Showing posts from January, 2016
Funny Old Game

Bah Humbug!

BILLY'S CONTRACT has a festive whinge

So this is Christmas ...and a bit of the New Year thrown in for good measure. The bride told me to keep the Sunday before Christmas free as we were going to have a treat. Treat consisted of going up to Newcastle (parking: £4.00), a wander around the shops in Eldon Square and bought 'nowt' ...this was becoming a 'rare treat indeed' (said sardonically.)

My feet, due to a pair of new shoes I was wearing, were beginning to ache. Things did picked up for a short while when we met up with the offspring and went to the top notch China buffet called Laos. We left here stuffed to the gills for a long 500/600 yard walk back to the car. Tempted to get a taxi as feet now in agony - felt like I was breaking my feet in and not my new shoes.

After dropping off the Young Master in The Heed I thought that we would be heading off home so I could soak my blistered feet in the bath. Not the case. I was told to drive the car to the Sage (parking: £4.50), where our treat awaited: Gareth bloody Malone, him of The Military Wives Choir fame.

I had relentlessly taken the mick out of my mate whose wife had booked them up to go to this show, even saying to him a couple of days before the show that once he got there he might actually enjoy it. He was shocked and delighted to see me at the same concert, and needless to say he let me have both barrels.

I was still trying to work out how this was 'my' treat as I had never given any indication that I liked Gareth Malone - Dick Malone maybe, but not Gareth Malone. Give the lad his due, he is good at what he does, but not my, nor my mate's cup of tea.

Following day we booked a short break to Dublin, don't know how, but we managed to get dates mixed up and now I'm going to miss the cup match against Derby, which might be for the best.

Christmas night TV was awful: Call the Midwife / Strictly and possibly Casualty. No sign of the traditional Christmas films we've come to expect such as The Great Escape or Zulu. On the the fourth day of Christmas I went down with Man Flu. Women just don't 'get this' do they? On the fifth day of Christmas the fan on the boiler packed in and so no central heating or hot water until the the spare part arrived - on the eleventh day of Christmas. My wife took the daily trip to the Forum baths not so much for a swim but for a shower!

Took me back to the days of my youth on the Headland when we had no central heating or hot water on tap, and turning the immersion heater on for any length of time was a mortal sin met with capital (?? ed.) punishment. Ice on the windows summer and winter. Getting dressed under the bed covers (covers, sorry I meant coats) in order to keep warm, and having to boil water on the cooker to bring upstairs to the bathroom to perform one's ablutions. Tell that to the youngsters today and they would not believe you (said in a broad Yorkshire accent.) Nay lad.
"I had never given any indication that I liked Gareth Malone - Dick Malone maybe, but not Gareth Malone."

During our 'cold spell' in the house the kids, in order to raise our spirits, decided to treat us to a local takeaway. Had to wait over an hour for it to be delivered and when it finally did arrive it was, to use the old Hartlepudlian adjective, 'Shan.' There was more grease on it than on Brad Walker's head. (For reference the food was from a Stockton takeaway and not a Poolie one.)

If for nothing else but to escape the cold of our now Ice Mansion, we were delighted to be invited to the grand bairn's birthday do at TGI Fridays in Thornaby. I won't go into detail but we were here nearly three and a bit hours and three out of the four meals we ordered had to be returned to the kitchens as under-cooked. (Actually my meal was okay. Overpriced but okay.) Check out my comments on Trip Advisor for full details. From here I journeyed to Hartlepool to meet my mates in one of the town's newer pubs. I won't name names but lets call it the Hart and Chimp. We were having a very enjoyable night here until the Karaoke kicked in. What made it worse however was that the Karaoke Meister sang most of the songs with no one else getting a look in. It's bad enough listening to Meatloaf but someone taking him off is even worse.

So all in all it was a tough old Christmas, what with one thing or another, but the straw that broke the camel's back in my case, and which was the biggest spoiler of them all for Christmas, was the postponement of our Boxing Day match against Notts County, not to mention the Carlisle game a few days later meeting a similar fate, though with a tad more water on the playing surface than at the Vic, it has to be said.

