Showing posts from May, 2015


CARLISLE UNITED 3 - POOLS 3   League 2  Saturday 2nd May 2015

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at Brunton Park


This was my first ever visit to Carlisle as like a good wine, I do not travel well. As we all knew we were safe after last week's great win at home, it was a day out and a celebration of the fact that after a tough season and a “Never say die “ attitude we still retain our Football league status. 

I always understood that we were classed as the frozen north of the Football League, but Carlisle is almost part of Scotland. What an awful journey to get there on a day when the Metro in the Toon was out of action and a pile-up on the A1 conspired to send every available vehicle in the north east on to our track, making progress through and around the Toon virtually at walking pace.

One occasional contributor to the Bizz from London thinks he has had problems with British Rail. To cap it all my chauffeur for the day was on a go-slow too. He seems to have an aversion to speed traps and a love of farm animals, especially cows. We eventually made the long trek and I have never waited so long for a Jimmy Riddle so I bailed out at the Carvery on the edge of town and promptly lost the crew. There then followed a route march up to the intended parking lot to catch them up, and back again as apparently the crew had just parked next to the Carvery and were inside quaffing ale while I searched like a demon for the lost souls.

Carlisle the sheep shearing capital of the northern wastes of Britain was smaller than I expected, but the two and a half thousand gaily-dressed reggae Poolies really gave the place a lift. Criticism had been raised on some Internet sites of the wisdom and the merits of a Bob Marley theme with all kinds of rubbish spouted about blacking up etc.

From what I gathered when the idea was mooted no one was going to black up and it was the fact the lad organising the thing was merely a Bob Marley fan, but as in the politically correct society we live in now, so much of this stuff is OTT. The only face paint I spotted was either blue n white or the multicoloured reggae stripes, and the whole event was brilliant and nearly everyone there participated in some form of dressing up. Credit must be given to the organiser, the Pools fans - and the team, for making sure that “Every little thing was gonna be alright.”

One home fan commented to me on my trek "Your fans have made a great effort today in numbers and their fancy dress. You will probably beat us, as this Curle feller never picks the same team twice." He also told me that before Curle was appointed, the Shearers had asked Ronnie to take the job on the understanding that he could save them from the drop. Ronnie could not guarantee that, which turned out to be very fortunate for little old Hartlepool.

Wyke and Sweeney, two ex-Poolies were turning out for Carlisle. The Pools fans were bouncing, but then going down three nil in less that forty minutes raised a few questions over whether we are good enough.

After a pretty even start they hit us with a great shot that some thought Ned should have got but looking at the replay later he did not have much chance of a save. The second was another goalmouth scramble with some poor defending and the third was a similar situation - not getting a foot on the ball and it was poked home. Three nil down in about thirty-five minutes was not the celebration we were looking for.

I went at half time to try and get some breakfast but the cavern under the stand was heaving. There was what can only be called a Poolie mosh pit in progress. The chant of "Hartlepool is my passion" sung by about fifty dancing Poolies was deafening. This huge surge of energy fuelled by the dirty water they serve up there should have been piped into the Pools dressing room, as despite being three nil down you could not knock these lads for their show of passion.

The Bizzies were in attendance and the Carlisle response team tended to hang back in awe, but my guess was as these lads were just letting off steam, no one was in danger until someone lit a smoke flare which seemed to clear the cavern anyway. Some might say hooligans, but that was not the case, it was just Poolies showing their pride and passion in a slightly disorderly manner.
Pools' first goal went down well

Due to my attendance in the mosh pit. I missed the start of the second half and wondered why Marlon had replaced Fenwick, but to be honest this was a master class from Marlon in how a striker should hold the ball up at the front. It is a shame he waited till the last game of the season to show us this class. (Of course I am only talking in terms of home games and this one away game so I expect to be corrected in due course.)

Pools were a different team in the second half, pushing the home team back, and Hugill pounced on a deflected ball from Tshibola, shot and slotted it home. Rampant Pools were at it again a minute later when Duckworth latched onto a lay-off, again from Marlon, and struck a shot home giving him the opportunity to do his tumbling celebration.

The Pools fans were in raptures as again the link with Tishi and Marlon allowed Hugill to slot his second at the far post and Pools, both team and fans, were flying high.

This was a great comeback with some great performances, especially in the second half. The Tishi and Hugill combination along with Marlon were excellent in turning round a game that was lost.

