Showing posts from January, 2015

As I Seen It - Cheltenham Town (h)


POOLS 2 - CHELTENHAM TOWN 0   League Two  Saturday 10th January 2015

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at The Vic


After my last report I was pleased to see the manager tell the fans prior to this game that the team owed the fans a result.

After five games in charge his record is what you might call excellent compared to the early season of Cooper, and to a lesser extent Murray. ONE WIN, TWO DRAWS AND TWO LOSSES. 

Yet it seems as if he has been here a lot longer. I can only surmise that after the last home game when I lambasted everyone connected with H.U.F.C. that even the club cat left home. This rant of mine could possibly have prompted Mr. Moore to criticize his players publicly. 

On the terrace there were mixed feelings about this ploy but I was with the camp that said he did the right thing, and a public dressing down could work on some players. "The fact that some of the players can’t tackle or distribute the ball was down to their lack of decent coaching in my humble opinion" was spot on. Full backs should be able to tackle and going forward should only be a bonus for the players who can do the basic job first, then get their team on top and that allows them to get forward. 

I must admit it was a total surprise, nay shock to see the performance today. OK the manager brought in Bingham and Tshibola, who were outstanding. The reinstated Woods for my money was man-of-the-match, producing his best game at the club. Even at the dying minutes of the game when there was a fracas between Harrison and a Cheltenham player who insisted on cuddling each other on the turf, even getting the players and benches to join in as they all piled onto the pitch, it was good to see Woods walk away as he was not going to be suspended again for a useless scrap on the pitch. 

The omens were in our favour as we won the toss and kicked up the bank for the first half, not that it made much difference in today’s cross-wind. The Chelts manager commented after the game that the difference between the two teams was that Hartlepool coped better in the wind - WINK Wink! 

Both Franks and Compton fired shots at the visiting keeper as Pools took the game to the visitors with Woods pulling the strings and with Harrison a tower of strength at the heart of the defence we looked solid. Woods takes a lot of stick from visiting forwards as they know he makes us tick, and today he was purring like a well-oiled engine as he played some beautiful balls around the park. 

Harrison connected with a cross from Franks and his powerful header was blocked on the line. Fenwick was put through by Woods but his shot was collected by the keeper. Compton was excellent today and a great run to the by-line ended with a pin-point low early cross and Fenwick was there to hit it past the Cheltenham keeper to send the Pools fans into raptures -  not only had we seen a goal but we had witnessed some great football that produced it. 

I can only assume that the lady who does the scoreboard had slept in as at half time the board read SEE PIC, It could have been predictive text and she knew we were going to score two so posted it up in the wrong box and went home early. Or the Ditchburn Poolie may be right when he said it only accepts even numbers. 

Cheltenham going a goal down brought out the nasty streak in their game and both Woods and Duckworth were taken out by some really bad tackles and it was credit to the Pools players for not feigning injury. The half time chat was more upbeat and the Ditchburn in unusual cheery mood put this down to his late Christmas sales shopping. He made a killing on some of those, e.g. quote: "INCEST STICKS”, which him and Mrs. Ditchburn had bought to brighten up their Ditchburn home. 

At the start of the second half we were confident, having the down bank advantage, but there was an early shock as Cheltenham had the ball in the net on the first attack although it was rightly ruled offside. Through some good work by the defence Pools steadied the ship and were back at the visitors and really pressing hard for the second goal. Both Tshibola and Bingham were a revelation, holding the ball up and laying it off, wasting very little possession and along with Woods really making the team play some great football.

Bingham, (son of Billy, according to Ditchburn) went close when he met a Compton cross, turned on a tanner, and hit the ball, which was blocked on the line. The two new boys, who were always looking to break, linked up with Woods and had the visitors turned inside out as Bingham made it two nil to Pools.

"This was a real team effort and today we looked like a team"
This was a real team effort and today we looked like a team. None of the hoof ball tactics which I complained about in the last report, this was good to watch football.

Young Dan Jones is making a name for himself and looks steady, and is never slow to get forward. He was very unlucky today not to chalk up a goal as he raced into the back post where a Compton cross hit him on the knee, spun up onto him and landed over the line, only for the lino to rule him offside. 

Franks made a good run late in the half as he jinked his way through their defence. He lost the ball when he had the chance to lay it off to two players open on the far side of the area. At the other end I thought Chelenham had scored when a crossed ball was missed by Ned and Harrison and hit the inside of the post then was cleared away by Jones. 

Right at the death there was a little handbag swinging as Harrison went down and a Cheltenham player decided he wanted a piece of him. A rather large huddle followed as both benches and nearly all the players went into the huddle, but the ref blew for time and from the official site I see that Harrison was the only one booked for that tumble. 

This was a far superior performance than the last home game shambles and the credit must go to the manager for the new boys and getting a grip of the old boys, and giving them a shake. He is right in his post match notes where he states that they can get out of this especially as the results went our way. The next two will be crucial. Can we get the same performance against Shrewsbury? I am certain that on the visit to Tranmere Mr. Moore will want the three points. 