I really enjoyed Boxing Day matches, never mind The Morecambe and Wise Christmas special. The Boxing Day home game was for me what Christmas was all about. God bless you Tiny Tim and good cheer to your fellow man and all that, even to the refs! Whenever the fixture list came out at the beginning of each season the first thing I did after looking to see when we played Darlow was to see if we would be at home on Boxing Day (St Stephen's Day for our Irish readers), as well as Easter Monday.

I stand to be corrected but I think it is going on for 6/7 seasons since we have played at home on the 26th December. The postponement must have cost the club and local hostelries a few bob in lost revenue. For some drinking establishments around the ground Boxing Day represents the best part of a week's takings. Instead of bringing my nephew to his first ever Pools game, as intended (his Christmas present!), and quaffing a few pints before and after the match along with the traditional flask of hot mulled wine that my mate dispenses at half time, we were stuck at home making ourselves sick eating Inequality Street chocolates (have you seen the size of them these days), whilst waiting for the footy results to come in. You could say it was a case of Cold Turkey. Which was served up not long afterwards by the housekeeper.

To put the tin hat on it all Borer won, not once, but twice over the holiday period.

Truly a Bah Humbug Christmas and New Year of the highest order.

GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY looks at all things footy

Well, not a lot to write about as a result of the postponed games. Except, of course, what’s happening elsewhere.

I refer, of course, to the victories by Yeovil and Dagenham and Redbridge last Saturday. These results take them closer to Pools and the next few weeks will be squeaky bum time. Its ok having games in hand but some of these will have to be won – something you wouldn’t bet on at the moment.

 The number of postponed games will, of course, mean a few busy Tuesday nights - plus the fact that the Stevenage game will be called off due to the FA Cup. Its essential, therefore, that we reinforce the squad in the transfer window to take account of possible suspensions and injuries.

The game against Plymouth showed that Pools can take on the top teams in the division but it was criminal at the way in which Plymouth were to score the late, late winner. Firstly, there were questions as to whether the goal scorer, Kelvin Mellor, should have been on the field and secondly why was he allowed to go from one end of the pitch to the other with hardly any challenge.
"The game against Plymouth showed that Pools can take on the top teams in the division"

There are two observations to make about Pools’ attacking qualities. Rakish Bingham is not effective in the traditional centre forward role but has possibilities as a wide player where his speed can put opposing players under pressure. Scott Fenwick is now back in the side but there are times when he’s playing wide and not in the opposing penalty area causing problems.

There have been two bright spots. One is Rhys Oates who puts in the effort and the other is Kal Naismith who, against Plymouth had three players marking him. That shouldn’t happen all the time.

The televised game against Salford City was not the most inspired performance from Pools was it? In both the first and second round ties if our opponents had had anything like decent strikers we would have been dead and buried. Still we came through the ties and should make a bit more money from the Derby County game. As Jeff Stelling wrote in the Daily Telegraph on the day of the Salford city replay, “ I am very proud of where I come from, and will be even prouder if we can get through to that third round. We will be the underdogs and, this being the FA Cup, virtually the whole country will be behind us when we play Derby. I would take 1-0 tonight. It does not matter how you get through, as long as you get through”.

Speaking of the third round of the FA Cup I see that Liverpool supporters are up in arms because the BBC are showing their game at Exeter on the Friday night and they’d find it difficult to make the trip. Oh dear, get out the bucket and catch the tears. Showing the game live, the BBC have proved that they can get something right. After all, the main beneficiary of the switch will be Exeter City and, for once, the BBC have shown that there’s more to footy than Premier League clubs. Liverpool supporters should do what I did when Pools played Exeter a few years ago. Make a weekend of it. You might enjoy yourselves. Hartlepool (and Carlisle for that matter) are further away from Exeter than Liverpool. Rough it for once – you’ll get educated.

