Showing posts from March, 2015

Cambridge (h) As I Seen It

As I Seen It -Burton Albion (h)


POOLS 0 - BURTON ALBION 1   League 2  Saturday 7th March 2015

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at The Vic


Today was going to be a big game as I expected at least a point on Tuesday night so more pressure piled on us for a result today. But our home form was such that expectations were high despite another top team arriving at the Vic; we just had to be up for the game today. 

Arriving a little late I found someone standing in our spot just as they did last week - if it carries on like this we will be behind the goal in a couple of games. Being late is not a situation I am happy with. Planners should think about us Headlanders getting to the ground when they go altering roads to suit themselves. When they built the Marina Way flyover it was simple to queue on the centre of the dual carriageway and turn into the Mail office when the lights changed. Now the lights are blocked I have to circle round the top of Church St and join the queue to cross the road I have just come down. And it takes twice as long to get over the road. 

Today the chauffeur, who thought there was a quicker way as the traffic was heavier than usual, decided to cut along Tower St and have a straight run to the Mail office. As we arrived at the co-op roundabout, there had been an accident and the road I was hoping to join was totally blocked. The chauffeur, who now had to turn round to the original route, is now looking for a new job. Thinking for herself is not in her job description. "A load of old tosh", I hear you say. I agree, but I have columns to fill and there was not enough football on show today to do that. 

Mr. Moore, who I rate very highly, decided to bring back Marlon to the fray, not a popular move with a lot of fans, and Jones and Jones were the other two changes. Ok, the Middlebrough lad needs a start and Dan Jones has never let anyone down at full back. Some of his critics say he ducks a few tackles but I think the lad has skill, and the only way to develop is to get games under your belt. 

In the case of Marlon, you never know which one is going to turn up. Today, in my opinion, the wrong one appeared. Some will say the manager has little option, but why not try Walker up front - he can handle himself and has proved in the past he can shoot. But what do I know? 

The Ditchburn Poolie was out of character today, applauding the ref, Mr. Bond, after just two and a half minutes for booking a Burton player for diving in the box. An obvious ploy by the Burton player to test out the ref early in the game, and he got his just desserts. Near the end of the game Chervase trundled along and explained that he had just walked in at the time, and he had thought it was a blatant foul by Harrison on the player. Now I have to explain that Chervase, not his real name, was on his way for another pint, and he had obviously consumed his quota, so I think it may have just been the drink talking. 

If I have to talk about the game, I could say early doors it was end-to-end stuff, with Ned making saves and McLaughlin at the other end not having to make saves. In truth once again there was very little threat on their goal throughout the match. Marlon had a weak header at the keeper but no sting in it. The stars of the Pool side today were Harrison and Mirfin, both having a testing time against Burton. Harrison in particular was immense, and Mirfin personified how cool a player he can be doing the simple things the simple way. "If I have to talk about the game, I could say early doors it was end-to-end stuff, with Ned making saves and McLaughlin at the other end not having to make saves."

Marlon was petulant at times. Having lost a ball as he was going to ground, the expected free kick was not given. His next action was to push an opponent to the turf, giving them a free kick in a good position. Luckily we cleared the danger. 

The second half was worse than the first, and the call the fans wanted was made, as Marlon was hauled off and Smith and Franks replaced him and Compton. I thought the double substitution was to lessen the boos for Marlon on his way off. Franks came closer than anyone up to that point with a run down the wing and chip that made it over the keeper but just sailed past the back stick. 

At this time most Pools fans would have taken a point, as neither side deserved a win. The company I keep on the terrace were of the opinion that if this Burton team were promoted it would be a crime against football. One lad who shall be known as Mick said he has never seen a decent team in this league all season, so what does that say about us having been beaten by most of them already? 

Once again we were mugged. Just as we thought we were going to get a point, and all the other teams down in the mud with us were getting beat, the visitors broke free and scored a winner which set their fans off chanting that we are going down. Now, for a team second top and going for promotion, bringing only one hundred and fifty fans to a game which is pretty close in comparison to most, and to chant "you are going down" seemed a bit sad, as they had never cheered their team on all through the match - their football was as bad as our own. 

But after this week I have to admit the prospect of non-league footy at the Vic looks likely now.

MB138 - March 2015

For It Is Written...

BILLY'S CONTRACT on that last match

I know it is going to happen and you know that it is going to happen, for it is written that both Pools' and Carlisle’s fates will depend on the result of the last game of the season.

