Showing posts from September, 2016
The Green Shoots of Recovery

GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY has another look at Pools and beyond

OK, so we haven’t won a home game yet – but there are encouraging signs. A more than competent performance against Colchester (a side fancied for promotion) , a slip against Notts County and a fantastic performance against Newport County.

Throw in the win at Exeter (winning after the home side took the lead) and the fight back against Crewe. Before this season, what would have happened if we’d gone 3-1 down? It doesn’t bear thinking about. My mate in Crewe reckons that both sides went hell for leather in trying to get the winner and the punters went home reasonably happy.

Up to now, Pools are well up with the leading scorers – Luton (10), Pools and Doncaster (9 each) , Morecambe and Colchester (8 each). The goals against doesn’t make such good reading - Stevenage (12), Accrington (10), Pools, Grimsby and Cambridge (9). Still, at least we know where the problems are and how to deal with them.

Against Newport County, it was probably the best Pools' performance for a long time and I don’t think there was a single complaint about the shift the players put in. Just think – a goal from Pools, the sending off of Tota Nsiala and Newport County’s goal and this was just the first three minutes. I imagine that Jeff Stelling must have thought the place had gone mad.
"Still, at least we know where the problems are and how to deal with them."

The referee, Andy Haines, didn’t have much choice in sending off Nsiala but his general performance throughout the game left a lot to be desired. Fouls by Newport County, particularly against Billy Paynter, went unpunished and you were left wondering what the hell was going on. Refereeing these days is a nightmare – new laws brought in by FIFA only make for more controversy and they’ve effectively ruined a lot of what is good in the ‘beautiful game’. None of this excuses what is the bleeding obvious in a game and I’m sorry to say that Mr Haines fell far short of what is expected. As soon as the final whistle went last Saturday, my grandson and I left the Niramax Stand to the loud cheers of the Pools faithful. On reaching the bottom of the steps, the cheers were replaced with loud boos. My grandson burst out laughing and said “Well, they’re not for Jack Compton!”.

On to other matters and I wonder if the speculation about John Terry coming back into the England side were a cynical attempt to take attention from the Olympic medal winners. If it was, it certainly made the headlines. This weekend sees the start of the qualifying games for the 2018 World Cup. Scotland, of course, are in England’s group so that’s two interesting games at least. The Radio 5 and Daily Telegraph pundit Roddy Forsyth, got his sly dig in when penning an article for the Telegraph. Writing about The Tartan Army he said, “… the Tartan Army will resurrect its optimism for the World Cup qualifiers, Wembley and all. And as they flick through the record book, they might note that Scotland have played Iceland on six occasions and won every time. Now, not every country can say that” Ouch!!

And, of course, we shouldn’t forget that at last Pools have had some recognition in the international stakes. Trevor Carson has been called up to the Northern Ireland squad as their number three keeper and now Liam Donnelly is in the under 21 squad. Fortunately, we are well covered for Trevor Carson’s position – Adam Bartlett is more than a competent deputy.

P.S. Wish the computer would serve up a better distribution of fixtures. Two home games on the trot followed by two away games on the trot. Bad programming!!
Pounding the Euro

BILLY'S CONTRACT assesses the fallout from Brexit

I don't know if any of our readers saw the Gary Lineker interview with Jurgen Klopp the other night on the new BBC Premiership show. Irrespective of your team's colours Klopp, not unlike Slaven Bilic, who possesses the look of a serial killer, comes across as one of football's few nice guys.

Lineker asked Klopp what he thought was the reason for England's dreadful performances in the European Championships. Jurgen the German did not go down the same old route as everyone else, suggesting that it was down to bad management, team selection, player fatigue, tactics or lack of them, or even Wayne Rooney, but it was possibly down to the EU referendum and Brexit. I thought it was his Deutsch off-beat sense of humour when I heard this, but he kept a straight face when he made this statement saying that the outcome of the Brexit vote might have unsettled many of the 'England boys'.

Now I can understand the EU debate winding many people up, such as the political classes, businesses, unions, students and the great unwashed (students again), but professional footballers, particularly Premiership ones - not a chance!
The greater majority of them are so far removed from reality that if they were given a reality check they would probably go down to the bank and try to cash it!
"if they were given a reality check they would probably go down to the bank and try to cash it! "

Then I got to thinking that I might be a bit unfair on England's finest. Brexit could have impacted on some of them psychologically. Although there was not the financial crash or the Third World War that was predicted by many when Brexit was confirmed, Sterling on the day did fall heavily from a recent high to a three year low. Those who invested heavily in Sterling wanted rid. Opinion was divided - many people wanted to drop Sterling altogether, and put something else in its place. Others wanted to hold on to Sterling,  hoping to see improvements and a better performance within the Eurozone than we had seen in the previous few days.

