Showing posts from February, 2015


League Two  Tuesday 10th February 2015
Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at The Vic


This week's two home games have been dubbed ‘Do or Die’ and Pools never say die. Despite some already saying we are down, my motto is 'where there is life there is hope', and tonight the lads proved the point. We can still survive.

One massive factor in our favour is that Mr. Moore is in charge, and his attitude seems to be rubbing off on the lads as we have just beaten three of the higher clubs at the Vic and we deserved those wins on the balance of play.

The recent takeover events at the Vic have to have put some stress on both manager and players over the last few weeks with the on-off buy-out situation. One interesting fact from yesterday’s game was that it was the first one I can remember when we had three black players in the starting line up.

Northampton came to the Vic in good form, being a couple of results away from a playoff position, while Pools had had hard luck getting beaten late on at Portsmouth, when once again a team that had not won in the last ten sneaked a result at the death. How many times has that happened to Pools over the years?

Tonight the gods were playing havoc with our selection as an ankle injury was making Fenwick miss the game, and on recent form he will be a big loss. Master Bates, who has lifted his game a little, was out, along with Jones, who is improving with every game.

With the north-east fog drifting over the Vic, Horwood was making a return with the visitors, but was invisible. Until I saw the team sheet later I had not noticed him.

Also returning was the that lady lino. The Ditchburn Poolie complains that no woman ever understands the offside rule and so it proved during the game. It was a bit cruel of the officials but she was put down the Millhouse side, although on her last visit she was getting grief from the CK stand too. The Ditchburn was not happy either about the ref, who he claimed he did not know, but a local ref has never given Pools a fair crack of the whip. That could be said about most officials at the Vic, but I would say that as I am biased.

For the first half the Ditchburn was spot on, and it has to be said Northampton, like most teams, like to try and bully us and Northampton did their best to hack and chop their way through our team, with Aussie getting clobbered early on and being down for some time.

Despite this, Pools were doing ok, and one slip by Harrison as he miscued a header, let in an attacker with a free shot, but Ned was equal to it and dropped, but immediately smothered the ball.

Pools started to get numbers in the Northampton box and retained a lot of the ball throughout the half, but once again the worry was "Could we make it count?" Some fans seemed to think Compton had a point to prove, but the lad never stopped running at the visitors, and was given some special Northampton treatment for his troubles.

Northampton found their stride late in the half and Mirfin made what the Ditchburn claimed was a goal-saving block to thwart the visitors. Flinders made a great diving save to push a drive past the post as the half came to an end.

Flinders was in action early in the second half, again diving full-length to push a ball round the post, and he and the lads looked comfortable in defence against the visitors.

"Suddenly a patch of black ice appeared and Compton, racing in unmarked, had his legs whipped from under him."

Pools were soaking it up and coming back at the visitors with pace from Compton and Franks down the wings, and to a lesser extent from Marlon down the middle.

As I said earlier, the gods were playing silly buggers, and they got it right this time when the visitors' keeper tried to play a ball out. It bounced off the knee of the centre back and dropped for Morgan, who very calmly slotted the ball home. There were a few latecomers heading back from the half-time bar that missed the goal, so the Ditchburn gave them a running commentary on the goal of the season.

On the balance Pools deserved this lead, making some good runs and defending like demons at the other end. This action upset the visitors, and as the ref had remembered to bring his cards out this half, he was going to need them.

Marlon, as we know, is not the fastest player on the books, and when linking with the pacy Compton they were causing problems. In one attack, Marlon down the left was trying to reach Compton, coming in from the right, when the gods again messed up. Suddenly a patch of black ice appeared and Compton, racing in unmarked, had his legs whipped from under him.

For my money Woods was the man of the match, as he never stopped pushing the lads forward, spraying class balls out to the flanks, causing the visitors to go into panic mode as they tried to get back into the game.

It has to be said Marlon had two easy chances late in the game and he never came near the goal. Play like that could cost us. One in particular was so far wide he nearly hit the corner flag. In the late stages Northampton came at us mob-handed, and Ned made two good saves near the end. O'Toole for the visitors had been putting himself about all the game and the ref finally caught up with him late in the game when he took out Tishi, then instantly tried to put Franks in the stand, which earned him a card and a hook from their manager, as he seemed to have lost the plot on the field.

