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.