Showing posts from March, 2016
Cover image for Monkey Business no. 148
Staff Room

BILLY'S CONTRACT on the Hignett era

I read in the press that Craig Hignett had said "A lot of the players here have not been coached before", which is quite a damning opinion of Ronnie Moore's management tenure.  I also read several months back that Ronnie Moore, more or less had said the same thing about the coaching set up he inherited shortly after he took over the managerial reins, which was also quite a damning opinion laid at Colin Cooper's as well as Craig Hignett's doorstep.

If we take what both Hignett and Moore said as gospel that would mean that the Pools players have not been coached for the best part of two years - and it shows. You only have to look at some of the players whose progress seemed to stall under Ronnie Moore. I'm thinking of Duckworth, Fenwick, Jones and, in particular, Brad Walker and Scott Harrison, whose careers have taken a massive backward step. It could be that their faces did not fit, or that, with the exception of Harrison, they were players that Ronnie inherited and he did not take a shine to, or perhaps some of them were the bad boys of the dressing rooms. Who knows what goes on behind closed doors, particularly dressing room closed doors.both Let's hope that Craig Hignett can get some of them, if not all of them, back on track.

It is good to see that that Craig Hignett has been allowed to externally recruit his own backroom staff rather than be told he has to make do and mend with the personnel currently at the club. That is the same reason why Phil Brown never took up the managerial role at Pools, as he could not bring in his own backroom staff. It is unusual, particularly at this level, with resources being at a premium, that Hignett is talking about not only having both a coach and a number two also, which can only bode well.

When I heard of the appointment of Curtis Fleming as coach I thought "here we go again." Think Stephen Pears, and that it was a case of jobs for the boys of the old Boro network. However, thinking that he had been out of football since he retired from the Boro, I was surprised when I 'checked form', and learned that up until recently he was head coach at Crystal Palace and Bolton, so hopefully he will bring something to the table ...and not the bottom of the table either!

It will indeed be interesting to see who will become Craig Hignett's second in command.

And what of Craig Hignett's appointment. I for one was all for it and think that he is the man for the job. Since leaving Boro he has been seen regularly at The Vic so some of the levels of incompetence that we the fans have witnessed won't come as a complete surprise to him. He knows the club pretty much inside out which can only help. What does seem remarkable is that, when he left Pools to join his beloved Borer, both clubs' fortunes changed virtually overnight. Pools' declined whilst Borer's reached new highs.
"we desperately need a midfielder of the quality and style of a Tshibola"

Concerns, I have a few. He recently stated that he felt no need to bring in loan players as there was enough quality in the squad to get us through, and that he was happy with the midfield players that he has on the books. To my mind, and the minds of many others, that is where the problem lies: we desperately need a midfielder of the quality and style of a Tshibola. Concern number two is about whether or not he has the contacts in the game to bring in players from clubs other than Middlesbrough, almost the sole source when he was here under Colin Cooper, and from whom we got some right dross. It might be that Curtis Fleming could be the man with the contacts, or Hignett's new assistant, whoever that will be.

IN OTHER NEWS Is it a coincidence that the appointment of Ed Balls as a director of Norwich City coincides with their slide down the Premiership league table? This despite bringing in eight new players at some considerable cost during the January transfer window. Goodness knows what state the economy would have been in if he had indeed become Chancellor. Pass me another sausage roll Delia.

Comment, unintentional or otherwise, heard in the Town End during a recent home game. "Nice tackle Bates."

Dear Vicki

Monkey Business agony aunt VICKI PARK returns with help for troubled souls

Dear Vicki,
I am an experienced, European, trophy-winning football manager, currently 'resting' between appointments, who has shown interest in, at some time in the future, managing a certain large Premier League club. This may have given the impression that I would like to replace the current, struggling incumbent.

Could you advise on whether it is appropriate to signal my intentions early, or should I just have waited patiently for a suitable vacancy to occur?
JM, London
Dear JM,
This is a thorny issue. Nobody (well, most unemployed managers) would want their interest in a particular position to be the cause of someone else's sacking. On the other hand you have a right to position yourself at the head of the queue should that occur. 

What you won't really know is how your intended new employers will have viewed your move. You may find that your strategy may have already worked, and that you'll be approached as soon as (or even before) the evil deed is done, but it could equally be viewed as an underhand approach, unbecoming of a respected manager, and to which the response could well be "No way, Jose!"

Dear Vicki,
I am  a charismatic and energetic sporting administrator who has over many decades changed the face of my sport, pumping millions of dollars into the game in third-world countries and making it the richest and most popular sport on the planet. 

Yet despite my very visible achievements, my organisation has taken against me, given me a long suspension and rejected my appeal. Is there anything I can do to clear my name?
SB, Zurich
Dear SB,
Keep a low profile. Your name won't need clearing once everyone's forgotten it!

Dear Vicki,
I play in goal for a team currently in the frame for promotion to the Premier League, and I am somewhat long in the tooth, and was wondering at what age I should hang up my gloves.
DK, Middlesbrough
Dear DK,
There isn't really an age that anyone can say is the definitive one. Goalkeepers can go on a bit longer than outfield players, but it really depends on how you feel, how your fitness continues and whether you keep getting picked. 

However, when you find that the rest of the team are talking about some band that you've never heard on Radio Two, or posting on a social media site you didn't know existed, or getting what seem to be completely ridiculous haircuts, perhaps that may be the time to go.

Dear Vicki,
I have previously been a successful international manager, and currently manage a top English football team, admittedly without much success of late. However, the fans have been complaining that my style is very boring, and would prefer to see a bit more flair. Are they right, or will they change their minds when we start winning most of our matches?
LvG, Manchester
Dear LvG,
Fans have two levels of satisfaction. When their team desperately needs the points, they will find the most tedious of wins is really enjoyable. When their team doesn't need the points, or a win can be expected, they want to be entertained. Of course, if you give them defeat when a win was expected, and don't entertain them either, you're asking for trouble.

So the answer is that they will change their minds when you start winning most of your matches in an entertaining way. Have you tried doing comedy falls like that one manager did a few weeks ago?

[Note: This was written and was in fact stored on the internet ready for launch on the day before a certain incident along the lines suggested by Vicki actually occurred at Old Trafford. While it may just be coincidence, government spies could have read it and passed it on to the Americans, who then could have forwarded it to Manchester United's American owners, allowing them to order something to be done to sabotage this article. In future, we at Monkey Business will be keeping both an open mind and a wary eye on similar suspicious happenings.]