Happy Poolies once again!

MB136 - January 2015

New Owners, New Manager but no New Dawn

GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY on Pools - and Sheffield United players

Week commencing 15th December 2014 was a time when everything was happening for Pools. We’d got new owners, a new manager with bags of experience under his belt and a reasonably satisfactory result against Oxford United. 

After the Oxford game, the Ched Evans story broke - more about that later. The Oxford game was followed up with another reasonable result against Mansfield. Given the new owners’ decision to reduce prices for both the Oxford and Morecambe games and the chance of 4,000 plus gates - dare we hope? Not a bit of it. When the second goal went in against Morecambe I’ve never seen so many fans stream out of the Town End and the Mill House Terrace. They were voting with their feet.

The performance against Morecambe was one of the most insipid I’ve ever seen - we made Morecambe look like world beaters .Yet, if we reflect, Morecambe showed us how it can be done. Playing along the deck and getting into space was in complete contrast Pools’ way of doing things - ball in the air and hoping it landed right. Morecambe’s defence and midfield just gobbled up anything we threw at them. At least Ronnie Moore recognises what the problems are and let’s hope he can recruit players who can do his bidding. Time is getting short and many Poolies are now facing up to the fact that we won’t be in the Football League next season.

And so to Ched Evans. When the story broke, I thought at last that Pools had the bit between their teeth and were determined by hook or by crook to arrest their desperate position. I’ve gone on record as saying that Evans should be given another chance and he would have been an excellent addition to the Pools’ squad. Of course, I’m aware that there were sincerely held views against him coming to Pools but it seemed to me that Pools were subjected to mob rule by politicians - who are the last people to lecture us about morality.

On Radio 5, soon after the news broke, even the biggest skategob east of the Mason/ Dixon Line - former Conservative MP, Edwina Currie - had her say and what a gem she came out with! She said that if Ched Evans came, other players in the club might want to leave. If that’s the case, then bringing in Ched Evans might have been a blessing in disguise, particularly after the Morecambe game. I think the best way for the club to have handled it would have been to conduct a poll amongst Poolies, possibly in conjunction with the Hartlepool Mail. That way, our supporters would have been part of the decision instead of being lectured at (or to) by the good, the bad and the ugly.

"She said that if Ched Evans came, other players in the club might want to leave. If that’s the case, then bringing in Ched Evans might have been a blessing in disguise"
I’m aware the Ched Evans was imprisoned for a very serious offence but the criminal justice system has decided that he‘s a candidate for parole. In other words, the system says he should get his life back on track and as far as I am aware the only thing he knows is football. Those who pontificate on the question should come up with an alternative and, as yet, they’re singularly failed to do that.

Christmas is, of course, the time of year when there is a proliferation of footy books, usually by 20 - something players who have never had a life. Much preferred by me are books by ex - players who have been round the block a few times and seen it all. Such a book caught my attention just before Christmas and it was Between the Sticks: the Beautiful Game Then and Now by former Sheffield United and England goal keeper, Alan Hodgkinson. As the title implies, the book provides a fascinating insight into how the game has changed over a long period of time and was published by Alan Hodgkinson at the ripe old age of 77! After hanging up his gloves - he played 675 games for The Blades - he created a niche for himself by becoming the world’s first ever specialised goal keeping coach and served amongst others, Manchester United, Aston Villa, Everton, and Rangers - as well as England and Scotland.

He provides possible reasons as to why Brian Clough was never flavour of the month with the FA. At one time, on the eve of the Cup Final, the full international side played the under 23s and on the Thursday evening before the match, the FA held a dinner for the officials and players - “a semi - formal affair at which we players had been instructed to wear suit, collar and tie”. Sir Stanley Rous (the FA President) announced grace and shortly before eating began, the doors swung open and in strode Cloughie wearing a blue checked shirt open at the neck, blue jeans and brown winkle picker shoes. After finding an empty chair, Cloughie was then instructed to go back to his room by Sir Stanley Rous. Jim Langley, (a Fulham international full back) offered the view “…he’s finished now. Young as he is, he’s going nowhere in this game.” Hodgkinson, on the other hand, offered an opposing view, “If that’s a sample of Cloughie’s attitude, he’ll go far”. In 1965, of course, Cloughie was appointed manager of Pools and Alan sent him a Good Luck card. Back came the reply. “Dear Alan, thank you for your kind wishes of good luck - having analysed matters here. I’m going to need it. Love Brian.”

The book is not without humour. In 1957, he was selected to play for England for the first time and received an invitation to have coffee with the Lord Mayor and Lady Mayoress of Sheffield. He reflects, “The Mayor was a small, round, avuncular man with a cheery face and voice to match. He seemed to be of friendly and humorous disposition, but something suggested to me he’d held a lot of noses to the grindstone in his time, The Lady Mayoress was taller, larger, with a rotund face covered in sufficient make - up to keep Max Factor’s profits ticking over nicely and chins that lay on top of one another like slices of processed cheese. She had blue - rinse hair set in a ruthless perm and her eyelashes were twin miracles of mascara. When she welcomed me her voice had a blustering, hard quality to it and sounded as if it would never tolerate any nonsense”

All in all, an excellent read. If you’re nostalgic - like me - or if you want to soak up a history of the game then this is for you. (Published by Harper Collins - paperback 2014 and available from Amazon).


