Showing posts from September, 2015
End of August Blues!!!!


After a promising start the wheels may have appeared to come off. Should we be concerned for the long term future?

Being the eternal optimist, the results against Stevenage and Carlisle maybe didn’t come as a great surprise. Since Stevenage came into the Football League, we’ve never beaten them – in other words, they’re a bit of a jinx side.

Carlisle are a club with whom we’ve had mixed results and their record at the end of August provides interesting reading. OK, they’re in the lower reaches of League Two and whilst they have shipped in most goals (12) the fact is that only Leyton Orient (13 against Carlisle’s 10) have scored more goals. Against Cambridge, for example, Carlisle were behind three times but forced a 4-4 draw. Thus the danger signals were there and whilst Pools could have made more of their chances, there was always the chance that Carlisle would bounce back – and this they did. Although Pools’ first goal came from a corner, it does seem that the delivery from set pieces could be improved. Too many are being over hit.

Quite a bit has been said about the behaviour of Carlisle fans regarding the damage to seats in the Rink End. Like Arsène Wenger I didn’t see anything, but if its true then Pools should be seeking some form of redress – either through Carlisle United or the FA. Trouble is, if the referee didn’t report anything there’s probably not a lot that can be done.

Let’s hope we don’t get into a losing run. We all know what these can mean – and two long away trips – Wycombe and Exeter – will test our nerve. The present squad will need to take us forward – the days of IOR supporting the club on the back of a booming oil industry are gone and we can’t afford to compete with the Lutons of this world (notice where they are in the table, by the way). Possibly the two positions where we might have to tap the loan market are at full back. I’m more than satisfied with the centre of the defence but teams are building up their attacks too easily down the flanks. Rakish Bingham is definitely showing his skills and is worthy of more hits – don’t panic, I’m sure the goals will come.

On to other things and two caught my attention. The first was Bury’s equalising goal against Doncaster Rovers on the opening day of the season. The situation arose when Harry Forrester scored for Doncaster when, deep into stoppage time, he overhit an attempted back-pass as he tried to return the ball to Bury, after Bury had put the ball out of play to allow one of their injured players to receive treatment. As you can imagine, all hell was let loose as Doncaster boss Paul Dickov ordered his side to allow Leon Clarke to walk unopposed from the kick off to score. I’m sure that Paul Dickov and Doncaster come out of this very well, but I wonder what will happen if Bury’s goal is crucial in the relegation/ promotion stakes at the end of the season. I shall watch any events with interest!
"Let’s hope we don’t get into a losing run. We all know what these can mean"

Secondly, there was the spat by Jose Mourinho over his medical staff, Dr Eva Carneiro and Jon Fearn. As the Premier League Doctors’ Group pointed out “the Chelsea medical staff were clearly summoned on to the field of play by the referee to attend to the player. A refusal to run on to the pitch would have breached the duty of care required of the medical team to their patient.” One suspects that Mourinho’s rant was to deflect attention away from the fact that Chelsea had failed to beat ‘little’ Swansea.

He even suggested that Dr Carneiro and Jon Fearn did not “understand the game” but do they have to? As the statement added, “The General Medical Council issue clear guidelines on good medical practice that need to be met in order for a doctor to maintain a licence to practise and satisfy the criteria for professional revalidation every five years.” In other words, we have certain standards and guidelines – if Mourinho’s not satisfied with these then sod off back to Portugal and leave us in peace.
Funny Old Game

Just the Ticket

BILLY'S CONTRACT on season tickets 

Despite a small price hike, it was a pleasant surprise that 'Pools had sold almost 200 more season tickets than they had at the beginning of the last last campaign. What can only be classed as amazing was the crowd attendance of 4,289 for opening game of the season against Morecambe. Allowing for the 200 or so that travelled up from Lancashire meant that almost 600 'Poolie non season ticket holders paid on the gate on the day. 