Dear Vicki,
As a retired, internationally-known footballer I have been doing all sorts of different media things, but I haven't been seen on TV for months. Do you think this is the beginning of the end for my celebrity career, or can I prolong it a bit?
DB, Los Angeles
Dear DB,
It all depends on what you'd like to do, and whether the media would like you to do it. Obviously with all this reality TV going on, most things have already been done: swimming with dolphins, seeing the Northern Lights, living with gorillas, dancing, cooking, ski-jumping and the like, but if all else fails, there's always 'I'm a Celebrity'. The title says it all. It'll make you think you still are, even when you haven't been for some time.

You could go into acting, although that career change may not last too long, as OJ Simpson and Vinny Jones have found.

You could stand for Parliament, but childish behaviour and barefaced lying are probably skills you're born with rather than learn.

Or you could just go with it and be the successor to Pele, to be wheeled out at World Cups and Olympics, and just be pleased when people say "I didn't know he was still alive".

Funny Old Game

Cartoons: Messi penalty and Ali Brownlee

Makes a Change from a Load of Old Cobblers!

GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY looks at the Vic and beyond

The very creditable draw against Northampton Town proved that Pools have got what it takes to achieve a mid-table position. Coming to Pools on the back of ten wins on the trot there must have been a sense of foreboding as the league leaders hit town. Yet, Pools were able to match them and so give us Poolies much more confidence.

The form of Nathan Thomas is encouraging but Poolies have made two assertions about him : one, that he must learn how to score goals and, secondly, he must remember that its footy he plays and not rugby. His miss against Yeovil was a howler. He left their right back for cold and we all waited for the back of the net to bulge – but it didn’t as Yeovil fans ducked for their safety as the ball flew over the bar. Nathan’s profile indicates that he’s scored twice against Pools – how about doing that for us!!! Still, on the law of averages he’s going to get on the score sheet; in the meantime, just worry opposing defences and win some penalties.

Shame about the late goal against Luton. How many times has that happened this season? I reckon about four so four draws rather than four defeats would have put us in a far healthier position. Realistically, we’re still better off than at this stage last season, so lets go up and up and, as the Northampton game proved, there won’t be too much old cobblers.

Northampton themselves, and Wycombe for that matter, have both experienced time near the bottom of League 2 and both came back to mount promotion challenges. Wycombe’s fate was sorted out on the last day of the season two years ago – they survived and Bristol Rovers went down. And, now, after getting back into the Football League, Trigger’s lot are mounting a promotion challenge.
"realistically, we’re still better off than at this stage than last season"

As we look to our safety, there’s one club who face an uncertain future and that’s Horden Colliery Welfare, who were made to vacate their ground following a legal case in Newcastle. According to a press release from Horden Parish Council (owners of the ground), they were owed money in rent and there are energy bills outstanding. Horden CW’s future is obviously in doubt and I was only too happy to sign the petition to Horden Parish Council asking them to help save the club. In some ways, Horden CW’s fate is a sign of the times. At one time, the colliery welfares were supported by the mining industry and I’ve no doubt that Horden's was an example of this. Now, of course, the mining industry is no more and clubs like Horden CW have had to become free-standing organisations with all the consequent difficulties. I hope they stay in business – it would be a shame if they folded. An amenity in Horden would be lost – surely the ground isn’t being earmarked for a housing development.

Another sign of the times came with the news that Middlesbrough’s away game, scheduled for Saturday 12 March, had been switched to the following day, kick off 3.30pm. This kind of thing shouldn’t come as a surprise – after all, our beautiful game has been taken over by television and supporters are the last people to matter. As one wag pointed out the other day, referees no longer decide when a game kicks off. That is governed by, for example, Sky, and depends on when their adverts finish. Still, if Middlesbrough have aspirations to getting in the bog-standard Premier League then they had better get used to being messed around.

Just over three months to go before the EU referendum and it's maybe a good time to reflect on the effect that Europe has had on the game. The most important effect is the Bosman ruling, which, of course, gives freedom of movement within EU clubs. It meant that Premier League clubs now sign a proliferation of players from Europe whose names we can’t pronounce and even remember. As well, there has been an adverse effect on the performances of the England team – something the Football League warned about in the 1960s when pundits wanted overseas players in the League. At least with Pools we can be proud of the fact that most of our players are British born. Even the Daily Mail congratulated us on that.

League Two Folk

BILL THE BIRO has his ear to the ground

Last month we were sent a newspaper clipping which mentioned the 1962 demise of Accrington Stanley, and that went into the Any Other Business page, together with a few paragraphs about Stanley. 

We followed that with a mention of Lancashire folk singer Stanley Accrington, and after we politely emailed him to tell him what we were up to, he sent us a quite long and entertaining reply:

"Well, I am honoured to be mentioned in such an august organ as Monkey Business.

"Although I am named after a football club, I have no links to the town of Accrington (other than having to grab my stuff and leave quickly from a pub in Accrington I was booked at because Burnley and Blackburn fans started fighting each other). I just nicked their name because they were non-league. Then the rascals came back into the league and a search for my name on th'interweb usually gives their info.

Stanley Accrington picture
Stanley Accrington
and merchandise
 - even if it's not his!
"In fact, once I started getting around the music scene, I found out that I was one of about half a dozen Stanley Accringtons. One was a 60's rock band from Northampton, another a comedian from Bolton and, most confusingly when I was after work, one was 'Stanley Accrington and the Third Division North', a ceilidh band based around Sunderland. I was once introduced to "the proper Stanley Accrington" who was a nice guy. If I ever appear in the north east, I am still described as "Not the local ceilidh band". However, I think I am the only surviving Stanley Accrington.

"It is sad that there are no other acts named after football clubs. Alexandra Crewe maybe, or Gill Ingham perhaps. Of course there was Fleetwood Mac, John Leyton-Orient and Brian Pool and the Tremeloes but it's a bit tenuous.

"I find that the music scene is generally not interested in football. You do have one supporter from folkland, the concertina wizard Steve Turner who has been a Pools season ticket holder and match sponsor even though he has never lived in or near Hartlepool and currently resides near Nottingham.

"There was once a comedic folk performer from Kent named Doug Hudson who once had the job as match announcer at Gillingham, but he got the sack after announcing bogus half time scores such as Aston Villa 7 Manchester United 1, Chelsea 0 Charlton 5 and Hartlepool 1 Scunthorpe 0.

