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.