Showing posts from April, 2015
As I Seen It -Burton Albion (h)


POOLS 0 - SOUTHEND UNITED 1   League 2  Saturday 4th April 2015

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at The Vic


This was always going to be a tough game as the Easter programme puts pressure on the squad and we don’t need many injuries to turn us into a weaker side. 

We were a man down in the first minute as Hugill went off after the first challenge and never came back. He was taken to hospital after the club doc had checked him out and Marlon was the player to replace him. If ever he owed us a game this was going to be it.

As you know I never slag off officials unnecessarily, but the Ditchburn Poolie had just told me that he was a bar steward so was probably full of drink. Allegedly. To give Marlon his due this was one of his better games and he held the line well, won plenty of balls in the air but collectively the team today was out of sorts. Maybe the Friday game took it out of them but so many missed passes and stupid hacked balls just gave the advantage to the visitors.

Southend went close but the virtual open goal was shunned by the visitors’ striker who hit his shot wide of the mark. The visitors rattled us a little as they came on strong and were not too shy in dishing out the treatment, kicking everything with a ball.

Marlon managed to get a decent header in after run and cross from Tishi. At the other end the gaps were showing early in the game as we looked as if we had no answer to their attacking play. Walker was not in the game but managed to hit one shot that was blocked,.

Featherstone was again probably our most productive player but struggled to shake off the shackles of the visitors' close marking. Marlon, whom the Ditchburn said reminded him of the Archbishop of York (but my guess was that he had eaten too many cream eggs), did get one decent shot off that was wide of the mark. We rallied a little just before the break through some good work by Featherstone, who set up Duckworth, whose shot was weak but the ball just would not drop for him.
"Harrison was pushed up front and he really set about their defence, causing quite a stir, judging by the animation on the visitors' bench."
Just before the break there seemed to be some consternation in the crowd that a Southend player was allowed to stay on the field after a clash, yet our player was told to go off and then return. It was in the extra five minutes added by the officials that the ref decided he had brought his cards and booked a visiting player for repeatedly chopping down Tishi, a shame he had not done it after the fourth foul and not the fourteenth, as was the case.

Part two started and the expected early goal did not come before the Carrolls had returned after their half time glass of sherry. They did miss the early visitors' goal, which stemmed from some very poor defending and people not taking the initiative to hoof the ball away.

Walker, who did get a shot in, was taken off as he was out of the game, and young Hawkins, who replaced him, had a decent half. Jones thought he had scored, and even from the other end of the field so did the Town End, whose celebrations were short lived as there was no reaction from the ref.

Pools were slowly building the pressure on the visitors and were now making a game of it. Franks also made a great diagonal run that looked promising but that extra touch he always seems to need gave the opposition the chance to force him wide.

It was now Pools' turn to pressure the visitors as they put a lot of effort in the attack. Harrison was pushed up front and he really set about their defence, causing quite a stir, judging by the animation on the visitors' bench.

Marlon and Hawkins went close in the dying minutes, the latter trying an overhead kick, but Pools ran out unlucky losers against another top side, especially in the second half, when we gave a good account of ourselves, buoyed on by the five thousand three hundred fans.

A good thing that all the other results went for us today.

MB139 - April 2015

What a Difference a Month Makes


Well, well, well. Who would have thought that we’d see such a turn round in the month of March. 

The month began depressingly familiar with defeats against Dagenham and Redbridge and Burton but what happened next is straight out of 'Roy of the Rovers'. Four wins, three clean sheets and The Great Escape is on. Even the club have got into the spirit of things by playing the theme from 'The Great Escape' over the tannoy.

Its often suggested that managers have a limited role to play in the fortunes of a side (unless you’re the England manager) but in our case it’s the most important factor behind the revival. He’s kicked butts where necessary and made good use of the loan system. The defence is the tightest its been for a long time and we pose a threat going forward. Jonathan Franks had adapted well to his new role and is certainly keeping defences on his toes with his speed. Shortly after the start of the second half against Cambridge, Franks left their centre half for cold and expected a goal which, unfortunately, didn’t come.

Obviously, most Poolies were sorry to see Ryan Bird go back to Cambridge but I can see why they recalled him. Looking at the table, a string of defeats could well see Cambridge dragged into the dog fight and they only looked after the own interests - which I hope Pools would do in similar circumstances. Still, once we get Scott Fenwick back from injury that will give us further options. It only goes to show the mistakes that were made with managerial appointments before Ronnie Moore. If only...