"Anyway, thanks for the mention (to be quoted in my publicity, after having a poem in the Essex County archive and being quoted by a Huddersfield University lecturer to his students). I once lived in a road by Kersal Moor where Salford play and was very impressed with the way Pools snuffed out the sentiment (and football) in that televised cup game. I still think the aptly named James Poole is the best Hartlepool player I have seen in recent years. But, being a sad Oldham Athletic fan (as well as Rochdale of course), I am reminded of the satirical chant that Latics fans have when your manager returns - "Ronnie Moore, football genius". I hope he can work the magic again. [Obviously written before Ronnie was given the opportunity to work his magic elsewhere - Ed.]


"(One of the) Stanley Accrington(s)"

Anyway, that sent us off on the case of Pools season ticket holder Steve Turner, who, it turns out, knows former Monkey Business editor John Cooper, since they both live in the same small town near Nottingham (or suburb thereof).

We then wrote to Steve and he also replied, saying that in fact he played cricket with Stan for thirty years:

"I used to buy Monkey Business regularly at away games. I go to most of them. My wife says that my collection of old Monkey Businesses is taking up too much room! But I'm ashamed to say that since it went online I've not been keeping up. This will have to change!

"Looking forward to today's big game
 with anticipation, trepidation and whatever. I stand in the Town End, back right hand side." 

The match he was referring to was Pools at home to Yeovil a few weeks back. After the match he was straight off to Whitby for an evening gig, so you can see that he's not averse to fitting in gigs with Pools matches. He often performs in the North East and since then has been seen in Stockton, although he gets all over the country - and the world.

Cover of Steve Turner's new album
Steve Turner has been performing since the late 1960s. He first had success with the north-eastern folk band Canny Fettle, before striking out on his own, singing and playing instruments such as concertina and cittern, which was the renaissance equivalent of the modern guitar. Then he left the folk scene for a few years to concentrate on his musical instrument business (which unusually specialises in instruments other than the ones he's known for playing). However he came back to performing ten or so years ago, and his seventh album was launched at the end of February. Several of his albums have featured the legendary Martin Carthy playing guitar - the folkie equivalent of having Elton John playing piano in your backing band!

We just had to ask him how he came to be a Pools fan, since he's not local, and were wondering if he was one of that select band of Pools fans who came on board out of sympathy, in the days when Pools had to annually beg to stay in the league. He told us:

"I'm originally from Manchester, and as you guessed, was one of the sympathy followers. I used to watch Man City but got hopelessly entangled with Pools at the age of twelve when I saw their plight.

"So I first used to go and see them at Stockport County, then places as far afield as Southport in the early to mid-sixties. I remember being the only one waiting round the back of the ground at Haig Avenue when Brian Clough, who'd just been appointed manager, came out, and when I asked him for his autograph, he said, "You're the first person who's asked me for an autograph" - True? Who knows?!

"Brian Clough ...said, 'You're the first person who's asked me for an autograph' "
"Another pathetic early sixties story was when my father, who was not a football fan, took me on the bus to see Pools away at Chesterfield, and left me outside the ground.

"He went off into town, and I only realised when I checked my pockets that I had no money to get in! So, using my youthful initiative, I offered the man on the turnstile my watch as the entrance fee, which he turned down - even though I included a roll of Sellotape in the deal! So I stood outside looking despondent for a while, till a friendly Spireites fan offered to pay my entrance fee. 

We lost 3 - 1! "

Steve told  us how a Lancashire lad with no north-east links (other than Pools) got into a Geordie Band.

"Canny Fettle were flavour of the moment in Manchester in the late 60s and early 70s. I was doing a floor spot in a local club one night in 1970 when they were the guests, and at half time the fiddle player came up and asked if I'd like to join them, as the singer was leaving. There were only two north east guys in the band and they had met at Manchester University. I was with them for seven years and we did two albums and did various gigs around the country and in Holland and Germany.

Photo of Steve Turner performing
Steve Turner and concertina
"The folk world is indeed a footie-free zone. Music and sport don't seem to mix. I'm a Pools season ticket holder and go to every game I can, home and away, when I'm not doing gigs or playing cricket - my other obsession. So I'll probably go to thirty games a season." 

We also asked about the life of an itinerant musician, and whether he, like many of his contemporaries, had to sleep rough in the early days.

I did and still do stay with the folk club organisers, usually on tours. If possible, I'll drive home after the gig if it's a one off. Nottingham's good because it's in the middle of the country.

The interesting thing is that in the early days people used to give folk singers floors and couches to sleep on. But now they've got older, richer, and have their own houses, I always get a bed. Sometimes a hotel!"

Steve ended our little discourse with a positive comment about the otherwise dismal Notts County home match.

"By the way, Gray's goal in the Tuesday debacle was, in my fifty four years as a Pools fan, probably the best goal I've ever seen by a Pools player. Ronaldo would have been proud of that one!"

Thanks to both Stan and Steve for their help. Let's hope both Steve and Accrington Stanley (if not Stanley Accrington too) will be at the Vic next season.

Steve Turner's website is:

And here again is Stanley Accrington's website: , so you can verify that he really has made loads of albums, and all with football-related titles.

ps The day after Pools had drawn with Northampton and ended their run, I actually got to see a Steve Turner gig - at a Northanptonshire folk club, would you believe, and he's a very fine performer. And he tactfully never mentioned the match - to the audience, at least!

Vera at the Vic

ELMO imagines the scene

Cartoon of TV detective Vera, 1st frame
Cartoon of TV detective Vera, 2nd frame
Blackhall Rocks! Sadly, Horden Doesn't!

BILLY'S CONTRACT on a sad time for the Collieries

I read in the Mail and heard over the Interwebby thing that Horden Colliery Welfare for whatever reasons have found themselves in extreme financial difficulties and as a result their parish council had taken them to court for monies owed. 

The Court found in the council's favour and awarded them costs of £80,000, which has made the extreme financial difficulties even more extreme. The outcome of all this being that it was likely that Horden's next home fixture against Jarrow would be their last game at Welfare Park.

Through the media the Horden CW directors and fan base appealed for supporters from other clubs who did not have a game of their own to go to, to make the trip up to Horden. To that end myself and a couple of mates said we would make the journey up the coast road and support their cause. After all, Horden, like Pools, had been founded in the year of Our Lord 1908.

Our only reservation about this short trip up the road was that we hoped the locals did not expect us to man any picket lines and voice our support for Arfur Scargill.