Funny Old Game

A Gratuitous Dig at the Borer

BILLY'S CONTRACT deflects the flak southwards

Most people of a certain age recall where they were on the day American President John F Kennedy was assassinated. Me, I was in 'My Mam's Kitchen' in down town Stockton. (Our Kid later told me that he was on a grassy knoll somewhere in Dallas.)

The same applies to the September eleventh attack on the Twin Towers in New York. When I heard the news I was on the A19 flyover ...and unlike Colin Cooper I managed to drive past the Middlesbrough slip road with considerable ease.

I also recall that I was sat in my front room reading a newspaper when I heard the dreadful news that Ritchie Humphreys had been given a free transfer by the club.

I wonder how many Poolies will remember where they were when they heard the glorious news that IOR had vacated the premises at Clarence Road. In my case I was on the Headland attending the unveiling of the new monument commemorating the 100th anniversary of the German naval bombardment of the town (I include "West" in that.) 

Whilst listening to the names being read out of those who lost their lives on that fateful day, I was disturbed from my reverie when someone, a fellow MB contributor no less, grabbed my arm and whispered in my ear accompanied by "pssst, pssst", that Hodcroft had gone. 

Talk about, to coin a phrase, 'a bombshell'. My mind went into overdrive. Was this yet another rumour doing the rounds? If Mr Hovercraft had indeed left, would yet another company man take his place and sing from the same IOR hymn book?

A very short while later I bumped into a lady whom I had met earlier in the day and she not only confirmed that Hodcroft had gone but the club had been 'soiled' ..sorry, I meant sold - she had a very strong Headland accent. 

I tried without success to find something on the t'internet, but no mention of anything anywhere. It had to be a rumour, but I so badly wanted it to be true.

In desperation I nearly asked Alistair Brownlee, the radio Cleveland presenter, who was taking a break from his radio commentary regarding the Bombardment, but I did not want to disturb him as he almost looked homesick, a lonely rotund figure, stood beside the breakwater wall, scanning the horizon over the North Sea, searching for a glimpse of the cooling towers, smoke stacks, smog and fetid waters that is for ever Middlesbrough.

Eventually when I heard the official confirmation of the takeover I was doing cart wheels. The quick appointment of Ronnie Moore, the drop in the price of match day tickets and programmes - the new owners seemed to have their hands on what little pulse was left in the club. What a day, it couldn't get any better could it? Yes it could. Verrills were actually open, I repeat for the benefit of those who think that this was a misprint, Verrills were actually open, and whilst they no longer do fish fritters, the fish and chips were top notch. What a day!

Ronnie Moore seems to be making the right noises, telling some of the players how it is and giving them a few home truths. I liked the fact he has them in on their day off as well as training on Christmas Day. That's the type of manager we have been crying out for for a few seasons. Someone with a nasty streak but who at the same time would give a player a cuddle should they need it. Let's not beat about the bush; a good many of them, if released at the end of the season, would struggle to find a league club that would employ them.

Pools should have had the three points against Oxford but seemed to run out of steam. I did not fancy their chances against Mansfield but they earned a valuable point.
"I repeat for the benefit of those who think that this was a misprint, Verrills were actually open"

I was fully expecting the three points off Morecambe. However the points went the visitors' way in what could only be described as a clash between two pub teams. Moore will have to wait until January to bring his own men in, assuming that they want to sign for the club bottom of the league with the lowest number of points/goals scored and the highest number of goals conceded. He said that he was looking for four signings. Eight would be nearer the mark in all reality.

He needs a decent centre half. Bates is a liability and picking up money on false pretences. I always thought under the IOR era that Robbie Elliott was our worst-ever signing, but Bates is up there with him. I would reckon Bates is responsible for a good 25% of goals conceded this season. He either gets turned for pace, slips over, or the ball goes between his legs. He is too short for a centre half and if I was in his shoes (along with a few others who have been offered the chance to leave the club with a pay off but have decided not to and sit it out until the end of the season) would do the decent thing and concentrate on his new restaurant (which I for one won't be frequenting) or stick to posting naughty photographs of himself on Facebook.

Scotty Flinders should be relieved of the captaincy. The only time you see him talk is when he shouts heads or tails for the kick off. He has really gone down the pan since Stephen Pears took over as goalkeeping coach.

In the last edition of MB I had a go at Jonathan Franks, mainly because the lad does have a modicum of talent but is only using 15% of it. He has pace, he can beat a man, but can he heck cross a ball. I specifically watched him against Morecambe and he never once looked up when he put a cross in, which is one of the main attributes of a winger I would have guessed. Dolan and Brobbel were the same, neither could cross a ball or take a free kick. Ironically all three came from The Borer, so it must be something they instil into their players over at the Cellnet.