What of the fixtures for April? The game against Newport is difficult to call and I would be hopeful of a point. Southend is going to be a more difficult game all round. However, we always seem to get something out of them at The Vic but end up with nothing at Roots Hall. That leaves us two games where wins are on the cards - Accrington and York City - and these are followed by Luton (which we’ll probably lose), Exeter and Carlisle. The problem with Exeter is that we never seem to have any difficulty winning down there but mess things up at The Vic. The one against Carlisle is one I can’t even think about. Let’s hope its all settled before we go there. "The defence is the tightest its been for a long time and we pose a threat going forward. "

It also looks like IOR have linked into the fan base by offering reduced prices. When I arrived for the Cambridge game there was actually a long queue at the turnstiles for the Mill House seats. A gate of 5009 certainly did us credit and the place was certainly bouncing.

It would certainly be a nightmare going into the Conference. Looking at the eleven games for 28th March, all had lower gates than Pools and four failed to reach the thousand mark. Obviously, Bristol Rovers were playing away so that would bring down the aggregate total.

Looking elsewhere, I see the FA are still prattling on about the World Cup, possibly looking to stage the 2026 tournament. Like I said, forget about it. I see the next two World Cups being chaotic mainly because of the political situations relative to Russia and the Middle East. I was reading a piece the other day which suggested that Sepp Blatter’s name stinks in Brazil. Their government spent millions in staging the World Cup yet FIFA walked away with all the profits. As the FA pointed out, any bid would have to have the support of the British government but in this case I would suggest that the government support the bid but insist that FIFA underwrite the police and security costs. That would settle things once and for all. Anyway, I can’t see it going to Europe anyway. Australia and the States are better bets.

Anyway, everything’s in the balance. Keep the faith. Let’s hope that we’re safe by the Exeter game and have a real celebration at The Vic. Its been a hard season and even the most optimistic Poolie wouldn’t have dare dream that we’d still be in there fighting as April dawned.  

Funny Old Game

Hopefully There's Moore to Come

The WAGGA MOON view on things at the Vic

One step forward, now let's hope we don't see the usual Pools trick of taking two back.

Out of the bottom two for the first time since October, now we have to see the job through and stay out. Ronnie Moore seems to have found the right formation with the players he was saddled with and the results are coming. The team are now showing signs of having some belief in themselves and now with Homesick finally banished, the team are pulling together. We are not giving anybody a good hiding but the wins are coming and Ronnie seems to be able to spot a player when he sees one.

Although I am fully behind the decision to scatter Jack Compton, the Marvin Morgan absence is more puzzling. Unless something has happened behind the scenes we have not heard of. Morgan scored in one of the few games he has started and hit two for the Reserves last week so he will get goals and I would like to see him alongside Jordan Hugill, and if young Ebby was given a chance to show his pace we could see some more goals flowing. 

It was a shame to see Michael Woods pick up his injury just when he was really starting to show some form. Let's hope he makes a successful return to action. 

I think Ken is coming in for a bit more praise after putting the money up for some loan signings that Ronnie asked for. I am not one of Ken's greatest fans but if he is seriously looking for a buyer I would sooner see him carry on than the alternative of a Supporters Trust.

" It is good to see The Vic rocking again, with the noise like it used to be in our Promotion Days."Back to those 21 points to play for, and Fenwick, Miller, Bates and Parnaby are all on the way back for the final flurry. The way Cheltenham are playing, I can't see them overhauling Pools, although I think York will pull clear with Carlisle. 

Tranmere will have a struggle and Cambridge and Mansfield could soon find themselves in the thick of the relegation fight. 
I will be at Rodney Parade on Friday looking to see us pick up another three points. If we do, it will see some panic from the teams around us. Monday will be a difficult game against Phil Brown's Southend side and a point from that game would not be a bad result. I would expect us to win our two home games against Accrington and Exeter, and get draws against York and Carlisle. 
Luton away is one game I am not too confident about and could be the one we lose in the run-in. 

