Showing posts from November, 2015
Darlo Revisited

BILLY'S CONTRACT on old foes we've forgotten

Can you believe it is nearly twenty years since the evil empire of Cleveland County Council was abolished. For twenty two years under that insidious regime Hartlepool was annexed under the repressive rule of Middlesbrough.

Allegedly Cleveland County was originally going to be named Teesside County but some enlightened people in the know felt that this would be seen as a goosestepping annexation of the northern territories. Teesside, thank goodness, was dropped in favour of Cleveland to keep the natives happy. Can you imagine Poolies calling themselves Teessiders. I think not.

At the time of this occupation by this foreign power, whenever I sent any written correspondence to an address north of the Tees of a business or private nature I always put County Durham on the envelope - not once did I use the moniker Cleveland.

In 1991, at the time of what looked like Pools' final demise, I purchased two hundred shares from them to help keep them afloat. (Oh, how my wife laughed when I told her …not!)

Some weeks later a really smart share certificate arrived complete with the resplendent club crest (The one with the Hart and the letter H in the background).

My name and address adorned the certificate in black Quink* ink, which I would like to think was applied by a scribe using a duck feather quill* or at the very least a fountain pen* andfinally drying off the ink with the dab of some blotting paper.*

The only thing that took the gloss off the whole montage was that the club had written my address down as Eaglescliffe, Cleveland.

The certificate was sent back by return of post to the club for the attention of none other than Garry Gibson with a covering letter saying that, although the part of Eaglescliffe I resided in was exactly one mile away from the banks of the River Tees, historically, despite what the politicians may think, it is still in County Durham.

Fair play to the bearded one, within a short space of time, at no extra charge, a new certificate arrived with the words Co. Durham in place of Cleveland.

I was even more impressed that due to the club's perilous financial situation at the time, they did not just Tippex* out the word Cleveland from the original certificate and smugdingly over-write 'Co. Durham' on the wet liquid eraser.
Said document, now framed, has pride of place on the lounge wall of 'Contract Mansions'.

I was not born in Hartlepool, but having spent most of my life there, whenever I was asked where I hailed from I would proudly say “Hartlepool, County Durham, near Blackhall Rocks.” I still do.

Imagine, in a few years time, there will be no such thing as a Hartlepudlian as everyone will have been born at North Tees Hospital in Stockton. There is currently some talk of shipping some of the baby units from North Tees over to James Cook hospital. Now that would be the worst case scenario, as future generations of Poolies would all be from The Boro. Can you imagine hearing your child's first words “C'mon Boro”. Talk about a migration crisis.

My solution to this problem would be to have a special birthing unit built for Hartlepool mothers in Stockton and Middlesbrough hospitals constructed on top of Holy soil imported over from The Headland and West then consecrated and blessed with Monkey Pee to ensure that the Hartlepudlian lineage continues.

Forty years have now passed since Hartlepool left willingly or were kicked out of County Durham and I can understand why, over this time span, young Hartlepudlians now have little or no affinity with The Land of The Prince Bishops, and even less still with Cleveland, which, painfully kicking and screaming, passed away two decades ago.

Barring the Monkey incident in Napoleonic times, very few Poolie youngsters I come across know much of the town's heritage because time moves on and many are just at the present and not the past. This concerns me as similarly I can see the same thing happening with regards to Darlington F.C. (henceforth I will refer to them as 1883, not for ease of writing, but because their supporters really dislike this reference!)

It is now approaching six years since The Quakers relinquished their league status. If their God and their outstanding creditors are with them we could see them regaining league status within three years. In reality it is going to take far longer than that for a myriad of reasons.

As time goes by, I fear that a new generation of Hartlepool supporters will know little or nothing about the historic rivalries between our two clubs. One young'un recently asked me who Willie Waddell was, for goodness sake.

Even now very little gets written about Darlow 1883 on any of the Pools message boards. Less still gets written on 1883's message board about Pools. When was the last time you heard the Town End singing 'Off went the train with the boot boys in it' or 'We hate Darlo'?