Looking elsewhere, this is pain in the butt time. I refer, of course, to the transfer window when all the clubs in the bog standard Premier League fall over themselves to sign overseas players we’ve never heard of. Let’s do away with all the nonsense and abolish the transfer window, which is surely a restraint of trade.

Funny Old Game

New Faces, Old Faces

BILLY'S CONTRACT on Pools players

Lot of talk in December regarding bringing in several new faces to 'Pools either on a loan or a cash basis to freshen up the squad. Due to the numerous postponements this has given the management team the opportunity to take in several games and run the rule over any possible new signings.

When I heard the chimes of big Ben heralding in 2016 I was immediately on my mobile, not sending text messages and wishing all and sundry New Year felicitations, but at one minute past twelve I was checking on the internet which players Ronnie had signed. As I write this it is now the twelfth day of Christmas and apart from extending the loan periods of Jake Gray and Adam Jackson, we still have the same old faces at The Vic.

I would have thought that Wolves would have took Brad Walker off our hands by now, or are they waiting until the end of the season when he possibly becomes a free agent or is given a free, as a result of which no monies come into 'Pools coffers.

I am sure that Ronnie and his team are working hard behind the scenes to bring in fresh faces, and when I say fresh faces, please - no more inexperienced kids. Rumours abound he has run the rule over two non league strikers, one, apparently, is the leading goalscorer in all the British leagues ...and I include Scotland in that. Another player currently on the radar is another forward who was with Ronnie at Tranmere.

Personally I disagree with the the January transfer window and I prefer the good old days when we all had rickets and when half a crown was a king's ransom, and a club could go out and buy a player at any time of the year. If nothing else, reading the back pages of the newspapers in the past was far more interesting than it is these days, seeing on a daily basis which players were being sought after by which club, and where they were rumoured to be going.

We all know that we need a mobile box to box midfielder, not necessarily one who will score goals but someone who is at least prepared to have a shot at goal now and again. Another forward of the Jordan Hugill mould would not go amiss, plus another left back.

The clock's ticking and there are only three weeks left before the transfer deadline closes, so we need to get a move on and not end up with the dross the other clubs do not want. The crop of players that we currently have are no doubt a lot better than those that we he had on our books last season but several of them are lacking confidence on a massive scale. Could be a case that several new signings could allow some of the squad to be rested or that the new faces may raise morale in those who are doubting their ability, and get them out of the mental rut that they might be wallowing in.
"at one minute past twelve I was checking on the internet which players Ronnie had signed."

In one way I am pleased that we now have a backlog of matches to catch up on as in truth, with the current squad, I could not see us getting anything from the previously postponed games at Newport, Carlisle and Accrington. However with some fresh blood they might give us a chance of gaining some extra points on the board, which is now a priority.

Let's not kid ourselves, Pools are again in a relegation dogfight, though I much prefer our current survival odds over those that we had this time last year. Come the New Year there is always one team that looks dead and buried, much like Pools last season, who suddenly come into a rich vein of form and go on a run as Dagenham and Redbridge seem to be doing of late, though hopefully it is just a flash in the pan. Again there is a team that thinks they are well out of the mire and treading water, much like Tranmere and Cheltenham did last season, and we all know what happened to them. Let's hope that Pools do not find themselves in a similar situation.

We need to get a portion of that Cup run money spent on some decent players otherwise The National Conference league beckons.


Most Saturday nights when either Strictly or Casualty are on the box I pass my time by studying all the results and stats of the day of the various clubs particularly to see how former 'Pools players are doing ...or not doing.

Jack Baldwin is back in Peterborough's side after a long injury lay off. YouTube his own goal against Sheff Utd. Pure class. Simon Walton is a regular for Crawley Town. Compton, now at Yeovil must be out injured or living in a cave in Wales as I have never seen his named mentioned anywhere, not even on the subs bench. Although I do not class them as true Poolies as they were only loanees Burgess (Pompey) and Dolan (Yeovil) are pretty much ever-present for their respective teams.