Let us hope we can keep the on-the-day pricing policy as it has been for the last few games. It is good to see The Vic rocking again, with the noise like it used to be in our Promotion Days. Certainly some of the missing fans are slowly but surely coming back and the feel-good factor is back with the supporters. Don't let this slip now, Ronnie, as we are on a roll and no team in the Fourth Division will fancy playing us at the present time. 

If we do pull off the Great Escape let us hope we can keep Ronnie Moore at the club. I am sure there are other teams, and not just in this division, who are looking at the job he is doing at Victoria Park and thinking what he could do for their club. It would be nice to see what team Ronnie could turn out next season with his own men and give free rein in appointing his backroom staff. 

Snakes and (Escape) Ladders

If I Were a Betting Man

BILLY'S CONTRACT assesses the form

It is now that time of the football season when both promotion and relegation contenders alike start to take an unhealthy interest in their rivals fixture lists, in an attempt to predict where their own team will finish ...or be finished at the end of the season.

I must confess that I have spent several hours contemplating/speculating how each of our rivals,  and indeed 'Pools, will fare against their forthcoming opponents.

To that end, to use a racing parlance, lets take a look at the runners and riders in the relegation stakes.
Starting from the bottom up with only seven games left to play:

Cheltenham Town 
Probably have the toughest fixture list of all our rivals, having to play three teams from the top seven as well as two from just outside the play off zone. To make matters worse they have to face fellow strugglers York City at Bootham Crescent.
Current form over their last ten games: Won 1, Drew 4, Lost 5

Tranmere Rovers
Almost on a par with Cheltenham for the tough programme they are about to embark on. They are looking at facing five matches against teams in the top nine places.
Current form over the last ten games:Won 2, Drew 1, Lost 7

Easier fixture list than the two teams below, but Newport away will be a tough call, as is Southend at home. The two so-called derby games against York and Carlisle will be tasty enough, and could go either way.
Current form over their last ten matches: Won 6, Drew 0, Lost 4

Have to face Burton away as well as playoff contenders Plymouth at home and Stevenage away, not forgetting on-form Pools at home
Current form over their last ten games: Won 2, Drew 6, Lost 6

York City 
On paper, probably the easiest run in of all the relegation 'hopefuls'. I see Shrewsbury away and Pools at home being their hardest matches.
Current form over their last ten games: Won 3, Drew 2, lost 5

Cambridge United
Every race has a dark horse. If, as intended, I had written this piece before Pools' win over Cambridge, I had Oxford United down for taking this role. However, after having seen Cambridge United at the Vic, then speaking to their fans after the game, I quickly gave Cambridge's current form the once over and, despite them being seven points clear of Tranmere, they are currently in free-fall, having only picked up seven points out of a possible thirty over the last ten games. A far cry from when they gave Man United a run for their money in the F.A. cup earlier in the season.
Current form over the last ten games: Won 1, Drew 4, Lost 5

All this could be turned upside down if any of these teams hit a similar rich vein of form that Pools are presently enjoying.
I think Carlisle will survive based on their ability to get a result when you least expect it. Hopefully not against us.
York have just signed two strikers from higher divisions on loan, and last Saturday's game, when they beat Mansfield Thugs 1-4 away from home with ten men, will have done their confidence no harm.

Cambridge having already amassed a cushion of points in the bank over the bottom two might just get out of the mire. Bet they wished that they hadn't loaned us Ryan Bird.

Pools have a number of factors in their favour to avoid the drop
"Whilst having ridden their luck at times, on their four-match winning streak, Pools' confidence has returned by the bagful."
Four wins on the trot. Only Burton can match that and they are top of the league. Whilst having ridden their luck at times, on their four-match winning streak, Pools' confidence has returned by the bagful.

It was a major blow losing Michael Woods with a broken leg, but Nicky Featherstone has stepped up to the plate. Brad Walker, whom I have criticised for most of the season, is like a new signing. Indeed when I saw him sat in the stands a few weeks ago at the reserve game against Gateshead, I remember thinking to myself that that was his best position. 

Scott Fenwick is only a couple of weeks away from coming back and the lad Ebby Nelson Addy, who has just signed an 18 month contract with Pools, looks as if he could be a handful once fully match fit. The other major advantage Pools have is a certain Mr Ronnie Moore, The Silver Fox.
One of the Cambridge fans I spoke to said that if Ronnie Moore keeps Pools up he should be made manager of the season. I replied that we had other plans in mind for him if such an event occurs, in that we are going to have him canonized even if he is not dead!