Business acumen and commercial common sense finally prevailed at the club by reducing admission prices on the gate by £2 to £18. This surely must be down to the new owners, particularly as Uncle Ken in his programme notes last season stated that cutting the price at the turnstiles was not economic sense. If this was the case within the retail trade, sales and promotional offers would not exist. Yes, the retailers may lose some some margin but they still make a profit, as once in the doors the punters might purchase several other items as well,  which in turn boosts their overall profits. I am sure that the club shop and the various bars and food outlets around the ground made an few extra bob the day of the Morecambe match as a result of getting more 'bums' in the ground (nothing personal here) or to quote the official trade line 'greater footfall' through the turnstiles.

I am convinced that although the season ticket offer is a good one it does not necessarily suit everyone's pocket. Take my son for instance,  and I wish you would.( ...Only joking, young Billy!) He is currently living and working in Tyneside. As such, he is unable to get to the 5 evening kick offs. Occasionally he has to work Saturdays. Today he missed the Carlisle match as he was moving house. In his case it definitely does not pay to have a season ticket, whereas paying on the gate on the day, at a reduced rate of £18 on an 'as and when' basis is a more attractive proposition.

I believe that away fans as well as fair weather fans will think likewise, thus adding additional numbers to the gate on match days.

Last season for example I overheard a couple of lads who had travelled by train from the 'The Tees Valley' (Bit of politics there) to take in a Pools match for the sheer hell of it. When they got to the turnstile and found out how much it cost to gain entrance they marched directly back to the town centre, spending the rest of the afternoon in The Ward Jackson pub, and were still in pocket when they left to catch the 6 o clock train back to this mysterious valley in Teesside. Result: lost revenue to HUFC.

What I would like to see happen, particularly if Pools are on a bit of a roll and are up near the top of the league come early December, is to do what Sunderland and Gateshead did last year and offer a 'Half Season' ticket deal at a similar rate, or a tad cheaper, to the pre-season deadline prices that Pools quoted.
How many Pools fans would love to get a season ticket as a Christmas pressie?

I have to say that when I saw Sunderland offering half-price season tickets last year at £150 a shot, I was tempted, particularly as their games did not clash with Pools'. The prospect of seeing ManUre/City/Chelsea/Arsenal/Liverpool and the Happy Hammers beat Sunderland caused a rush of blood to my head. Better still, I had never been to a Tyne /Wear derby match so this could be a first for me, to see what all the fuss was about, and if it came anywhere close to rivaling a Pools v Darlow game. (not a chance.)

I quickly scanned the upcoming fixtures on offer at the Stadium of Fright only to see the hallowed names of the mighty West Bromwich Albion, Crystal Palace, Stoke, Burnley and QPR. In fact the nearest thing that they had in terms of a derby match was the Wear-Humberside fixture with Hull City. Needless to say that I passed on the deal. Having said that 'The Deal' initially looked very attractive, and I am sure that some sad people took Sunderland AFC up on their offer and purchased these half-season tickets, resulting in a boost for the coffers of the club as well as other businesses in the region ...such as chemists selling anti-depressants to their fans.
Joking aside I genuinely think HUFC should consider the merits of a half-season ticket promotion, which could ultimately lead to a promotion.

... and 

BILLY'S CONTRACT on the season so far

It is far too early to be talking about promotions/play offs and relegations as well as the possibility of the dreaded mid-table mediocrity, but I will. Here however are a few observations of the season so far.

On the plus side:
As I write we have nine points on the board, something which we did not achieve last season until the second week of January. So we have four months in hand to improve on our current points tally.
"The last time Pools beat the Minstermen on their home turf the Vikings were still constructing Jorvik."
It is the first time since 2010 that we have progressed beyond the first round of the League Cup. with an excellent away win at Fleetwood.
An away win at York City. The last time Pools beat the Minstermen on their home turf the Vikings were still constructing Jorvik.

On the cause for concern side:
It has to be said that at times this season Pools have been riding their luck. York for instance tore us apart in the first half with crosses coming in the box from all directions with our defence all over the place. Similarly our good fortune continued when we played hosts to both Morecambe and Newport.
Again, against Carlisle, particularly, in the first half it looked as if Lady Luck was continuing to smile on us, as in truth Pools could have been three down before they took the lead, and even then the Cumbrians to their credit still kept coming back at us. As it turned out, our luck - almost a season's worth over the four games - ran out, and Carlisle ran out comfortable winners.

