Showing posts from December, 2015
In Gary We Trust

BILLY'S CONTRACT on the Supporters' Trust's inaugural meeting at the Corner Flag

For anyone who missed the HUFC Supporters Trust meeting in the Corner Flag last week, and let's be honest, there were quite a few people who did miss it, as the attendance was disappointingly low, they indeed, missed a treat.

In addition to the presentation given by John McQue, ably supported by Phil Dunn, we were also entertained by two 'Turns' of the singing variety, a very dodgy raffle (only high ticket numbers won), and to end the evening an excellent Hartlepool United quiz, in particular the picture section, which caused a few heads to be scratched.

The unexpected star turn of the night was none other than Gary Coxall, the Pools chairman who especially travelled up by train from London earlier in the day to attend the meeting.

From here on I will paraphrase. Although he was there in an observational capacity, the Trust Chairman backed by the floor asked Mr Coxall if he would give an unscheduled question and answer session. To his credit he took to the stage for around half and hour and answered all questions thrown at him, including the ones about the proposed kidnapping of Russ Green.

To summarise, he said that JPNG would like to draw a line in the sand regarding IOR, and although Mr Coxall had to be careful what he said in case he invoked legally binding agreements regarding breaking of confidentiality clauses with the former owners, he would like this to be a new start for Hartlepool United and for us to forget what went on in the past, and consider JPNG as the new broom. He confirmed it was their intention to purchase the ground from the Council and that it would be formed into a limited company from which it could not or would not be sold on. (I am not sure how that works but we will see how this develops.)

Once the goal of ownership was achieved they could begin planning future development of the ground. A priority is to develop and promote the commercial side of the club as this is an area which he feels has great untapped potential, particularly with a view to working with long-term sponsor partnerships.

Ironically last season JPNG were in discussions with Russ Green and Ken Hodcroft with a view to becoming Pools' main sponsors, and eventually ended up purchasing the club, so they must have seen something which IOR did not, or did not have the will to further pursue.

Long term Gary Coxall is looking at Pools being a financially well run Championship club but this would not happen overnight. On the other hand, if, in the unlikely event of Pools say achieving Championship status within a couple of seasons he said that we would very quickly be back in League Two with the infrastructure and finances that are currently in place at the club.
"forget what went on in the past, and consider JPNG as the new broom"

Basically the 'good money' which filters down through the leagues is in the Premiership and the Championship and this could sustain a club like Hartlepool United. Currently League One and League Two clubs only get 12% and 8% respectively of the money that is available through the league tiers, so Pools took a massive hit when they were relegated two seasons back.

Mr Coxall also said that money will be available to Ronnie Moore in January and that, unlike IOR, he had no problems dealing with 'good' agents or paying the going rate for players who would improve the quality of the team. He confirmed that the T.V money for the recent televised game against Orient and the forthcoming game against Salford have been welcome, not only financially but in terms of attracting would-be sponsors, and putting Hartlepool United in the spotlight.

He desires to re-establish the relationship between club and supporters, and is very keen to work with the HUFC Supporters Trust. Both he and the Trust confirmed that as a priority they are already looking at working together with a view to improving the disabled enclosure of the Vic. He confirmed that, unlike the old regime, they have no designs on removing the supporters from the Corner Flag and acquiring the premises for HUFC.

One Corner Flag committee man pointed out that on this, Mr Coxall's first visit to The Flag, he had now been in the premises as many times as Ken Hodcroft.

His biggest achievement since joining the club, and that which has given him the most pride, is getting the public address system working in the Town End, so now everyone could hear the announcements. This, he said, had come at some considerable cost, even more than the resurfacing of the tarmac behind the Mill House Stand. He said forgetting the outlay on new speakers.("£10 from Ebay, or were they from a car boot sale?" - His words not mine.) Fans in the Town End never got to hear the winning numbers on the match day lottery, therefore nobody bothered to claim their winnings. Now that the Tannoy situation has been resolved this loss of income will have a significant impact on the funds they were going to give Ronnie Moore in January!

