton won 5-1. A game of men versus boys. 

Northampton were bigger, stronger, more creative and more determined. Which may also summarise the two clubs in a different way. Because while both clubs play in the same division, in similar-sized towns, at council-owned grounds, only one seems to be going places. And that one is, despite council cuts and financial fair play rules, building a new grandstand, plus a conference centre, hotel and residential development around it, and all with council cooperation. Meanwhile Pools, having probably lost any chance, whoever owns the ground, of doing something similar at the Vic, soldier on looking more like the Conference club that they seem likely to become next season.

Sixfields, which was quite smart already, with the frame of the new grandstand showing some ambition

Next we have reminder of another stand, perhaps not a grandstand, from the good old days when Pools used to play once a year at Darlington's old ground, Feethams, before George Reynolds waved his magic wand to eventually turn them into a pub team.

And what has this manky old building got to do with Darlo? Well, not only is this a tin shed by nature, it's also a Tin Shed by name, as was the away end at Feethams.

This Tin Shed is actually a museum of First and Second World War memorabilia, located somewhat oddly in Laugharne (pronounced Larne), the picturesque Welsh village, overlooking a sea inlet, where the famous Welsh poet Dylan Thomas spent his last few years, much of that time in the bar at Brown's Hotel. The latter fact probably hastened his early death, and he now lies in the churchyard not far from the Tin Shed. This month is the centenary of his birth.

The Tin Shed at Laugharne

Now we can move smoothly on from a shedful of First and Second World War memorabilia to something also having connections to the First World War - and to yet another grandstand. 

Bombarded CD Cover image
image derived from a photo by permission of the Culture 
and Information Service of Hartlepool Borough Council
Poolies with long memories may remember that Monkey Business editor Lol Moran was the lead singer for The Hartlepool Monkey Song, which was part of the Pools fans' Monkeyhangerz single that got into the BBC singles chart in 2005.

Well, he's been a bit busy lately writing and recording a new album of 15 serious and humorous songs about the Hartlepools in the First World War. They are mostly concerned with the 1914 German naval Bombardment (the centenary of which will be in mid-December), but one song which may be of special interest to Poolies is entitled The Kaiser Demolished Our Grandstand. You can find out more on Lol's website,

All proceeds of the album will be going to the Heugh Battery Museum on the Headland, from where you can buy a CD at only £3.00 from October 9th (it's across the road from the lighthouse, and is open Thursday to Sunday, 10am until 4pm.)