Duckworth had a good shift and Harrison and Aussie thwarted every effort from Wyke throughout the game. There was a lot of pride at stake which came to fruition when they pulled back three goals which sent the Poolies home with great cheer after taunting the Carlisle fans with what sounded like “Three-nil, and you fluffed it up, Three-nil, and you fluffed it up",

It was good to see Buster bring Hugill over to be saluted by the fans after turning round our season. I think I may recommend him for a much sought-after Headland passport, Sweeney also got a great chant from the fans of "Sweeney is a Poolie", which I think he rather enjoyed.

So now we all look forward to seeing the retained list and any new arrivals in Ronnie's side for next term.

Funny Old Game

That Was the Season That Was

- But don't do that too often!

A few words on the Great Escape by GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY 

Well, the season is over and what a time we’ve had over the past few months. Come January, we were dead and buried and looked to be going nowhere – except the Conference. 

Then, in came The Messiah and preached to his followers that all was not lost. The followers responded both on and off the field with the result that The Great Escape became a reality. 

Of all the loan players that Ronnie Moore brought in, Jordan Hugill was perhaps the gem and it was, of course, his goal that brought Football League safety. It may well be that if Preston North End win promotion to the Championship, then Simon Grayson will think that he’s not quite ready for the elevated status. In which case, let’s have him on a season long loan. 

Obviously, mistakes were made with managerial appointments but that’s all in the past. We now have an opportunity to move forward and a start will be the retained list. Jack Compton never really fulfilled the early promise and perhaps Jonathan Franks showed inconsistency. Opinion was divided on Marlon Harewood but he was able to make a big contribution when it mattered. One thing he did do was show the other players how to take the ball into the corner and thus run down the minutes. Something that’s not been done too much over the years.

What’s up for next season? I’d be happy with a mid-table spot but frankly we’ve not a lot to worry about. When an average side like Burton can win League Two then it shows the paucity of what’s on offer. Pools more than matched them at The Vic and it was only a defensive lapse that saw them take the three points. I’ve never quite worked out how Accrington can survive on gates just over a thousand; indeed when they came here they brought with them the sum total of forty supporters. Come to think of it, Exeter City brought more supporters up here and I liked the way a small number of them stayed behind to join in the celebrations after the game had finished.

One thing’s for certain, there will be more travelling to away games. Relegated from League One are, of course, Notts County, Leyton Orient, Yeovil and Crawley. It was Crawley who, of course, sacked Richard Barker on the grounds that they wanted to take the club forward. As far as I know, he’s now Assistant Manager at Milton Keynes Dons, who gained automatic promotion to the Championship. Get in there!! 

And then, of course, there are the two clubs coming up from The Conference – Barnet and most likely Bristol Rovers. Be pleased to welcome you back, Andy Monkhouse! At least, we’ll have Carlisle and York to travel to! The turn out at those two grounds was fantastic and showed what support we’ve got when it matters. Perhaps the club could keep up the momentum by arranging for a CD encompassing The Great Escape and Bob Marley’s Every Little Thing Gonna be all Right with the profits going to youth development. Worth a thought. 

Its going to be an interesting close season and events will take our minds off things like the next government and a royal baby.

There’s not a lot going on elsewhere during the summer so relax and don’t get too stressed out being dragged round Asda, Tesco, Morrison’s, Gateshead Metro Centre, Primark and any of their ilk.

Funny Old Game

Looking Back

BILLY'S CONTRACT er... looks back!

Well, thank goodness that is all over. What a roller coaster of a season that was. I'm still dizzy and feeling a little queasy after that ride; it seemed as if would never end.
Just in case anyone's memory is letting them down let me remind you of some of the highlights, sorry I meant to say low lights of the season:
- Duff injury-prone signings.
- Knocked out in round 1 of the League Cup, shipping five goals in the process. 
- Having the lowest number of  league goals scored.  
- Having the worst goal difference in the division. 
- No attempts at goal in a run of four matches 
- At one stage twelve points adrift from the relegation pack.
- Leading goalscorer sold on transfer deadline day. 
- Two Managers sacked. 
- Defeated by Blyth Spartans at home in the FA Cup in front of millions on TV. 
- Old owners go. 
- New Owners come in. 
- Old owners reinstated (Did they ever go away?)
- Fans' boycott.
- Inception of a supporters trust.

I do apologize if I have omitted anything; Oh, goodness, the pink away shirt! 
At times there was too much to take on board.  It is only fair to say that Blackpool have topped Pools with what their fans have been through in these past ten months, and by some considerable margin indeed.