Contemplate that, dear reader. It doesn’t bear thinking about. My blood pressure went up a couple points considering just such an eventuality.

Scenario number one: Both teams need a win to stay up.
How would the match be played out if that were the case?

In addition to a full house, I would imagine a lot of action / bookings / sendings-off / controversy / injuries / suicides - not to mention a very lively crowd baying for every foul and free kick and ...blood.

Goodness knows what the match / atmosphere would be like with less than ten minutes to go, if both teams were level pegging. I would suggest, if this were indeed the case, that Carlisle United should have their defibrillators (not a sex toy) fully charged up, and plenty of ambulances on standby for those with weak hearts, and smelling salts for the ladies.

Prior to the kick off Carlisle would introduce Jimmy Glass to the home fans in order to whip them into a frenzy.

Not to be outdone, Pools would have brought their own talisman with Willie Waddell being unveiled to the Poolie faithful, resulting in the noise level in the away end going up several decibels as they sang "We’ve got Willie Willie Willie Waddell on the wing, on the wing". Most of the current Pools players would wonder who this Willie Waddell feller was that they were singing about, and why their own names were never chanted with the same passion (answer on a post card please, addressed to: Matthew Bates, Stewart Parnaby, Marlon Harewood and the lad called Walker, whose first name escapes me for the minute.)"Both teams refusing to cross the half way line. Not a shot on goal for the full ninety minutes. No bookings and plenty of gentlemanly conduct from both sets of players and supporters"

Scenario number two: Both teams need a draw of any sort to stay up.
Now this would be interesting. Both teams refusing to cross the half way line. Not a shot on goal for the full ninety minutes. No bookings and plenty of gentlemanly conduct from both sets of players and supporters, all very Corinthian. The betting fraternity amongst them will have put this game down on their betting slips as a banker for a goalless draw.

There would be no need to separate the two sets of supporters, and no police presence would be required.

Preparation for this match would involve Carlisle having watched a video of the Austria v West Germany game, where both teams required a draw to qualify for the next stage in the World Cup. Which indeed they did.

No doubt Ronnie Moore would have dug out the video tape of Swindon Town v Pools in which both teams required a draw to make the play offs. Which indeed they also did.

The game would be played at such a slow pace, and each team would be playing for snookers. Deliberate time wasting would reach new levels. If a penalty was awarded to either team it would be blasted over the bar, or wide. If it was Pools who missed the spot kick and other teams above them later complained, The Football League would not even bother to investigate the incident due to:

* Pools' inability to get players into the box to be awarded a penalty in the first place.

* Pools' recent penalty record.

As for both sets of supporters, I would suggest that they bring a book along, or listen to music on their Sony Walkmans (or whatever the current device is), or meditate whilst doing their yoga exercises in the peace and tranquility of Brunton Park.

If the weather forecast is good, I am going to bring along a picnic and some Vino de Collaspso (which is probably why I can’t recall Walker's first name, as I have just partaken of a bottle of red could be said that I drink to forget!)

My worst-case scenario would be a Carlisle victory, with Sweeney, Wyke and the recalled Matty Robson doing the damage.

My best-case scenario would be a last-minute Pools winner scored by the on-loan Ritchie Humphreys that would give some of our fans something to talk about.

Dressed to Thrill
The football world with some eagerness now looks forward to see what sort of fancy dress will adorn Pools fans for the last away match of the season. It is brilliant how, from small beginnings, it has taken off worldwide, bringing many compliments for the Club, the Town and of course the supporters themselves.

I do feel however that the whole event could be more impressive if, instead of a hundred or so fans dressing up, the organisers let it be known to the wider fan base what the theme would be on the day, so more supporters could, and would get involved.

Wouldn’t it be craic, should the team still be within a shout of avoiding relegation at Carlisle, if 5/600 Poolies turned up dressed as Dad’s Army / The Grim Reaper / Boris Johnson or whatever, and take the whole fancy dress thing to a different level. Not only that, I am sure it would also act as a morale booster to the team as well.

Who will you vote for in May?
At the AFC Wimbledon game I was asking my mates in the Town End who, if anyone, they would cast their vote for, if the Club had the audacity to have a Player-of-the-Year vote at the end of the season. All three of us agreed that Scott Harrison and Michael Woods are the only two contenders, with Woods getting the nod from all of us. Twenty minutes later the poor lad is carried off with what looks at the time of writing to be a double fracture. He may have only played half the season, and is out for the rest of it, but he would still get my vote.