A great result for Pools and keeps the lifeline going. The half-time chat was that if we were to go down then IOR would only support one shot to get out of non-league, but if we do survive there will be pots of money for Ronnie Moore to strengthen for next term.

MB137 - February 2015


Ronnie Moore is Gene Hunt

BILLY's CONTRACT on the manager

I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be singing the praises of a Hartlepool United manager for literally dragging us screaming into the relegation zone. Stand up Ronnie Moore because before your arrival we were a country mile behind the relegation contenders, We all had our grubby little faces and noses pressed up against the relegation dog fight shop window looking in and wondering what on earth was going on in there, particularly as we had no involvement at all in the proceedings. Talk about on the outside looking in.

I have got to say I like Ronnie Moore's management style. Basically he is from the old school, takes no prisoners, does not care who he upsets and tells it as it is (Surely, he was not an IOR appointment?) and all for the right reasons, the clubs survival.

Ronnie Moore is very Life on Mars as opposed to Live on Mars, as Matthew Bates found to his peril when Moore pointed out that the former Hartlepool centre half could do with shedding a few pounds. This was also probably a veiled warning to Bates to concentrate on his football rather than on his newly opened restaurant in Stockton.

In fact Ronnie Moore does remind me a little of Detective Chief Inspector Gene Hunt from the TV series Life on Mars which was set in the seventies, a time when political correctness and health and safety had yet to be diagnosed with the early signs of the onset of insanity. This would be about the same era as Ronnie would be plying his trade as a professional footballer.

Ronnie seems to have have all the characteristics of a Gene Hunt, because in the seventies people spoke their minds, called a spade a spade without bothering who they upset in the process of getting the right result /end product, and Ronnie does just that. He recently said that both our full backs, Darren Holden and, arguably 'Pools best player Michael Duckworth, were good going forward but neither of them could defend properly. He put this down to, and I use Moore's own words here, "It’s not their fault, they haven’t been taught how to defend", which is also a damning indictment of the previous managerial regime. That was a brutal statement to make, but in his eyes an honest one.

The next thing we read is that he is calling our recent signing Scott Fenwick a 'A young pup' because of his previous non-league pedigree (we might have to call on that non league pedigree next season!) and that as a former centre forward himself he was going to give him some one-to-one coaching. My reading into this is that Moore believes that the old dog can teach a young dog new tricks. Even in a few short weeks one can see an improvement in Fenwick's forward play.
"in the seventies people spoke their minds, called a spade a spade without bothering who they upset in the process of getting the right result /end product, and Ronnie does just that."
I think that in time Scott Fenwick will become a crowd favourite. Not only does he goes in where it hurts but he also is a goal scorer to boot ...though he has yet to score with his head.

Moore then told the press that Brad Walker is under impression in his own mind that Real Madrid would be coming at a moment's notice to sign him. That lad needs to give his head a reality check as next season he could be signing for a Real McDonalds.

The wide men were not to escape Moore's tirade when he pointed out that between the pair of them they had only 4 assists to their credit. (five if you count that dreadful/brilliant pass from near the halfway line that Jonathan Franks laid on for the Luton lad to score from). I felt this a bit harsh on Compton particularly as he has spent most of his season injured or sat on the bench, but hey ho the stats don't lie and to be fair to Franks he is trying a bit harder of late and his crossing has marginally improved.

Ronnie saved for last his best and probably truest sound bite for the media when he told the world that most of his under-achieving squad of players that those released from the club at the end of the season would be lucky to get a job at Asda. Very true but I would be a bit put out myself if I was an Asda employee and that work-shy lot were coming to work at my superstore.

Ronnie, like Gene Hunt, has that essential qualification for a manager/detective and that is having plenty of contacts. I am sure if it wasn't for the fact of our current league standing (and who currently owns the club or controls the purse strings), Moore would have had some decent permanent signings in by now. He has however got Bing in from Mansfield and Tish in from the other side of the country both of whom have proven to be excellent acquisitions and, unlike some of our existing squad, seem to be passionate about the task in hand, so much so that the pair of them have signed on to the end of the season.  (Stop press: Bingham has been recalled by Mansfield for obvious reasons ...they are wetting themselves re Pools' revival.)