Then along came Ron. And as they say, the rest is history (a bit like some of the players that will be on the free transfer list this week!)

Good managers at this level have to have good pedigree, have been around the block a few times, not be afraid to say how it is, and above all to have contacts, as well as some good fortune.

Saint Ron, by speaking his mind, got one or two of the team motivated. His contacts within the game got us the loan players that Colin Cooper could only dream about signing. Cooper was once quoted as saying that it is difficult to get players to come to the North East, but Saint Ron did it against all the odds when we were ten points adrift, and what signings they were, from all corners of England and not just Middlesbrough. 

Unlike most football managers as well as fans, he did say that he didn't think luck evened itself out over a season. For a time you could not argue with that statement. Ryan Bird and Rakish Bingham were recalled to their respective clubs after shining for Pools, due to their clubs' concern that Pools might just overtake them in the league. Then the in-form Michael Woods broke his leg. Leading goalscorer and, to quote Saint Ron, "young pup" Scott Fenwick was ruled out through injury for six weeks, and Brad Walker lost form (again.) Then there was the massively-deflected goal conceded against fellow stragglers York, and the injury to David Mirfin. The list goes on and ...on.

However I must take issue with Saint Ron, as to my mind we had several  massive slices of luck. Ryan Bird's penalty at Oxford was saved but Neil Austin slammed in the rebound. We had a number of dodgy refereeing decisions go our way, riding our luck in the last ten minutes of several home matches when we were being pushed back deeper and deeper in our own half by the opposition. 

One fantastic bit of luck was Scunny not recalling David Mirfin, which would have been a disaster. However the biggest stroke of luck was that our relegation rivals kept losing and dropping points. At one stage Cheltenham were fourteen points ahead of Pools. I also recall the then Tranmere manager Nigel Adkins saying, after they had been on a bit of a run, that Tranmere were now looking at the teams above and not below them. So I have to disagree with Saint Ron and say that luck does even itself out, and sometimes, certainly on this occasion, we got more than our fair slice of it..

It goes without question that Saint Ron's loan signings were, bar one, inspirational, and hopefully one or two might be back with us next season. The pick of them all for me were David Mirfin and Aaron Tshibola. 

Mirf steadied the ship at the back and gave leadership to the rest of the defence, and Scott Harrison must have  benefited massively from having played alongside him. You only have to look at the goals conceded column when Mirfin was out injured for the last few games to realise what a big miss he was. I was surprised that, during an injury crisis, his manager Mark Robins did not recall the Scunthorpe fans' favourite back. It may well be that manager and player do not see eye-to-eye, and although there would be a fee involved as he still has one year of his contract to run, Pools could, if they were ambitious enough, make the move permanent.

Tish,  I thought in his early games for Pools was exceptional, winning every second as well as every 50/50 ball. I was wondering who the heck it was keeping him out of the Reading team. At times he played in a manner that belied his young years, and the fact that he was prepared to come so far north to play regular football is all credit to the lad, and was rewarded when the fans took to him big style and had their own song for him. As well as that, looking at his Twitter account, he absolutely loved it at Hartlepool so who knows, if this wonder player who is keeping Tish out of the side at Reading continues to do so, we might get him back here on loan. He was carrying a thigh injury in his last few games - the cut and thrust of League Two football had probably taken its toll on him - and at times he looked a little off the pace, not dictating play as he had done in his first days at Pools, so it speaks volumes for him that he continued to play.

I also have a feeling in my water that we might not have seen the last of Jordan Hugill... Hopefully not.

I won't dwell on the match itself only to say that it was a game of two halves...

- First half: Hartlepool of old
- Second half: Hartlepool of Ronnie we want Moore

The highlight of the day for me, and there were many, was very shortly before kick off.  Ronnie Moore, presumably having given his team talk, strode across the far side of the pitch dressed in full Rasta regalia to acknowledge the travelling 'Pools support. If it had been noisy beforehand the noise level went up several decibels.

As I said, I won't dwell on the match.but Pools were dreadful in the first half and left the field of play lucky to be only three goals down. Rumour had it they only had their first training session on Thursday. Many of them I guess were still hungover after celebrating retaining league status.

Pools took to the pitch wearing a dazzling day-glo bright all-yellow strip. Luckily I had my Rasta sunglasses with me so, unlike the team in the first half, it didn't dazzle me too much much. To be honest I could have done with a pair of ear defenders as well, as the shirts were really loud. 