The midfield is desperate. Excluding Tommy Miller, not one of them has any creativity nor can put a tackle in, or carry the ball (all of them sound like David Beckham when I think about it.) Featherstone looks a tidy player at times but does not contribute anything. Neil Austin isn't anything like the player he was when he first joined us, but playing him out of position isn't doing him any favours.

As for the forwards, 15 goals says it all. Against Morecambe, upfront we had: Ironside, a loanee with little league experience, and Fenwick, with no league experience, neither of whom made any impact against two of the worst centre halves I have seen in a good long while.

One player I will take my hat off to is Darren Holden. No matter how badly he plays, and he had a woeful game (sorry replace woeful with nightmare) against Morecambe, is that he keeps on going,  never hides and his head never drops. Ironically a little like Matty Robson, and dare I say, Ian Clark.

To sum up, Ronnie Moore needs to get some experienced hard lads in who are not afraid of the opposition, the officials or their own team mates, and above all he needs lads whose heads won't drop as easily as the current shower.

Ronnie Moore will need more than the ghosts of 1914 to get us out of this mess. But I believe they and he will get us through this mess.

The Dirty Dozen

New Beginnings

The WAGGA MOON view of things at the Vic

Well, another run of the mill month at The Vic. Apart from new owners, new manager and new beginnings.

We finally saw the end of IOR and owner/chairman Ken Hodcroft in his usual secret society style. Only the day before the deal did most people find out what was going on. And if anyone believed him he to took the £14m debt with him. If you want people to fall for that try having an AGM now and again and let the fans see what you are up to behind closed doors.

Anyway that is enough time on that waste of space; suffice to say he will go down in Pools history as one of the worst Pools Chairmen of all time alongside the infamous Garry Gibson. Although the latter's despicable act of bouncing a cheque to Cyril Knowles's widow would give him the unwanted top spot.

While Ronnie Moore tries to make a silk purse out of. a sow's ear with the rubbish left by Colin Cooper, Russ Green and Hodcroft, we wait anxiously for the January transfer window and some reinforcements to get us out of the mire. It is a bigger task than even Ronnie thought he was taking on with at least nine of the players not fit for purpose. Whether he will be able to unload dross like Scott Flinders, Neil Austin, Stuart Parnaby, Darren Holden, Matt Bates, Jon Franks, Jack Compton, Jordan Richards and Neil Featherstone is open to question. Who would want them?

I see that perennial non-achiever Jack Compton was taking to Twitter saying how unhappy he was away from home and family and how miserable he was. Not as miserable as the fans who pay to watch him play and fail spectacularly.
"It is a bigger task than even Ronnie thought he was taking on with at least nine of the players not fit for purpose."

If he is so down maybe he should join The Bunker as there are some right miserable gets on there, Chopsy Firestarter and The Fat Bar Steward would soon make him feel there are more miserable places he could be. If he still doesn't like it I will willingly drive him to Cardiff and not charge him for the petrol. As long as he promises not to come back.

The disgraceful home defeat to Blyth Spartans, even Marlon's goal was not allowed, brought an end to Paul Murray's spell in the hot seat. It was a strange appointment with Willie Donachie as his assistant and most people thought they were old buddies when in fact they hardly knew each other.
Another of "Pol Pot's" dream team ideas that he did not give a chance to work.
I would have liked to see Murray work alongside of Ronnie Moore and given a chance in the transfer market.

It is a bit disturbing that under our "new era" we still have Russ Green, Sam Collins and Stephen Pears working at Victoria Park after being involved in relegation and the shocking performances of the past three years.

I am at a loss to what Pears is actually doing at the club. Certainly not helping or improving Scott Flinders who has gone from being one of the best goalkeepers in League One to being an absolute liability. Any low cross shot from any distance is likely to be a goal. Flinders appears to go down in instalments. And I am sure the Fourth Division strikers have told their mates at other clubs because they are all ready to have a pop when they come to The Vic.

And it is surely far better to let Moore bring in his own men for the task ahead. Whether he can do it will depend on the type of players he brings in. If he has a free hand bringing in new recruits I would back him to do it but if there is someone in the background playing at being a manager then we are sunk.

The Theory of Everything

Lags Eleven

ALAN ESSEX looks at the murky side of football

Lag: slang meaning ‘a convict’ or ‘ex convict’.

Following Hartlepool United’s recent brush with the national press regarding the possibility of signing Ched Evans, I thought I’d compile a team that have been detained at Her Majesty's pleasure.

Whilst researching this I found that there were a disproportionate amount of forwards who have ‘served time’. Possibly something in their make up that drives them on, seeking headlines, eternal fame and glory in some cases leading to criminal activity. I don’t think any of our current crop need to worry about that then. There are many whose defending may be termed as ‘criminal’ but as yet this is not a prisonable offence, but we can live in hope. So, compiling a team was not easy and a bit like many Pools managers I’ve picked some players to play out of position. So utilising a novel 3-3-4 line up:

1 Luke McCormick – Goalkeeper: Whilst playing for Plymouth Argyle was sentenced to 7 years and 4 months for causing death by dangerous driving and driving with excess alcohol, causing a crash that killed two children. He served 4 years and upon release signed for Truro City. He then moved to Oxford United before returning to Plymouth and even being controversially made club captain.