Not long after the England football team had returned home early - yet again - the FT index made significant gains and despite previous 'poundings' the City stuck with Sterling and were rewarded as Sterling finally held steady and stabilised a little, and then in early August gained in confidence when he was awarded Man of the Match against Stoke City.

Sterling's value increased further by three points a couple of weeks later with two goals against West Ham in City's 3-1 win at the Etihad. Jurgen might have a point after all.

In the next edition of Monkey Business we consider the implications of Brexit on the NHS and why Doctor Pepper Guardiola gave Joe Hart a major bypass.
Funny Old Game

Dear Norgas

While Vicki Park is away, this month we welcome NORGAS POWER to answer your worrying questions

Dear Norgas,
I am a lower-league footballer, called up to join my national squad for an international match. Is there any advice you can give me for how to behave among top international players?
TC, Hartlepool

Dear TC,
Let's get this straight. You have been selected therefore you have every right to be there, so there's no need to feel like an outsider, or inferior in any way. Don't be overawed in mixing with famous players. They may have mansions and flash cars but remember that it's talent and not wealth that got you picked. So when they're boasting about their snooker rooms and home cinemas just say that you haven't finalised your plans yet. And when the conversation inevitably gets round to Ferraris just remind them that those would be useless for collecting sea-coal on Seaton beach, and ask them if anyone else has a 4-wheel-drive lorry.

Of course, if you're only playing for a small country with no real stars, then it might be tactful to not mention the lorry at all, as that may sound like boasting.

Dear Norgas,
I am a well-known television football presenter and my allegiance to a certain lower-league team is also well known. I have recently taken a position as presenter of an early evening quiz show on a major terrestrial TV channel, and wondered if it would be appropriate to mention that allegiance, or it it best that it stays hidden.
JS Hampshire

Dear JS,
I presume that your normal audience is mostly composed of football fans, but a general audience quite often includes people who wouldn't know if Hampstead was a Premier League team, let alone Chelsea. So I'd say that you should definitely steer clear of mentioning your lower-league team. Unless, of course, you learn that one of the contestants is a fan of a former local rival team to your own which now languishes in an even lower league.

Dear Norgas,
I am a well-known television football presenter who recently had to present a programme wearing only my underwear after a confident prediction went wrong. I was eventually able to be fully-clothed for some of the programme, but do you think this could be traumatic and I may need counselling?
GL London

Dear GL,
I would very much doubt it, and I would have thought that you presenters would be showoffs who would quite like to do that sort of thing anyway. If you just think of it as having appeared in fancy dress, which most people do from time to time without requiring counselling, what's the difference? It's not as if you were having to dress in some weird costume for a crisp advert, is it?

Dear Norgas,
I am an experienced professional footballer who has played for many clubs, but I was shocked recently by the abuse I was given by the fans upon my return to one of my former clubs. Surely, in an era of greater tolerance towards all sections of the community, it's about time that this sort of abuse was stamped out from the modern game, so we hardworking professionals will no longer have to be exposed to it.
JC, Newport (the South Wales one, not the Middlesbrough one)

Dear JC,
You are of course completely correct. This is disgusting behaviour and cannot be condoned. So I would speak to our readers directly here, and ask that they refrain from verbally abusing any hardworking former players.

Time to Deliver

WAGGA MOON gives his take on Pools' start to the season

ALTHOUGH Craig Hignett will blame the centre half he signed in the summer for the loss of two points against Newport County, comfortably the worst team to visit The Vic in the last ten years, his record makes poor reading. 

One win in the last 10 games is worse than Ronnie Moore, now happily back in employment in the National League, and yet Hignett is seemingly getting an easy ride. His failure to address a weak midfield from last season is doing him no favours with Michael Woods and Featherlite clearly not up to the task in the same zone. Little Nicky couldn't tackle his Sunday dinner.