At The Vic we never get to hear 1883's half-time score, which previously would have been eagerly anticipated as a source of mirth.

On match day you never hear Hartlepool fans asking ask each other “How are Darlo getting on?” or “Who are they playing today?” Not now, but I did recently overhear someone say “What league are Darlo in these days?”

Darlo rarely get a mention on local radio these days. Ray Simpson, God bless him, the Darlo commentator who always described Darlo as wearing black and white “stockings” - where is he now? Most young Poolies would wonder who on earth we are talking about. Perhaps there is now a mutual understanding between the two sets of supporters that it will be a case of never the twain shall meet for a good few years, if at all. Should we ever clash with them again in the near future it will probably be down to Pools being relegated to The National League rather than 1883 regaining full league status.
"At The Vic we never get to hear 1883's half-time score, which previously would have been eagerly anticipated as a source of mirth."

At some stage I am expecting my grandson, who is just getting into football, to ask me who is Pools' derby team. If, as it stands, Carlisle do get promoted and York get relegated this season, the answer will probably be Accrington Stanley or Morecambe.

Out of curiosity, as well as badness. I had a look at the League Two table for 2009/10, the year Darlow last opted for non-league obscurity. It makes very interesting reading. If you think Pools were bad last season, Darlow's record is lamentable: won 8, drew 6, lost 32 (thirty two!), just failing to avoid relegation by a mere 18 points.

Good job Pools were not in the same division at the time or Darlo would have lost a further two games.

Eleven of the teams in that season are now playing at a higher level. One of them being Bournemouth and, albeit temporarily, we all know where they are. Eight clubs, including 1883, have dropped down to non-league level, and Hereford have sadly gone out of business.

What of 1883 these days? To their credit, at time of writing, they currently sit top of The Evostik Northern Premier Division in all its glory. No mean feat when you are competing against the likes of Mickleover Sports, Barwell, Ramsbottom United and the mighty Rushall Olympic. It is the kind of league you would expect Barnstonewith United of “Ripping Yarns” fame to reside in.

1883's challengers are Blyth Spartans and the Neville brothers' Salford City, all of whom have games in hand over the Quakers.

1883 ground share Bishop Auckland's Heritage Park, which has its problems. Whilst home attendances average a very respectable 1,200, it is a thirteen mile trek for their fans to get there. That's the equivalent of Pools having to travel to Stockton for their home games. Although Heritage Park is a fine stadium, even in a light drizzle the pitch is prone to flooding and numerous games are regularly postponed each season. In order to increase support 1883 are looking to relocate back to Darlington but ongoing negotiations regarding ground sharing with Darlington Rugby Club at Blackwell Grange have recently stalled (equivalent to Pools ground sharing with Rovers.)

It has to be said that, in the unlikely event of their winning a succession of promotions, neither Blackwell Grange nor Heritage Park comply with Football League regulations, and so they would not be allowed membership of League Two (and I may be wrong, but possibly not even membership of the league formerly known as The Conference.)

I do not know what the situation is regarding The White Elephant stadium, which is currently occupied by Mowden Park Rugby Club, To my mind it would make perfect sense for 1883 to ground share with them. The stadium would be used regularly, the fan base increased and it would be another source of revenue to whoever it is that owns the Georgie Porgie Arena these days.

There must be a good reason (unpaid debts?) as to why the football club and The Arena have not come to some arrangement. Maybe it is because of the lasting memory of Pools' first (and last) visit to that stadium which has permanently psychologically scarred Darlington 1883 for life.

To sum up, before we all become part of the Tees Valley. It should be mandatory that schools in Hartlepool provide history lessons detailing the town's 900 year connection and links with County Durham, to give Poolies a sense of pride and being.

These lessons would also cover in depth, the period between 1908 and 2009 known as “The Hundred League Years War” between Hartlepool and Darlington. The first lesson would cover the first battle which took place in Darlington on the 19th September 1908, and ended in a two-all stalemate.