Tony Adams – Centre back: Essex born Adams was a one club man playing his entire professional career with Arsenal. He also played for and captained England having 66 caps. In December 1990 he was imprisoned for 4 months for drink driving having been over 4 times the legal limit following a crash. He served half of his sentence. Upon release other drink related incidents followed. He admitted to being an alcoholic and received treatment. In 2000 he founded the Sporting Chance Clinic, a charitable foundation aimed at providing treatment, counselling and support for sports men and women suffering from drink, drug or gambling addictions. His testimonial raised half a million pounds, all which was donated to his charity.

3 Jan Molby – Centre back: Served 6 weeks of a 3 month sentence in prison during 1988 whilst playing for Liverpool. This was for ‘wreckless driving’, he overturned his car outside of a nightclub.

Peter Swan – Centre back: Had 2 spells at Sheffield Wednesday and finished his playing career at Bury. He also won 19 caps for England. He was involved in a betting scandal during his first spell at Sheffield Wednesday. In December 1962 he was party to ensuring his team lost to Ipswich. As a result in April1964 he received a 4 month jail sentence and lifetime ban from football. The life ban was lifted in 1972 and he returned to Wednesday for the 1972 / 3 season. His story is a sad one, before his conviction he was considered to be a favourite to be in the 1966 England squad that went on to win the World Cup, his son died at 39 years old from cancer and he himself now suffers from Alzheimer’s disease.

Peter Storey – Midfielder: Spent most of his professional career at Arsenal, playing 391 games in 15 years. Towards the end of his career he played for Fulham. He also won 19 England caps. After retiring from football he was convicted of various criminal offences; including keeping a brothel, and was jailed for three years for financing a plot to counterfeit gold coins. He was initially charged with supplying funds and storage for the operation and whilst on bail set up a brothel to finance a move abroad to avoid the trial. He was arrested and pleaded guilty to keeping a brothel in December 1979, and was handed a £700 fine and a six-month suspended sentence. He was also briefly jailed for contempt of court after failing to turn up to his own bankruptcy hearings. In September 1980 the trial for conspiracy to produce counterfeit money came to a conclusion and he was sentenced to three years imprisonment. In April 1982 He was handed a 12-month suspended sentence for stealing two cars he had on hire purchase whilst running a minicab firm. In 1990 he was jailed for 28 days for attempting to import 20 pornographic videos from Europe which he had hidden in a spare tyre. He has been married 4 times but I don’t think this counts as a criminal offence.

Joey Barton – Midfielder: Currently plying his trade with Queens Park Rangers, in May 2008 he was sentenced to 6 months in prison for ‘common assault and affray’ during an incident in Liverpool City centre. He served 77 days in prison. July of the same year he received a 4 month suspended sentence after admitting ‘assault occasioning actual bodily harm’ on a former team mate.

"There are many whose defending may be termed as ‘criminal’ but as yet this is not a prisonable offence"7 Mickey Thomas – Midfielder: Starting off at Wrexham he then signed for Manchester United, then Everton, Brighton, Stoke, Chelsea, West Bromwich Albion, Derby, Shrewsbury, Leeds United, back to Stoke and finally returning to Wrexham. In 1993 he was sent to jail for involvement in a counterfeit money scam. He jokes “Roy Keane was on £50,000 a week, but so was I until the police found the printing machine”.

8 Tesfaye Bramble – Striker: Began his career at Chelmsford City before joining Cambridge City. He then joined Southend on loan, later signing for them permanently. He then moved to Cambridge United on loan. Went on to play for Stockport County and Stevenage Borough before dropping down into non league with Felixstowe & Walton United. In June 2011 he was convicted of rape and sentenced to 4½ years in prison. He was released in November 2013 having served 2½ years. Upon release he played for Hadleigh United and then Ipswich Wanderers.

9 Marlon King – Striker: He has played for a long list of clubs: Barnet, Gillingham, Leeds, Sheffield United, Nottingham Forest, Watford, Wigan, Hull, Middlesbrough, Coventry City and Birmingham City. He also has a long list of convictions that include: theft from a person and from a car, criminal damage, and attempting to obtain property by deception; fraudulent use of vehicle licence document, driving without insurance, speeding, drink driving; a wounding incident while playing amateur football, and two cases involving assault of young women rejecting his advances. He has been jailed 3 times and is currently in prison.

10 Lee Hughes – Striker: In 2004, whilst a West Bromwich Albion player he was sentenced to six years imprisonment for ‘causing death by dangerous driving’ following a fatal crash in November 2003. He returned to football following his release half-way through his sentence in 2007, and went on to play for Oldham, Blackpool on loan, Notts County, Port Vale and is currently with Forest Green Rovers.