We are crying out for an Enforcer type player in there who can tackle and has a nasty streak but he goes out and signs two centre backs when we have four already. Rob Jones, Matty Bates, Toto Nsiala and Josh Nearney should be enough with Carl Magnay able to help out there if needed. The Scott Harrison signing was a strange one. Deemed not good enough last May, and deservedly so. Come August after playing no more League games he is worth another contract. Bizarre!
"the fans would rather see an improvement on the pitch, say a home victory, than stuff going on behind the scene"

The Liam Donnelly signing is a different kettle of fish. Although he plays centre back he looks like he could be really useful in midfield. Maybe what we are looking for, or Josh Laurent who has hardly had a sniff this season but is mobile and likes a tackle and is not afraid to go beyond the halfway line like one or two I could mention.

Before last Saturday's game Hignett was saying in the Press that he wanted four goals. Well he got that in the game but unfortunately only two for his own team. And we have the Chairman on Periscope telling us of all the good things he is doing at the ground, with the new turnstiles, upgraded dressing rooms and corporate facilities. All well and good but the fans would rather see an improvement on the pitch, say a home victory, than stuff going on behind the scene and he is discussing pushing for promotion. He must be deluded to think that can happen without paying out cash for players and looking a bit higher than the non League for players.

I am sure how chief scout Tommy Miller could give him a list of players as long as his arm that are available but we need to see some of the TV cash from last season invested. Speculate to accumulate as the say. Season tickets are way down on last season as they are not cheap for some of the rubbish on display. And the £20 on the day price in a town with so much unemployment is way over the top.

The crowds are not too bad at the moment but a few more poor home results and the bad weather coming I can see them regularly drop below 3,000. And finally a bit of good advice to our beloved manager. Slow down a bit in your car and we hear you talk the talk. Now let's see you walk the walk! 

Trophy Bitter

JANE AUSTEN'S ALLEGRO joins in with the topic of the moment

The Johnstone's Paint Trophy is dead. Long live The Checkerplate Trophy.

Like the majority of fans I was a tad underwhelmed when I heard of the restructuring of the format of this trophy. I was totally underwhelmed when I heard that Premiership clubs' under 21 sides were to be allowed to compete. I was massively disinterested when I heard that the powers that be announced that this would be for the benefit of the national side.

Let's be brutally honest here. Most fans, particularly those outside the Premiership, do not give a tinker's cuss about the England football team. If I was given the choice of England beating Germany on their home soil in the World Cup final or seeing my team being crowned champions of division two, or getting to a play off final, or just plain avoiding relegation, much to the shock of the F.A. I would not be shouting for England.

I cannot believe the arrogance of the English Football League (The EFL sounds like some far right wing organisation with a nasty agenda) foisting this competition on us in its current format with little or no thought or discussion. Talk about being out of touch with the common man. They operate a bit like the EU, and look what happened to them when the people spoke. I was delighted then, when I saw last night's dismal crowd attendances for the Chubbychecker trophy. The people not only spoke, but also did not bother to get off their backsides. As a result empty stadiums all over the country and this was despite many clubs offering cheap tickets(Bolton/Millwall). under 16's in free (Oldham) beer tokens (Mansfield) complimentary programmes and various other freebies, all to no avail.

Blackburn, for instance, travelled to Fleetwood, a mere 25 minute drive away. Could even be classed as a derby match. A grand total of 392 fans were in the ground on the night and if you take away those families who travelled from Blackburn just to watch their sons play against Football League opposition there would be possibly another 50/60 people less in the stadium. I dare say that Fleetwood did not even cover the cost of turning on the floodlights. Port Vale had a crowd of just short of 1,200 for their derby against Derby under 21's the lowest at Vale Park in over thirty years.
"They operate a bit like the EU, and look what happened to them when the people spoke."

I for one certainly do not understand the rules. Leicester's under 21's beat Sheff U at Bramall Lane after a penalty shoot out and gained an extra point. What's all that about? Norwich under 21's beat Peterborough away 6-1 with a 26 year old Frenchman scoring a hat trick. How is that going to get the national side to Russia in 2018? Charlie Adams, who looks and must be nearly a hundred, turned out for Stoke's under 21's so presumably so many over age players must be allowed in the side, so why call them an under twenty one side?

It gets even more farcical. Luton Town had a 15 year old on their bench and had to get permission from his school for him to play. The managers of Exeter and Wycombe named themselves as subs for their home games. The latter, Gary Ainsworth aged 43, yes 43,  came on with 5 minutes to go and had an assist in his team's third goal. How that will help England plans in the future I will never know.