Image of Welfare Park

When I think back, I think that I have only set foot in Horden four or five times tops. After the closure of both the Odeon and ABC cinemas in West Hartlepool, the nearest picture house was up at Horden. I remember a group of us going up there (safety in numbers) in 1980/81 to see 'Airplane'. It was that funny that we went back to see it again a few days later. On another occasion I went to see a junior cup final replay at Welfare Park in the mid eighties. It was a bit embarrassing really, as a team from Stockton was playing a team from Hartlepool, and even though two of my work mates were playing for Stockton I was naturally shouting for the Poolies, which did not go down too well with all my pals who had travelled up to support their work colleagues. Hey - once a Poolie always a Poolie.

The only other time that I had an interest in Horden was when they drew Blackpool in one of the earlier rounds of the FA Cup in 1981. Due to the limited crowd capacity at Welfare Park, the game was played at Pools. I was pleased that our kid persuaded me to go as one of his former class mates played in the back four that day ...and he was 'class, mate.'  On the day, there was a decent sized crowd, bigger than what Pools were getting at the time, and although Horden were beaten one-nil, they gave the Tangerines a run for their money. A replay was the least they deserved.
"I forgot that Horden is three minutes ahead of Greenwich Mean Time"

I wasn't sure which mode of transport to bring but decided that as we were going to Horden, I'd better take the Time Machine, which took us through the mighty metropolis that is Blackhall. We parked up, or rather landed somewhere on the main drag in and out of Horden, and it was like a scene from 'Life on Mars'. Everything was post-1950's and there was not a soul about. We only encountered one other person on our walk down to Welfare Park, and after a lengthy walk around pretty much the whole perimeter of the ground, we eventually gained entry through the one and only turnstile.

We told the gadgie on the turnstile that on 'behalf of the cause' we would forfeit our concessions and pay the full price of £3 to watch the match. We got neither a thank you or a smile off said turnstile operator. When we asked him how the club had found itself in such a mess he just shook his head, which we took to be a 'No comment.'

With that we took to the club house and I had one of the best pints of beer ever. Unfortunately I cannot remember the name of the beer itself as one of my mates had bought it for me. Perhaps that is why it was one of the best pints ever! Half way through my pint I noticed that the game had kicked off some 3 minutes early to my reckoning. Then I forgot that Horden is three minutes ahead of Greenwich Mean Time.

I noticed about half a dozen or so other Poolies dotted around the ground who had turned up to lend their support, whom I knew either by sight or nodding acquaintance. I then got chatting to 'Poolpower', who I wished I knew strictly on a nodding acquaintance. The trouble with Poolpower is that you don't know who you are talking to - him or his bloody camera. I encouraged my mates to leave the bar once we saw Poolpower make for the the gents with his camera in hand.
"despite kicking up the north face of the Eiger, the colliery men squandered several good chances, but eventually put another two into the onion bag"

We made our way to the grandstand - a euphemism, if ever there was one, and even though it was sparsely populated we had trouble finding three seats together that weren't broken/snapped, had no back rests or were just plain vandalised. Eventually we did get sat together, however at half time when I stood up to go for a cuppa, I noticed that I had been sat on chewing gum (chuddy, as they say in these parts). Fortunately it must have been on the seat for the best part of twenty years and had solidified so much that it appeared to be part of the plastic.

Being sat in the stand was surreal; it was like being transported back to the seventies. In the corner were around fifteen youths who, to their credit, sang non-stop for the duration of the match. Some of the chants were very original, others a blast from the past and some could be the subject of legal proceedings. In front of us were half a dozen lads, I'd say in their mid thirties, singing and thumping away on the seats whilst careful enough to not spill the contents of their bottles of Nukey brown over their tabs. Quite an achievement.

One could not help but wonder sadly what else is on offer for the youth of Horden, as there is nothing there apart from the football and social clubs, and possibly the beach. Even if they had unicorn rides on the beach for the kids, no amount of government/lottery money could bring Horden back to life, assuming that it was ever alive in the first place. The village of Horden has absolutely nothing going for it at all. It is only the fact that it does not have a mine anymore that prevents it from being called The Pits.

What the parish council intends to do with the football ground once the club is evicted is anyone's guess. Executive housing? I think not. It really is the land that time forgot. It makes neighbouring Blackhall look like Las Vegas.

Meanwhile, back at the match, Horden, decked out in red shirts with a vertical white stripe down the left, same as 'Pools away tops of a couple of seasons back, began by kicking down a gradient that would not be out of place on Ski Sunday.

Image of match actionHorden pretty much dominated the half and went in at the interval one goal to the good against Jarrow, or in local parlance 'Jarra', not to be confused with Eifion Williams' last club, Jarra Roofing. During the half time break I read the excellent 30 odd page programme that was especially produced for the day, priced at a miserly One English Pound, which unsurprisingly sold out. When I said that it was a 30 odd page programme I did not mean this disrespectfully but it has to be said that there were a few, distinctly 'odd' pages. Eg, concerning the Weekly Buster, it read: "If you want to enter, see Tommy Johnson* and he'll sort it out". I just loved the 'sort it out' bit. Absolute class. It probably covers a wide range of services ranging from fights to financial advice.

The page concerning club links was equally amusing. Quote: We have had a few players this season who have played for Jarrow. None of our 'current bunch' of lads have turned out for Jarrow. What a wonderful way to describe the Horden squad: the 'current bunch.'

In the section where a player is asked questions about his team mates, full back John Pyle was asked who is the least intelligent player in the squad he said 'Alan Bloggs*, by a tattie field.' I spent the rest of the day chuckling to myself, trying to equate in scientific terms what sort of distance/margin/scale a tattie field would represent.

Image of Horden fans in grandstand
During the second half, despite kicking up the north face of the Eiger, the colliery men squandered several good chances, but eventually put another two into the onion bag. The football at times by both sides was neat and tidy and was pretty much played on the deck for the full ninety minutes (Pools please note).

Jarra pulled a late goal back to earn some respectability from the final three-one scoreline.

Walking back to the car we took our final glimpse of Welfare Park and saw that the occupants of the grandstand were now all standing around the centre circle, singing and chanting to their hearts' content some ten minutes after the final whistle had blown, with Brown Ale bottles raised aloft.

'Yakkers are definitely crackers,' or could it be that they are just very passionate supporters of their local football team. After all, Sunderland are just up the road and Pools are just down the road.

All in all it was a very enjoyable afternoon. I heard that the crowd exceeded one hundred fans and that there was a rumour doing the rounds late in the day that the new chairman might be able to pull some sort of deal off with the parish council. I for one certainly hope so.