Mr Coxall was fulsome in his praise for Russ Green, who he said had taken a lot of undeserved flak in the past and that his best interests were those of Hartlepool United. He came across very well, tempering seriousness with humour in his 'Cockney' accent.

One fan asked him if he was a closet 'Happy Hammer', which he said was not the case but it was something that the local press had picked up on. Indeed in the Mail the following night Gary Coxall was described as a West Ham supporting Hartlepool fan.

Hopefully he is the genuine article and if his plans and ambitions are realized then with a fair breeze the Land of Milk and Honey is on the horizon. To be fair to the lad he also put his hand in his pocket and bought the winners of the quiz a round of drinks. He also told us that he pays on the gate when he is up to see Pools. Can you image Ken doing either of those two things?

All in all a very good night but it was tinged with sadness as I learned that Norman Watson, a stalwart of the Supporters Club, normally found on the pool table, or on match days checking membership cards and collecting cash on the door of The Corner Flag, had passed away earlier in the week. R.I.P.
My Christmas Greetings

Some seasonal messages from GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY

Well, its December. Three more weeks and it will soon be Christmas. How about the following greetings cards:

To Angela Merkel (the German Chancellor): A picture of Jurgen Klopp. Your countrymen are not supposed to have a sense of humour. Here’s one who has.

To Newcastle United: A picture of the FA Cup. Sixty years since they last won a major domestic trophy.

To Newcastle United (again): Pictures of Chris Hughton and Alan Pardew. A reminder that there’s life after The Mags.

To Leicester City: A treatment plan for vertigo. Must be dizzy being so high up in the world.

To Liverpool and Everton fans: A picture of Wembley Stadium. Hopefully the scene of a dream final in the League Cup.

To Chelsea: A picture of a trap door. Only five points off a relegation spot.

To Aston Villa: A picture of a driving licence with ten points. A reminder that that’s more than you’ve got up to now.

To Bolton Wanderers: Pictures of League Two grounds. Sadly, you chased the dream and the wheels came off.

To Barack Obama: A congratulatory card to express appreciation for your chaps unearthing all the stench in FIFA.

To all Poolies: How about the message “ Every little thing gonna be all right”.

Finally, Happy Christmas to you all!!!

TV Review

BILL THE BIRO assesses this week's TV

photo: Jake Brown
(search: Mourinho+Flickr+Jake Brown) Edited
Following several successful seasons, the loyal followers of The Bridge are happy once again to see it return to BBC4 on Saturdays with its heady mix of impenetrable goings-on, strange characters, and lots of red herrings. As usual The Bridge revolves around the quirky main character, who can always be relied on to be controversial, whether it's saying things that most people wouldn't, getting doctors sacked, or dropping star players. This leads to perennial problems with the bosses. And this time the main character is behaving even more oddly than usual, but that is, and always was the main reason for its success. No doubt before this season ends there will be a few more twists and turns. Long may it continue.

BBC2 started the FA Cup weekend on Friday, with lovable minnows Salford City at home to Hartlepool United. Being owned by some footballing National Treasures makes Salford the team that everyone wants to succeed, and so it was a no-brainer for the BBC to select this match, since their opponents, thanks to Sky Sport football presenter Jeff Stelling's support, are the League Two team that everybody follows.
"the main character is behaving even more oddly than usual"

Of course, the BBC had to dumb-down the event and show the teams being given team talks by famous names: Sir Alex Ferguson for Salford and Jeff Stelling for Pools. Happily for Salford, former Pools player James Poole wasn't seriously hurt in a dressing room accident involving a flying boot. Mr. Stelling, Pools' president, said that he originally informed the Pools players that Chris Kamara, a former league manager, would give Pools' team talk, but made a change when they replied "That's unbelievable, Jeff!"

Meanwhile the Climate Change Conference in Paris featured heavily, with current affairs and news programmes all doing special features on global warming. Some channels went to the low-lying Polynesian islands, others featured Icelandic glaciers and polar bears with no ice to stand on, but the best image of the week had to be Accrington Stanley's football pitch where their match with Hartlepool was postponed due to a waterlogged pitch. Even global warming doesn't happen when you want it.