It is on record that the sponsors Checkmate are understandably not very happy with the low crowds and as such are not blaming the organisers but you guessed it ...the fans themselves. That sounds like an own goal of mammoth proportions.

I have never purposely, well perhaps once, gone out of my way to miss a Pools home game, but as a matter of principle I will give the Sunderland under 21's match a miss whilst at the same time being five snodgers better off than if I had attended. On the other hand I am not sure if my principles would stay intact if Pools ended up playing a Premiership under 21 side in the final at Wembley, I might just make the trip down to London.

It has just come to light that 'Big Sam', in much the same way as English Cricket and Rugby are concerned, has allegedly indicated that he would not be averse to calling up foreign players who have not played for their countries at full international level but who have resided in England and are therefore eligible to play for the national side, even without English ancestry.

That being the case there would be no need, no point or no requirement for the existence of the 'Checka chance on me' trophy. If England did go down the route of bringing in foreign players to represent the country I will definitely switch my allegiances to either the Republic of Ireland or Wales, neither of whom would ever dream of doing such a thing.
Fantastic Team Effort

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at the former Vic

Pools 2 Newport 2 (League 2) Saturday August 27th 2016

Today Pools moved into the space age as all season ticket holders used the new /second hand ticket bar code scanning machine. I just hope this is going to cut down on long queues whenever we have another big game. Today I congratulate the club, as it was a swift and painless entry to the Gas Vic.

The Vic was festooned with flags today, carried by the military veterans, led by the worshipful Mayor of this parish Mr. Rob Cook. At least he is one of the councillors who support the lads, and I am a friend of his wife. Pools were signing a deal of sorts to back the military but I did not hear all that was shouted out of the Tannoy as I am in the area where the young girl has to come round and tell us if we have won the half time Pools draw or not.

Once again I met my friend the Ditchburn who put the willies up me [not literally] relating stories about the man in the middle today, Andy Haines, who apparently is still enemy number one in Derby where after one of his performances they organised a campaign to have him struck off for incompetence. If Pools fans did this every time we had a dodgy ref then we would never have time to watch any football.

Today’s visiting team was led by none other than Sir John Parkin, remember him? He was a lump and a half and still is, but because of his walking pace today he lasted the full ninety-nine minutes. Also on the bench was Jack Compton the experienced former Pools player who warmed up quite a bit and gave a wry smile to the Town End fans who welcomed him back with their special greeting. I say experienced in the loosest term as the lad is twenty-three-ish and has had twelve different clubs so he should be good. He did get on late in the second half and like his time at Pools, he disappeared. Obviously Compton, not being on the pitch, did not advise the visitors to turn us round at the start so we quite happily accepted to go down bank in the second half.

I have never seen Pools have a start like today, as we literally waltzed up the field and Featherstone hit a ball across the goal and into the net. We were still celebrating when Mr. Haines decided to slap us down by sending off Toto for a handball just outside the box. He in truth had little alternative as Toto spotted Parkin getting into the box behind him and making a stupid school boy error he slapped the ball down. It was deliberate, and it cost him his place in the side and undid the early luck we had had with the Featherstone goal.

Craig Hignett is either a very brave manager or a fool. I think he played a belter by not bringing a sub on straight away. OK we went one all from the free kick that followed but he adjusted the ten men we had on the field and went for them. I have just checked and the first sub came on with fifty-seven minutes on the clock, when he took Paynter off and replaced him with Harrison, but for most of that time we had the beating of the Newport side. The mismatch in size between Featherstone, marshalling Parkin, made no difference and the Hartlepool player had a blinder against him. Pools players were playing in a lot of alien positions as the team was adjusted, Thomas at one point was covering the left back position as Paynter came deep and Featherstone covered for Toto.
"I have never seen Pools have a start like today"

Jordan Richards had the game of his life today, just when we needed it. He was strong in the tackle, always pushing forward and his dead ball kicks were excellent. He even hit the bar with a shot that was deflected with their keeper beaten. Pools turned it on with Thomas having some excellent runs that always took at least two defenders to stop his progress and not always legally. A lovely move upfield between Thomas, Woods and Allessandra was scintillating football which sadly ended with a shot inches wide as they cut through the visitors' defence.