The lesson would then move on to the second encounter between these two adversaries which took place that same year on the 28th December, when The Loids tried to storm the gates of Hartlepool and were thoroughly routed 8-1 by Pools manager Fred Priest's warriors, in what has now become written in Hartlepool folklore as “The Repulse of the Repulsive.”

I am convinced that these tales of derring do will make every young Poolie chest fill with pride in rediscovering their history, so much so that they will lobby the government to create a new bank holiday known as Saint Eifion's Day, which would be commemorated quite naturally on the 25th of March ,the day he slew Darlo at The White Elephant Stadium.

* To find out more on these items either Google them, or pay a visit to Beamish Museum.

Funny Old Game

Not What We'd Hoped For

GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY on what's gone wrong

As at 31st October, the tally was: Position 19th, 17 points. I’m sure Poolies would have looked for something better but there it is. It does appear as though there are two worse sides than Pools – Dagenham and Redbridge and Yeovil. So far as the latter go, Carlisle certainly did us a favour last Saturday. Yeovil were 2-0 up but thanks to a Carlisle fightback lost out by 3-2. We can’t always rely on other teams and at some stage we’ll have to start chalking up points ourselves.

What’s gone wrong? We seem to be able to create chances but I think our problems lie in midfield. Let’s turn the clock back. When Pools reached the League One play offs two seasons running we had Mark Tinkler as a defensive midfielder and Ritchie Humphreys to provide the creative skill. And then when it came to getting out of League Two we had Willie Boland as the ball winner. Then Gary Liddle came on the scene and since he left to go to Notts County midfield has always been a problem. Too often, the ball is cleared out of defence to Rakish Bingham who can only do so much and there is nothing in midfield to create anything. How often do you see teams come to The Vic who build from the back and create chances from midfield? Those teams are not world beaters after all and we’ve got try and copy them if we can. If Accrington and Morecambe can get into the upper reaches of League 2 on smaller gates than Pools then there’s no reason why we can’t do better.

Some of the social network sites have been calling for Ronnie Moore’s head. But this won’t solve any problems. With resources limited, the players we can bring in will either be has-beens or promising. Yes, I’m sure Ronnie Moore has the contacts but unless the money’s there his hands are tied. Gone are the days when the oil industry was making lots of money; things have changed dramatically and Pools have suffered as a result. Had the oil servicing industry raked in the profits then Pools wouldn’t have been in their current predicament. Still, Pools have more points than Chelsea – and dare I say it – Sunderland and Newcastle. It can’t all be bad.
"Pools have more points than Chelsea – and dare I say it – Sunderland and Newcastle. It can’t all be bad."

The social network sites have also been calling for Billy Paynter to be dropped and I find this to be a bit of a mystery . He is, after all, our leading scorer and, at times, has to help out in defence. Rhys Oates seems to be showing promise so maybe there is some light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps we can PAYNT the town blue and sow some wild OATES.

Elsewhere, the game of football never ceases to amaze me. The latest farce is Manchester City being charged by UEFA because their fans booed the Champions League anthem. The next thing we’ll have is some club being charged because their fans chant that the referee is a xxxxxx. The goings on in FIFA go over my head. The organisation will surely sink under accusations of corruption and deceit. At least with Pools we can debate the simple things of life!

Billy's Musings

Some extra thoughts from BILLY'S CONTRACT


I could not resist a chuckle when I heard that the Boro Chairman Steve Gibson was calling George Osborne's representative on earth James Wharton (Minster for Northern Powerhouse or was it the Northern coal house) 'An absolute clown' with regards to the Governments response to the steel crisis over in Teesside. 

Whilst I have every sympathy with those workers who face losing their livelihoods, Mr Gibson's comments seem a tad hypocritical when one considers that most of the steel that was used in the construction of The Cellnet Stadium was shipped in from Germany.

Even more galling was the fact that the Cellnet was built on land only a few hundred yards away from the then, British Steel/Corus plant that is now staring closure in the face.