There were shocks galore in the F Factor, with both Sepp Blatter and Michel Platini being given their marching orders. Although the voters could yet save them, their squirming, and especially Sepp's tearjerking "I nearly died" interview were all a bit sad to see.

And finally we mustn't forget Strictly Come Bottom, where both Steve McClaren and Sam Allardyce seem to be perpetually at the rubbish end of the leaderboard. Surely one or both can't last much longer.

Funny Old Game

Black Friday?

BILLY'S CONTRACT on Oxford and Salford

Saturday's game against Oxford, although ending in defeat, was, particularly in the first half, our best all season.  Both teams came out of the traps and went full pelt at each other in an entertaining end to end game. It was an excellent performance,by Pools, who were not intimidated by Oxford's league position, and matched them in all departments until the departure of Carl Magnay. It was good to see Pools playing with pace, and in particular keeping the ball on the deck in challenging weather conditions.

My mate asked me if Ronnie Moore had being sacked, as this style of play bore no resemblance to what we have been served up all season. Long may it continue. Even allowing for one of the bottom sides hitting a run of form, if Pools continue to play like this I don't think we should fear the drop.

My only criticism of Saturday's performance was that with one exception I cannot recall their keeper having to make a worthwhile save, and it would appear that our forwards would rather pass the ball to a colleague than take a pop at goal.

I think that Jake Carroll needs to be rested as it is just not happening for him, especially as he is starting to get some stick from the stands. To me he is more of a wing back than a full back and his defending is suspect, particularly when Kudus, who offers his full back little or no defensive cover, is in front of him.

Rhys Oates recently benefitted from a spell on the bench and could also further benefit from a spell in the gym as he frequently gets knocked off the ball too easily. Can't fault the lad for effort and again I would like to see him at some stage play in his natural position of centre forward.

Scott Fenwick I feel should be given a run in the side in his natural position as centre forward and I am sure goals will come his and our way. His name should be the first on the team sheet against Salford as this is his sort of battleground, with Bingham playing alongside him. The chances are that Sunderland won't want him cup tied but I don't think that the Salford game would be Mikael Mandron's cup of tea (watch him bang in a hat trick!) so this would be Scott Fenwick's opportunity to make a claim for the number 9 shirt ...or in his case the number 17 shirt!
"My mate asked me if Ronnie Moore had being sacked, as this style of play bore no resemblance to what we have been served up all season"

Despite the majority of the neutrals rooting for Salford City, as well as the Beeb, who probably will have installed Sir Alex Ferguson in Salford's dressing room giving the team talk in the fashion that Alan Shearer did for Blyth against 'Pools last season. I must admit to being quietly confident of the result going our way, providing that we do not sit back and that we play in the manner that we did against Oxford United. I am predicting a two nil win for Pools. Watch that come back and haunt me as I read Monkey Business on Saturday night!

I can already see the headline in the Mail; Poole's Black Friday for 'Pool! The BBC will no doubt be hoping for the following scenario: a Salford City win with a last minute goal from James Poole and their getting a third round draw with Manchester United at Old Trafford.

I have heard on the QT that we might be drawing some support closer to home from an unexpected quarter. A certain group of fans who hate Hartlepool United and hail from South West Durham and whose team play in black and white stockings are hoping that Pools get a draw with Salford and then take them into an extra time penalty shoot out at the Vic, which will in turn impact on Salford's prospects of winning the Evo Stik Northern Premier League and thus enhance their own. Out of courtesy I won't mention the team in question, to  which those supporters align themselves, but their team does not play in the town of Darlington. Hope I have not given too much away as to who they are.


BILL THE BIRO looks back

I was looking through my box of old programmes and I found one from 39 years ago, for the Boxing Day match in 1976 at the Vic, against that long-defunct club Darlington. Well, to be precise, it wasn't a Boxing Day match on account of Boxing Day being a Sunday so it had to be played on the Monday instead. The programme featured the old triangular club badge on the front cover, and a league table that shows we haven't advanced much in all that time - 39 years ago Pools were third bottom of Division 4.