It was a powerful display from the ten-man Pools. It had to be sod's law for the big feller to score, and you have to give credit where it is due; Parkin latched onto a ball just outside the box, turned and hit a volley towards Carson, who could only manage to palm the ball onto the post and into the net giving the visitors an undeserved lead. Pools never gave up as Newport came at us again and again and a breakout saw us win a corner. There seemed to be an age before the ref allowed the game to get under way as he twice walked into the box to separate players from dragging each other around. Amond managed to shake off his marker and an inch-perfect corner was headed past the Newport keeper to make it two-all just before the break.

The second half was more even with both teams creating chances and both wasting them. Thomas, Woods and Paynter all went close as the ten-man Pools took the game to the visitors. Ten minutes into the second half Paynter was subbed to allow Harrison on to soldier the back line as Newport started pressing. This was a strong display from Pools who in the past would have undoubtedly succumbed to the kind of attack, especially being a man down, but this Hignett side is a different class and I think we can look forward to some good displays like this in the future.

For me Richards was man of the match but there were some great performances out there today and a fantastic team effort. 
Funny Old Game

The View from Wales

Match report by the SOUTH WALES ARGUS at the ex-Vic

Pools 2 Newport 2 (League 2) Saturday August 2016

This is how their own local paper reported the Newport match:
They got a huge helping hand from Hartlepool United after just three minutes but in the end it was Newport County AFC hanging on for a point against 10 men. Whether this goes down as two points dropped or a point gained can only be judged at the end of the season.

Manager Warren Feeney wasn’t sure what to make of it after watching from the stands at Victoria Park as he served the first match of his two-game touchline ban. He was clearly disappointed not to have won having had a numerical advantage for 87 minutes plus nine minutes of stoppage-time. And he was highly critical of his players afterwards but the Exiles boss admitted that he would have taken a point ahead of the match. And on the balance of play Hartlepool will certainly count themselves unfortunate not to have won the match.

Pools manager Craig Hignett had demanded four goals from his team in the build-up and only a superb performance from County goalkeeper Joe Day prevented the hosts from delivering. Hignett’s men, spurred on by a passionate home crowd who created a very hostile atmosphere, refused to lie down after Toto Nsiala’s red card for denying a goal scoring opportunity with a deliberate handball. They poured forward at every opportunity and deserved a win for a display oozing with energy, effort and excellent passing and movement. But in the end both teams were frustrated.
"on the balance of play Hartlepool will certainly count themselves unfortunate not to have won the match."

County were poor in defence throughout – starting with the opening goal for Pools after just 95 seconds. Darren Jones, Scot Bennett and Joss Labadie were all drawn to the ball and they failed to track the run of Nicky Featherstone who dispatched Michael Woods’ clever chip into the bottom corner from close range.

It looked like being a long afternoon in the North East but they were handed a lifeline by Nsiala almost straightaway and Sean Rigg’s free-kick made it all square after just four minutes. The initial signs were that County would make their advantage tell and when Jon Parkin produced a simply stunning turn and volley to snatch the lead on 27 minutes an away seemed a distinct possibility. But Feeney’s men rarely threatened to add a third goal after the beauty from The Beast. Instead it was almost a case of ‘Be Our Guest’ from the visitors as they handed the initiative to the 10 men.

It was 2-2 seven minutes before the break as County made a complete mess of defending a corner. They seemed to be more interested in pushing and jostling for position than marking their men in the box and Padraig Amond was free to head home with embarrassing ease. Day was also at fault as he started to come for the cross but backed away at the last minute, giving himself no chance of getting anywhere near Amond’s header.

But the goalkeeper made amends in the second half with a dazzling display. The pick of several super saves saw him acrobatically tip Nathan Thomas’ 30-yard rocket over the bar. But he was equal to everything Pools threw at him and was the main difference between County taking a point and going home with nothing.

Former Hartlepool winger Jack Compton, off the bench to replace the disappointing Jennison Myrie-Williams, almost silenced the boo boys with a free-kick that forced Day’s opposite number Trevor Carson into a smart stop. But the Exiles just couldn’t get any momentum going in attack and never convinced at the back.

The nerves of the 55 traveling fans were frayed but their side survived six minutes of time added on at the death to take another point. And, judging by the way Hartlepool performed, it could well be filed under ‘good point’ come May. County: Day, Butler, Jones, Bennett, Bignot, Myrie-Williams (Compton, 53), Labadie (Tozer, 64), Randall, Jackson (Barnum-Bobb, 75), Parkin, Rigg Subs not used: Bittner, Owen-Evans, Sheehan, Green Booked: Randall, Jones Referee: Andy Haines.

