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!