The match was a 1-1 draw with a 4885 attendance. John O'Donnell for Pools and Ron Ferguson for Darlo were the scorers, and the teams were:

POOLS Eddie Edgar, Peter Creamer, Dave Wiggett, John O'Donnell, Bobby Scott, Chris Simpkin, Bobby Scaife, Eric McMordie,Geoff Davies, Malcolm Poskett, Paul Bielby

DARLINGTON Phil Owers, David Crosson, Jimmy Cochrane, John Stone, Derek Craig, Bobby Noble, Clive Nattrass, Eddie Rowles, Ron Ferguson, Jimmy Seal, Dennis Wann.

I wonder how many people remember any of those players.

Alan Goad, Pools' longest serving player at the time, and recently promoted to player-coach, was the Pools substitute for that match (there was only one sub in those days.) Manager Billy Horner's usual page in the programme was given over to Alan for that game, and here it is:

Bad result, but good football

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at the Vic

Pools 0 Oxford United 1 (League 2) Saturday November 28th 2015

After the reports of the capitulation at Mansfield I was not relishing taking on the second top team in the division especially when you look at the stats of one loss in sixteen games.

Ronnie Moore in his pre-match preamble on Smoggie Radio was of the opinion that despite the stats this division was closer than you think and it all depends on the form on the day. So, boosted by the manager's rallying call, I thought "yes we can".

The omens were still not working in our favour as the visitors turned us round at the kick-off and I just do not like that. There should be a law against away teams making us kick down bank in the first half.

Even at the kick-off we messed up, passing the ball straight to the opposition rather than to our own players. Oates made a good run at the opposition and fed Featherstone who hit a speculative shot over the bar.

The Ditchburn Poolie was in raptures early on as Carroll played what I called a great ball into the box, for that was inches away from Gray, who was storming in on the near post. The Ditchburn insisted I called it a “magnificent“ ball, so, magnificent it was.

I will say that Bates, whose form is improving, made a great block on the line to deny Oxford an early goal. Duckworth, who is in good form, laid on a good cross but Magnay could only head it wide of the post. Pools were looking good and a Naismith free kick chipped into the box was cleared to Gray, who was unlucky not to get the first strike as he turned and shot, his effort coming back off the bar.

The visiting fans were getting excited when a shot hit the side netting. Bates made a great stop, again chasing back to deny the Oxford striker a clear shot on goal. It was good defending by Bates, who was later named Man of the Match.

Pools were matching the visitors and Jackson in particular was steady in defence and always pushing into the opposition box when Pools attacked in numbers. The link play was great to watch and Pools should have had a penalty when Gray was taken down as Pools pushed the visitors back. The impressed Ditchburn and I agreed this was the best half of football from our side we had seen at home all season, and it ended goalless. Both teams had chances and I was pleased with the formation and the application of our team.
"Pools looked a different side after the loss of Magnay and Gray and the chances were hard to come by"

Second half, early on, was a similar pattern with both teams pressing; Mandron should have scored from about three yards but needed an extra touch, which gave the keeper time to close him down. Oxford stepped up their game and were looking dangerous.

We lost Magnay, who apparently had double vision after a heading battle, and Gray was taken off after a kick on the calf. This kid can play and was always in the thick of it and literally had three men on him every time he had the ball.

Walker came on and virtually his first touch was a free kick that went close but just skimmed the bar from well outside the box. Oxford were now playing with the confidence that their record of sixteen unbeaten gives them.

Carson made a fantastic save from a free kick directly in front of the goal. The ball bounced off him as he dived at the feet of an attacker and was able to dive from the turf just in time to knock the ball away a second time.

The game was tight and had been played in a good atmosphere until the big time Charlie Danny Hylton spoiled the mood of the occasion by taunting the home fans after scoring a good goal. I wonder what is lacking in a person's life that he has to carry on that way when he is being paid to entertain the punters. He looked like a spoilt schoolboy who had just nicked the milk from one of his female schoolmates. The sad part was the ref stood and watched this going on and did nothing. This may sound like sour grapes but I hate to see actions like this from any side, including our own.