Luck does indeed play its part but I think where the problem lies is in our midfield. Ronnie Moore signed 10 players over the summer but not one of them was a midfielder albthough Carl Magnay has slipped into midfield by default.
We have two tidy play makers in Woods and Featherstone, but in my view they are too similar. Both are good short passers, mainly side to side and backwards, but without delivering a killer ball. Both are defensive-minded and neither tends to get in their opponents' box.

It is a bit like the old England scenario: who do you pick - Lampard or Gerrard. To my mind 'Pools have the same problem. It is a straight choice between Woods or Featherstone. Woods would get my vote for his energy, commitment and the fact that he can put a tasty tackle in when required, which is something that Featherstone seldom does. Ronnie needs to get someone in permanently or on loan who can 'run' 'boss' and 'dictate' the midfield area with box-to-box runs and creative vision, whose efforts would take the pressure off the back four, which at times seems to be under constant siege.

The back four themselves need to be more consistent. Harrison has yet to find the form of last season and has been responsible for a number of goals conceded. Perhaps he is missing the guiding influence of David Mirfin.
I am not pressing the panic button yet, as I see all this, as our American cousins would say, as 'Work in Progress', and I am sure that Ronnie is aware of our shortcomings and will make the necessary moves.

On a final note, Carlisle are fast replacing York as our bogey team. We have not beaten them in five meetings and in the last four fixtures they have, including last week's, planted three goals past us on each occasion. Their fans were really up for the match today and I understand that they are in the process of filling in the application form to become our official derby rivals, as it would seem it is going to be many a day, if ever, before we play Darlington 1812 Overture again.
Graham Leggat

BILL THE BIRO on a player he knew nothing about

Graham Leggat died at the end of August, at the age of 81. He was a Scottish footballer whom I never saw yet his death produced a moment of reflection on my youth.

Graham Leggat is a name from my days at primary school ('Cuthie's College for General Knowledge' as my dad used to say), in the late 'fifties. That was long before I developed any interest in football beyond running round on games days in a clump of fourteen boys, chasing a ball which was being looked after by another similar clump on Rift House Rec. I was hopeless at football, and didn't really like it that much. (Later, when I grew to like it, I was still hopeless, and would end up spending games afternoons with the other duffers, on the triangular pitch. Footballing success for me was being picked second-last rather than last!)

However, back in Cuthie's we all collected and swapped footy cards. I can't now remember whether they were genuine cigarette cards, which you had to scrounge from your network of smokers, or they were dedicated cards that you bought from the local sweet shop or newsagent's, but they may even have been the ones that came in packets of tea (before the days of teabags.) However, collect them we did, and stuck them into an appropriate album. And Graham Leggat was on one of the cards.

I've no idea why he sticks in my memory, as he wasn't as well-known as Billy Wright or Stanley Matthews, and, unlike them, he was foreign - well, Scottish, anyway. And he never played for any team in the north of England, let alone the north-east.
"Footballing success for me was being picked second-last rather than last!"

I may have been influenced by my dad, who used to watch Pools, and for some reason also followed Celtic (presumably for their Irish Catholic connections rather than their Scottishness, of which there was not a trace in our family.) Except that Graham Leggat never played for Celtic (or even Rangers.)

Perhaps for a yet-to-see-the-light football fan it was more to do with his unusual surname. I've never come across another Leggat. Maybe it was the option to spell his name as 'Leg it!' that tickled me.

For anyone interested (and I didn't know any of this until this week) he was born in Aberdeen and played for his home town club for five years as a right winger, winning the League Championship with them. In 1958 he both played for Scotland in the World Cup, and transferred to Fulham, with whom he stayed for a further eight years. Then he saw out his career with short stays at Birmingham City, Rotherham, Bromsgrove Rovers, and finally with Toronto Metros in 1971.

After retiring he became a Canadian Gary Lineker, although Jimmy Hill might be more of a contemporary, presenting a weekly footy programme and also doing stints as a pundit. He remained in Canada and died there on August 29th.