A lot of what Moore puts into the media, and I dare say puts into the players minds, is 95% psychological,  even if some of it is bulls---, but if he is getting the message across, even at the expense of hurting people's feelings, so be it.

It would be great to go on a winning run ...goodness knows what Ronnie would come out with then. A lot of what he says is about belief. He said that the Pools players were hugely disappointed that even after the win against Plymouth, our relegation rivals also did well, and that we did not gain much ground. On the other hand we are now 7 points away from the two teams above us and 9 points adrift from the group above them. Admittedly 'Pools need to keep winning, but a lot of the teams above us won't win all their games. Some have to play the top teams, others will have to play each other, and then there is always one team that goes on a losing streak (hopefully not us.) Some of these clubs in the mix have yet to face a revitalised Hartlepool United second time around and I don't think that some of them will relish that thought, particularly at the Vic. So we are still well and truly in with a shout. GAME ON!

I already have a vision in my mind of next year's Pools calendar...

Corruption in Football Report

KT POOLIE reveals the latest news

MORE than ten years after its completion and a mere 20 years after commissioning, the much-awaited Michael J Farcia report into corruption at the heart of world football’s governance gets the green light for publication.

In his longest, and some would say, least revealing speech on the topic, president Pep Slatter gushed, “I am extremely proud of the committee who have shown unprecedented haste in the release of their findings. Let’s not forget it is a mere 100 years since soldiers from both sides called a temporary halt to hostilities in the war-torn fields of Northern Europe and showed what bravery, human spirit and a love of the beautiful game can achieve."a temporary halt to hostilities in the war-torn fields of Northern Europe ...showed what bravery, human spirit and a love of the beautiful game can achieve"

“Now this committee has taken inspiration from their courage and rushed to identify possible ...erm, foibles, in the bidding process for major tournaments. People say I have put obstacles in their path. I say to you, nonsense, I am simply ensuring we get it right.

“Therefore, I am pleased to announce the report will be published in full in 2022 after spell-checking by the newly founded Committee for the Verification, Explanation and Revocation of Underhand Principles, known as CoverUp.

The UK Government has given its full support. “The Home Secretary is keen to apply similar rigour in delivering a speedy outcome in the current child abuse enquiry”, declared an insider, “The public would find it confusing to digest the results of two complex enquiries in such a short time. We will therefore delay its publication until around 2025.” The move frees parliamentary time this term, allowing MPs to push through a ministerial pay review ahead of the May General Election."


Funny Old Game

The Great Escape - Dare We Hope?


Prior to, and just after Ronnie Moore’s appointment, all the talk was of getting ready to play in the Conference next season. Now, after a month into his appointment, all the talk is of The Great Escape. 

Home victories against Cheltenham (who we helped bring into the lower reaches) and Plymouth (who are within spitting distance of a play off place) certainly bred an air of confidence. And let’s not forget the very creditable away draw against Tranmere.

Can we do it? Yes, we can, providing we can stay clear of injuries and suspensions and the substitute's bench can provide reasonable back up when called upon. Everything seems to be going right.

We have much more certainty in defence with Scott Harrison and Dan Jones, and then, of course, there’s Scott Fenwick. Scoring goals is all about being in the right place at the right time and Scott Fenwick certainly has that attribute. If Pools do escape relegation to the Conference, let’s tell Peterborough to get lost - we’ll hang on to Scott Fenwick.

Looking at the message boards, a lot of the chat has been about Jonathan Franks. His two goals against Plymouth certainly silenced the doubters, and let’s hope that he starts to ooze with confidence. I have always used the term ‘frustrating’ when assessing Franks. He fights like hell to both win and keep the ball, "If Pools do escape relegation to the Conference, let’s tell Peterborough to get lost - we’ll hang on to Scott Fenwick. "yet his final delivery has always been found wanting. Still, if he continues to score the goals no one will be complaining.

Looking at the League 2 table, there’s a number of clubs who could be brought into the mire and it's up to Pools to put a run together rather than relying on other clubs dropping points. I suppose our problems go back to the beginning of last season when we appointed a manager who, whilst an honourable man, probably lacked the necessary contacts when things started to go wrong. Ronnie Moore obviously has the necessary contacts and I’ve never known a manager come in with so much good will.