While I am on a rant, players taking forever to walk across the pitch when subbed are becoming so monotonous now. Even to the extent they walk to the far side of the pitch when they see the board go up. What should be done to cut it out is the ref allows the same length of time to be played without the new sub being called on once the player has gone off. Pie in the sky you say. And I agree.

Pools looked a different side after the loss of Magnay and Gray and the chances were hard to come by. Mandron set up Walker who shot over the bar, and that was about the last chance we had.

Despite playing some good football against a top side you still have to be disappointed with the lack of ability to take the chances we did make.
Funny Old Game

We Can Win on Telly

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at the Vic

Pools 3 Leyton Orient 1 (League 2) Sunday November 15th 2015

A little late into the Vic again today so missed the minutes silence but was in just in time to see another sloppy goal given away by poor defending from Pools. "Here we go again," I thought, "a showing-up in front of the cameras".

The visitors looked like a handy side as they sprayed the ball about and took the game to us in the early stages. Pools had to be on their mettle, as they pressed hard for anther goal, which probably would have killed the game for us.

A little luck for once for Pools as a long ball across the box from Kudus saw a fist from an Orient defender punch the ball off the head of a Pools attacker and Kudus sprinted into the box to claim the penalty, which he took well, sending the keeper the wrong way.

With the new Pools line up we looked a better side defensively, but played like England - giving the ball away far too easily, either in the tackle or very slack passing. Gray, who we saw last week, Mandron and Naismith, and the important return of Magnay, who was made captain, gave us a good balance in the side.

Mandron is a big lad but like a few big men I think he may lack what you might call the ability to jump. He did not win many aerial challenges so could be just a bit rusty but he made up for it where it counts - on the ground. Kudus, buoyant after his goal, lashed a shot over the Rink End stand that probably hit the waterworks office.

After a bit of Orient pressure, Carson made a great block on the line following a couple of goalmouth melees that we seemed to be causing by our lack of a welly through the ball. Just before half time Naismith on a break made it down the line and fired in a great cross that Fenwick just failed to connect with but it was good to watch Pools taking the game to them at this stage.

Second half the visitors were the brighter side again and we had some defending to do but looked a bit more organized than of late. Magnay was very impressive laying off some good balls and Duckworth, despite taking on the biggest player in the Orient side, was having a great game. Bates should have done better with a free header, which he put over after some great work again by Naismith.

Under pressure again Pools got a goal totally against the run of play. This is good to see, as normally under so much pressure we would succumb to the onslaught. Mandron chased down a ball that was launched over the top and managed to control it and lay it back for Gray who, on the run, hit his shot and with the help of a slight deflection made it two - one to Pools.
"It was a very good workout for Pools and the team looks better for the new lads"

Poor Duckworth defending for his life once again went down and had to be stretchered off, a sad sight for any player, but for this lad it seems like he only just gets a good run going then he is out again. He again could have been Man of the Match but it was given to Mandron.

After couple of substitutions Pools again had a good run and Naismith, doing all the hard work, laid on a ball once again for Gray, who looks a class or two above, and he calmly went across the box and shot back across the keeper into the net. Sadly this was such a good display from the lad (and on TV), that we will probably lose his services soon as the bigger clubs start picking him out.

It was a very good workout for Pools and the team looks better for the new lads. I was tempted to set up a chant of WE CAN WIN ON TELLY but the Ditchburn Poolie would not join in. He was whining about the possibility of complaining about these reports. He wants to take issue with my description of the game and in particular the players - who did what and when. I told him to send his complaint to the C.E.O. and see how he gets on. You have to take into account he is from the wilds of County Durham so he has an excuse.

One little entertaining interlude today involved H’Angus, who injured himself celebrating the first Pools goal and then began a sympathy campaign by turning up in a succession of medical aids. First a walking stick, then a wheelchair, then a solar blanket. Apparently his girlfriend saw him injured and went down to take him to the One Life. Her friend with her asked the unfortunate simian if she needed to take him to hospital or the vet.