Something else which will be getting my vote is the planned formation of a Hartlepool United Supporters Trust.

I was very surprised at the number of fans who turned up for their first meeting, at the Corner Flag, after the Wimbledon game. I would guess that in excess of one hundred people were in attendance. The purpose of the meeting was to let the fans know what a supporters' trust is, its purpose, and what it entails, and to find out if it was something that Hartlepool fans would be interested in forming, or being involved with. The view from the floor was that it was, and the proposers will now look at the next stage.

Only two things spoiled the meeting for me. I was sat at the back, where a number of people were having their own meeting, and then complained that they could not hear the speakers, and then started talking amongst themselves so that the rest of us could not hear the speakers, and only only their own banal conversation instead, rather than addressing it through the chair.

Another chap, through the chair, complained that the Corner Flag was too small a venue for such a meeting (I think the organisers only expected 20/30 people to turn up for the initial meeting), and then spent the next 5 minutes making a case for why they should have the next meeting in a particular Working Men’s club. It transpired that the individual in question is a committee man and was obviously looking to drum up business for his particular club.

That aside, the people who are wanting to form a trust are passionate Hartlepool supporters, and I am sure that with the right backing and right people involved, and with or without IOR’s support, I can see a Hartlepool United Supporters' Trust being in situ in the very near future.

At Least There's Hope

GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY hasn't given up yet

Recent home victories against Cheltenham, Plymouth and Wimbledon have encouraged us to think we can get out of the big hole.

Ronnie Moore has certainly geed things up and there’s no better example than Jack Compton. When he first arrived at Pools, I was encouraged with what I saw but so far as this season goes he’d certainly gone off the boil. Brian Clough once said that one of the most difficult aspects of football management was to decide which players wanted a kick up the backside and which players needed a kiss and a cuddle. We can only speculate as to the option which was taken up by Ronnie Moore."It's at home where we'll have to do it, for the away record is abysmal"

Just when we thought that we might be free of injuries, we get the ankle injury to Scott Fenwick and the horrific injury to Michael Woods - who is, unfortunately, out for the rest of the season. His ability to grab the opportunity given to him by Pools says a lot for his determination. The swiftness of Ronnie Moore in plugging the hole left by Scott Fenwick is a tribute to his resourcefulness. What would previous managers have done?

What have we got to look forward to? Although, the first Saturday in March sees us against top-of-the-table Burton Albion, the last five home games should be there for the taking - Mansfield, Cambridge, Southend, Accrington Stanley and Exeter City. It's at home where we'll have to do it, for the away record is abysmal, and over the past few seasons it’s the away record that has been good. Speaking of Accrington Stanley, how they are surviving is anyone’s guess. Against Burton Albion a couple of weeks ago, their gate was under a thousand. During the 1960s, Accrington Stanley dropped out of the league and at this rate they must be finding it difficult to balance the books.

While all this has been going on, everyone’s been getting their bowels in a uproar about the 2022 World Cup. We now have the assurance by Sepp Blatter that the final will be held on December 18th - after all, the poor guy wants to be home for Christmas. Meanwhile, everyone (including Pools supporters) will have their season buggered up because of FIFA. There are two things which are disturbing: one is the treatment of the foreign construction workers who are being exploited and need an exit visa to get home and the other is the general political instability that is enveloping the Middle East at this particular time. Should this begin to affect Qatar I’ve no doubt that FIFA will drop them like hot cakes. And when FIFA start begging for other nations to stage the 2022 World Cup I hope our FA will have the balls to say “get lost”.

Lastly, two aspects of a current nature. Have you ever noticed that Gary Lineker is never off our TV screens? He’s now making more appearances than Beckham. And there seems to be a shortage of razor blades as well. The other things is: what is the connection between the England football team and the England cricket team when each are competing in their respective World Cups? The answer is that each need an aircraft at the ready for an early flight home.

Funny Old Game

Anyone But Pools


They say it's not over until the fat lady sings, but I'm already planning days out in Dover, Lincoln and Chester next season. No-one can deny the team and the set-up at the club just isn't up to scratch, but I can't help feeling a great sense of injustice that we are going to lose our league status after all this time. Especially when there are all those other teams in League Two who for one reason and another should go down instead of us.