11 Bob Newton – Striker: Making up the eleven and needing no introduction to Pools historians and supporters of a ‘certain age’. Having played for Chesterfield and Huddersfield he joined Hartlepool in 1977. His 48 goals in 150 games in a side that was always in the lower half of Division 4 made him a legend. In 1979 he was jailed for 9 months after crashing a car resulting in the death of his passenger, fellow team mate Dave Wiggett. He admitted to drink driving but denied causing death by reckless driving. After a 2 day trial he was found guilty. Unfortunately this was not to be the last time he appeared in court. During the English close season he played for New England / Jackonsonville Tea Men in the North American Soccer League during 1980 and 1981. Whilst in America in 1981 he was arrested and charged after a hit and run incident involving another vehicle whose driver had to receive hospital treatment. In 1986 he was given a 4 month suspended sentence and banned for five years after admitting reckless driving at Derby Crown Court. In 2007 he was back in court, again for drink driving. At the time he had been working as a lorry driver and was banned for a further 12 months and fined.

Well there you have it, a team who would strike terror into the heart of any law abiding citizens but a godsend to police, solicitors and probation workers throughout the land.


Morecambe (h) - As I Seen It

RUNNING MONKEY sees yet another win

Pools 3 Plymouth Argyle 2
League 2
Victoria Park
31st January 2015

First the important bit: Mr. Chris Kavanagh, could you please go home asap, you left your glasses at home. At least the ones that see more than one colour.
Ok, you are new to this game but the rules should cover both teams, and if you rule against one on every decision, the fans of that team will get upset. You looked as if you ignored my comments when I spoke to you from the Town End when Fenwick was brought down in the box. Yes that was Fenwick in the other yellow shirt that is actually blue. I suppose that once we turned round at half time (yes, that is another rule of the game), because you had left your glasses at home, you could not see the difference and you actually gave us a couple of fifty-fifty decisions!

Just to sum up your game today, if I were you I would at least send half of your fee back and make a visit to Specsavers with the rest. But you do get a first, by introducing shaving cream to the game today.

So to today’s rumours on the terrace. The big one was that the new board of HUFC had cleared off, adding to the earlier rumour that they had not yet registered with the Football League since taking over. Is there anyone out there who could tell me the name of the so called new HUFC Board, and if so where the hell are they? Not even a twitter from them in the programme, so fans are bound to think there is a rabbit off. Have we got another Sheffield / Turner oil company involved with our club? We don’t half know how to pick them don’t we! To all those who shouted for IOR to move on, remember at the time Hodcroft said "be careful what you wish for."

One rumour today concerned, believe it or not, a boiler, No, no, not an indiscretion by any unknown member or members of the board with an aged lady of the night. The story goes that after many a request to Mr. Hovercraft, a new boiler was need for the changing rooms. All requests were refused, but the new missing owners had instructed someone to get it done.

Supposedly IOR, who, according to the Football League, are still the owners, had not sanctioned the new boiler. So it looks as if the new board, whoever they are, had in fact spent money belonging to IOR.  Now with IOR's past record there may be something in that story. and as I have never seen any of the new people I could only agree with the rumour that they have gone lock stock and boiler. Welcome back Mr. Hovercraft.

Don’t you just love a good rumour, especially those without any foundation. A couple of usual contenders for the takeover were on the lips of a few. Dean Construction, whose van has been seen around the Vic since Adam was a lad, and the other, mentioned a few weeks ago along with Cameron’s, was Niramax. So if there is not any other business, we turn our attention to football.

The visitors today, despite a good defensive record, had only drawn the last four matches, and not had a win since Christmas, so for once the form book was in Pools' favour, despite our lowly position.

Pools looked good at the start and were playing some good passing football, The visitors looked a tidy side and could have taken a lead early on as they were left free in front of goal but their striker lost control of the ball and the threat was cleared.

From a break down the left by Tishi to the dead ball line, he floated a great ball into the mix which was missed by two defenders in the goalmouth and Franks, racing in on the back post, hit the ball home. It was a very clever move by Pools and Tishi should get the praise for his superb skill in making this goal.

"Today it was Pools with their tails up, so a big slap on the back to Mr. Moore for his efforts in getting our players to raise their game."
Woods was spraying balls all across the park making inroads against the Plymouth defence. As is their wont, Pools seemed to take a backward step after the goal and kicking up bank for the first half (I blame Hartley for this), we started hitting long balls and allowing the visitors to dictate the game.

Fenwick, who really has given this team a lift with his hustling and controlled aggressive play, was rattling the Plymouth defenders and he went very close when the keeper dropped his shot at the near post and it rolled out for a corner. Fenwick won the ball at the corner but this effort went over the bar.

It was about this time that the visitors started to dominate the game. Once again, after looking so strong, we succumbed to the Plymouth pressure and gifted them an easy breakthrough goal. The problem was there for all to see: once a goal up, we stopped playing football and went back to hoofing the ball and they just picked it up and came back at us. Old habits die hard, as they say in Middleton.

Flinders was injured as Reid, the Plymouth striker, who must be eighteen stone, belly-flopped on top of Ned as he went down gathering a ball. This was intent - the action of a player trying to put someone out of the game, and it took Ned a long time to recover. It probably won’t appear on any highlights but it certainly damaged Ned and no action was taken.