As I said, when I heard that he'd died, there was a reaction, perhaps not as strong as those I felt when I heard that Jimmy Mulvaney and Tony Parry had passed away, but nevertheless sufficient to cause the memories of primary school, and football cards - and kick and rush - to come flooding back.

Graham Leggat 1934-2015 RIP
Funny Old Game

Penalty Miss-takes Send Pools Out

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at the Vic

Pools 1 Sheffield United 1  Tuesday Sept 1st 2015

(3-4 after penalties, and Pools go out of the League Trophy) 

Once again we see ourselves pitched against another Yorkshire club up for the cup. A repeat of last season's second round game, which we lost. 

The Ditchburn Poolie and myself had a guessing game as to the crowd tonight. It looked about half of the gate on Saturday - around two and a half thousand with a fair sprinkling of Yorkshire folk in the Rink End. My prediction of two thousand six hundred and fifty two was slightly higher than the Ditchburn who was trying to count them. He eventually gave a figure of two thousand two hundred and sixty eight. He tends to guesstimate the fans smoking in the bogs and at the bars. Apparently H.U.F.C. have different rules on smoking areas in the ground for cup games. The Ditchburn was closer, as the figure was two thousand two hundred and twenty one. You can tell it was one of those games when we have to amuse ourselves.

The early signs looked ominous, as like Bournemouth we were having trouble staying with them, and in the early confrontations they pulled us apart quite easily.

Their goal was well made with some slick passing football, and Bartlett made a good save for the first shot but the ball was hit straight past him on the follow-up.

We were pinned back and made little of what possession we did have as they dictated the game. Duckworth, with some great close quarter footwork found himself free down the line but his cross was cut out. Oates managed to break loose and at least get a ball into the box but we were feeding on scraps.
"we were having trouble staying with them, and in the early confrontations they pulled us apart quite easily"

There was some desperate defending of the Pools goal and Bartlett was made to work really hard to keep it at one nil. Bingham almost got through as he pressed a defender who tried a back pass, and the speed of Bingham almost caught out the keeper. Oates on another run managed a cross but Fenwick was too far forward for him to connect.

Duckworth, who was having a good game, came closest for Pools with a curling shot that just went wide.

After the break Pools looked to have got over their stage fright and began to make a game of it. A great diagonal ball from Jones left Fenwick in space who at last tested their keeper. Bingham picked up a loose ball and made a great run into the heart of the visitors' defence.  He laid the ball off for Fenwick, charging in behind him, to score an equaliser.

The visitors stepped up their game after the Pools goal and a number of subs were brought on, maybe with an eye on penalties. Duckworth made a great tackle to thwart the visitors but he was injured in the challenge. Sounds like a hamstring so he will be out for a bit.

The visitors were putting on the pressure again, and again it was difficult to break out. Carroll made a break and kept going and hit a screamer from a long way out, that could have been a contender for goal of the season, but sadly he was just wide of the mark.

At least we had made a game of it in the second half and deserved the chance to go into a penalty shoot out. Sadly both Harrison and Fenwick had their attempts saved, and Bartlett, who had been superb throughout the game, only managed to save one shot.

So our cup run “eth” over once again, and it's now four defeats in a row, so early in the season. But as one Poolie commented "I am not bothered, as the chips in Wembley would have cost us a fortune."
Ripping Game Gives Carlisle the Points

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at the Vic

Pools 2 Carlisle 3 (League 2) Saturday August 29th 2015

There were a few comments on t'internet about this game from the respective managers, one claiming this was their cup final, and the added Paynter factor should play a big part. As Paynter went off in Tuesday’s game, was he going to be fit? The wireless says said yes, and Woods too, who was doubtful after the visit of Bournemouth.

I was hoping that the loss of Paynter was due to us getting hammered, and as he was not going to change that game he was being rested for today’s affair.

There was a good atmosphere in the ground despite the attention of more than our fair share of police cars, vans, dogs and even a helicopter, possibly due to the eight hundred visitors from the shires getting excited in this genteel seaside town.
There must have been bother on their journey down; the last time I saw trouble like that was when the Yorkshire wannabees, L***s over fifties club, were let loose on the town to see if they had any muscles to flex.