We are also saw a repeat of the solidarity much like when Corus was due to close a few years back when Gibson had the Steel workers parading around the ground prior to kick off with SOS banners (Save our Steel) to promote their plight.

The cynic in me had me thinking that Mr. Gibson is worried that due to the predicted job losses of 2/4,000 workers, this in turn will impact on Boro's future crowd attendances and price hikes, should they manage to get into the Premiership.

I am inclined to think that SOS actually translates as Save our Season ticket sales.

Just a thought: Do Mercedes use British-made steel in their lorries?


When I first saw Steve McNulty take to the field for Luton against Pools last season I honestly thought that he was in the wrong place and had inadvertently mistaken the Vic for either Rovers or West's rugby grounds.

I could not believe that from the shape and size of him with his greying hair that he was a professional footballer. 

I recall saying to my mates that he looks like a fan  who has won a raffle to play ten minutes in a football team to raise much needed  funds for the club in question.  He had the look of someone you see playing on Grayfields on a Sunday morning after a night out on the pop....or in the cells!

I thought that last season as well as this, that our forwards would have the rip with him. It turned out that none of them troubled him or got anywhere near him, (or were just plain frightened by his presence). He pretty much won every header that came his way. Why nobody ran at him with ball to feet is a mystery to me.

After the match I googled his playing history and boy, this lad is no mug. Ex Liverpool academy. Four promotions under his belt, Captain of three clubs (Barrow, Fleetwood and Luton) Luton's player of the year. Winner of Luton's goal of the season.  Not to mention  being included in The Football Association League Two team of the season 2014/ 2015.

He was adored by the Luton fans whose nickname for him is Sumo. 

A few weeks back, because of family reasons, he went  out on loan to Tranmere with a view to a permanent move.

Fot those of you doubting the lad's ability go on You Tube and tap in Steve McNulty's wonder goal v Southport, followed by Steve McNulty showboating v Wrexham. You'll be impressed.

The goal against Southport is incredible but the celebration is just something else. He turns around walks away head down as if to say well that's me done for the day, I'm just going to have a wander down the pub. The reaction to the goal was almost akin to him scoring the most spectacular own goal in the history of football.
I have total respect for him and it goes to prove that you should not judge a book by its cover. Which reminds me - I see that that lump Jon Parkin scored again for Forest Green on Saturday!

Southern Discomfort



Twenty-five years ago Pools played in the Rumbelows Cup (whatever happened to Rumbelows?) and were drawn against Spurs.
The Northern Echo recently produced this spread in celebration of the event, one which, as usual didn't go well for Pools (reprinted courtesy of the Northern Echo.)

A Familiar Story for Pools

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at the Vic

Pools 1 Crawley 2 (League 2) Saturday October 24 2015

This afternoon saw the return of Shan Tan Walton, who looked more than a little overweight when Crawley Town visited the Vic. 

After Tuesday I was expecting a few changes, as we were so poor. In truth there is little to change with and as I am not the manager and fans do not understand management, I was underwhelmed when again I saw an unchanged side. 

In a discussion with the Ditchburn Poolie it was suggested that if we could have either two bad halves rather than one reasonable and one bloody awful as on Tuesday then at least we could be considered consistently good, or as in our case, consistently bad. I have no idea which. The fact is we are consistently poor in our application to this game of football. OK. You might say one defeat in three is not bad, but it is more the manner of the defeat that hurts. 

Today we played really well for fifteen minutes in the first half. We played well for a similar spell in the second half after going down to ten men; the rest of the game was poor. 

Ball watching is becoming the in thing and head tennis is shocking to watch. Don’t get me wrong there were a few passages of play during the game where we looked like a decent side but overall we lack anything that resembles a concerted threat on the opposition goal. 