I was thinking long-term about all the confusion this could cause. The amount of passes that would be directed out to the wings by Scotty or our midfield players only to see the ball landing at the feet of a Safety Steward (Or just a man in a jacket). 

This confusion was confirmed at the end of the match when the players came across to applaud the travelling fans, and the police also took to the field in their hi-vis vests. If it wasn't for the fact that the bobbies had their Alsatian dogs with them, you could not distinguish who was a policeman and who was a Hartlepool player.

I have since heard that this strip is a one-off limited edition. A new away shirt will be on sale for 2015/16 season. The hi-vis yellow shirts will be auctioned off, with funds raised going to Pools youth development. 

However when one reads the extract from the Pools commercial department (See the small print below!) It would appear that the shirts are to be A Homage to IOR. What next? Sacrificial offerings of fans to the altar of IOR?

"Today’s decision of incorporating the IOR logo on the front of the shirts for this one-off game is a gesture from our Football Club to IOR who have supported this Club magnificently, especially over the past 12 traumatic months, contributing greatly to the Great Escape.”

I did say that I would not dwell too much about the Carlisle game, but what about that goal from from Ducky? Goal of the season. One right out of the Hugh Robertson top drawer.

I see that the commercial department have come up with a novel way of raising funds for the club in offering sponsorship of parts of the pitch. That is the likes of the penalty spot and the corners, and presumably the centre spot. So I assume the sponsor's name will be given out over the tannoy every time a corner or a penalty is awarded either side. 

Billy's Contract junior thought that Darlo could make themselves a few bob by adopting a similar scheme by offering by auction to the highest Poolie bidder that part of the Arena pitch that Eifion Williams was stood on when he scored that wonder goal against our travelling friends.

Not to dwell too much on the Carlisle game, but I have got to say that Marlon Harewood's display when he came on as a sub was the ultimate masterclass in centre forwardness.

One had to feel sorry for the Carlisle players who came out to do a lap of honour at the end of the game. They had to wait some time for the celebrating 'Pools players to leave the pitch. When they eventually showed there were only a handful of their fans left in the ground to offer their applause which they probably could not appreciate as the 'Pools fans were chanting "Three nil and you 'Messed* it up."

Gingerly the Carlisle players sauntered to the half way line, but without crossing it towards the Poolie masses, who nevertheless gave them a bigger round of applause than their own fans could muster. After which they started chanting Antony Sweeney's name, who in turn acknowledged the Hartlepool contingent.

Got to say, in fairness to the Carlisle supporters in the main stands, that as they left the pitch they gave the Pools team and their fans a respectful round of applause.

* Messed was not the actual word chanted, so use your imagination dear reader (could be children reading this!).

Carlisle Pics

Half-time at the bar
The players join in
MB140 - May 2015

Bounce Back Ability

The view from WAGGA MOON

Home and hosed with a game to spare, who would have thought that at Christmas?

It has to be said it was more to do with how poor Cheltenham and Tranmere were than any heroics from the Pools squad. Even when we were absolutely desperate for a home win against Southend and Accrington we could not manage one and took a hiding at Luton when we were looking for at least a point. Thankfully our two rivals were even more abysmal than us and we escaped the drop.

It was a good battling performance against Exeter and a well deserved win even without our star loan signing David Mirfin. We should do all we can to make him a permanent signing.
But before that we must sort out the retained list and there are not a lot of players who deserve to be here next season. Unfortunately there will be some who are neither use nor ornament who will be staying thanks to being on longer contracts than they ever deserved. Those with a Boro connection or a friend called Colin Cooper.

Scott Harrison, Dan Jones, Brad Walker, Michael Woods, Nicky Featherstone, Ebby Nelson-Addy, and Scott Fenwick are the ones I would keep and I would try and sign loanees Mirfin, Tishibola, Rakish Bingham and Jordan Hugill."...there are not a lot of players who deserve to be here next season. Unfortunately there will be some ...who will be staying thanks to being on longer contracts than they ever deserved."

I am sure Ronnie Moore will have a number of targets in his sights and I have the utmost faith in his ability to spot a decent player. One signing that did not work out was Marvin Morgan who had very little game time but showed he can score a goal. Obviously something has gone on behind the scenes and it seems we are never going to find out what it was.