Pools did have the ball in the goal but the keeper dragged the ball back out before any of the half-sighted officials had seen it. Do not let anyone tell you different. I am sure there will be a picture or a video showing this heinous crime somewhere. I checked the Pools site and as the press box was further away from the incident than me, their take on it was that Fenwick went close. The whole of the Town End saw it but not the officials. At the other end Harrison made a great block to ease the pressure and we went in at half time a goal apiece.

At half time I popped round to see our “Train Time Traveler” who was up for the game, on the way back I bumped into Yanik Gers and I asked him if he wanted to buy a football club without a board, but he declined gracefully.

Pools soon got back into their stride after the break, which is good to see as Cooper used the same brand of half time tea as Tubby did and we invariably went a goal down as soon as we came out.

Today it was Pools with their tails up, so a big slap on the back to Mr. Moore for his efforts in getting our players to raise their game. As I said earlier, Woods is becoming the real playmaker in this team and is often overlooked as the star of the show, which he has been on many occasions, yet the goal scorers get the glory. It was no different today as Woods linked with Fenwick as they prised open the Plymouth defence and all Franks had to do was sit in and lash the ball home, making it two-one to Pools.

Duckworth is a great player going forward and has the ability to beat his man, yet he looks a little unsettled at times, inching to get forward. This time he took the chance, made a great run, evading tackles, and set up Fenwick to score the third goal.

Ned was having difficulty now mobility-wise and Harrison was taking his kicks for him, and because of his injury he made little attempt to stop the visitors scoring a second goal.

Plymouth were putting themselves about now and one player, who was subbed shortly after he had chopped down Tishi for the umpteenth time in the game, should have had his marching orders when two Pools players were taken out. The second one I think was Woods, who was taken out after the whistle had gone for the first foul. At least the man with no glasses could not avoid this incident, as it happened right next to him. I'm not sure if he meant it or not, but he booked two yellow shirts, possibly thinking one of them was the new yellow blue.

The added five minutes did little to calm the nerves as it looked as if the ref was hoping for a draw when he gave them at least three close-quarter free kicks in the dying minutes, but we held out for three points against one of the better teams we have seen at the Vic.

A shame the other results did not go our way but we are making progress. We still have eighteen games to go and we only have to win two out of three to be safe. Ever the optimist, after today’s result I really think we can achieve our goal and stay in the league. Whoever is in charge at the end of the day I only hope this is a shock to the system and we need to spend on players like the ones we have loaned.

It proves my point when you compare the quality of Cooper's intake to the quality of the Moore intake. These are the players that we need to find the money for, but knowing our luck these lads could save our bacon and be snapped up by someone with more ambition that the Pools board, whoever they are at this moment in time.

Some great performances today: Woods, for his industry, Franks for his goals, Bingham and Tishi for their class and skill against some strong opposition. Harrison and Jones, who improves in every game, were immense in defence, but overall a great team display.

Funny Old Game

As I Seen It - Mansfield (a)


Mansfield Town 1 Pools 1
League Two
Friday, 26th December 2014
Field Mill

Calling round on Christmas Eve to drop off a big jar of kets for the bairns, Big Mark was greeted by my exuberant 6 year old son Ewan. "You look excited little 'un," Big Mark remarked, "although you don't have long to wait now. Aye, it's only two days till the Mansfield game."

Whilst the day before the Mansfield game was more important to Ewan, he was still pretty fired up for the short trip to Field Mill.* He was present at the 4-1 victory last term, which featured an unplayable Pools team firing shots in from all over. I warned him that we were unlikely to see such a dominant performance from Pools, although it would probably be better than the 4-0 nadir we'd witnessed in Burton a couple of weeks ago.

Come Boxing Day, Big Mark made the shortish walk round to our house, not long after Andy Ramalamadindong had driven over from Derby. The four of us piled into my old Golf and headed north. Parking up near the cinema, we strolled through the bracing north Nottinghamshire air to the ground. We passed yet-another-pub-turned-into-an-Indian, formerly known as the 'Early Doors', the scene of a proper barney between Pools and Mansfield fans a few years ago. Andy told Ewan that it used to be called 'The Flying Bottle', in recognition of the western-style saloon brawl that occurred in there, kicking off before kick-off.

The game was declared all-ticket not long before Christmas, and by the time I got round to ringing Pools up to buy the tickets over the phone, it was dangerously close to the supposed-to-be-better-under-privatisation Royal Mail deadlines for getting delivered to me in time. The bewer in the Pools ticket office assured me that they would send the tickets down to Mansfield, and I would be able to pick the tickets up there. Despite her reassuring tones, I still had a nagging doubt that I'd turn up at the ticket office only to be greeted with a blank expression and no knowledge of my purchase.