Elsewhere in the same paper it said: Jack Compton, who was dubbed a ‘Marmite player’ and told he needed psychological help during his time at Hartlepool, was booed and taunted relentlessly after he returned from injury to replace Jennison Myrie-Williams from the bench.
Coming Back for a Point

Match report by POOLIE IN NOTTINGHAM at Gresty Road

Crewe 3 Pools 3 (League 2) Tuesday August 16th 2016

I was really pleased when Crewe finally managed to get themselves relegated from League One after a few seasons of near misses. A proper club that play in a proper ground (which is easy to get to by train), close to plenty of pubs/restaurants/takeaways, with friendly fans. In short, one of the first aways I looked out for when the league computer spat out the fixtures in June.

I left home at about 5 to pick up Big Mark, a fellow Poolie who lives about a mile from me. The aim was to get to Crewe in time for some scran before kick off. Thankfully the roads were nice and clear, and we were parked up and in the kebab shop by about 7. A tasty lamb shish was swiftly despatched, although I did struggle to eat the salad part gracefully - the plastic fork provided had very short tines that are probably ideal for stabbing chips, but no good at spearing shredded lettuce, onion and cabbage. Big Mark did the decent thing and left all his untouched.

A quick stroll round to the ground, and the now commonplace purchase-a-ticket-from-a-booth procedure was in operation. Pools have had a few teething problems with theirs, but Crewe's was pretty slick and we were soon in the ground. First port of call was the bogs, which featured a few stickers from fans of different teams slapped here and there. The best one was extolling the virtues of Scunthorpe - 'When God created Scunthorpe He was showing off' - maybe showing off about what unsightly mess He can make maybe?

We took our seats on the half way line which gave us a good view, particularly of the massive main stand opposite. If you've never been to Gresty Road, it's hard to describe the ground. The best I can think of is that if you were sitting in the Cyril at the Vic, instead of the Mill House Stand in front of you, it was the Kop. Slightly disproportionate to say the least.

The game kicked off and it was clear that Crewe were quick and clever, keeping it on the deck and moving it round smartly. Not much happened until Thomas played through an amazing ball for Paynter to latch on to. He should have scored or at least hit the target, but the post was shaved and the chance had gone. Not long after that a mix-up in defence led to a Crewe shot hitting the post, although from where I was sitting it looked like Carson had it covered. It should have been a warning, as the Crewe number 22 (Kiwomya), went off on another run and crossed the ball in for Dagnall to touch home. Bugger.

Thankfully Pools' heads didn't drop, and it wasn't long before we were level thanks to a beauty from Magnay, cutting inside and unleashing a curling floater into the top corner. Sadly Kiwomya was still up to no good, and just before half time we were behind again.
"There was still plenty of time for Pools to hoy it away, and we nearly did it"

Half-time discussions all seemed to agree that there would definitely be more goals. Andy Ramalamadingdong and their lass Marg popped up. I explained that we hadn't won at Crewe in years, to which Andy replied that her presence at the York game last season had resulted in that hoodoo being put firmly to bed. A wave of optimism came over me at that point, so I expected better than the start to the second half.

Sadly it wasn't to be. Crewe really had their tails up, and every time they got the ball forward they looked like they might find the killer ball. Their third was pretty sloppy to be fair, a cross which drifted in without a touch, that Carson possibly could have done better with. Not long after they missed a golden chance to get a fourth, when a free header was placed wide of the open Pools goal.

Somehow Pools decided that they would try and right some wrongs, and a bit of a lucky bounce let Amond in to pull one back. Suddenly we could sniff the prospect of an unlikely point. Magnay popped up at the back stick with a well-placed header and we were level! You could almost hear the gasps of shock from Crewe fans above the roar from the jubilant Pools fans.

There was still plenty of time for Pools to hoy it away, and we nearly did it when a Crewer found himself unmarked with just Carson to beat. Thankfully he muffed it wide, and Pools hung on for an undeserved point. We could have even strolled off with all three, but a free kick on the edge of the Crewe area was deflected just wide.

I fully expect Crewe to be up there come the end of the season, but I'm not sure about Pools. Too much sloppiness in defence, a lack of urgency in playing the ball forward quickly enough, and a lack of strength in depth will probably see us in mid-table.
Funny Old Game

Fair Start for Pools' Season

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at the ex-Vic

Pools 1 Colchester 1 (League 2) Saturday August 6th 2016

First game of the season at the “VIC” as it will be called, not the new sponsored name of Northern Gas and Power Stadium, which I might add is open to abuse if ever the lights go out or the gas goes off or even if the football goes off - it could be renamed the Flatulent Battery Stadium. Ok I should not take the mickey out of our new sponsors so early in the season. 