My predictions for the drop
Odds on favourite for bottom spot is Cheltenham. Last laugh. When we beat Cheltenham at the Vic I can recall their then manager going ape at being beaten by the club who were bottom of the league. Hopefully they won't give the teams above them the same medicine as they received from Pools now that they are bottom of the league.

Tranmere will finish second bottom and wish that they had allowed to let Ronnie Moore to have had his bet. I wonder if Ronnie has had a bet on them going down?

My prayer now is that I just hope that Pools continue in the way and manner in which they are doing, and that no major loss of form occurs. Which should not only ensure Pools' survival, but also go a long way to erasing from the memory the Colin Cooper and buddies era.

Funny Old Game

Oxford (a) - As I Seen It

BILL THE BIRO sees an unexpected win

Oxford United 0 Pools 2
League 2
Kassam Stadium
17th March 2015

As with last season, I went with an Oxford-residing Frenchman, for his third-ever Pools match. He had yet to see them either gain a point or score a goal. I was able to point out that many Pools fans had had that problem this season, and that even last Saturday at Morecambe, Pools hadn't achieved both. 

Outside the ground we had to part with almost a fiver each for a bacon cheeseburger, but it was by football ground standards pretty good. A bit of banter at the ticket window (when I was accused by the Frenchman of cheating for getting a £13 senior ticket while he'd had to pay £22) didn't go down well with the stony-faced man behind the glass, but at least the stewards were cheerful and helpful.

We went into the ground and straight to the bar, where we ordered a can of Guinness (it being St. Patrick's Day), and a bottle of bitter, which I could see on the shelf. The young man seemed to be dithering in front of the shelf until his colleague spotted the same and told him which one of the four choices was bitter. Where do they find these people? 

For a southern ex-pat Poolie like me, one of the joys of going to see Pools' away matches (not that there has been much joy these last few seasons), has been meeting up with other Poolies. We only see each other now and again for a 5-minute chat, but even though those shared moments may not amount over the years to too many hours, nevertheless these people somehow acquire the status of old friends, who usually end up reminiscing about the old days just as much as old boys who see each other every night in the pub. So it was that I met up in the bar area with my old mates Whisky and Mick from Evesham. Mick was hoping for something from the match, especially as it was his birthday. I asked him why his name wasn't Paddy then, but he pointed out that Mick was the next best thing. As ever, they were buoyant, and looking forward to going north at the weekend for the Mansfield match. They introduced me to another southern Poolie who they had likewise befriended over the years. 

In the bar area we also got talking to another fan from Gosport, who reminisced about being at a Pools victory here at the Kassam a few years back when Gordon Watson scored. So the match started with a larger Poolie turnout than I was expecting. Some faces I recognised as they are at every away match, but I suspect the majority were southern-based like all the ones I mentioned earlier. 

It was a quite lively game with Pools gaining the upper hand for most of the first half. Scott Harrison was immense at the back, with Mirfin ably supporting him, and Oxford looking like a team that had been told they only needed to turn up to collect the points. After half an hour Harrison put in a fine sequence of tackles to rescue a difficult situation but his legs eventually couldn't keep up with the rest of him and he stumbled, but was given a free kick anyway. Not long afterwards Pools went a goal up through Ryan Bird, and the Oxford fans seemed to be stunned. However, their players responded by putting Pools under pressure for the last ten minutes of the half, but the storm was weathered. 

"Scott Flinders was doing a great job of running down the clock (or time-wasting, as it's known when it's an opposition player doing it)"

Scott Flinders was doing a great job of running down the clock (or time-wasting, as it's known when it's an opposition player doing it), and Pools were deserving their half-time lead. Besides the outstanding Harrison, the rest of the defence was doing well. Featherstone was having the best game I'd seen from him, Tshibola was making things happen, and the other forward players were causing problems for Oxford. 

In the second half Pools got a penalty, and the officials debated whether a sending-off would also be appropriate, but decided against that. So Bird took the penalty to bag his second of the night. Well, no doubt that's what he was thinking, but of course it didn't happen, as the goalkeeper cleared it, so Austin needed to follow up, making it 2-0 to Pools. 