Ritchie has been out out the scene at Chesterfield but I think that was through injury. He recently appeared on the bench but now that Danny Wilson has taken over the management reins there he could be due to be loaned out to Port Vale. Luke James, currently on loan with Bradford from Peterborough, rarely makes it off the bench. Darren Holden was pretty much permanently on the bench at Ross County and came on as as sub a couple of times, and I am guessing he is out injured as he has disappeared off the scene. Ben Clark is pretty much a constant at Gateshead. I can't believe that he is only 32, seems to have been around for centuries.

Jonathan Franks is the player I enjoy searching out for most on the stat list. Not for the number of goals that he has scored (one), but to see what time he leaves the bench or is taken off the field of play. To the best of my limited knowledge I don't think that he has completed a full ninety minutes for Ross County since he signed for them. He either comes on as a sub or makes way for a sub, and it is always around the 63rd or 78th minute ...very much like he did at Pools. Mind, a few weeks ago he did come off in the 58th minute, which upset the bookies' odds.

Newport v Pools

(well, almost!)

Match report by ALREET at Rodney Parade

Newport v Pools  (League 2) Saturday January 2nd 2016

I only made the decision to go to Newport on New Year's Day... 

I rang the ground on Thursday to check the conditions and was cheerily told that the drainage was the 'mutt's' and there would be no problem as the pitch would not be used prior to Saturday. I had also spoken to a rugby playing relative who lives in the area and he, too, confirmed that the drainage had vastly improved in recent years.

Things started on a high as my favourite Oyster system had completely collapsed meaning that the whole of the travelling London public enjoyed a free ride or two. The smile was later wiped off my face, however, as it transpired that I had saved a penny and spent many a pound. 

Unlike my abortive rail journey to Exeter several years ago when I ended up buying a Cornish Pasty, I got slightly better value for my day out this time by enjoying a plate of Welsh faggots, peas and chips in Newport market. 

Making my way to the ground, I found my route taking me between my intended route over the road bridge and a newish-looking pedestrian structure, so I opted for the latter as it appeared to lead me closer to the visitors entrance. Having crossed over the river, the ground was right in front of me but I had a feeling that I had wasted my time as, although I was early, there was a distinct lack of activity in the area. 

I spotted an arrow indicating the route for away supporters so I followed the footpath which took me on to the road running behind the new stand. There was absolutely no sign of an entrance so I asked an Asian chap from a local shop who suggested I should carry on up the road and turn down to the main entrance. I then spotted an entrance for Newport RFC but this obviously hadn't been used in years. 
"I had a feeling that I had wasted my time as, although I was early, there was a distinct lack of activity in the area"

There was an equally unwelcome path alongside this old entrance but, this apart, the road consisted of nothing but houses. Standing there pondering the situation, I saw an elderly chap with a walking stick coming towards me so I asked him about the way in. He said that he was 99.9% certain that the game had been called off but was pleased that the RFC entrance was closed as he only lived a couple of doors along the road and it meant a quiet life. 

Apparently, I had passed the visitors entrance along the path before I reached the road and I then recalled seeing a wire 'gate' with a "No Public Access" sign on it so I'm not quite sure how the Welsh view Poolies!

The kindly chap I was talking to informed me that he had been a Chemistry teacher and we had an enlightening conversation about the standard of modern education among other things. He said that he grew up in the area and had attended a local grammar school but he hated the way that football there was treated as second class and the emphasis was always on rugby. He went on to say that he thought there was an element of this at the ground and he noted that they hadn't bothered to put the goalposts up and mentioned an earlier incident when there had been a bit of a kerfuffle involving Wimbledon who also had a game postponed late in the day when, guess what, there was a major rugby match against Cardiff due to take place a couple of days later. I thanked him for his time, and he then scuttled off to the library while I went off in the other direction to have a look at the main entrance. 

Arriving there, I saw a couple of locals with their kids who also were unaware of the situation. Just inside the entrance, there is a large area of grass which I assume is used as a training area for either Newport RFC or the Gwent Dragons so I skirted this and had a look at the football area but not before I was passed by an irate home fan who was loudly proclaiming that "they could have played on that". 