Kicking up the bank for the first half always makes me feel a little better but the almost full Rink End apparently disgraced themselves by ripping out seats and lumps of timber, and quite a few were getting slung out for going on to the pitch. Sad sight to see at the Vic.

It was a bright start from both sides, end-to-end stuff.

Pools got that vital early goal. A goalmouth scramble at the Rink End, with the ball bouncing in and around a melee of players from both sides who were having a swipe, it was Harrison that managed to hit it into the net. Carlisle reacted to going one down and became very physical in their tackling and they pressed us in numbers.

There was a hell of a scramble in our box, as they pressed hard for a quick equalizer. Hery was causing problems and getting into the box too easily down our right side. They have a long throw expert who could hit the box no problem and they used him quite a bit. Harrison and Boyce had their work cut out against some big men in the Carlisle side. In their next attack they managed to hit the bar from four yards out.
"Even with six minutes extra time we had no chance of getting anything from the game. "

Featherstone broke a tackle and made a smart turn in the box after Magnay laid a ball on but his shot was blocked. The Ditchburn Poolie had described the ref as a lunatic after some chaos he had caused at another venue, and after a tackle, no, an assault on Bartlett by Grainger, when Barrett went down for a ball and Grainger literally jumped on the keeper, it was not a fifty-fifty ball, it was dangerous play. But the ref eventually gave a dropped ball.

Paynter took a long looping shot that went straight at the keeper but there was little to worry the Carlisle man. Bingham made a run down the line and was sent head over heels by a defender, as they were taking no prisoners. Ibehre went close and Carlisle were getting in far too easily. Bingham played some good football and a quick turn and shot hit the upright just before the break.

Magnay did not come out for the second half and he was sorely missed as we allowed them to run riot. Pools went backwards from here on in and never looked like getting on top of the visitors. Any chance we did get was wasted and we started to give the ball away too easy. Bigg, the Carlisle centre back was well named and he picked up a booking after taking out two Pools players with one tackle. Carlisle looked the better side in the second half and soon got the equalizer. Not surprising after the missed chances they had in the first half.

The Pools penalty was after some smart work by Fenwick, dodging around the box waiting for a free kick to be taken and he was bear hugged by Kennedy, and the ref stopped the game and spoke to the pair of them. As they went back ready for the kick Kennedy did the same thing and the ref pointed to the spot. The Ditchburn praised him no end for having the balls to give the decision.
Paynter was up for it and his celebration was with all the lads in front of the dug out with Curle watching Paynter imitating a weight lifter.

The equalizer for Carlisle was a brilliant run and a screamer of a shot across Bartlett who had no chance as the ball hit the top corner. Pools were chasing the ball again and credit to the visitors for their application and they topped it off with another goal from Ibehre. Even with six minutes extra time we had no chance of getting anything from the game.

We lost all shape in the second half and paid the penalty. Boyce for me was man of the match, but I think it was given to Woods. 
Funny Old Game

Playing With the Big Boys

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at the Vic

Pools 0 Bournemouth 4 (League Cup) Tuesday August 25th 2015

The big boys are up for the cup. There had been some discussion the previous night as to how long it was since we were in the same division as the visitors, the consensus being about four seasons. By the end of the night it felt more like light years, as the visitors ran riot from the start. 

Once again all the omens were against us in this tie. It was a fine night - no wintry conditions for the southern visitors to endure in this frozen outback.

The official was the number twelve for Bournemouth, Mr. "Boys Own" Boyeson, who never seems anything less than biased against Pools. When has he ever done us any favors? So of course being with the new "toast of the new intake" on the Premiersh*t gravy train, true to form he crawls all over them. He even allowed them to win the toss and turn us around. Some will say there is no evidence of an advantage kicking one way or the other but mentally to a home fan it matters a great deal and a law should be brought in to have your second half as you want it - kicking in to the home end. Some will even say I am biased against this fine upstanding sports person. I would say, on past history, yes I am.