For people who say Pools never have any luck I think we have used up about five years' supply this season with our abysmal results not really doing us any harm. But we must ensure we never get into this position ever again.

Mr Hodcroft must come out and tell us his plans for the future. if he has not got the money to invest in the club will he bring people on board who may be able to help or will he sell up? If it is the latter let's hope Russ Green can find some sincere and affluent buyers and not the bunch of shysters he came up with last time, whom he even joined on their board.

Ronnie Moore did a brilliant job in the second half of the season, and given financial backing and a free rein can quickly turn the club around and see us battling at the top of the league instead of the bottom.

You only have to look at Bournemouth this season and their promotion to the Premier League.
Five years ago they were a worse team than Pools and we regularly gave them a good tonking both home and away. Then a couple of years ago, on the brink of administration, they got a Russian owner to take them over. Certainly no Roman Abravonich but still worth a few bob.

But he did not go for big name signings or manager. Brought back Eddie Howe who had played for the club and managed them before having an unsuccessful year at Burnley. The players they signed were not "big names" but from the same level or a division higher or lower, but good solid professionals.

With Ronnie .Moore's knowledge of the lower leagues and his superb list of contacts I am sure he could put together a formidable side on not a lot of money.

Whatever happens it is certainly going to be an interesting summer, and as usual it is never boring being a Poolie.

Funny Old Game

Teessiders Go North

BILLY'S CONTRACT on that final home match

The night before the home game against Exeter was like the night before Christmas. Going to bed late, not being able to sleep until the wee small hours then after falling asleep, having to get up to 'wee' in the 'wee' small hours. Then waking up a good hour earlier than usual absolutely 'Cream Crackered'.

The big day had finally arrived, Though without the Christmas presents (Ronnie Moore would deliver these later in the afternoon).

The morning was spent wondering what to wear as the weather could not make up its mind what to do. The club had asked the fans to wear something blue on the day so for a change I thought I would go for one of the striped home shirts. Sadly as I had not worn them for so long they must have shrunk in the wardrobe. I must say that a good number of other middle aged Poolies have experienced this same problem. I really must take issue with the club shop, as this must be a common fault either within the fabrics that they use or some quality control malfunction or other within the manufacturing process.

Mind, an afterthought did occur to me that my hearty breakfast of two stotties filled with black pudding and sausage, as well as three mugs of tea, might have contributed to the problem. Not to be deterred I tried on a few of the other home tops that I have and I could not help but notice that the blue and white stripes on the shirt did look distinctly wavy from just below the chest area down. Obviously not very flattering for those with a fuller figure. To that end, I abandoned all thoughts of the blue and white stripe ensemble and opted for a dark plain colour which would hide a multitude of sins.

So, thinking that it might bring 'Pools some luck I donned the navy away shirt that 'Pools wore at the play off semi final against Tranmere ten years back. Amazing to think that ten/eleven years back Cheltenham Town Tranmere Rovers and 'Pools were battling each other for a play off final place, and on this day all three are all battling each other to stay in the Football League.

I had pre-arranged to meet a group of my ex- work mates (Two Boro fans and two Mags) who travelled over from the far flung parts parts of Teesside to take in the game and lend their support to the 'Poolie Cause. Kev, who had left his home town of Marske in glorious sunshine, wearing a short-sleeved T shirt. could not believe how cold it was in Hartlepool. I told him that he should come and visit us in winter time then he would know what real cold was all about. With that he ordered a hot meal from The Ward Jackson grill."I overheard an Exeter fan on the next table say to his mate that sadly it would probably be many a year before he would see his team play at the Vic again."

As the alcohol began to hit I was starting to become quietly confident of a Pools victory, but as we were quaffing away I overheard an Exeter fan on the next table say to his mate that sadly it would probably be many a year before he would see his team play at the Vic again.

Further discouraging news filtered thought that Carl Boyeson, that most pedantic of all pedantic referees, would be officiating at the match. Then my worse nightmare was confirmed, much to the delight of my Boro mates, that David Mirfin would not be playing and that his place would be taken by Matthew Bates. My son, who a few moments earlier had placed a £20 bet on a 'Pools win, having heard of Bates' inclusion in the side, wished he had not been so hasty in his trip to the bookmakers.

I won't comment too much on the actual match itself here as I am sure it will be covered elsewhere in this issue.