With that I revved up the time machine and headed back to the 21st century. The following Monday I took the time machine on another journey, this time to Bishop Auckland. Now that is a whole different century. Spent the best part of two hours there and, despite our best efforts, we still only managed to spend £3.25.

* The names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Funny Old Game

Cartoons of new FIFA president and 'added time' board

Putting the Rant into Tolerant

BILLY'S CONTRACT goes off on one

In the past I have always been complimented on my easy going nature and not getting into a flap when all round are losing their heads. I would like to think that, had I been a passenger, I would have been quite calm during the last moments of the Titanic.

That image was recently blown out of the water when The Bride admonished me for beeping at a car that cut me up and told me that I had become less tolerant and become a Grumpy Old Man since I took early retirement some eighteen months back. This got me thinking and The Bride, now the housekeeper, as usual was not wrong.

For the best part of 27 years of my working life I would cover some 25,000 miles per annum over the Queen's highways and the by-ways of her sceptred Isle a car that is, and genuinely I cannot ever recall having 'flashed or tooted my horn' at another motorist (how on earth did that last bit get passed by the censor?). She also pointed out that it was not only bad drivers that seemed to get me going these days. but numerous other small inconsequential things that I disliked, or that got on my wick, or that I just plain hated.

"Give me just one other example" I said.

"Where shall I start?" she said. "How's about Ikea?"

"Well, no man in his right mind would go in there" I replied." "Give me another example" I demanded, and without pausing for breath off she went.

"You don't like ...reality TV shows, American election coverage on British TV, Celebratory adoration, The European Union, McDonalds, French Cars (post-1985), party politics, the reduced size of chocolate bars, even tablets (have you seen the size of Rennies these days, you now need four instead of two to get rid of your heartburn), Coca Cola, Starbucks, Amazon, companies that do not pay their UK taxes, Stockton-on-Tees, train fares, fake tans, Muzak in shops, Euro Disney coinage, Nike, smokers, ignorant people, Sky TV, Budweiser, label mania (cannot understand anyone who would wear a T shirt with Adidas/Nike emblazoned across the front of it), Casualty/Holby City, Call the Midwife, Strictly Come Dancing, H.M. Inspector of Taxes, money-making speed cameras, BMW drivers (do the indicators on these cars not really work?), sales assistants who say "Can I help you?' or greet you when you enter their shops (have a wander round Currys and see how many times you get pestered), small parking places, American football, Northern Rail's 'Pacer' trains, the Common Market, motorists who, despite the fact that there are plenty of parking spaces in the supermarket car park, park their cars on the double yellow lines right in front of Tesco and Asda (I'm sure, given the opportunity, these same people would like to drive around the store to do their shopping without leaving their vehicles)."

I could go on.
"...That whooping noise Americans make, Ikea, Sepp Blatter, Diane Abbott, Nicola Sturgeon, Eric Pickles, Volkswagen (thanks for poisoning us all), noisy people in cinemas and concerts, Google, the flag of the European Union, motorists who use their mobile phones (particularly texting) whilst driving, FIFA, the French (excluding Dimitri Payet), all the people who contributed to the closure of Hartlepool hospital, the management of North Tees general hospital, bad manners, tattoos on women, Ikea, self service tills at supermarkets, bad manners, Mr Tumble, Teesside and Dalton Parks, on-shore wind farms and electricity pylons, Jimmy Carr (is he funny?), B and Q, Luton and Mansfield (the towns not the football teams), motorists who drive below the speed limit, women shoppers who fiddle about with coupons then spend twenty minutes looking for their purses in their hand bags and insist on paying the exact money at the till, car salesmen, the scrapping of the TSR2 in 1965, chewing gum, Middlesbrough FC, cold callers, long advertisement breaks between TV programmes, litter louts, Ikea, Facebook/Twitter, Tees Valley, utility companies, the American flag, gobby, shouty young women, Apple, the Oscars, Ikea, mobile phone tariffs, TGI Friday's, party politics, slow lorries overtaking other slow lorries while using the outside lane on a gradient, Pease pudding, getting Scottish banknotes in your change, waiters asking if your meal is 'okay' (they should be asking if is sensational), Sunderland town centre, people who, particularly on TV, when talking in distances use kilometers instead of miles (smart-arses), the livery of Stagecoach bus fleets*."

Did I mention Ikea?

I think the Bride might have a point after all - that I have metamorphosed into Victor Meldrew.

Not long after this tête-à-tête I was in the Town End for the Salford game. After watching the first fifteen minutes of play you could almost feel the presence of a banana skin of giant proportions hovering over Victoria Park. The omens were not good as Salford were streets ahead of Blyth, who had knocked Pools out at the same stage of the competition last season. Mid-way through the first half the crowd were, not unjustly, getting on Pools' backs. At times the atmosphere was distinctly hostile.
"Would you mind having a word with the other 3,000-plus Poolies in the ground who would appear to share my opinion, but far more vocally?"

Two of my mates a little way from me on the terrace were in deep conversation, discussing between themselves Ronnie Moore's lack of tactical know-how, the way the team was set up, the high levels of ineptitude many of the players were displaying such as not being able to pass to each other from a couple of yards.Their private parley was interrupted by a, dare I say, well-meaning eavesdropper, a chap in his late thirties, who suggested to my mates that they should get behind their team rather than criticizing them. One of my mates said afterwards that he was sorry that at the time he did not reply to the interloper by saying "Would you mind having a word with the other 3,000-plus Poolies in the ground who would appear to share my opinion, but far more vocally?"

For the Derby cup game a sense of déja vu occurred as the same group of mates for no other reason than comfort forsook the Town End for the Mill House seats as they also had numerous relations from Derby in tow with them on the day. Prior to kick off they were sat overlooking the Marina and taking in the sea view whilst discussing the pros and cons of Scott Fenwick. In truth they were not overly critical of the player, in fact they thought that Ronnie Moore was not one of his biggest fans and that Fenwick should be given a run in the first team, and played in his natural position of centre forward.

Image of Grumpy Old Men's Club teeshirtHalf way through their conversation, and some five minutes after the game kicked off, three lads, in their mid forties, obviously with alcohol on board, took to their seats then turned around and had a right go at my mates in no uncertain manner 'f'ing and jeffing' and more or less telling them to keep their opinions of Scotty Fenwick to themselves, which was, ironically, what they were doing in the first place.

My pals, being in a family group, did not respond to them, and two of the younger female visitors were shocked at the language and aggression directed at my pals, and it was obvious that they would have got more of the same if they had continued to engage with them. I think it a very sad day when one cannot express an opinion at a football match for fear of having someone else jumping down one's throat because they don't agree with another's viewpoint. That after all is one of the joys of 'going to the footy.'