The match continued with neither side really on top, but Pools weren't looking in any great danger. There was a long hold-up when the referee went down and didn't move for five minutes, which resulted in him having to be carried off, and replaced by one of the linesmen. 

During the match, birthday-boy Mick had tried to start some chants, but got no takers, and it was a fairly subdued Poolie crowd until late on, when victory was in sight. Near the end, with Ryan Bird having run out of steam, he was replaced by Marlon. We both agreed that that would not be a bad move in the circumstances, as he was only being brought on as a diversion. 

So, after nine minutes of added time, and some funny comments about that from Poolies, the game ended with three points, another clean sheet, and two goals off the goal difference. Sadly, most of the other results went against us (presumably Cambridge and Northampton also thought they only had to turn up), but the task, though still immense, is not looking quite so hopeless as it did a week ago.

Mansfield (h) - As I Seen It

RUNNING MONKEY sees a third win on the trot

Pools 1 Mansfield Town 0
League 2
Victoria Park
20th March 2015

Of all the matches we have to play in this survival game, this is the one I was looking forward to, as I thought this was one in which we could pick up all three points. Especially as they were only nine points ahead at the start of the day, but with a worse away record than Pools. The stats on Pools over this month show that we are top of the league. 
There was a good turnout for the game, helped by the chairman’s deal on reduced ticket prices, and on the back of a couple of great, and to be honest, totally unexpected away results, the Vic was bouncing. Three back-to-back wins have totally transformed our end-of-season chance of survival. Not that anyone here thought otherwise, “cough cough, splutter.” Our fortunes seem to have taken a dramatic turn for the better in recent games, hopefully just at the right time. 

Some of our players have also been turning in better performances on a more regular basis. The team selection and system has vastly improved, as we seem to have a more settled side, with players who have been sidelined now showing their worth when given a chance to shine. 

The visitors, as all our opponents in this league, were a big side at the back, with stoppers in the strongest sense of the word. Stoppers in the “crunch” sense, as we found out to our cost. A karate kick to the face of Walker saw a red card brandished, fortunately for us it was possibly their best player who showed his frustration late in the game. 

The young pools winger Jones was given some special attention, almost chopped in half at least five times as he tore down the wing, At one point there were three defenders queuing up just to have a go at the little lad who was torturing them. One nine foot centre half was booked, but too little, too late in the Ditchburn Poolie's opinion. 

Jones had been brought on to replace Harrison, who had earlier taken a whack in the nose and not long after wards went off suffering from concussion. The last player we would want to lose at this point was Harrison who, up until the injury, had been immense in the tackle, and between him and Mirfin they never lost a header. The word is that he is ok and will be back next week. 

The visitors seemed to think the bottom team were there for the taking, and pressed us a little, but despite all the huff and puff the game was scrappy with no real advantage to either side or nothing to write home about. Mansfield sent a couple of headers wide and they kicked and pushed a few players, which upset our rhythm, but they were no real threat to us up to the break.

As you all know I was the founder member of the Temperance Society, and do not understand the need to drink mind altering liquids at a football game. Usually the football has that effect. The demon drink at games has its down side, as once again the Carroll family, father and two daughters and miscellaneous friends, for the third time this season missed an early second half Pools goal after lingering at the bar a little longer than they should. We are thinking of having a whip round in the last few home games, so the Carrolls can continue this habit until we are safe. The goal they missed this time was a Walker penalty, which was struck with aplomb by the lad, who seems to be recovering his early form after quite a long time out. 
"The visitors, as all our opponents in this league, were a big side at the back, with stoppers in the strongest sense of the word. Stoppers in the “crunch” sense, as we found out to our cost."

The goal was engineered by Featherstone, who controls our game, is very aware of danger, and spots an opening in an instant. And this he did today when he chased a long ball down, putting pressure on the nine foot tall defender, won the ball off him, made for goal and was summarily chopped to the ground in the box. 

This goal took the pressure off the lads and we played some good football as the visitors became more physical, which was to the detriment to their play. The foul on Walker was a joke as he was kicked in the face trying to head a ball, and it needed a straight red. Junior Brown was a big loss to them as he had been their best player and had scored against us at Mansfield. 

Pools were pushing Mansfield back now with the man advantage they were making more chances. A great ball from Walker set up Bird whose shot was blocked with the keeper beaten. Kee, for the visitors, was given licence to kick or push anything in a blue shirt, which he did continuously throughout the game. 