Harrison was alert to catch an attacker who broke free with the ball, and with only Carson to beat, the centre back made a great tackle to cut out the threat. The visitors were taking control and shooting on sight with a few close calls whistling past the Carson goal. One incident saw Featherstone, facing his own goal, dally on the ball and be robbed of it, but Carson pulled off a good save. Carson fed Oates who made a great run down the line and his excellent shot brought a save from the Crawley keeper. 

Carson in action again made a lucky stop with his feet after the Crawley forward evaded tackles and shot from close range. How we managed to go in at the break even is beyond me. 

The half time consensus was it could and should have been nil four to the visitors. The folly of putting two subs on at the break was revealed to all today as Walker and Carroll were hooked for Woods and Banton. 
"overall we lack anything that resembles a concerted threat on the opposition goal"

Shortly afterwards Pools were a man down as Harrison looked to have handled the ball on the goal line and the ref had no hesitation in getting the red card out. From where I was there seemed to be no doubt and the ref made his mind up instantly, and as the story always goes, Shan Tan telly-tubby steps up to send Carson the wrong way and milk the adulation for all it was worth. Did he ever score from the spot for Pools?

Half an hour to play with ten men and a goal down - It was a familiar story for Pools, looking rather ragged in defence, and some disjointed defending set up another goal for the visitors. Typical Hartlepool luck. 

Whether it was anger or frustration, Pools started to put a little bite into their game. One incident I thought deserved a booking was when Jones was taken out of the game after being clattered deliberately by a Crawley forward and there was not even a word spoken to him.  Paynter, once again with his trademark ,looping header gave us a glimmer of hope as Pools, aided by an extra five minutes of added time tried hard to get back into the game. 

Woods made a great run into the box, evading three big tackles, as he was bundled to the ground and play was waved on. The lesser man turned out to be Shan Tan, who called for assistance after he made a back pass to Bingham, who should have scored, but the keeper saved his shot. Shan Tan always did like his glory moment, going off to the applause just before the end of the game. A showman to the end. 

Magnus also went close with a header at the death but it was another defeat and it has to be said that the visitors deserved it, as they wanted it more than we did.    

PS It is getting harder to do this stuff with the way we are playing. It is meant to be enjoyable. Humorous it isn't.

A Lucky Point

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at the Vic

Pools 1 Barnet 1 (League 2) Tuesday October 20th 2015


Carson made his first home appearance and this was also the return of old boy Micky Nelson, who only got on in extra time but managed to avoid an own goal with a misplaced header. He was offered a walking stick from H'Angus as he warmed up on the line. Another return to the Vic also for 'Mad Dog' Martin Allen, who claims he swam the Tees twice on previous visits and beat us both times. Carson had a good game but had little chance with their goal that gave them a point.

Pools managed to go ahead early in the game with a well-worked goal. A quick ball out from Carson set Bingham off down the line and he made a great cross for Oates who was there to stab the ball home.

It was a typical Allen side, that tested us all the way but in the first half we held out and defended well with the new boy, Magnus, steadying the ship. He looks as if he gives Harrison a bit more confidence to go forward too.

There was a round of applause in tribute to Michael Maidens. I cannot believe it is eight years now. It was good to see the warming up Barnet subs joining in the applause.

The Barnet keeper made a good stop at the foot of his post from a Carroll shot that almost scraped in. Paynter had hard luck with his shot that just skimmed past the upright after some good play between him and Bingham, but that was the last real effort of the first half.

As well as we played in the first half, the visitors stepped up a gear or two and we retreated into our shell once again. Some poor passing led to hoofing it aimlessly, and the visitors just took over the game.

They did have the ball in the net but it was ruled offside. This was probably the only favour the officials afforded us all night. Barnet were physical and the ref let a lot go. The big centre forward wrestled his way through our defence and hustled us out of a lot of tackles, which should have been made. We were second best again this half and lucky to get away with a draw.
"...we were lucky to get a draw from this game so a point is good."

The defending was better but the midfield should now be called the missed field and they were anonymous for long periods of the second half. Walker did very little and Jones seemed to be more content with just shifting the ball than making any purposeful use of it.