Below is a list of these teams, together with my irrationally prejudiced reasons as to why they deserve to go down more than we do:

Accrington Stanley
Crap ground, tiny attendances, have an old bloke's name, and were once the subject of ridicule by scouse boys in an advert for milk.

Burton Albion
A town full of great pubs, sadly none of them near the soulless purpose-built stadium which struggles to attract 3,000 souls, even when they're in the top three.

A club apparently spending money they don't have, just a few years after loads of financial chew. And despite people in Bury banging on about how great their black pudding is, I can tell you that it is average at best.

Cambridge United
One of many towns and cities who seem embarrassed to have a football team. Seemed to be suited to life in the Conference, so that's where they should go back to.

Carlisle United
Even for Pools fans, a trip to Brunton Park is a bit of a schlepp. Ideally they should be in the Scottish leagues.

Cheltenham Town
Poxy ground on the outskirts of a town more famed for horse racing and a Ladies' College.

Dagenham and Redbridge
An amalgamation of two teams doesn't sit well with me. Especially when the club is situated in a grimy bit of the London/Essex vortex.

Exeter City
Exeter is a lovely little city, which has so much going for it that it quite frankly doesn't need a football team.

Luton Town
If you've never been to Kenilworth Road, don't bother. To get in the away end, you have to sneak down an alleyway and climb over back yard walls, before watching Easyjets fly overhead every two minutes.

Mansfield Town
Thoroughly dull and depressing place, which produced Rebecca Adlington but absolutely nothing else of merit.

Why should a town which is only really known for how dangerous the tides are be allowed to have a league football team?

Newport County
For starters Newport isn't even a county, it's a grim little town in south Wales.

Northampton Town
Play in an utterly charmless purpose-built stadium in one of the most boring conurbations in the UK. Also features a very badly-designed car park which takes hours to get out of after a match.

Oxford United
The boat race should be enough sporting activity for them, not playing in a ground in the middle of nowhere which has been three quarters finished for over a decade.

Plymouth Argyle
It's bloody miles away, and they play in an awful green strip.

Should have gone bust, but for the football authorities bending the rules for them as they are such a 'big' club. And the bastards nicked the Warrior off us after we did all the work on it.

Shrewsbury Town
T'Pau came from Shrewsbury. It's a swine of a place to get to, and they are one of many to now play in a characterless new stadium when they had a perfectly good one in the town centre.
"Why should a town which is only really known for how dangerous the tides are be allowed to have a league football team?"

Southend United
All of the worst Essex/Cockernee things you can think about, all rolled into a jellied eel/pie and mash knees up whilst getting rained on at the beach. Where the devil himself goes for a holiday.

In the grand scheme of new towns, the runt kid brother of Milton Keynes. One of several johnny-come-latelies occupying league space at the expense of proper traditional clubs like Grimsby and Wrexham.

Tranmere Rovers
One redeeming feature is that they are supported by seminal piss-take band Half Man Half Biscuit. Apart from that, Scousers look down their nose at them.

Wycombe Wanderers
Crap 'modern' ground stuck behind an industrial estate, that has no pubs within two days walking distance. And their celebrity supporter is the insufferably smug smartarse Bill Turnbull.

York City
Yes, an away day in York is probably one of the best in the country, but they're about to ruin all that by moving to yet another sodding purpose-built ground which you can only get to in a vehicle.

Dennis Wise used to play for them. Do I need to say any more? Go on then, they don't even play in Wimbledon.

I can't think of a single reason for Pools to go down. We are a really good away day for visiting fans, our celebrity fan is the universally loved all-round top bloke Jeff Stelling, and without us I doubt Brian Clough would have achieved what he did. Bring back re-election I say!

Game On!

WAGGA MOON is optimistic

After a slip-up against Stevenage and a narrow defeat the boys bounced back in style to down the Dons. 

A brilliant second-half performance and the Vic bouncing with the fans really getting behind the team  - there was no way we were going to lose this one. The players were finally up for the fight and the noise was like going back to the good old days of Porter and Boyd tearing defences apart.

A goal on his debut for Ryan Bird and you can't ask for much more than that. And 12 minutes added time. I can't remember anything as long as that in a previous Pools match.

And we had tragedy and hilarity in those 57 minutes. The horrific injury to Michael Woods which has ended his season, followed by the heroic efforts of a St John Ambulance lady who went on the pitch to attend to the stricken young man. And all she got for her efforts was a couple of thousand Chubby Brown sound-alikes chanting at her as she tried to hurry across the pitch. One wit in the crowd was heard to comment "At least she can run faster than Marlon."