I must mention the lino down the CK stand. He was so good at spotting the opposition straying offside, I was prepared to have his babies. He hit them every time. I suppose the Pools defence had a lot to do with this trap, so my offer to the lino was withdrawn. 

The young Boro winger, Jones, was clattered every time he made a run; at one point he had three players lining up to hit him as they could see him as a threat. Give him his due, he never stopped running at them and kept coming back for more. 

Bingham came on for the visitors, and I thought it could be sods law, this lad had played some good football for us and after being pulled back to Mansfield, here he was trying to score. I sensed that he was a little subdued today, and it could be he was only pulled back to go on the bench, so felt he was only going to do enough. Maybe we will see him back here sometime soon. 

The visitors did step up their game, going for an equalizer,as they could possibly be dragged down into the bottom of the table dogfight. Flinders was in fantastic form, and in one spell he made three high quality saves in a brief good spell that the visitors put on, and these were game-saving stops. This was brought on by us hoofing the ball again, but that was soon put right and we ran out worthy winners. 

There was some anger around the dugout as the game ended, and I saw a Mansfield player attempt to throw a punch at a Pools fan who was probably taunting him after their loss. One member of their staff was man-handled away from the fracas. 

There were some good performances today all over the pitch. As I mentioned, Flinders and Featherstone (who took the Man of the Match accolade), Jones and Jones both did well, and Franks was rampant down the wing, and even managed some decent crosses. Walker looks to be back to his best and full of confidence. Harrison and Mirfin between them won nearly every header in some hard battles. 

So bring on Cambridge, which I am sure will be a tougher game than this, but I am sure we will be up for it.


Far From the Madding Crowd

Cambridge (h) - As I Seen It

RUNNING MONKEY sees Pools leave the drop zone

Pools 2 Cambridge United 1
League 2
Victoria Park
27th March 2015

As the Cambridge cup giant killers rolled into town it gave us another chance to lift ourselves off the bottom. 

On current form Pools are third in League Two, yet here we are sitting on the bottom rung. Are we bothered? Are we hell. Mind you, back around Christmas it was certainly a bleak mid winter, and so depressing when you bumped into fellow Poolies who were convinced this was going to be our last stand. It was depressing, it was looking really bad, and it was hard to try and lift your own spirits, never mind the downcast fans you met. 

I remember writing in a report recently that it was sad to watch our side slide into the non-league, but at that time it looked inevitable. As I only do home games, I can only comment on those, but talk about a turn around in fortunes, today’s game was the icing on the cake, the numero uno in number one top prizes. As the saying goes, the league table never lies and as it sits tonight we are third bottom, with Carlisle and York just above, with both having to play the league's bottom-end form team before the end of the season. 

It was a sad first for me today as we stood on the terrace waiting for the teams to come out. The Ditchburn Poolie admitted that he was nervous. I could have fallen over the barrier with shock. The macho man from Ditchburn nervous? I was going to say 'the only gay in the village' was nervous but that would be a lie, allegedly. As you can see from my previous comment, I am still in shock (It is a total lie about there being only one gay in the village.) His pre-match report on the ref was all a little vague too, but the gist of it was that this feller is controversial and it must be bad when both teams in the same report seem to think along these lines. Anyway, today the ref acted in the perfect manner and was just as controversial as any we have had this season. 

Enough of that - we came for a game, and a game we got. The wind would play a big part in proceedings, howling like a hooligan and dropping just as quick to a moderate breeze. As is the norm for visiting teams with ex-Poolies in the side, they start playing silly beggars and turning us round. Nelson and Ryan Donaldson were the exes today, and we were turned. It could be that we are just unlucky in the toss. 

As it worked out, the advantage aided the visitors in the first half, but aided Pools in both halves. As the wind was blowing diagonally towards the right hand corner of the Rink End, it was the visitors who were making the most of the conditions, and it was a good ten minutes before we crossed over the half way line. It was on one of the few times we did not give the ball away which gave us a chance to break, and a great cross from Franks, who, despite the odd goof ball is playing better. Up popped Walker, doing his impression of manure’s Rooney, and headed a long ball straight past the keeper. The celebration round the ground was fantastic, and chants of 'we are off the bottom' rang out loud and clear. The Ditchburn was so excited he almost wet himself. "The celebration round the ground was fantastic, and chants of 'we are off the bottom' rang out loud and clear."