A few feet away from me where I stand in the Town End there is one lad in his mid fifties, and he comes out with all sorts of stuff. You might not agree with all he says but:
1 he is passionate, and
2 he is unwittingly funny and often has those around him in stitches.

Then you have the fans who should know better, whom you feel like giving a good talking to for their idiot behaviour. For instance, at the recent Notts County game, a small group near us, mainly spotty teenagers, started booing Luke James' name when it was given out over the Tannoy. I felt like going over and telling them that, forgetting what happened in the past (he was badly advised), Luke James could have signed for a couple of our rivals, and asking how they would have then felt if his goals had help condemn us to non-league football. But I just gave them a cold stare and said nowt.

As it turned out, on the night James was the best player on the pitch and earned himself the Man of the Match award. "How did he get Man of the Match?" one of them said. Obviously he had not been watching the game as there was only one contender. It was just a great pity that James did not score on the night as I would have loved to have seen the reaction on these lads' faces. The whole point of my ramblings is that you do not have to be over sixty to be a moaner and a Jonah. Grumpiness comes in all forms and is no respecter of age. Fourteen to a hundred and four and beyond All are welcome.

Being Grumpy. I am the master of it, I've got the T shirt. When my wife gave it to me on my birthday I said "couldn't you have chosen another colour other than black?"

I confided in our Kid and he too admitted to getting less tolerant with people as well. The one thing we both agreed on is that being grumpy is actually very enjoyable. Try it. 

* N.B This was the abbreviated version of my list of dislikes. For a copy of the five volume edition please contact Monkey Mansions.

Pools End the Run

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at the Vic

Pools 0 Northampton 0  (League 2) Saturday February 27th 2016

First omen for the day was that Frank Reid, the Pools fan that has never seen us win this season, was clicking his shutter at West Ham. The second one was that we won the toss and kicked up the bank in the first half. The third one was that the Ditchburn Poolie had brought his grandson, who is of Swedish origin and who pointed out that Pools were warming up in his national team's colours of yellow shirts and blue shorts.

It's sad when you have to clutch at straws like this to help change your team’s performance. But don’t knock it, some of the cross dressers in the terrace on a match day will use any excuse. We even had a group of Dutch Hartlepool supporters complete with their Hartlepool neckerchiefs, made in Holland specially for their visit.

The Ditchburn Poolie was unusually confused about today’s official, and could not make his mind up over two different Marks, one was Haywood and the other I think was a Hayworth, but all I got from him today in advice was that one was crap and the other was ok but he could not tell me which was which. As the officials warmed up I asked him which one it was, but he was away with the mixer as the third official was a lady. Now I have seen the Ditchburn in a rage, in high jinks and even deep depression, but only on three occasions have I seen him in a stupor and the last was the last time this lady ran the line. He was besotted and was even going to change his allegiance and go and stand in the Mill House for a better ogle. Good job he didn’t, as the lady called in sick at half time after giving some dubious decisions against Pools.
"Unexpectedly we ended a run by the top team in the division and put in a really good all-round team performance"

The game itself went off like a fizzer as Northampton attacked us in well-drilled numbers, pushing us back into our own half with some swift attacking football. They really switched the ball around looking for openings. Pools, after adjusting to the speed of the game, did go close with a shot from Luke. Paynter took one in the face as he was coming deep to help stem the tide but this was a game for both defences, who had to be strong at the back. Magnay in particular was strong as the Cobblers were a good side and you could see why they had gone ten unbeaten.

There were long spells when the visitors held the ball or we hoofed it back to them as the pressure got to us, but despite their attacking flair their shooting was abysmal. Luke and Thomas and Grey took the game to them and Grey should have had a penalty when he was brought down on a run into the box. Luke was wrestled to the ground continuously but sadly the official never saw it throughout the game, yet there were more head tackles than in the televised rugby game later.

For some reason Walker was taking the free kicks and never tested the keeper once. Pools stepped up a gear in the second half, attacking the Town End and once again the wingers were making headway against the visitors, both Luke and Thomas having some success down the flanks, which in turn eased the pressure on Pools.

A Thomas cross dropped agonizingly close from Paynter at the far post and the ball hit the keeper and trickled the wrong side of the post. Walker was a bit lethargic today and had one great chance on the edge of the box which needed that extra touch, and instead of shooting he was caught in two minds and rolled a poor ball in for Luke, who struggled to get to it and the chance was gone.

It was a tight game and Pools defended well against a strong team, and I think Carson only had to make one real save. Unexpectedly we ended a run by the top team in the division and put in a really good all-round team performance and thoroughly deserved the point, if not all three.

A Match Suffered

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at the Vic

Pools 2 Notts County 3  (League 2) Tuesday February 16th 2016

A match suffered, well at least the first half, as Pools just never got going. 

Welcome to the Football League basement Mr. Hignett. We just did not compete in the first half, in fact it was close to half an hour before we at the Town End saw any action as once again we had lost the toss and kicked down bank the first half. I can only remember two sorties into their half in the first half hour. Even the optimistic Ditchy said it was going to be a long night, For once he was ok with the ref apart from a comment of “he must live closer to Notts than he does us as he did not show up on the Ditch radar of refs." As it turned out we thought he had done a decent job.

Pools went a goal down in the first five minutes when two Pools defenders conspired to lose a ball mid-way in our own half and a long-range shot gave Carson no chance. Heads went down and we were back to the old standard of hoof ball despite the opposition fielding nine-foot giants in defence, who picked up the ball and they just walked through us. We were at odds all over the park, could not make a pass, could not win the ball, and if we did we invariably gave it straight back to the visitors. Consequently we were two nil down in no time and it was backs to the wall and looking a very poor side.

The Ditchburn, who has seen a few games in his time, remarked it was the worst start to a game he could ever remember. Richards who was Man of the Match on Saturday was shocking, so bad he was hooked at half time.

The visitors, enjoying their day out, ran us ragged with some slick football, broke into our box and when it was easier to score managed to put it over the bar. This game was so one-sided it reminded me of the 'three pots in' game we played as kids when twenty outfield players ganged up on one keeper.

Thomas did manage a run into their box but his shot was blocked. Truthfully we were never in the game against an organized side playing some good football and we could have been four or five down by the break.
"This game was so one-sided it reminded me of the 'three pots in' game we played as kids when twenty outfield players ganged up on one keeper"

One of the comments at half time after such a display was “was it Ronnie Moores fault then?" Thomas, Gray, James and Paynter all seemed to be trying but it was breaking down every time.