Mr Harewood may be getting some stick from sections of the crowd for his lack of goals, but I believe he has a big part to play in the remaining dozen games. His experience could prove invaluable as could his nuisance value, and ability to keep defences on their toes as he is such an awkward customer who can open up more chances for the rest of the team. And I believe he is committed to the cause and genuinely wants Pools to do well, and I would always have him in the squad.

As for Marvin Morgan, we have yet to see the best of him as he is not match fit, but I think he will be a big success and score us some vital goals before the season is over. Defender David Mirfin is class at this level and we are very lucky to have him. Plus he will bring the best out of Scott Harrison and young Dan Jones. We need to get Mirfin on a long contract before someone else moves in and snaps him up.

"The players were finally up for the fight and the noise was like going back to the good old days of Porter and Boyd tearing defences apart."So some excellent work by Ronnie Moore. If he had been appointed last summer and allowed to bring in his own staff and players, there is no way we would be in this perilous position. More likely we would be competing for a place in the play-offs.

I don't want to sound critical of Ronnie, who is in the Sir Cyril Knowles and Danny Wilson managerial quality bracket, but the loan signing of Jordan Jones from Middlesbrough does puzzle me. We have done the loaning of Borer youngsters (and oldies) to death under the shambles of Cooper.

There is no doubt that Borer have some talented youngsters but unfortunately they don't loan them to Hartlepool United. They tend to go out to other clubs around the country and we tend to get the dross like Ryan Brobbel and David Atkinson, who came here and didn't play a game. And that is without mentioning Matthew Bates and Stewart Parnaby, two signings that sum up the management capabilities of Colin Cooper. And someone has mentioned they are both on two-year contracts, which, if correct is a typical case of jobs for the would-be mountain climber. After the fiasco at Victoria Park Cooper would be lucky to get a manager's job at South Bank Pork Butchers' XI.

The failed takeover by TMH 2014 came as little a surprise to anyone. With Uncle Ken hovering in the background and turning up at matches, it looked more and more certain that there was a rabbit away, and we would be stuck with our oil magnate for the rest of the season.

Hopefully we will win our battle against relegation as I would certainly not like to be Ken Hodcroft or Russ Green if the unthinkable happens after the last three years of gross mismanagement of our beloved club.

Fifty Shades

Fifty Shades

While My Qatar Gently Weeps

Diary of the President - revealed by KT POOLIE


Hopefully a quiet week. I need some time to prepare my re-election case.

Michel keeps dropping news items on my desk asking me for an official comment. Sometimes I think he’s not up to the job.

We have worked hard against racism so I was truly shocked at the treatment of the guy trying to board a train full of Chelsea fans. I could understand if it had happened in Russia or Poland but not in Europe. I don’t know why a black man was in Paris. Unlucky, I guess. The whole thing is strange, perhaps the train was full. Looking at the footage later I could see some pretty ladies in the carriage. Were the shops shut too, I wonder?


A report lands on my desk from Doha claiming more unwarranted deaths among World Cup stadium construction workers. As usual the liberal elite are screaming for reform of the labour laws.

Can’t they understand we are working to an unmoveable deadline? I remind the press that in a project of this size in such squalid conditions, thousands of fatal accidents is normal and has to be weighed against nearly 1.5 million migrant jobs.


Michel has started the drip-feed announcement of the switch to a Winter World Cup. It’s a multi-faceted problem that only someone with my intellect can comprehend.

The sponsors are easily ameliorated by offering free marketing, more high-value tickets, more adverts. They only care about one thing – money! The TV schedulers were concerned the new dates clash with the NFL but they agreed player safety is paramount when I gave them unopposed rights to the 2026 tournament.

The European clubs are crying like girls about the disruption to their leagues. I pointed out they would get the blame for any player who died in the 50 degree heat. That should keep their lawyers tied up for months.

The fans? Frankly, who cares?


At last something positive. The new poster campaign, “Just say no”, designed to remind homosexual fans how to behave has been signed off.

I still think an outright travel ban is a safer solution for them. No doubt I’ll be the one getting the flak if one of them gets a thousand lashes for upsetting local sensibilities.


I’d forgotten about the other 2022 bidders, erm Australia and a few other no-hopers. Michel tells me they are considering legal action if we change the date.