The visitors came straight back and, again aided by the wind, they put more pressure on us and almost scored after a scramble in the Pools box was not cleared, and a scruffy shot came off the inside of Ned’s post and was cleared. 

It was not long before they did equalize when a scrappy scramble in the box ended with the ball in the Pools net. Mirfin and Harrison are in good form and, despite some dodgy wrestling around the box, they held the line under pressure until half time. Up front, the new boy Hugill went close right on half time as he raced in and blasted a ball just too high at the far post. This lad looks good; he is a handful for defenders, wins a lot of headers and puts himself about, causing panic in defenders. One draw back is that he likes to go down. The ref was not impressed, and to be honest, I think he was trying too hard to please, but overall he was another good find by Mr. Moore. 

Another first today was a Pools hokey cokey around the centre circle as a warm up. It reminded me of a time eons ago when, at a reserve match with Pools and L***s, their reserves came out of the tunnel and made what looked like a conga around the field as their warm up. I remember it well as it was the first time I had seen those little flag emblems that the L***s players wore to keep their footy socks up back in the day. 

Franks had an early chance when he was put through by Walker, but was undecided which way to go and the keeper robbed him of the ball. The wind was an advantage to Pools in the second half but the problem was controlling the long-range stuff on the day. From a corner that Franks took into a crowded box, the ball dropped for Harrison who swivelled and hit an unstoppable ball into the back of the net. Huge celebrations erupted in the crowd of five thousand as the word got round, with the three points almost in the bag, that we were out of the zone, and what a relief that was to all concerned. 

It seems as if the Ferguson watch is now used at Pools, as for the last four games now we have had an inordinate amount of time added on, and today was no exception, with eight minutes added to the game, this to a half that seemed to have been running for an hour already. 

To be fair to the lads, they had the game won, and played some good football defensively and up front in very windy conditions, and one last chance came for the visitors late in added time, but Ned was up there tipping the ball up then falling with it to the ground, where he lay until all the players had cleared, and not long afterwards the celebrations around the Vic broke out, as the ref ended the game. 

Funny Old Game

Any Other Business


There's been a lot of talk lately about loan players. Yet in the football sense, the use of the English language in talking about them seems to have gone away from its normal British form.

If I lend someone a fiver, the fiver is called a loan, and I've lent it. If I'm the recipient of the fiver, then it's still a loan, and I've borrowed it, as lent is a past-tense version of lend, and borrowed is a past-tense version of borrow. Yet if we substitute 'player' for 'fiver' the words lend and borrow seem to have disappeared. Thus players are loaned, and not borrowed or lent, yet fivers are.

In fact loaned is an an Americanism (they love to make nouns into verbs), which seems to have been appropriated by British football.

Furthermore, this usage seems to have developed on a track of its own. Thus we have people saying 'we'll have to loan another player' when they mean borrow, which isn't even correct in the American usage, since they use loan in place of lend but never in place of borrow.

In fact a case can be made for using lend and borrow in the football senseas borrow has a bit of a stigma attached to it. That might encourage clubs to not rely on the loan market quite so much - but probably not!

So we have the Americans to thank for lending us the terminology for what has become an important part of Pools' strategy this season. So it's all their fault.

Last month we mentioned moves to create a Supporters' Trust. A month on, the project seems to be gaining momentum, with leaflets being printed, and meetings being planned. Whichever way the season ends will only generate more interest, and with the ownership situation still up in the air, these are interesting times for Pools, on several fronts.

After four straight wins against mediocre teams, the Good Friday game at playoff candidates Newport was always going to be difficult. So to leave there with a point was as much as most Poolies could realistically have expected. Ok, Pools let a 2-goal lead slip, but with neither Tranmere nor Cheltenham bettering Pools' result, remaining outside the drop zone was always the main task, and that was achieved. It's still going to be a tense few weeks, though.

Last month's bad start turned it into a stupendous March, so let's hope this month's decent start produces a similar April. One good enough to ensure that we're not in the mire when the next issue of Monkey Business comes out, which will be the day before that game in Cumbria. So the next edition could be either a celebration of a job well done or ...not!