Carson was called on to pull us out with some good saves as they doubled their effort whereas the chances we managed to make were squandered.

Oates had a great chance but his effort was blocked on the line. Bingham was one on one with the keeper but to be honest he fluffed his chance and the keeper saved it. Any striker should score from four yards out with the keeper floundering.

Their goal was similar to last week's when a ball over the top saw Pools stand still and the visitors race on and score.

In the end we were lucky to get a draw from this game so a point is good. It could have been so different if only we had taken the early chances we had in the game. Hendrie, ,Magnus and Banton look like decent replacements, but how many times have we said that? It was a poor display by the ref, who waited till Oates had been chopped at least five times before he found his card.

We now have a drum in the Town End - hope it is left at home next game!

Funny Old Game

Two Mediocre Teams

Match report by ALREET at Victoria Road

Dagenham and Redbridge 0 Hartlepool 1 (League 2) 

Saturday October 17th 2015

A ‘home’ game in theory but, being on the opposite side of the capital from me, it necessitated a three hour journey involving four separate trains.

Included in the proceedings were discussions about the fantastic Oyster Card, which I have discovered over the years has several hidden edges, needless to say, usually unaware of by and at the expense (literally) of the paying public. I had heard that there is a time limit to complete a journey but having asked at both Barking and Dagenham East stations, I was given the same figure of two hours (which does not appear on the official blurb) before incurring a penalty charge “as this is the maximum time it would take to complete any journey on the London Underground/Overground system”. I beg to differ and if someone is unfortunate enough to encounter a delay or needs to have a word with a member of staff at the rapidly disappearing Ticket Office, well...

Daggers' ground is only a few minutes walk from the station but this was my first visit and it wasn’t immediately apparent where the visitors'entrance was. I remembered reading somewhere that it could be found by trekking around the ground so as there was only one way in, I wandered on through the car park and struck gold. A pleasant chat with the programme seller and the stewards and I was in.

The ground itself is traditional and what one would expect from a lower league team, but the end where Pools were located is a recent addition and is slightly unusual in that you have to walk past home supporters at ground level before climbing a set of steps to enter the visitors' section in the far corner.

Prior to kick off, their announcer twice said that Pools' team included Bradley Halliday at number 27, mystifying to put it mildly. Had there been a late change of plan even though we had brought in Hendrie from Burnley or was it just a Horlicks? Whilst mulling this over and easily confused as I was, I certainly didn’t recall the name of our new secret weapon being announced among our starting eleven. The announcer later corrected the Halliday error and this time, I thought I heard an unusual name but put it down to not really paying attention. I was, therefore, quite startled to see a huge unknown figure wearing the number 29 shirt when the teams emerged in front of us. He could have been King Canute for all I knew but as long as he could improve our performance, who cares.

Pools were kicking towards the home end but the first action of the game saw a shot which didn’t trouble Carson. Harrison then missed the ball which was picked up by their number10 (Chambers) who cut in from their left and fired in a shot which was parried by Carson. We won a throw-in on our right but the ball ended up with a harmless effort through to their keeper.

A move down the line on Daggers left saw the lively Chambers again work his way inside and he hit a low shot from the edge of the area which just cleared our left post. On ten minutes, Pools won a corner but it sailed harmlessly over the goal without troubling defenders or attackers.

Hendrie conceded a free kick out wide on our right, their number 2 (Passley) misjudged a chance from six yards and Paynter managed to block a cross for a corner following a dangerous run down our right flank as we came under pressure.

Raymond, their number 18 was allowed to run from our right flank to the edge of the area where he drilled in a low drive which Carson caught low to his right. We then allowed one of their defenders to run from box to box before putting in a tackle which deflected his shot for a corner. We eventually got the ball up the other end but the cross from our left evaded both of our strikers in front of goal.

Jones hit a long ball from our box up to Bingham but he fell over and we lost possession. Oates then put in a shot from long range but it was straight at the keeper.