I told him to drop some heavy hints about the next venue and if necessary spend a little of the contingency funds.

What a week!


Ken's Way

And now, the end is near,
And so we face our league days ending.
My friend, I'll say it clear,
Though we’re not sure what fate is pending.
We've played a season full,
We travelled each, and every m-way,
And more, much more than this,
We did it Ken's way.
Yes, there were times, I'm sure we knew,
When we were dire - more than a few,
But through it all, when there was doubt,
Our eternal cry was: out! out! out!
We faced it all,  now comes the fall,
for doing it Ken's way.

For what is a fan, what have they got?
If not their team, then they have not
To say the things they truly feel,
And not the words of the chairman’s spiel.
The record shows - we took the blows,

And blew it ...Ken’s way!

Funny Old Game

Wimbledon (h) As I Seen It

RUNNING MONKEY says "Yes We Can" 

Pools 1 Wimbledon 0
League 2
Victoria Park
28th February 2015

On the way to the Vic my daughter mentioned that new strikers for Pools always score on their debuts. If ever we needed a scorer, today was the day. 

The manager claimed this was going to be a big week in the future of the HUFC. A meeting was being called by some fans in the Corner Flag after the game today in order to set up a trust with the intentions of taking over the club if IOR walk away. I would think we would soon hear of any plans made. 

Way back in August we beat today’s opposition 2-1 at Wimbledon but today’s game has much more hanging on it as we hopefully bring out some good home form again to lift us eventually off the bottom, I am in the minority when I say this can be done. 

It was a do or die game too and Pools started brightly, playing football, keeping it down and going at them down the flanks. Flinders was in action early as a ball into the box was blocked and he dived bravely at feet to clear the danger. 

A header from the edge the box hit the bar as Wimbledon started to put some pressure on us, winning a succession of corners. Once again we were under the cosh a bit, unable to hold onto the ball, and not scaring anyone in the Wimbledon end. A little light relief was the sight of Mirfin, down at the Rink End, pick up a ball out wide and nutmeg his defender, but his cross was cleared. 

I said to the Ditchburn Poolie "How long is that big feller Akinfenwa going to last?" He is more rotund than tall but certainly knows his way around the pitch, and most times his tackles are fouls but he disguises his elbows very well. He came close with a turn and shot from the edge of the box but it was wide and never troubled Flinders. 

Winfield their big centre half was not much of a footballer, he was more adept at wrestling, practising his moves on young Smith, who was running him ragged, and nearly brought out an own goal from the defender as he tried to block his shot. Our old agitating ref Mr. Boyeson was doing his very best to upset the home fans, which is normal for him, but to give him his due, despite letting a lot of fouls go unpunished, this was one of his better games at the Vic. Cue insult from the Ditchburn, who actually walked the length of the Town End to berate the Millhouse linesman for not flagging for another foul on Duckworth

Franks played an awful ball down the line and a frustrated fan behind me shouted, “We know where you live, Franksie” which is a bit harsh, but lightened the moment. 

Wimbledon turned on the pressure towards the end of the half and Flinders, who was really steady today, made some good saves throughout the game and late in the half, along with the help of Mirfin, helped to thwart a concerted attack from the visitors. 

Wimbledon has the reputation of being a hard team and they were just that, and there will be a few Pools players on the treatment table on Monday, following this cruncher. 

After the break, again it was the visitors testing our nerve. Duckworth had a very good game today, making some great crosses from out wide, putting pressure on them, and it started to show, as Pools were edging it now. " strikers for Pools always score on their debuts. If ever we needed a scorer, today was the day."

Woods raced after a ball down the middle and what both the Ditchburn and I agreed on was that the late tackle by the centre half was unnecessary, as Woods had won the corner. The tackle was late and crude, and it looks like a broken ankle for Woods, which is devastating for our run-in.

The half time discussion was on the fact that Pools have been using ball girls rather than ball boys lately. This is upsetting the Ditchburn, who, on his way to the refreshment stand for his warm milk and a chocolate brioche said something to the effect of "Stroppy bloody idle teenage wasters who think it is not their job to leave the warmth of the surrounding fence to collect a ball. It is hard work and I am watching the game.” He could be right. Bring back the boys, please. At least they can kick the ball back.