Having the place to myself, I had a wander around the terracing and I have to say that the pitch looked green and lush with very little surface water laying on the surrounding areas

It would seem that conspiracy theories are not the sole prerogative of Pools! Unless, of course, their excellent drainage system had kicked in after the pitch inspection???

39 Years Ago

BILL THE BIRO shows how times have changed

Last month we featured some items from the programme for the Boxing Day match in 1976 (actually played on the 27th as Sunday matches weren't yet allowed.) With this year's equivalent not having yet seen the light of day we thought we'd show the cover from 39 years ago, which demonstrates how simple Division 4 programmes were - the concept of the match-day magazine was yet to reach Division Four, even though the cover suggests otherwise. It also shows how cheap they were, at a mere 10p.

The club badge of the day figures prominently. While many clubs use a shield as part of their badge, or a circle to represent a football, there can't ever have been too many triangular ones, and this one didn't last too long.

The whole thing is letterpress-printed in the old-fashioned way that William Caxton would have recognised 500 years ago (if he hadn't already been dead for 20 years by then, that is!) - lots of little metal letters assembled by hand into a frame which is then used in a printing press to transfer ink onto the paper. Look at the 'A' in 'Hartlepool', which is not fully formed (the typesetter may have set it too far back for the ink roller to reach its edges), and the 'T', which is set slightly higher up the page than the adjacent 'R' and 'L'.

This was the only page with any colour on it - what would you expect for 10p? And while we can't be sure after nearly 40 years-worth of colour fading, it could be that the turquoise blue colour is in fact cyan, one of the three primary printing ink colours, which would have allowed the printer to use an ink colour he'd always have in stock, rather than a special colour (with modern full-colour printing, special colours are rarely used.)

So, while we can't say whether we'll see the same fixture being repeated at some future date, we can say that the programme for it will be a bit slicker than this.

Funny Old Game

Plymouth Fury

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at the Vic

Pools 1 Plymouth 2 (League 2) Saturday December 19th 2015

More trouble getting to the Vic again today as the sprog was out shopping so I had to catch a bus. I was tempted to walk as it is only about four stops but as the bus turned up I decided to hop on. Then the Christmas spirit left me, as I could not produce my bus pass, so I was charged £1.70 for the privilege. I think the last time I paid a bus fare for this trip it cost me about 10d, so if I cannot claim expenses from the Bizz I will just have to charge the sprog as it was her fault.

First of all I must get a moan in about today's official. As this is the beginning of the piece you will understand that I was not biased in the claim that Graham Sailsbury has to be the worst official ever to referee a game at the Vic, and this even covers the school games I have seen - he was diabolical. He aided and abetted this high-flying Plymouth team throughout the game and was blatant in his hatred of anything Hartlepool. I must check to see if he ever married a Hartlepool woman and was getting his revenge for a life of suffering.

Less than two minutes into the game this clown had his card out and booked Gray for a small misdemeanor, a slight pull on a player who was challenging him for the ball. In the melee in the Pools box resulting from the free kick, Jackson was pole-axed on the line defending the cross and not a word was spoken to the offending Plymouth player. Mr. Salisbury seemed to give free kicks to the opposition just for turning up and turned a blind eye to their hacking of Pools players and the fact they dived to the ground every time a Pools player made a tackle. The Vic was filled with ironic cheers every time we got a free kick, which was not often, and usually in the middle of the park.

After a bright ten-minute spell by the visitors, Pools started to match them, playing some good football in the process. Pools were denied a penalty when a defender dived and blocked a Woods shot with his hands but of course Mr. Salisbury happened to be looking the other way. Pools went close with a shot from Jackson that was inches wide.

Throughout the half Woods was chopped down incessantly as he, along with Gray and Naismith, was taking a grip of the game, which was good to see after the horrendous play in the Salford cup game.