The atmosphere was second to none and The Vic rocked for the full ninety minutes with a vociferous crowd behind the team, unlike the last couple of home games when the crowd became very quiet after a short while, and it was a case of "does the crowd get the team going or does the team get the crowd going?" I think both supporters and players were very - and probably rightly - nervous, and neither really got going!

For the early part of the game I kept telling my mates that I couldn't understand Ronnie Moore's logic in playing Bates, as a fair percentage of Pools' goals-against column is down to his lack of pace and the ability of attacking players to turn him with ease. Dave, one of the Boro lads, who had not seen Bates in the flesh for some time (have a look on the internet Dave!), thought Bates was portly and very slow and could not relate to him being the player that he used to watch in Boro's heyday (Did boro ever have a heyday?)

I had not got the words out of my mouth when Bates gave away a needless corner when he could have shielded the ball out of play from the attacking player. From the resulting corner Bates failed to pick up his man who sent in a header which Scotty Flinders pushed out for another corner. Now re-read the last sentence, but this time the Exeter forward headed the ball firmly past Flinders.

For the next ten minutes Exeter began to throw balls into the box and our back four, particularly Bates, were all over the place, and at that point I genuinely thought that we would be lucky to get a result. Fortunately Exeter seemed to take their foot off the gas and as they say the rest is history.

At one point I was beginning to think that Ronnie's decision of playing Bates was nearly as bad as when Danny Wilson put in Mark Tinkler at centre half in place of the injured Micky Nelson at Rochdale (06/07 season.) Like Bates, Tinks had no pace, and had also been out injured for some time. Rochdale won two-nil, both goals were down to Tinks, and the result would effectively cost 'Pools the title.

I was praying that history would not repeat itself as instead of losing out on silverware we could lose out on our league status. Hopefully. Ronnie would do the right thing: hook Bates at half time and put Neil Austin in at centre half with Duckworth filling in at full back. Thankfully Hugill and Fenwick kept Exeter occupied and took the pressure off our defence for long periods.

Just before half time Kev, in his now wet T shirt is starting to shiver quite violently, and has offered Dave £10 for the loan of his coat. In a matter of seconds the transaction is complete and Kev is wrapped up in Dave's coat and Dave has pocketed the tenner.

Dave in an effort to stay warm himself joins in enthusiastically with the chanting and singing and urging on the boys in blue so much that at the end of the game we have momentarily lost sight of him, until one of the other lads sees him celebrating with the players on the pitch! What is it about 'Pools that can have such an effect on people?

Afterwards, back at The Ward Jackson in West, then at The Highland Laddie and The Red Lion in Norton, we exchanged our post-match thoughts. The four lads loved the day, saying it was great being on the terraces and so close to the play, and that the atmosphere was nothing short of brilliant.

They had to admit that at times the quality of football was a bit rough and ready. and lacked the finesse of the Premiership and The Championship respectively. The thing the lads enjoyed most was the physicality and contact side of the game, and in particular when Scott Fenwick and Exeter's centre half well and truly clattered each other when going up for a high ball. Both of them lay on the ground for a second or two then shook their heads and were up and running again. If that had been in the Premiership they would have been rolling around the pitch in feigned agony for twenty minutes, awaiting the air ambulance or a coroner to arrive on the scene!

All four lads said it was a great day out and were absolutely delighted that Pools had beaten the drop, and they said that without no mistake they will be back next season. ...and so will I.

Postscript My son won £50 on his bet. So all and all not a bad day.

The Karankies

Funny Old Game

Accrington (h) As I Seen It

RUNNING MONKEY sees a late point rescued

Pools 1 Accrington Stanley 1
League 2
Victoria Park
15th April 2015

Accrington came to the Vic to play football, and for most of the game they did that far better than we did.

Pools looked a very nervy side going into what was in our eyes and must have been in those of the players, one of the biggest games of the season, when you consider what is at stake.

All the old failings flooded back as the visitors set about the game with some slick football, whereas we missed passes, hoofed the ball away to watch it come back, and some criminal defending put us under a lot of early pressure.

The visitors ran rings round us, through us and over us. This was not the performance we expected in such a crucial game. The rallying call from Mr. Moore before the game was "go out and shoot on sight". Sadly it was the opposition that took up the challenge and we never got a look in for the first half. I can only remember one wild shot over the bar in the whole of the first half from Pools as we back pedalled.

According to the knowledgeable fans around me our system of five at the back was not working as we were being overrun in the middle of the park. To my mind we were being battered and the submission was not long off. A couple of Pools defenders went for the same ball and it dropped for the Accrington man who I later found out to be Windass, son of Windass, and he hit a screamer across the goal and into the top corner, giving Ned no chance at all.