The benevolent Boyeson was in action within seconds of the kick off when Carroll was summarily felled to the ground by an over-the-top tackle that, had it been in the visitors' normal work place it would have been re-run time and again as they made up their minds if it was worthy of a criminal damage claim. As it was only a Hartlepool player, Boyzone gave the free kick and that was that.

In their first attack Bournemouth hit a screamer that hit the bar and bounced back into play. As I was at the other end of the field I would swear it never crossed the line. They were looking very threatening and Boyce, who looks a good player, made a great tackle in the box as we fought a rearguard action that continued throughout the half.

Like with all Premier League teams, bodily contact is not allowed and is classed as unnecessary roughness, and gives the opposition players the chance to lie down and stop the game until a free kick is given. There were a couple of times you heard ironic cheers when Boyzone gave us a free kick.

The Cherries came at us from all sides, they were fast furious and direct and we were all over the place. We just could not get a foot on the ball, and when we did get any possession we gave it up too easily under the pressure.
"Around the half hour mark they took the lead. I was surprised we had lasted that long."

Barrett, who is in good form, made a great save from close range as they continued to pull us apart with some very slick football. Around the half hour mark they took the lead. I was surprised we had lasted that long. Paynter was so deep helping out that if we did win possession there was no outlet up front.

As the constant pressure continued we were two down on thirty-three minutes from a low easy shot. They were good at opening us up and making chances.

Just before the break they hit the third from another benevolent Boyzone free kick which Barratt had no chance of stopping.

Paynter did not come out for the second half, perhaps being rested for Saturday, as he was getting no joy from this game. Fenwick came on and started to bully the opposition a bit and we were making a better game of it.

Woods looked to be limping and he was off for Walker, who did have a good shot, as close to a goal as we were going to get on the night, but the keeper palmed it over. Bartlett made a great one-on-one block as an attacker broke through, and the Pools stopper charged down the savage close-range shot.

Bournemouth did get a fourth when an attacker rounded the exposed Pools keeper to roll the ball into the net.

 Pools were having a little success late in the game and a link between Duckworth and Bingham made a great chance for the striker who lashed at the ball and hit the side netting.

Not one of our better performances and I hope the crowd of nearly five thousand returns for the game against Carlisle. This result was only what we expected and it was a shame that one or two of the visitors thought it was clever to showboat against the lower opposition, but I am sure the boot will be on the other foot once the Prem get to grips with the new boys.

I was tempted to go and let two tyres down on Mr. Boyzone's car, but that would have been petty, so I only did one. Joking - honest!
Any Other Business


An interesting August, wasn't it? Four wins on the trot before the rot set in at Stevenage, followed by a pasting in the League Cup and a surrender to Carlisle. And having started September with a defeat on penalties, a growing injured list, and with difficult fixtures coming up, the future doesn't look too promising, at least until Ronnie can use his magic when the loan window opens. 

Ronnie said that we wouldn't meet a team as good as Bournemouth Reserves this season. Imagine what their first team would have done.

Remember the story about Pools signing a player, for whom the transfer fee was a box of kippers?
Well, this was spotted recently at an antiques centre in the Cotswolds. We wondered if the story could be more recent than we were led to believe, and that this is in fact the actual kipper box.
That could also explain why Ronnie seems to be drawn to footy clubs in maritime places (even if it doesn't explain his affinity with Rotherham.)

Well done to the new supporters' trust for their move to help safeguard the Vic by having it designated as a community asset. With the new owners making noises about ownership of the ground (but rather more tactfully than Ken did), this seems a sensible move. Besides any legal implications, it might also prove useful in that it allows Poolies to feel that 'The Town's Club' really is, to some extent at least, the town's club.

And finally, congratulations to Sam Collins, who carried on the winning run while Ronnie was away on family business. When he was caretaker manager, Sam was really a player in disguise, which is bound to be a handicap when authority needs to be exercised, but obviously he's now moved on from that.

After Ronnie returned from Spain, he said that for the next match he would be taking a back seat and leaving Sam to it. We liked Sam's response of "That'll be the day!"

It's best not to mention what's happened since then though!