While our improved performances have caught the eye, all the talk has been about Pools’ ownership and whether the new owners pass the credibility test. Who owns the club - is it TMH or are we still owned by IOR? All this does is create uncertainty and really the club should have been a bit more forthcoming about what is (or what is not happening). Still, the performances in January help take the mind off such matters. It now looks as though there’s cause for optimism - don’t let us down, Pools!

One thing I did miss against Cheltenham was the final minute punch-up involving Uncle Tom Cobley and all. There were, of course, four added minutes and when I’d estimated these were up I turned to pick up a carrier bag of shopping and heard three blasts on the referee’s whistle. Thinking the game was over, I looked towards the pitch and, stone the crows, there’s all hell let loose. I would suspect that being almost the end of the game, the referee decided that yellow cards were sufficient. Having sorted out the fracas, the referee then decided to apply Law 19 and call a halt. All ended well - at least Pools and Cheltenham weren’t charged by the FA of failing to keep the players under control.

Bradford City’s FA Cup victory against Chelsea certainly created excitement. One would have thought, however, that this performance would have merited a live slot on the BBC come the fifth round and, with it, a big payment. But, no, the BBC have opted for Aston Villa v Leicester City and Manchester United’s potential tie. Don’t those greedy bastards get enough from their paymasters at Sky and BT without getting more from the TV licence payer. By showing Aston Villa, you’re bound to get thrilling stuff. Did you know, for example, that Aston Villa have scored less goals this season than Pools? As at 31st January, Pools had scored 22 goals, whereas Aston Villa had only scored 11. It got so bad at Villa, that their ‘Goal of the Month’ for October had to be cancelled. Why? Because they hadn’t scored a goal!

Funny Old Game

Here We Go Again

WAGGA MOON looks at the situation

ONE step forward and two steps back is the usual way of things at Victoria Park over the last few years.

And under the new "owners" this would seem to be how things are going. After all the anticipation before Christmas of getting rid of the Fuhrer, we have a group who say even less than him and are just as reticent of saying what their plans are, and what is going on, Indeed of even saying who the hell they are. The early promises from Mr Harris that money would be available to Ronnie Moore to bring in new players was quickly changed to "there would be some available for some loans,"

And with Russ Green being made a director of the club and Sam Collins made assistant manager it suddenly dawned on the fans that nothing much has changed at the club. And with Molly Flinders being made captain it seems the Old Boys Network is alive and well. The promise of a fans' representative on the board has yet to happen.

This despite a number of people on a little-known message board claiming they have just the man for the job. Evidently he is a lover of fine art and a lover of 5,000 imaginary women according to his proud boasts. Goes visiting them on his bike evidently, and never takes his cycle clips off. Apparently some rapscallion nicked them once when he was up to one of his dirty deeds. I won't embarrass him by naming him but his user name rhymes with "Knows f*** all."

On the field things are definitely looking up, as was to be expected with a class act like Moore in charge. He is definitely getting a big improvement out of the squad and just think what he could do without one hand tied behind his back. The big worry is that he will get frustrated that things promised haven't been delivered, because if that happened we would be sunk without a trace.

A big blow was Mansfield recallisg Rakish Bingham last Monday. He is a real promising youngster with a bit of pace and has a goal in him and it seemed he was happy to play for Pools. Obviously with Mansfield slipping into the relegation zone they did not want his goals for Pools to send them down.
"On the field things are definitely looking up, as was to be expected with a class act like Moore in charge."
With Pools seven points from safety there are still plenty of games to get out of trouble. And surely there are two worse teams in the league than Pools. Mansfield, Carlisle, York, the Daggers and Cheltenham are certainly no great shakes, and if Moore stays I think we can overhaul at least two of those also-rans.

It just shows the quality of players Colin Cooper left as his legacy at the club. Twelve players put up as available to go out on loan and not an inquiry for one of them. Indeed the old pals' act of giving good contracts to Matthew Bates and Stewart Parnaby was the final straw.