Pools lifted their game, kicking downhill, and the pressure now was all on the visitors, who had made a lot of chances throughout the game, but had not been able to capitalize, and were becoming more frustrated, and the fouls were coming thick and fast. This suited Pools, who were now playing the better football, and both Mirfin in front of goal and Tshibola had shots that went close. 

The much-deserved goal came after Smith laid on a ball for Duckworth, whose cross, almost from the byline, found Bird racing in to slot the ball home from close range. The lad had struggled at times adjusting to the game plan, but never gave up on effort and thoroughly deserved the goal. 

Once again the visitors came at us in numbers, looking to snatch something back, but Pools held firm. Flinders made some great stops and Mirfin and Harrison in particular handled the threat of Akinfenwa, who won a lot in the air and laid off some telling passes, but was never a real threat on our goal. 

Twelve minutes were added for the Woods injury and again it was backs to the wall until Mr. Boyeson suddenly realised there were two teams playing, and the home team were taking all the stick. Pools held on till the end, and on the second half display really deserved the win. 

A great team performance and quite a few outstanding games today: Flinders, Austin, Harrison, Duckworth, and Woods until he went off, were all contenders for man-of-the-match, but that honour went to Smith, who also had a good game last week apparently. 

The buzz phrase this week is, "YES WE CAN!"

Stevenage (h) As I Seen It

RUNNING MONKEY sees a rare home defeat

Pools 1 Stevenage 3
League 2
Victoria Park
14th February 2015

On the way to the ground I listened to some of the "Ivanashisms", and he was discussing Tuesday's game and the chances that fell to Marlon Harewood late on, as we beat the Cobblers to gain a very valuable three points.

The comment went something like this; "Late in the game Harewood had two glorious chances inside the box to score. Considering he is making a living at being a striker there was very little composure on display."

We were very lucky on the night, getting a win from a mis-hit ball that fell for Morgan. There was enough evidence on Tuesday that the twin strike force that was to be employed today would bear little fruit. So to hear there would be no changes was disappointing. One ray of hope was that Fenwick had made the bench. I was secretly hoping that Mr. Moore was playing mind games with the visitors and Marlon would be withdrawn after the warm up, but it was not to be.

The ref today was Steve Martin, namesake of the American comedy star. By the end of the game I was wishing it had been the real Steve Martin. I am not supposed to criticise officials too heavily so I will only quote what the Ditchburn Poolie said of the man: "This Barsteward was the @!&*)$@ who was the only )^@£ to spoil Sir Richie of Humphreys' record, giving him the one and only red card of his career, the $^()4£@.” I did say to the Ditchburn that we just cannot go on blaming officials for all our ills.

For the first seventeen minutes we were making a game of it and, as the home side should, we were pressing them back, and Compton in particular was causing panic in the visitors' defence.

Once again our possession was leading to very little as the strong Stevenage side held us at the edge of their box, and our long-range stuff was a waste of time. I do not remember their keeper ever being stretched throughout the game.

I mentioned seventeen minutes as there was an injury at this time, and so a lot of the players were taking drinks and taking instructions, but from the restart we were on the back foot for the rest of the game.

Franks made his was across the edge of their box and the obvious ball was out wide to Compton on his own, but Franks, as he does, cut back and tried a shot through a crowded area, which is so frustrating to the fans. I had a theory which I ran past the Ditchburn, that was, as the new lad from the Borer was on the bench, Franks was not prepared to feed his team-mate as one of them could possibly be hooked to make way for the new lad. The Ditchburn's reaction was unrepeatable, but I stick by this theory.

Marlon and Morgan were seen to be arguing after Morgan made his way into the box and laid off a nice ball near the spot, that Marlon had not anticipated, and was left like a lemon in the middle as the ball was carried away by the defender. Composure Marlon, composure. You can always tell when Marlon is not up for the game; his body language speaks volumes. He becomes belligerent with the ref, and at one point he was going eye to eye with Shan Tan Sideways, who incidentally is still going sideways, and still can’t head a ball straight. Captain for the day, and winning the toss, Walton turned us round and you knew then it was not going to be our day. 

We were under pressure and had little guile to change this as they ran straight through the middle of us and we laid down for them. Another costly slip-up laid on an easy goal for the visitors and it never got any better throughout the first half, as we made them look good. "Do we want a player, not quite fit, who can score goals, or a fit Marlon, who is disinterested? "

Ned had to make a long run off his line and dived at a ball, just getting it off the toe of the attacker but it was becoming backs to the wall. The Ditchburn said he knows the ROOT CAUSE of the problem: we can’t hold on to the ball up front, we struggle to get our passes in consistently and we can’t get the crosses in that will give us a chance to score. Realistically, we are INCONSISTENTLY rubbish.