Hemmings (number 23) attacked us on our left flank but luckily for us, their player just missed his tantalising cross at our near post. Finally, a long ball out of defence by Harrison in the region of their left flank was kept in by Bingham who took on a defender before laying it off to Carroll. He played it inside to Walker who found the advancing Jones. The latter launched a long ball to the back of their six yard box where Paynter got the better of his marker and he nodded the ball back over the keeper to see it nestle in the corner of the net. This was on thirty four minutes and I believe was the first decent ball we had played into their box.

Daggers' Ferdinand (number 25) found himself unmarked in our area but headed the ball over and the same player followed this up by mis-hitting a shot wide of our right post from the edge of the area. The ref then blew for half time, bringing an end to what had been a scrappy, rather dismal performance

The second half began with an early Daggers chance which came to nothing following some sloppy play by us. A ball into their box was neatly laid off by Paynter to Bingham who, under pressure from a defender and their diving keeper, put a left-footed effort over the bar from around five yards. Needless to say, this was met with less than complimentary comments from the travelling support.

A decent run from Oates saw the ball released to Bingham whose left-footer was blocked and went out for a corner. The ball in from our left found our new giant thundering in unmarked but he put his powerful header wide of their left post.

A deep cross found Bingham whose effort was mis-hit by a defender before being cleared to safety. A Daggers attacker then found himself through but he placed his weak effort straight at Carson.

We tried a long ball which was met by Paynter in space but his cross was put over the bar by Oates. Daggers retaliated and Ferdinand put in a skimmer from twenty five yards but it didn’t trouble Carson.
"this was hardly an electrifying performance and, in truth, was played out by two mediocre teams."

Another of our new boys, Banton, replaced Jones amid what appeared to be a lengthy drinks break. A right wing cross was headed out by our new giant before Ferdinand went on a long run, once again, hitting his shot at Carson.

Banton, who didn’t appear to have a footballer’s gait, showed pace and good control and was unlucky when he put a decent ball into the box only to find that no one was in a position to take advantage of it.

Some poor play near our left side line allowed a ball into our box which Harrison sliced over his own net in attempting to clear the danger. We then gave them acres of space in midfield to bring the ball forward and they passed a great ball inside our left flank to their overlapping player. His low first time cross was attacked at our near post by Cureton who, of all people, mis-hit it and the ball squirted harmlessly up and wide of our goal. A huge let off at the end of the game.

The announcer came on to say that there would be five minutes of added time which we saw out without further mishap.

Well, three points are three points but this was hardly an electrifying performance and, in truth, was played out by two mediocre teams.

Our defence turned up for once and looked reasonably secure but the midfield is woeful and we continually concede space and allow our opponents free rein to stroll around at will. Chambers, for one, particularly in the first half used his pace and trickery to weave his way into dangerous positions and bring others into play while the second half offered them yawning gaps across the park. In attack, we created a few decent chances and should have put the game to bed but, in typical Pools fashion, we didn’t and could have regretted it if Daggers had been more clinical with their finishing.

For our part, Carson made an impressive debut, showing a calm authority and collected crosses and shots with relative ease. Hendrie slotted in well on the right side and also made a good debut with a no frills display. He maintained his position and kept things simple but effective.

Harrison won plenty of headers and clearly benefitted from having Marcus alongside him as he seemed to have more confidence in playing his own game. Marcus was like a breath of fresh air bringing stability and strength to the back four. He looked about seven feet tall and with his impressive physique, dealt comfortably with everything that came his way. To put the icing on the cake, he really should have scored with his header from the corner but this did not matter in the end. He and Harrison formed a promising partnership but they weren’t up against some of the lumps that inhabit this division as Daggers forwards are more of the smaller, quick kind.

Jones did a capable job on the left and provided the important cross for the winner. Oates put in his usual workmanlike effort and created a couple of chances while Carroll was pushed forward to play in front of Jones on the left. Featherstone for all his neat touches, never seems to put in a meaningful challenge while Walker, despite some decent passes, seems to be of the same persuasion and therein lies the problem (or one of them). If Martin Peters was labelled “The Ghost” then Walker, on current form at least, is doing his best to play the part of “The Invisible Man”.