It seems like Pools and Colchester have been opponents throughout our history, neither of us making big waves in the game but both surviving when you look at some of the names of the past that did not survive. I was going to say Darlo but you should never kick a dog when it is down.

The first good omen today was Pools winning the toss and kicking up the bank the first half. I am of the opinion that Pools need that lift in the second half and it should be compulsory that the home team gets the choice. So many match days have been spoilt by having to watch us battle to save a game from a distance, especially with my eyes not being what they were. I suppose I could move down the Millhouse or even join the cucumber sandwich brigade, who retire to the comfort of the CK stand, but you get a better class of supporter in the Prostate Cancer End and at least you can stand up.

Today’s opponents, Colchester, came down last season and not being the football historian (the resident one, the Ditchburn Poolie, was lacking in knowledge today - even the official for the game only got a “He has been here before"). Colchester were a big set of lads and the only one who I knew was the no. 9, Porter, who apparently we tried to sign sometime ago. Porter and co set about us from the off and could have been three up in the first four minutes but luckily for us it was only one. Which was a bit unfair as we had hardly touched the ball and we were a goal down. Our two centre backs combined to gift them a goal, a slack back pass from Toto left Jones charging in to put the ball out for a corner, which found a man open who hit it past Carson. They will never score an easier goal.
"you get a better class of supporter in the Prostate Cancer End"

The visitors controlled the game for a spell after the goal and made it difficult for us to break out. When we did most of our threat was through the very pacey Thomas who really looks the part going forward. Pools new look team started to play some decent football and it delivered the goods in the form of a penalty when Thomas on a run played in by the very impressive Alessandra was tripped in the box - even though I was at the other end I saw the trip and the ref agreed with me. Paynter stepped up and made it all square.

Pools stepped up their game and looked more like the home team as they set about the visitors who were coasting after their early goal. Thomas sent in a cross but sadly Amond, who looks a good signing, was open in the box and managed to put his effort over the stand.

The second half saw Pools pegged back again early on but once again Thomas was trying to make the breaks, pushing Pools forward. Alessandra and Amond linked up well with the winger and the visitors were now making the mistakes and shooting wide of the target. It was an even second half after an early surge by the visitors but the new look Pools held their ground and made some good chances, which bodes well for the future.

Alessandra, Thomas and Laurent all chanced their arms against the visitors' goal which, when you look at it, is a great improvement on the shot-shy Pools of last season. Carson played well and was very vocal to organise the defenders, Paynter led the side from a deeper position, Toto apart from one mistake played some wonderful cross field balls out of defence. All in all a workman like “TEAM” performance with a star man display from Thomas.
Any Other Business


Well, it's been a mixed bag from Pools so far. An improvement generally on last season, but with the signs showing that things could go either way - getting better or getting worse. As ever, we'll just have to wait and see. 

The new replacement for the Johnstone's Paint Trophy got under way with Pools travelling to Notts County. We've seen some changes in English football over the years but this one has to be the most bizarre. The golden goal and free kicks being advanced for dissent were all changes that came and went, but surely they all had more logic than this cup competition. And with many top clubs ignoring it and most lower-league clubs hating it (they, after all were the ones its predecessor was set up for), it would seem that it will be a disaster.

But, with Pools playing the likes of Sunderland's youngsters, it could be that Pools fans will boycott it but the Vic may still see larger gates than watched the old Paintpot matches, if enough fans of the bigger clubs are inspired to travel down the road to see how their youngsters perform against league opposition. As said above, we'll just have to wait and see on this too, although the first week of matches produced some fairly dismal attendances.

Wallace and Gromit, co-founder (or should that be co-founders?) of Monkey Business, sent us this article by Dr. Phil Peverley, from the August edition of 'Pulse', the medical magazine mainly for GPs. As he mentions in the article, Dr. Phil used to be Pools' club doctor, and W&G also tells us that he also used to be a contributor to Monkey Business, where no doubt he honed his writing skills!

So Pools brought in two forward players on half-season loans and everyone was taking that as evidence that Nathan Thomas was on his way to better things. But the transfer window closed with him still at Pools, which is good news for Pools, and probably for Nathan too.