It was a decent half for Pools despite the official, but again the lack of a finisher or a playmaker was obvious. The visitors were a decent side but not a great side when you think that the win today puts them on top of the table. It is sod's law that the high flyers always seem to get the bounce of the ball to either get them out of trouble or give them the edge in a fifty-fifty.

One rumour at half time was that if Moore does not get some form going by January then it is curtains for him. Christmas is always a silly time for managers and some big fish have been caught out and others are floundering recently but you can never put any trust in a Town End rumour.

Keeping in the Christmas mode we had more that a fair share of Christmas jumpers at the game today. In fact Snow White's friends the dwarves trundled along to the bar at half time but there was more like twenty seven than seven.
"one comment we heard 'the wrong time for Pools to score' was so prophetic."

The second half started like the first with the visitors stepping up their game as they played towards the five hundred or so traveling fans in the Rink End, shooting on sight, but we defended well. Harrison had a bit of a torrid time against a very fast winger but he held his ground and the winger was taken off half way through the half. Featherstone had a good game and was unlucky with a good move in the box but his shot was just wide.

Pools were doing ok until a very slack ball from defence resulted in a free kick for the visitors and the ball eventually ended up in the net after a low drive was not seen soon enough by Carson. Shortly after Pools were level with a penalty decision, which was so blatant, even Salisbury could not deny it. Fenwick was bundled to the ground in the box as he made for goal. The decision seemed to send the visitors into frenzy as they surrounded Mr. Salisbury then turned their attention to Fenwick, surrounding him in an attempt to put him off. Even their keeper went nose to nose with the Pools man, which action itself should have warranted a card for intimidation. Fenwick took the ball from Bingham who wanted to take the spot kick and duly sent the keeper the wrong way and Fenwick in his celebration ran at the keeper to let him know his feelings.

It was one all on eighty-six minutes and Pools just deserved a point, but one comment we heard 'the wrong time for Pools to score' was so prophetic.

The four minutes left gave the visitors the incentive to hammer at us and like I said, when you are top of the league the ball always seems to drop for you. Again a ball was lost in defence that at this stage should have been wellied out of the ground, but the visitors pounced on it and scored the winner on ninety minutes.

A much improved performance despite the loss. 
Better Late than Never

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at the Vic

Pools 2 Salford City 0 (FA Cup Round 2 replay)

Tuesday December 15th 2015

This was a game that few Poolies feared, especially after the first game at Salford. Yes we were lucky with an early penalty but few would agree on the night's play that we deserved a draw. Tonight’s game was a bonus and also a freebie for the fans that purchased an away game ticket at Salford, which meant I was given a free ticket for tonight’s game, so the club should be commended for this gesture.

I was late to the Vic thanks to a daughter who never knows the meaning of time, especially when deciding which coat to wear. Arrived at the ground about ten minutes to kick off and as usual for cup games there was a queue back to Morrisons, with about two hundred people queuing at one turnstile.

Ducky was the unfortunate absentee, which was a shame as his form has been good of late, which could not be said about most of the squad. I think the manager called it “a lack of confidence” after the four nil thrashing last week. I was secretly hoping the some of the Salford players were absent, just maybe one or two could not get a shift off, I understand, after watching the replay on telly, that Ritchie Allan had missed the bus but still made it to the Vic, and was a dangerous sub late in the game.

The visitors have to be credited for their approach to the game, as they came at us from the off. They challenged for every ball and it seemed as if they won every one too, almost every fifty-fifty heading challenge was won by them and our defensive headers seemed to drop to a Salford player. Even the second ball was won by them as we struggled to put any real telling play together. Pools were having a nightmare of a game. Desperate defending and poor distribution just put even more pressure on us. So much so that the Ditchburn Poolie commented that we played better when the ball was out of play.

Sadly we are becoming used to watching games like this recently and it is not pretty. We need a lift from somewhere, but do we have any players that can give us that lift? Is it a problem with the coaching? Or are the players just not gelling or just not good enough? We can play some good football in short spells but we need to be better than that. It needs sorting soon or the great escape from last season could be on again in the New Year.