The Poolie contingent in the away end. As you can see, the rain at this point was literally coming down like stair-rods! (photo: Dan Westwell)
We joined a great big queue for a booth labelled 'matchday tickets', which didn't seem right somehow. Big Mark went to investigate, and found out that we needed to join a slightly smaller queue at the proper ticket office. Andy pointed out an odd notice displayed in the window: 'For tickets, please go to the other ticket office', which caused a bit more concern. After a bit of banter with Mansfield fans in the queue, we reached the window, and an envelope with my name on was produced. I opened it, and thankfully it contained three adult and one child tickets, rather than one adult and three child.

As we walked round to the away end, we could hear Pools fans already in fine voice under the shallow and echoey roof. We entered through the automated barcode-scanner-operated turnstile and took our seats right at the back of the stand in time for kick-off. The first half saw Pools slow to get going, and it wasn't long before a Mansfield winger dribbled through with the ball, evaded half tackles/half lunges, and shot low through Flinders and into the net.

Thankfully Pools' heads didn't drop like they normally do, and we created a couple of good chances before half time. Mansfield did too though, and it was a relief that we went into the break only trailing by the single goal. Bovril was definitely in order, but it proved to be a bit of a mission. Now Mansfield knew how many tickets they'd sold to Pools fans, so they can't really have been surprised by the large number of hungry/thirsty Poolies crammed up to the refreshment hatches, baying for sustenance. So it's anybody's guess why they chose to only staff it with just three slower-than-average individuals who all appeared to have dropped handfuls of strong sedatives earlier that day.
"Gaps started to appear down the Mansfield right flank, but unfortunately it was Franks who kept popping up in them."

Eventually we got our drinks and scran, and sat down to enjoy the second half. It is clear that Moore is already making a difference, and Pools emerged with a real sense of purpose. Gaps started to appear down the Mansfield right flank, but unfortunately it was Franks who kept popping up in them. Time and again he got into promising positions, only to fire an attempted cross hard and low straight into the nearest defender. Duckworth had been having more luck down their left hand side, and it was only right that he should put the finishing touch to a well-worked equaliser. Except he didn't really get the finishing touch, as his shot took a deflection from defender. I'd like to think it was going in anyway though.

The goal was greeted with utter jubilance from the travelling army, including Big Mark, who didn't realise Ewan was holding a half-eaten sausage roll when he high-fived him. Pools really got the bit between their teeth, and could sniff three points up for grabs. Mansfield seemed to be feeling festive too, especially when one of their players picked up a second yellow for an early bath.

Despite mounting more attacks, Pools couldn't capitalise on the advantage, and it wasn't long before the diminutive referee evened up the numbers. Harewood and a big donk Mansfield defender tussled in the box, and after a bit of handbags (more like suitcases) between them on the deck, the official finally produced a straight red for Marlon. It was difficult to tell if he deserved it from where we were sitting, and it seemed to be the linesman who said that Harewood should walk.

As the game drew to a close play was getting stretched, and with a bit more quality in the final third either team could have stolen it. The only person on the pitch determined to play a starring role was the ref however, and he chose to give Woods a second yellow after tussling for the ball after the whistle had gone. Pools held out for what on reflection was a hard-earned point, especially given the two suspensions we'll now have to endure.

The consensus as we drove home is that we are no closer to survival, but on the bright side we are 100% unbeaten under Moore. We have improved, and provided we can buy some half-decent players in January then all is not lost. We've got a bit of bite, look fitter, more purposeful, and Pools are at last giving us a reason to chant and cheer.


Any Other Business


Well, wasn't December a hectic month!

We began it with Sam Collins having a second attempt to steady the sinking ship. Then, we had, all on the same day, the centenary of the German naval bombardment, IOR and Ken Hodcroft jumping ship, TMH taking over, and Ronnie Moore becoming manager. All that and Christmas too. Sadly all the changes didn't give much improvement on the pitch and the league table only got worse.

So here we stand at the start of the season's second half, requiring a promotion team to suddenly be produced in a few days - one which will hit the ground running and which is capable of winning most of the remaining 23 matches. A tall order indeed, and one that Abramovitch and Mourinho might struggle with, even if the Vic was a place that self-respecting players would want to transfer to at the moment.

It will be exciting if the greatest of all Great Escapes happens, but we'll just have to wait and see.

Some Dutch fans turned up at the Oxford game and asked Running Monkey which player was Sidney, as there were two black players in the side. He pointed Sidney out, and every time he got the ball they then set up a chant.

He was taken off later but at half time they asked where the bar was, After getting directions they never came back. They must have really just come for the Hansa.

Sadly, Sidney's short-term contract with Pools hasn't been renewed, so his comeback chance, after being back home in Holland and out of football for six months, didn't work out. That's football, especially when times are desperate, but thanks for trying, Sidney.

H'Angus doesn't know his own strength, and had a little problem when a hole appeared in a panel which had inexplicably jumped out at him. Luckily nobody noticed, and he was able to speedily effect a repair unseen, and return to being his usual picture of innocence. 

Anyone who goes to see the newly-released film The Theory of Everything, and who knew him, may be reminded of a former editor of this august publication.

Finally it only remains to wish all Poolies a happy and prosperous 2015 - and that April and May will be especially happy months!