They deserved the goal for the amount of pressure they inflicted on us. I honestly thought this was going to be a rout the way we were playing. Tishi again was having a poor game for a lad that had looked so secure on the ball, but knowledgeable heads again informed me he was carrying an injury.

Featherstone once again was the driving force for Pools but he was too deep to affect the game. We were desperate for the half to end to try and get some order in our game.

At the break the ref, a former public schoolboy named Jeremy, as the Ditchburn Poolie informed me, was coming in for a bit of stick, which I agree he deserved. Booking eight players throughout the game let's just say he was a little officious. Harrison did not help things when, after leaving the field following injury, he was standing on the line waiting to come back, and a ball dropped close to him. So like a defender does, he went for the ball. Sadly, the ref had not yet called him back into action, so he was booked.

Ronnie Moore had brought on Fenwick and Jones (the lad from the Borer) for Hawkins and Duckworth, who I think still ducks a few challenges. Fenwick was needed as he gives his all, but the Borer lad, despite being a good player going forward, is possibly a bit lightweight and once he turns infield more often than not is robbed of the ball. When he gets his run in down the line he can make a great cross, and there was an early sign of this in the first minute when Hugill raced in but his shot was over the bar. The energy Fenwick and Jones brought transformed the team as we went for them.

"The visitors ran rings round us, through us and over us. This was not the performance we expected in such a crucial game. "

Fenwick, in a chase with a defender for what was really a lost ball, clashed with the defender on the dead ball line and the lad took a kick at him. Jeremy stepped in and as they walked back the lad had another go at Fenwick, which set a few players shaping up to each other. My guess was Fenwick was just letting him know he was around and the lad was in for an uncomfortable second half. Mirfin, who has been outstanding of late seems to have been struck with the same malaise as some of our team, not so sure-footed in defence. He did get onto a cross in the box but looped his header over and it dropped for a defender and was cleared.

Ned made a good one-handed save as the visitors broke again and Harrison cleared one off the line as it looked like they had weathered the Pools storm.

Marlon is popular with some sections of the crowd but in our little clique eyebrows were raised as he replaced Franks, and his first contribution was a hand ball in their box. For his second he attempted, after picking the ball up, to launch it down the line for a throw in to be taken but he hit the Millhouse Terrace. His third contribution was a superb header past the keeper after a wonderful cross from the Borer boy Jones.

One all, and on the second half display we deserved it. The visitors pressed us back again but the outlet Fenwick and Marlon were now giving us made a better game of it and Fenwick went close at the death, but I thought he was offside anyway.

So the battle continues and Marlon may yet become a legend.


Exeter (h) As I Seen It

RUNNING MONKEY sees safety achieved

Pools 2 Exeter City 1
League 2
Victoria Park
25th April 2015

It must have been a tough week for most Pools fans this week, trying to anticipate what would or could happen on our last home game of the season. In a way I was pretty confident that we could make it safe today providing the other two teams failed to win.
The good thing about the situation was that we were not in a Cheaterfield situation as we were the last time we were relegated, or another Cheltenham situation were a points fiddle helped them stay up. It was in our own hands, and depending on which Hartlepool team turned up then we could either save the day or go into the last game next week needing a result.
I was confident with Ronnie Moore in command. Who else could have turned around a twelve point deficit and give us the chance to save our league status? Ok he gets paid to do a job, and so did Colin Cooper who I blame for our desperate position, and partly the board for keeping him in place after his first season, when it was obvious that the man had no idea about this level of football. Then once Hignett moved on and he was left with the players he had brought in, then he was exposed as a no-hoper.
Murray was only ever going to be a stop gap and it is unfair to criticise him as that was a desperate gamble from the owners.