The tag of never winning on TV looked as it was going to be the case and I thought it was such a bad half that it was all over and only a matter of time before we cracked under the pressure, as the visitors were far and away the better side on the night. We were so poor, our approach work in their half was abysmal, as we either just lost the ball in a tackle or gave it away with poor passing.
"the Ditchburn Poolie commented that we played better when the ball was out of play."

At half time the Ditchburn, ever the optimist, convinced me that getting to nil all half way through a replay was progress. Last year we were done over by Blyth thanks to an engineered Shearer intervention. In truth that was horlicks as Blyth just came and did a job on us, It did not look or feel like progress as, apart from a couple of weak shots from Oates and Fenwick, there were eighty seven minutes on the clock before a cross-cum-shot from Carroll looked anything like a threat on the visitors' goal. I half expected the same result tonight as the Blyth game as we waded through the second half making no progress whatsoever.

Extra time was to be our saviour, maybe that was our ploy, let them wear themselves out charging around an unfamiliar pitch all night... we tire them into submission.

The visitors did look knackered in the first half of extra time and we began to make one or two passes between our players, and Fenwick wiped out the memory of that bloody awful miss in the first game. He laid a ball off for Oates and then made space for himself in the box and headed a crisp header into the goal that brought an audible huge communal sigh of relief around the Vic as we went one up.

You could see the heads of the Salford team visibly drop as the goal went in. They had nothing left. Pools, given a lifeline now, had a spring in their step and Walker picked up a ball in the visitors' half and at first was tempted to go for the corner flag. Whether he heard the boos of the home crowd or not, he turned in, towards goal, and made a delicate chip to Mandron, who just could not miss.

Two nil to the Hartlepool looks good on the record, especially as we could not buy a goal in recent games, but a win is a win no matter how ugly it was and we are into the next round. However it was interesting to watch the reaction of the Ditchburn, who is a long time served Poolie who wears his heart on his sleeve. He went on a lone walkabout to calm his nerves.

He did eventually come back and said he had not hit or berated anyone this time round.

Any Other Business


December was a month of heavy weather which knocked out a few Pools matches, stranding them down there with the strugglers, and also of them making heavy weather of beating a team of part-timers over three and a half hours. 

Perhaps the January transfer window, coupled with the chairman's positive stance, may help, but it all seems a bit too reminiscent of last season at the moment, especially since the so-called 'Great Escape' was more down to the people at Whaddon Road and Prenton Park than anyone at the Vic.

Pools may have had an unwanted winter break, but before that they achieved something unheard of - not only having three of their matches televised live in the same season, but also remaining unbeaten in all of them.

The two against Salford may have been completely and utterly embarassing, but we Poolies are used to finding positives where few exist!

In 1927, on the 29th June, a total eclipse of the sun occurred, and its centre passed right over Hartlepool. If it had happened during the footy season, and Pools had been playing, they wouldn't have gained any advantage from it though. Until 1967 steam trains used to pass on the other side of Clarence Road, and sea breezes would blow steam across the pitch during most matches, completely obliterating the view for perhaps half a minute. Whenever this happened, and despite having seen it before (unlike some of the opposition), Pools could never do anything with it, so what chance would they have had with a long-predicted eclipse?

We recently came across The Legacy of Hartlepool Hall, a 2011 novel by Ed Torday (author of Salmon Fishing in the Yemen), and were surprised that the fictional hall in the title was not named after the town, but after the family who owned it. We've never heard of Hartlepool as a surname, and wondered if anyone else has.

The death has been announced, at the age of 82, of Ambrose Fogarty, who played for Pools in the mid-sixties. When he arrived (from Sunderland, for a club record fee that now wouldn't buy you the cheapest new car) he was like a breath of fresh air. This was the tail-end of Pools' terrible run of annual re-elections to the league. The team wasn't very good at all, so he didn't have to do much at all to impress, yet impress he did, being the midfield general that Pools could do with right now. And for a few seasons he lit up the Vic. Thank you Amby for brightening up those dark days.