Parnaby is well known to be the most injury-prone defender in football with 70 odd appearances in the last eight years. Who would even even think of signing him but Colin, who is a good friend of his father. And an assistant manager role for another of his old Boro mates Stephen Pears, who of course is now doing such a good job as a goalkeeping coach. How Flapper Flinders has improved under his tutelage. NOT.

 No wonder it took Colin so long to get a manager's job in the Leaguem and hardly surprising it was someone with as little football knowledge as Ken Hodcroft that gave him it.

I am writing this before transfer deadline day and it is expected that Marvin Morgan will be signing from Plymouth. I welcome this signing if it comes off, as he is just what we need at the club - a big striker who can look after himself and score a goal or two.

Hopefully he won't be the only one as we now need to replace Bingham, and a left back, which we have needed for years, and another centre back and goalkeeper. Because if we don't speculate now and end up being relegated it will cost us a LOT of money ever to regain our League st,atus if we ever would.

Second Best

Fenwick's Attitude


The following is a quote from the Northern Echo by Scott Fenwick, and I have got to say it is the most refreshing thing that I have heard from a modern day footballer.

I hope some of his team mates take this on board.

The crowd have taken to me and this club has changed my life,” said Fenwick.
“I know people say about playing for the club and the badge, but I do – Hartlepool changed my life.
“Eight weeks ago I was digging roads up, 12 hour shifts to keep my boss happy.
“Now I’m playing football for a living and it’s supposed to be called a job.

Funny Old Game

As I Seen It - Plymouth Argyle

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.

Any Other Business


Well, wasn't January an up-and-down month!

At the start of the month there was still euphoria over new owners and a new manager, but there was disappointment about no immediate change in fortunes. Then as soon as the transfer window opened, Ronnie Moore signed Tshibola and Bingham on loan, and things started to click. But at the end of the month there was doom and gloom over the silence coming from the new owners, and also over the withdrawal of Rakish Bingham by Mansfield, after they dropped to second-bottom and realised that they could be relegated by their own player.

Well, a few days into February, Ronnie has now taken a striker and a defender on loan, and signed on Harrison and Featherstone (and none of them from Middlesbrough - have we upset them?)

The team is now looking like a team, they are competing rather than lying down, and picking up points. The new players have made an impact, the ragbag of no-hopers has been galvanised, and the atmosphere is upbeat. It's still a big mountain to climb, and it's going to be a very exciting few months.

Ronnie has even been mentioned as a manager of the month for January. We may all fear the curse of Manager of the Month, but if the Great Escape is to happen, he's more or less got to win it, or be very close - and more than once. So let's hope Ronnie wins it in February, March and April. In that case we could probably afford to lose the first match in March and the first match in April, but preferably not the first (and only) match in May, at Carlisle - just in case!

Younger Poolies may find the club's present situation to be rather dire. However, some of us have seen it all before - many times!

When IOR first arrived at Pools, the club had to fight to retain a League place, but dicing with the minor leagues has been a way of life for much of the club's history. In the days before automatic promotion and relegation, there were regular trips to the Football League's AGM to beg for yet one more chance.

Another of those trips was looming 42 years ago when non-league Hereford United (sadly wound up just a few weeks ago) had captured the public imagination by knocking Newcastle out of the FA Cup. It was expected that Hereford would be elected that year, with some other club giving up their place. Guess which one had made more re-election applications than any other club!

Faced with this plight, Pools' player-manager, Len Ashurst, came up with an inspired signing, bringing in Willie Waddell from Barnsley, in March 1972.
Free-scoring Willie then went on to make a huge impact on the rest of the season, almost certainly saving the club, and causing unlucky Barrow to be the fall guys instead of Pools.

We thank the Ditchburn Poolie for this clip from a 1971 edition of Shoot! Willie moved to Barnsley from Kilmarnock, and joined Workington after only two years at Pools, where he finished his career.

And finally, after a week of rumour, Pools helpfully announced, before this edition went live, that the TMH takeover wasn't happening.

So it remains to be seen what impact that will have on the great escape. The owners deserve some sympathy for having been in a situation not dissimilar to those that cause private car sales to be re-advertised with "no time wasters" at the bottom. However we Poolies have no control over events off the field, however important they may be to some (especially to owners who want to get out), but for us fans, supporting our team is the only way we can contribute to either situation.

I wonder what we'll be saying four weeks from now!