"A legacy from the Cooper era soon knocked us back down again"

Ronnie Moore is the man we loved to hate as he could always turn up and turn us over, and if we looked like getting the upper hand he could change the situation, and that is what makes him a good manager. When you look at his stint at the club, every move has been positive, and if things did not work for him then he set about changing things, even with the limited options he had at his disposal.
If nothing else he gave the fans hope, and the players confidence. He once said he had a list as long as his arm of players refusing to come to the frozen north simply because a relegation on their CV would have been a black mark. I only hope we can hang onto Ronnie Moore and see what kind of a team he can build here, especially when you look at the players he did manage to attract. I just hope the board support him after his efforts to save our season.
The game itself set off at quite a pace and if ever we needed a good start this game was it. Ok, one Poolie commented that if all the bottom three lost their remaining matches we would still survive. But who would want to go to Carlisle next week needing a result? If that had been the case we would probably all be blacked up to cover our embarrassment.
The arch-demon Carl Boyeson was also in attendance, and I often think he blames us for his getting dropped from the higher echelons of the Football League as he always makes us suffer. Today, for instance, the only man booked was Hugill, who was chasing a forward who ran across him and the card was out in a flash with the clock only on eight minutes.
Both Fenwick and Hugill are a handful for any team, and Boyeson was trying to stifle our chances.The two of them combined to send the Vic into raptures as Fenwick, put through by Hugill, slotted the ball past the advancing Exeter keeper. What a start, and on balance it was a well deserved lead.
A legacy from the Cooper era soon knocked us back down again as Master Bates, guiding a ball back to the dead ball line, suddenly hit the ball when it was easier to let it run out for a goal kick. The attacker had no time or space to even get a foot on the ball and the result was a corner to the visitors. It looked to me like they got a free header which Ned managed to push round the post, but a repeat of the corner found the same head and it resulted in the equaliser. It was bloody annoying to see us go down once again to a set piece.
Pools had a short spell to endure as the visitors raised their game but Pools pressed them back again and were unlucky not to score from a succession of corners they won at the Rink End. We defended well and with Featherstone carrying the ball forward all the time we played some decent football. Tshibola was having a better game than of late and a great run from him set up Hugill to score Pools' second goal, which would eventually become the winner.
Pools came out for the second half with all guns blazing, and Franks made a good early run but was unlucky as his effort went just wide. This was a good second half performance from Pools to protect the lead.
Harrison was immense at the back and the duo up front were running the visitors ragged. I just wish that whatever these two lads Hugill and Fenwick are made of could be bottle fed to the rest of the squad as these two lads never stopped hassling. Hugill, who had been booked earlier, was withdrawn for Marlon as Boyeson had been taking more than a passing interest in him and came close to booking him a second time. Possibly the manager was having one eye on the next game and Hugill was taken off before being sent off. Featherstone was once again the engine driver for Pools as he made some great runs, executed some brilliant passes and really urged the team on in a bad spell half way through the second half.
The Ditchburn Poolie commented about Scott Harrison: “How the hell did we get that lad?" He was magnificent again today and I do not think he missed more than one header apart from when they scored their goal.
So Pools survive. Yet again.

Funny Old Game

Any Other Business


Well, the worrying is all over, Pools are safe, and Carlisle can now score 12 for all that it matters.

Pools fans celebrate after Pools beat Exeter
to ensure their survival
It's been a terrible season, but that Exeter match was no less exciting than those in the playoff days of many years ago. But the cheering, the hugging and the pitch invasion didn't disguise the fact that the only achievement was that Pools managed to be not quite as bad as two other teams.

In some ways there's a parallel here with the Cardiff playoff final, 10 years ago, where Pools had played well, narrowly missing out on promotion to the Championship, with Poolies coming away thinking that the next season they would have no problem going up automatically. The reality was (as is often the case for losing playoff finalists) misplaced confidence followed by relegation.

Luckily, most Poolies realise that while Ronnie Moore did a brilliant job of rescuing a basket case, and while some decent players have emerged by various means during the season, Pools have only half a team at most that are up to League standard (when they are all fit), and that next season won't be much better without a significant input of new players. Assuming that the ownership uncertainties allow Ronnie Moore to remain, and with the resources to bring in new faces, there could be grounds for optimism, but those uncertainties could well be the most important factor.

Billy's Contract passed on this quote from the Exeter local paper's match report:
"The Grecians also knew what to expect from the home side. The normally immaculate playing surface at Victoria Park had been deliberately scuffed up by Moore’s men in the week as they trained on the pitch twice to make it less suitable for City to play their free-flowing, passing game"

Read more:

And finally,

We'd like to thank all the contributors who have stuck with it for 10 months, mostly trying to think of different ways to say that Pools were still terrible! Let's hope that next season Pools will be a better subject to write about.

And if anyone out there feels like having a go at writing (or drawing, or contributing in any way), we'd be happy to hear from you.

So have a stress-free summer and we'll be back in August, when the stress starts all over again.

Avengers: Age of Ultron