Bingham was his now usual self; finding space, using his pace to good effect and linking up well but somehow still failing to take his chances. Paynter, on the other hand, is less mobile but holds the ball cleverly, creating chances for others as well as regularly appearing on the scoresheet himself.

We still desperately need to add some snap into our play for the long haul ahead. 
Another Tonking

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at the Vic

Pools 1 Luton Town 4 (League 2) Saturday October 4th 2015

Four changes from Tuesday's surrender to Brizzle and if we ever needed a result we certainly needed one today. Sadly it was not to be as Luton ran riot in the second half. 

Connor Smith, playing down the wing, was the first player chopped down - how many times do we see an action like this go unpunished as the official thinks it is too early in the game. 

The first half was an improvement as at least we were making a game of it after the opening ten minutes. For about fifteen minutes we looked like we were dominating the game without really threatening the opposition goal. 

Bingham tried his luck: when fed by Paynter he turned and shot but it was blocked. Shortly afterwards he had a long range shot that went over but it was two more shots than in the whole of Tuesday's game. It was looking like a better performance from Pools, and at least we were competing. 

A good run at the opposition by Oates was spoiled by a poor shot. Luton were very lively on the break and Bartlett managed to block their attack but the ball fell for a Luton player who slotted it home. 

Pools were galvanized into action as they stepped up, looking for the equalizer. Bingham should have scored after some good work by Smith but he needed that extra touch that allowed defenders to get back at him and his effort was wide. 

Oates, who looked one of our more potent threats, made a good break and cut the ball back to Paynter who headed in the equalizer just before the break. 

The second half saw Luton turn it on and as in Tuesday’s game, we were second best in every department. What looked like a stampede from Luton for a ball over the top left Barrett exposed and any one of three Luton players could have put the ball in with the Pools defence trailing behind. 

The third Luton goal came in similar fashion as we were all over the place. Some fans say that Bingham only needs a goal - well today he had at least four golden chances and fluffed them all, whereas a cracker from distance even brought applause from the Pools fans as Luton comfortably cruised to a four - one win. 

Seven goals in two games will send out a strong message to the teams lining up to take three easy points from us in forthcoming fixtures. It is difficult to see where we can change things as Mr. Moore had four players back after Tuesday and we get another tonking. 
"All these keepers cannot be world-beaters but we are making them look that way"

We sadly played the game to Luton’s strengths with McNulty at the back mopping up all the high balls and not letting any Pools player go past him as he blocked pushed and hacked his way out of trouble. Not pretty, but effective. 

We do not seem to be playing as a unit, and poor marking was our downfall, along with a lack of killer touch in front of goal. All these keepers cannot be world-beaters but we are making them look that way. 

The substitutions did not help us - only Featherstone hitting the side netting, and Fenwick made no impression after replacing Paynter. 

Two players I would say made any real contribution today: Magnay, who was voted man-of-the-match, and Connor Smith, who tired a little at the end but put in a good shift. 

The half time rumour that Mr. Moore was off to Rotherham gave us a titter or two, but he has work to do here to get them playing again.

Any Other Business


October seemed to be a month of struggle, with memories returning of twelve months previously. Let's hope Ronnie gets the wheels back on soon.We don't want to go through all that again.

This picture came to us purporting to be of the damage caused by a bomb at the Victoria Ground. While the Kaiser demolished our grandstand (99 years ago this month) we weren't aware of what damage was inflicted by Hitler, but of course with the docks being a valid target for both gentlemen in the days when a wayward goal kick could end up in a now filled-in dock, it would have been equally at risk. It doesn't look to have been a big bomb anyway. 

While we weren't able to work out which war it was, we also weren't sure if it was in fact our Vic - it could have been Stoke City's Victoria Ground, or in fact another ground altogether. If you have any suggestions, let us know.