The second half saw Hawkins come on for Richards, and he changed the game for us as he was prepared to carry the ball rather than hoof and lose it. He had some good moves and was linking the forwards up. Suddenly there was a long "OOOOOH" from the Ditchburn, who I thought was taking ill, but he had been startled by a great run from Gray, who from outside the box hit a screamer, which bounced off the post and into the net.

"Game on", we thought. Sure enough, after more pressure from Pools, Thomas, racing down the left and having some success, found Paynter in the middle, who slid the ball over the line. Two-all to the Hartlepool. The second goal lifted the team and the fans and Pools were straight back at them from the restart but shot wide.

An excellent phase of play by the visitors caught us out again. McLeod played in Stead, who scored, but was fortunately ruled offside.

Pools, pressing hard now, had at least three chances blocked or scrambled off the line by the organized visitors' defence. One in particular when, from the opposite end, I thought Paynter had scored again as he went down in their box, but the keeper had blocked his effort. 'Oates' came on in the shape of Featherstone for Woods, who once again was not moving too well. The tannoy rectified the substitute selection.

Just maybe Pools deserved a point for the second half comeback, but it was not to be. The visitors hit a winner as Carson went up to punch a ball and missed it, leaving Stead to head it home.

Defeat, but we did make chances in the second half due mainly to Hawkins' endeavour and the running of Gray, Thomas and James, who all looked dangerous running at the opposition.

Funny Old Game

Cartoons of van Gaal's dive and a gallows

An Enjoyable Win ...Apart From the First Half!

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at the Vic

Pools 2 Yeovil 1 (League 2) Saturday February 13th 2016

It was a whirlwind few days at the Vic - some might call it a hurricane judging by the speed of the action taken by the club. I Googled HUFC tonight and according to them Ronnie Moore is still the manager, so someone needs to catch up - no point in searching if the info is out of date.

As we all know, Craig Hignett is the new man in charge. One or two fans asked whether he is the right man, and if it is a good move to give him his first job at a time like this. The way I look at it is: the two managers before him have hardly set the world alight.

OK, Ronnie had a big day out at Carlisle when he was everyone’s hero, but looking back is a good thing and puts a little perspective on the situation away from the hype. Under Ronnie we had a run of four wins late in the season that gave us a glint of light at the end of a very dark tunnel, and a few other results went our way. This season has been in the same vein as the last, Pools having gained twenty-seven points from twenty-seven games. Pondering this I was looking for some sort of link as to why we seem to be just stumbling along. One reason was that Ronnie Moore had been there, but that was being a bit harsh. I have tried so many different combinations of socks jumpers trousers even vest and underpants to help our cause but no luck there. I did hear that the Ditchburn Poolie was even using a combination of his and hers clothing to try and raise our chances of a decent run of form, but I did not ask.

The odd game we have won or drawn at the Vic was when Frank Reid was off photographing a Premiership game, so he has never seen a win at the Vic this season. Accordingly my heart sank as I saw him arrive at the Vic at half-time today. Even H’Angus was missing today and he has been at every game. I heard he had picked up a stray dog, him being a dog lover, but the dog turned on him and bit him. Turns out he had to go to the vet's when his paw doubled in size over night.

Ever hopeful I put all the superstition behind me till the Ditchy comes and tells me this ref, Mr. Wright, is a dead wrong 'un. He just loves himself and glories in the position of centre stage. First half at least he was true to form, a man who collects the ball and holds on tight every time the game stops - reminds me of the kids' games we had when the kid whose ball it was took his ball home when he was put in goal. Enough of this rubbish, it’s the game we play on the day that counts.

With Featherstone, Woods and Jones in the line up, the new boss was making his mark. In a radio interview he said the squad he has got need to prove themselves and he was going to give them the chance before he makes any more signings. Once again the toss was lost but with three ex-Poolies in the opposition it was ever going to be that way. BUT - none of them were true Poolies who read the weather forecast, and the wind with them in the first half would be stronger in the second half and it was just that.
"The new manager must have a good line in half-time team talks, as the difference was amazing when the teams came out"

Pools were almost a goal up in the first thirty seconds when a Thomas cross set up Gray who bounced a ball off the top of the bar. Gray then tested the visiting keeper with a strong shot he managed to tip over the bar. From here on the game went down hill for Pools as the visitors pegged us back and the ref seemed to get deep joy from watching Yeovil trample Luke into the ground every time he got the ball, or wrestle Paynter every time he went for a header. I know it sounds like sour grapes over this decline in decent football but as long as referees like Mr. Wright get it wrong and allow this to go on unchecked, the game and the fans' enjoyment will suffer.

Zoko, the Yeovil forward, was a handful and liked to leave a boot in, which he did in nearly every fifty-fifty challenge. The first half the visitors had most of the game but wasted their chances, Pools had fewer chances but still wasted them - Thomas twice in good positions belted the ball wide of the mark.

Ex-Poolie Compton went down near the dug-out for no apparent reason, to jeers from the crowd. He was not feigning and left the field clutching his hamstring, to even more jeers from some of the fans, but in one way it was one of their form players out of the action.

Mr. Wrong did get it Wright and booked a defender when Thomas nutmegged him and was chopped to the ground. The new manager must have a good line in half-time team talks, as the difference was amazing when the teams came out. Of course the wind was in our favour but it did not stop the visitors twice early in the half ripping us to pieces and storm in on goal, missing two easy chances. The tide turned when Thomas, on a run down the Mill House side, jinked inside and was chopped down. Instantly Mr. Wright pointed to the spot and Paynter duly slotted home the penalty. Luke, who was again looking a threat every time he was able to get free, won a corner. Richards had been taking the corners and his average was not good but this one was perfect for Jackson to head home and give Pools that much needed cushion.

Shocked by this, the visitors put themselves about and a tangle between Paynter and a defender resulted in a yellow for Paynter and a red for the defender, giving Pools even more advantage. But once again poor defending allowed the visitors to head home, stealing a clean sheet from Carson as we had been looking comfortable at two nil.

So, a good first day at the office for the new boss.

How Long Before Action Is Taken?

RUNNING MONKEY witnesses proof of the need for change

Pools 1 Stevenage 2  (League 2) Tuesday February 9th 2016

With the game at the weekend called off again, that must be another record with both the home and away games being called off in one season. 

One rumour, that Notts County had never even attempted to put a fork to their waterlogged pitch after the flooding, was that either they didn't have a fork or just maybe they wanted to dodge the game because of injuries. Travelling fans were not amused as most of them were either at the ground or on their way when the official called it off.

There were five changes to the Pools side to make way for the return of both Paynter and Luke James. Luke was, I hoped, to be a bit of a bonus if his form was anything like his previous time at the Vic. He did not disappoint, turning in a typical James performance, earning the Man-of-the-Match accolade. This against some pretty rough treatment from a pair of burly centre halves who took no prisoners. Luke took it well, and now looks a tougher player himself, and showed some good skill and character today, the lad did well. Although one wag in the crowd said he should be fined for the three days he took off from training during the deal he was making with Posh. Another thought on the Posh deal - did we ever get paid for him, and is this loan a way of skimming off some of the debt we are owed? Don’t you just love a good rumour.
"We just could not get the ball, never mind hold on to it"

The Ditchburn Poolie gave us the SP on the ref, who is in his first season but had been at the Vic in the past for some nondescript game. His form in the league ranks has been quite colourful; in the words of the Ditchburn it will be “feast or famine” as far as the cards go, averaging about seven in his last few matches. The Ditchburn was right. Two Pools players booked and I lost count of the Stevenage players as I ran out of notepaper. One thing I will say about the ref is, you have to show even more authority when players are taking the p***. Four minutes to celebrate a goal is a tad too long and if the opposition keeper had wasted any more time once they took the lead then we would have been playing all night, but this is a practised art by the visitors, as once again they had men falling down all over the pitch feigning injury once Pools started to make any headway, just as they did on their last visit to the Vic.

Actually winning the toss and kicking up bank today was a pleasant surprise, but the five changes to the side only made us look like a bunch of strangers, and in turn many fans were asking how long Ronnie can go on.

The visitors set about us from the first whistle and we could do nothing about it. The new midfield set up was overrun and we made them look good. Carson was quick off his line to smother a ball in the first attack and he made one hell of a diving save which, the Ditchburn commented, was the best save he had seen. Carson followed it up with another to deny the visitors.

We just could not get the ball, never mind hold on to it, and despite the visitors not having won in their last nine they were hammering us and we stood and watched. Picking up scraps in a home game is not good enough.

Luke made the odd sortie but he became a marked man and it was half an hour before we even looked like we could make a fight of it, but then they hit us with a beautiful shot. As the attacker tracked along the edge of the box we stood and watched as he hit a screamer into the top corner that even the Pools fans applauded.

The second half was a slight improvement from Pools, but again we were limited to the odd cross and a rare speculative shot, Their second goal was easier than the first, which saw a few of the home fans heading for the gate. Sadly those fans missed the one brief good move from Pools when a decent cross from Richards found Paynter at the back post and he side footed the ball over the line.

Despite the introduction of Fenwick, Laurent and Bingham, it made little difference and the visitors looked the stronger side at the end.

You could say the boss’s selection was wrong today and it is not the first time he has selected players out of position to accommodate others in the line up. With both Harrison and Featherstone fit and on the bench I think Ronnie got it wrong this time, but how long will the club allow this slide to go on before action is taken?

Any Other Business


February saw a momentous change in the way of doing things at the Vic. After IOR's dogged determination to run Pools as if it were an oil company, the new owners finally resorted to methods used by every other club. Gone were the ideas of advertising for and interviewing new staff in a process lasting weeks or months. Pools lost at home to Stevenage, Ronnie was out and Craig Hignett was in, all in double-quick time. Sad for Ronnie, coming so soon after last season's unexpected triumph, but necessary as Pools were not going anywhere but out without a change.

With Pools' final four games all being against current incumbents of the promotion and play-off places, it's going to be important for Pools to pick up a lot of points before then, as, although Dagenham appear to be stuck at the bottom, the pack above them, which Pools are part of, all seem to be making a fight of it.

Once again a fighting performance against a top side like Northampton was followed by a defensive horror show at Bristol, so no doubt this season is going to continue to frustrate us all right to the end. At least Craig Hignett has moved quickly to bring in a central defender - Pools still have games in hand, but they will be no use if squandered.

Here's an old photo from the days before the Cyril Knowles Stand was built, when shorts were just that, when the original Aldershot Football Club still hadn't gone bankrupt, and when Lada cars were still regarded as safe enough to be sold in the UK. No doubt some readers will be able to identify all the Pools players that aren't Joe Allon, so see how well you do.

Image of players during Pools match 25 years ago

This group of Poolies posing with H'Angus at the Northampton game are in fact a group of friends from the villages of Minnertsga, Berlikum and Burdaard in Friesland, a province in the north of the Netherlands, who all played football at a rather high level, and enjoy going to football matches.

Image of Dutch fans at the Northampton game

Their names are: Abe Visser, Jan Joostema, Siemen de Groot, Wim Abma, Wim Dijkstra, Willem de Vries, Koos Stapert, Hessel Katsma and Harry Kooyenga.

They booked a trip to Newcastle, intending to see the Magpies play Manchester City, but the League Cup Final caused that match to be postponed. With the flights and hotel already booked and paid for, they were in need of an alternative, and Google led them to Pools.

Since Hessel Katsma works at a flag factory, they were able to acquire scarves, complete with the club logo, so they could blend into the crowd.

They afterwards said they felt very welcome, everyone was kind to them, and they very much enjoyed the game and the atmosphere.

As we've done many times over the last 27 seasons, we recently had a discussion here at Monkey Business about whether it was time for Monkey Business to hang up its boots. The outcome was that all the existing regular contributors are not only happy to keep going, but have excelled themselves this month with what is in fact one of the biggest online editions we've ever done.

However, some new blood is always welcome, and would be good to give the Bizz a bit more variety. So if anyone out there feels like having a go, please send something in. It doesn't matter if you can't spell or can't draw. If you have something worth saying, just say it and we'll knock it into shape. You can contact us by emailing .

For those who struggled with identifying the Pools players of a quarter of a century ago (above), the match was the two-nil win over Aldershot (28/5/90) and the scorers were Dalton and Baker.
Pools players (L to R): Stevie Tupling (slightly obscured), Mick Smith, Nobbsy, Joe Joe Joe Allon, Bakes (partially obscured) and Ian Bennyworth 
The crowd was 2,638. Billy's Contract provided both photo and details, but he's not sure how many travelled up from Aldershot ...though they possibly all came in a Lada!

Image of spoof film ad for Pride+Prejudice+Zombies