Steady as She Goes!!


I suppose that having to play teams from the two premier naval dockyards in our last two fixtures, a good old seafaring expression would be appropriate. At one time, it looked as though we might be struggling to hold on to our league status but in the end it worked out ok and we were able to relax in the final run in.
In some ways, our strength was defeating teams at or below mid table – not always one of our qualities in past seasons. Of course, we didn’t perform too well against the top seven teams as the following indicates:
Northampton TownDrewLost
Accrington StanleyLostLost
Oxford UnitedLostLost
Plymouth ArgyleLost?
AFC WimbledonWonLost

Yet, in those results against the top seven, there was some slight encouragement. We brought Northampton’s winning run to an end and, in my view, performed well against Portsmouth. We were able to create the chances against Pompey – if only we’d put them away.
Our attention will now turn to the retained list and who might come in. Jake Gray, Luke James and Adam Jackson will, of course, be going back to their parent clubs and, at some stages, have made a significant contribution to our improved performances. The signing of Nathan Thomas was definitely the signing of the season and with him and Luke James on the flanks we were able to drive some teams ragged – the York game, for example.
Speaking of York, I was sorry to see them relegated from the Football League. It deprives us of an away game within spitting distance of Hartlepool; however, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Doncaster could well come into League Two and of the four teams coming down from League One three will be northern clubs. Speaking of York City, reminded me of a story which I picked up when I worked down there. Before the advent of Elf and Safety, painting and cleaning jobs at the lower league clubs were done by volunteers. Nobody bothered about getting up a ladder to paint the stand but obviously we’re into a new ball game and paid contractors now come in to do the work. One such volunteer at York City spent all his time there and, engaged to be married, his girlfriend said, ‘I’m sick of this. Make your mind up, its me or York City’. His response was ‘In that case, give me the ring back!’ That’s dedication.
"Nathan Thomas was definitely the signing of the season"
I suppose its too early to look in terms of a promotion push next season but if we are to be in the frame can we please have automatic promotion – as in 2003 and 2007. That would spare us the ordeal of having to go to Wembley for a play off final. I’ve never been able to understand this obsession with Wembley; there are plenty of club grounds which could stage England games and a League Two final is never going to fill the place. Could you imagine, for example, if Pools met a club from the North West or a southern club in a play off final? Wouldn’t it be better to play the game at somewhere like Leeds or Villa Park. Worth a thought. I suppose there might be a case for staging the Championship Final at Wembley but that is as far as it should go. As I’ve said, we don’t really need Wembley – maybe the place could have been turned over to social housing.
April was, of course, twenty seven years since the Hillsborough disaster and the families are now getting justice after the verdict of unlawful killing. I was listening to Radio Five and a retired Church of England bishop was relating his experiences after the disaster where, in his capacity of Archdeacon of Sheffield, was called on to give comfort to the families, along with church colleagues. He spoke very movingly of his experiences but was highly critical of the police who were generally without feeling and suggested that the various agencies had conspired in a cover up. It took a long time but justice was finally achieved.