A good day out and three points in the bag and the team looking good, long may it continue.
Up for the Cup

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at the Vic

Pools 1 Cheltenham 0 (FA Cup, Round 1) Saturday November 7th 2015

Another re-jigged Pools side against high-flying Cheltenham for whom this might be a revenge match, considering that we effectively doomed them to the Conference a few months back. 

The Ditchburn Poolie was unsettled as he had all the SP on the ref of the day, only to find that he had been switched at the last minute. The sight of another female lino, which made his day, tempered his anger slightly. I pointed out "you give them the vote and the next thing they are running every bloody thing". He spent the afternoon giving her marks out of ten for the way she stuck up her flag, despite most of the decisions she got wrong.

One plus factor he pointed out was the normal giants that usually visit the Vic were down in numbers, in fact they had three, possibly four munchkins in the side. They looked like schoolboy footy players, especially in the line up.

Mr Moore had been busy at the F.A. trading post again, and once again he looked to have unearthed a couple of gems. Centre half Jackson from the Borer, who partnered Master Bates in the back line, was a very tidy player. He turned in a great performance and was voted Man of the Match. Gray,the other signing, was exactly what we needed - a genuine midfield player, who also performed magnificently and could also have been a candidate for M.o.M. Duckworth would have been a worthy winner of the title as he looks to be back to his best and was one of our more potent players.

It was a slow game early doors, as Pools could not break out of the stranglehold Cheltenham had on in. It was thirteen minutes before we had what you might call a decent threat on their goal. The visitors on the other hand were a busy side and played some good approach work, with the Munchkins running the show, but fortunately for Pools their last ball was awful most of the first half.

It looked like we were defending slightly better but we did ride our luck throughout the half. Even Bates managed a good block on the line, which would have been a certain goal, but then he did his party trick of going down injured only to pop back up soon after. I think it is a new ploy, if he goes down every time we are under pressure the game will stop but it will take till eight o clock at night to finish the game judging by the pressure we were under at times.
"they had three, possibly four munchkins in the side"

A Cheltenham free kick was floated over the box and an incoming Cheltenham defender on his own in our box was inches from scoring but hit the ball across the box and just wide of the far post, while we stood ball watching, which happens quite a lot. Pools were under pressure and we just hoofed the ball away only to see it come back. Those that criticise the midfield as being non-existent have to take a look at the tactics.

 About half way through the half Paynter was off for Bingham. We were about as good as the visitors were around our box with the ball either robbed from our attack or we made the wrong pass, but it was all breaking down too easily.

In the last minute of the first half Pools managed an attack that proved fruitful. In honour of the visiting C.E.O. of Monkey Business, Pools scored a totally unexpected goal. Featherstone had a shot blocked and it dropped to Oyenugu who darted in and slid the ball over the line. Going in at half time was real unexpected bonus as the visitors had played most of the football.

In the second half Pools fared little better as the visitors went for the equaliser. Possibly the best chance of the game fell to Fenwick, who, after a great run and cross from Bingham, could only steer the ball wide of the post.

It was an Alamo-style stand-off for Pools throughout the half as the visitors put us under pressure, which we once again succumbed to by hapless heading or booting the ball back to the opposition.

Jackson and Carson were the pick of the bunch at the back, and Gray, the midfielder from Palace and Duckworth were at least trying to carry the ball forward.

Any Other Business


November was a month of hopeful signs followed by hopeless lapses - again. At least Pools find themselves with a decent cushion between them and relegation, but it's all still a worry.

Pools have had an unexpected dose of media exposure, with two live televised matches in a month ...and they won the first one!

Of course in the second we're all dreading a repeat of last year's Blyth Spartans debacle, but we'd expect that the Poolies who bought tickets for the Salford game (see the ticket queue, above) must have some faith in Pools' ability to spoil the BBC's party, as they did with Sky's a few weeks earlier, by beating the fancied opposition.

Finally we'd like to wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, and we'll be back for the second half of the season in January.

Please note that, as the first Friday in January is actually New Year's Day, there may not be anyone sober enough to read it, so we've decided to put the Monkey Business launch day for No. 146 back a week to January 8th.