The usual party of half-time drinkers promised they would return late, and kept to their word, and for the third time missed a Pools goal at the start of the second half.

The good news at half time had been that Marlon was left in the dressing room, and Fenwick was back, and it took the lad just four minutes to latch onto a Franks cross and slot the ball home for one-all. Why oh why did he not start the game? He has to be the better option. Do we want a player, not quite fit, who can score goals, or a fit Marlon, who is disinterested? 

The visitors won a corner, and honestly there was a totally free header for their second, and seeing as there was no challenge and a lot of ball watching, even I could have scored it. 

The introduction of Fenwick did give us a bit of a lift, but Stevenage came at us time and time again playing more decisive football - the kind of stuff we rarely see from the home side on a regular basis, and that is the problem. Their third goal looked a bit of a fluke as Pools were appealing for a free kick and a long range shot spun up in front of Ned, who tried to push it away. It spun over his head and into the goal, with Mirfin desperately trying to hook it back, but it was in the net before he caught up with it. 

There was no way back for Pools in this game now. The new lad Jones did come on but there was little to show from him in a game that was lost.

The Future's Not Bright

Any Other Business


Two steps forward, one step back!
Well, Pools have been showing some improvement since Ronnie Moore arrived. Many of the existing players have been galvanised and his signings have mostly been effective, but every improvement seems to be quickly followed by a setback. Thus Bingham did well and was called back from loan, Fenwick started to get going and was injured, and then the same happened to Woods, who is now out for the duration.

The great escape may be still more a hope than a realistic expectation, but with all the extra hurdles Ronnie is having to get over, if he manages it, it will be the greatest managerial feat this season, in any division. Of course, each defeat makes that less likely, and after the Dagenham defeat the hope is now close to being a forlorn one, especially with Burton being the next visitors.

The idea of forming a supporters' trust is one that has its merits, and the organisers are to be applauded for running with the idea. However, while, in the short term it addresses an immediate problem, in the longer term, such co-operative ventures tend to end in failure, and usually for the same reason: that enthusiastic amateurs cannot compete with ruthless professionals. We're not talking especially about football here, but about running a business in a field where financial failure is common. And the same enthusiastic amateurs will also have to contend with streetwise operators, whether inside or outside the organisation, who have the skills, knowledge and resources to either bankrupt the club, or take it over, and back into private hands.

Most football clubs were actually set up as something not too different to supporters' trusts, but later went into private hands. So keeping them owned and run by the fans will be the big problem. If Garry Gibson and George Reynolds got into difficulties, yet presumably must have had some business acumen before taking over their clubs, then ordinary fans are going to have to be much more astute than those two ever were.  

So while we wish this venture well (football would probably be better if all clubs were fan-owned), but we'd caution vigilance, otherwise the Brave New World might be as short-lived as the one that the people of Egypt thought they had gained in 2011, but which was taken away from them again only two years later.

Regular readers of Running Monkey's home match reports* will know that of late some of the Poolies with whom he hobnobs have been missing goals, due to arriving back late after half-time. Obviously they must be getting lost somewhere in the ground.

Well, Running Monkey has now provided us with a photograph, so we ask that Poolies look out for them after half time and direct them back to the Town End. They are the Carrolls
- Kevin, Rebecca and Hannah.

We are told that they are not considered a threat, and with also missing so many goals, have much in common with Marlon Harewood.

(* the restraining order prevents him from leaving the town)

One of our regular contributors acquired a book about Teesside Railways from another contributor, and tucked inside it he found a 7-year-old 'Memory Lane' section from the Hartlepool Mail. This comprised an article and photos of a train which in 1967 was the last steam-hauled passenger train to pass through Hartlepool before British Railways did away with steam trains.

All very appropriate to being tucked inside a railway book, but there, filling up a space on the second page, was another picture from the same year.

It would be interesting to see, were such a presentation to occur in Hartlepool now, what the gift would be, and what would be engraved on it. And who would be leaving, and why!

And finally...

Running Monkey has passed us a link to the website of a spoof newspaper, News Thump, which Monkey Business readers might like. And as with all good spoofs, you shouldn't just look at the main article, which is the reason we're mentioning it, but the whole thing. Have a look at it here: