Showing posts from November, 2016
Same Old, Same Old

WAGGA MOON thinks change is needed

NINE goals conceded in our last three games, no home win since April and one point off a relegation spot before we reach November. This is Craig Hignett's brave new world and what the long-suffering Pools supporters are having to put up with. Again.

New owners, weasel words and the same old bollocks on the pitch, although I believe the present defence is worse than last season. We all know Hignett has his favourites who he finds hard to drop but it is these guys who will get him the bullet if he did but know it.

Try as I might I still cannot think of a reason to re-sign Scott Harrison let alone play him. And in the same team as Jordan Richards and Nicky Featherlite. When I saw the team to face Barnet - almost identical to what had shipped six goals in the previous two games, I knew we had blown it. And we all expected a goal from Akinde who, like Jon Stead at Notts County and Jabo Ibehere at Carlisle, must rub his hands when a Pools game is coming up. They never fail to score.

Our present situation is not being helped by a goalkeeper who gets more like Scott Flinders as the weeks go on. I don't know who is the worst Northern Ireland goalkeeper, him or Norwich's Michael McGovern, who is absolute bobbins by the way. His performance against Brighton last Saturday when he let in five, was one of the poorest performances by a goalkeeper in the Championship in a long time. Carson needs a spell on the bench as Adam Bartlett is obviously the best of our keepers at this moment in time.

"Hignett has his favourites who he finds hard to drop but it is these guys who will get him the bullet"
With us now 20th in League Two, one point above a relegation place, Hignett has acted by bringing in two teenage centre-halves. Presumably they will join up with the two young strikers he has brought in on loan and we are still waiting to see start a game. It is not boys we want in this team, Hignett, it is men. Experienced professionals who know the lower leagues and have a bit of backbone. Someone like David Mirfin at Scunthorpe and John-Jo O'Toole in our midfield with a bit of backbone and who won't fold when the pressure is on.

The squad we have at the moment is far too big in numbers and too little in quality. Surely players like Richards, Nearney , Harrison, Featherlite, Walker, Green, Smith, Oates and Woods can be moved out in January so we can bring in some real footballers. Although our chairman has given Hignett a vote of confidence it will be interesting to see, when the gates drop and the fans finally show their disapproval, how he reacts. If the unimaginable happened and we went out of the FA Cup on Sunday would that make Hignett's position untenable?

It is all well and good giving a rookie a chance as a manager but how long do you give them when they are out of their depth. Two managers looking for a job, both Scots, are Steve Evans and Billy Davies. I am sure either of these could get a tune out of the present staff. Another Scot, Gary Caldwell, who has just lost his job at Wigan, knows how to get promotion from League One.

And one out of left field is yet another Scot, John Hughes. He was never given a chance in his first spell with no budget and the CEO refusing to meet or speak to him. He has shown he can manage in Scotland, and who knows what he could do here on a level playing field.
Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

JANE AUSTEN'S ALLEGRO on midges, IKEA and Barnet

I have never previously been bitten by a midge [aka Midgie in Scotland]. Never understood what all the fuss was about. I have even heard people say that what puts them off holidaying in Scotland, apart from the Scots, is the midges. Last Friday I was out in the garden planting a few dozen daffodil bulbs when the (insert collective noun here) Midges descended on me. Apart from having to brush them away from my face on the odd occasion, they did not really bother me that much, or so I thought until the next day, when I found that I had being bitten on my head, arms and neck and was covered in spots/hives along with an insatiable desire to scratch myself until I bled profusely.

Earlier that day I had been to see the doctor, who, after a cursory examination of my knee, which had been causing me occasional pain and discomfort, informed me that I had osteoarthritsis, which is something I will just have to put up with. (Season ticket for the Cyril Knowles stand will be the order of the day next season).
"You would think that after forty-odd years of supporting Pools I would know better"

The doc asked me when I noticed the pain first occur. And my honest answer was, and don't laugh, "About three months ago, when walking around 'Lego Land' ". Little wonder my appointment appeared to be cut short.

Saturday has got to be the worst night on the telly: Strictly / The National Lottery programme and Casualty, all of which feature people screaming in one form or another. How can anyone cheer a lottery ball when it is released from its cage? Whilst these programmes were on I made a point of putting the various timepieces in the house back an hour. In the process I managed to break one of the clocks.

On Sunday, much to the delight of The Bride, we made the trip up to IKEA in Gateshead, the sole purpose of which was to purchase a particular style of LED downlighter, total value £5. We spent ten minutes trying to access the car park. A further 52 minutes - yes, I did purposely time it - was spent in the store for a downlighter that they no longer stock. The bride also tried to order a child's bed for the grandbairn. Did they have that in stock? Did they heck.

The only thing going for the IKEA store is the meatballs and chips that they serve at the take-out next to the exit, but as the the queue was so long I decided to forgo that one particular pleasure. A further 20 minutes of my life was lost trying to exit the car park, at which point my blood pressure was at boiling point. Hell will freeze over before I venture back to IKEA. Bring back MFI is what I say.

So, all in all, a lousy weekend. I could pretty much take all that happened to me, even IKEA, but you know what wrote off the weekend for me big time was Barnet 3 Pools 2. You would think that after forty-odd years of supporting Pools I would know better but it was the fact that I saw that at one stage Pools were two nil up. Even allowing for Liam Donnelly's sending off, Pools should have taken the three points off a very poor side like Barnet.

Prior to the match I had asked my son to put a couple of quid on Pools winning two one. So when the score went two one in Pools' favour, my only concern about Pools stopping me collecting a few bob was that they may score another goal to make it three one. Never did I once expect Barnet to equalise, let alone win.

My son told me later he was sweating when it was two one to Pools as he had forgotten to put my bet on and was worried he would have to cough up the £20 or so I would have won. Hopefully next weekend will be better and Pools won't spoil it. Who are we playing? Stamford. Wouldn't bet on it.

Funny Old Game

The Kaiser Demolished Our Grandstand

BILL THE BIRO tells the story

Kaiser Wilhelm of Germany was a bit of a nut-job who, like King George V of England and Tsar Nicholas of Russia, was a grandson of Queen Victoria. But whereas the other two either wanted a quiet life or were constrained by an elected parliament, he had a great say in what his country did. So he built up its armed forces and took it into the First World War.

He was impressed by Count Zeppelin's airships and thought they would be useful for bombing the enemy from altitudes that aeroplanes would struggle to reach, even if such bombing would be very inaccurate. And having realised that terror, as generated by the Bombardment of Hartlepool in December 1914 could be a useful strategy, he ordered a fleet of airships. Eventually 130 were built.

One made a lone raid on Hartlepool in 1915, but caused little damage, and returned to Germany unscathed. At that time British propaganda named the airships "Babykillers", and the military had no way of attacking them since normal bullets would pass through their bags of inflammable hydrogen, causing small leaks but failing to ignite the gas. Over the next year new bullets were developed, along with new attack strategies, to make the airships more vulnerable, and in mid-1916 a pilot successfully proved the new technology by downing a Zeppelin and earning himself a Victoria Cross.

L50 was a 'Super Zeppelin' from the same class as L34

On 27th November ten airships were scrambled to attack eastern England, interrupting the birthday party of Captain Dietrich of airship L34, who was the uncle of the singer and actress Marlene Dietrich.

Four headed for the Durham coast and L34 came over the cliffs at Blackhall, and was picked up by a searchlight at Hutton Henry. A fighter plane then was scrambled from its base at Seaton Carew, piloted by 20-year old Sub-Lieutenant Ian Pyott.

L34 dropped bombs over Hartlepool, killing several people and hitting Pools' grandstand.

Pyott's long climb up towards the airship was made easier by the fact that it had come lower for more bombing accuracy. He was able to hit the airship with the new incendiary bullets and L34 burst into flame and fell into the sea in Hartlepool Bay, watched, and probably cheered by thousands.

The entire crew of L34 died, but Ian Pyott received a medal for his bravery. Later in the war he shot down a plane on the Western Front and he lived until 1972.

The airship menace receded once the incendiary bullets were developed, and about half of the entire fleet were lost along with most their crews, proving their vulnerability, and the Hindenburg disaster in 1937 was the end of airships as serious aircraft.

The BBC's Inside Out programme did a piece on Pyott and the downing of L34 (without mention of Pools) on 31st October, which has some interesting footage of a plane on Seaton beach (item is about 19 minutes in, and this link may not work outside the UK or after November, and may require an update of of your iplayer software):

Some readers may remember that a couple of years ago Monkey Business featured a song 'The Kaiser Demolished Our Grandstand', about the grandstand's fate and that of its successor. It's now been made into an animated video which is now on Youtube:


At the top of the page is the full postcard, as shown on this month's cover, of the damage done by the Zeppelin on the night of November 27th 1916.

The postcard is part of the National Football Collection of memorabilia, and has its own page on their website: hartlepool-united-victoria-ground-1916-zeppelin-raid-postcard/
Haf Ve Enough Fuel?

This first appeared in MB no. 42, in March 1998.
Danger - Be Warned!!

GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY feels the pressure

DANGER – BE WARNED!! Recent results have put Pools in a not too healthy position. As of now, Pools lie in 20th position – one point off the second relegation spot. That is occupied by Orient who, of course, beat is 3-1 in our last home game. I have a hunch that Orient will climb out of this position leaving Pools more vulnerable. 

As I’ve suggested, scoring goals has not been a problem, despite the moans and groans on social networks. However, the injury to Nathan Thomas might put this in danger. Defensively, we have the problems. Injuries, suspensions and international call-ups have added to the pressure.

All too often teams counter attack and we are left hoping that Trevor Carson can pull a rabbit out of the hat. The fact that we haven’t won a home game so far this season says something. Let’s hope that we can do it against Stamford. Good job we’re not on live TV – we wouldn’t want a repeat of the Blyth Spartans match.

Already, the critics are hovering around calling for Craig Hignett to be sacked. I can’t see what good this can do. Any incoming manager will still have the same squad of players to deal with and the new loan regulations don’t make things any easier. Injuries will always cause Pools problems and we’ve had our fair share this season.
"Defensively, we have the problems. Injuries, suspensions and international call-ups have added to the pressure."

In terms of our off field activities, Pools can be proud of its support for the armed services. The auction of shirts bearing the poppy provides much needed support for the Royal British Legion and, of course, there’s the concession to serving members of the Armed Forces. To their credit, the Football Associations of England, Scotland and Wales have attempted to mark Armistice Day with shirts bearing a poppy symbol. But they have been thwarted by those clowns in FIFA who brand the poppy symbol as “political”. What a load of crap. Its about time the Football Asociations showed some bottle and told FIFA to get lost. So they might get fined – no worry, the cheque's in the post they might say.

Just recently, both the FA and FIFA have shown just how badly they are run; in addition, there’s been the bad publicity surrounding West Ham. But it's times like Armistice Day that the fans have their say – and how dignified they are in marking the occasion with a two-minute silence before games. Long may this continue. It shows the true nature of supporters – decent honourable people. Which is something you can’t say about people running the game at all levels. As for FIFA, they may be presiding over the decline of the World Cup. The Champions League is where the money is and this is what the game is all about these days. However, its now reported that viewing figures for Sky are on the decrease. As I’ve said: Danger – Be warned!

The Top Flight?

BILLY'S CONTRACT has been watching upper-league football again

This season, more by accident than intention, I seemed to have watched a fair few Premiership games. I absolutely refuse to subscribe to the altar of Sky Almighty Premiership so myself and my mates pop down to the Local and with the money I have saved by not paying a Sky Subscription I can upgrade from a pint of John Smiths to a more expensive craft beer. 

I have also being watching MOTD more than previously but instead of saving money I am saving time, which, due to my retirement, is in very short supply. I normally record MOTD and watch it on Sunday or later in the the week. The advantage of 'taping it', is that you can skip the opening titles and credits, Gary Lineker droning on and the punditry, as well as fast forwarding through the matches you do not want to see. Best of all you can avoid watching the Borer altogether.

Stoke and Watford must be delighted that Borer are now in the Premiership and as such they will no longer be the last game screened on MOTD. The first game I watched live was United versus City. There must have been half a billion pounds worth of players, I was going to use the word talent, but I do not think that appropiate as, on the Old Trafford pitch on the day for the first twenty minutes or so, neither side could string two passes together but could give the ball away to their opponents with component ease. £80million for Pogba. You are having a laugh.
"Best of all you can avoid watching the Borer altogether. "

A few weeks later I watched Spurs v City and it was more of the same from City. They kept on passing to the team in the white shirts rather than those in their own colours. How Raheem Stirling gets his game is beyond comprehension. I was thinking that this is the top level of football and the fans are paying £40/50/60 to watch this pedestrian entertainment. I was going to add that you can perhaps understand poor football being played in the lower leagues due to limited player ability and overall player inconsistency but I cannot accept that not being able to pass a ball to a fellow team mate from a distance of three yards is basic school boy stuff at any level, including Darlington's.

What of the Premiership? Interestingly, none of the front runners are setting a pace and all have their failings. With the manager, the squad of players, plus the money that they have spent on them, Manchester City on paper at least should win the Premiership by a country mile. I hope not, as they will have bought the title, that is why every man and his dog within the footballing fraternity (perhaps barring Coventry fans) wanted Leceister to win the league last season and stick two fingers up at the rest of the Premiership's so called big boys.

 Arsenal and Tottenham to their credit play nice football but so do Bournemouth and Southampton. As for Manchester United I feel that even with The Special One in charge they will do well to finish in the top five and I will be surprised if Mourinho does not walk before the end of the season. The sad thing about United, love them or loathe them, they no longer play attractive football and even when staring defeat in the face under Sir Alex they would fight like a dog with a bone to the very last minute to get a result ...well the last minute plus the six additional minutes which were usually added on by Howard Webb.

You have to take your hat off to the likes of Watford and Burnley, who are punching well above their respective weights and have spent very little in the process compared to the traditional top six - once again another two teams who are cocking their noses up at the Big Boys.

Crystal Palace are another team who have flashed the cash and although Christian Benteke is a good signing,  as a team they seem to have gone backwards ever so slightly. Unless Big Sam makes a second coming perennial strugglers extraodinaire Sunderland should be relegated by Christmas or New Year at the latest. They haven't even got the bonus of the mandatory six points that Newcastle gleefully gift them on a plate each season to help their cause. Heaven help them if Defoe gets injured.

Myself I would like to see Arsenal win the Premiership, I must admit that despite all his faults, I actually quite like Arsene Wenger and on their day his team is a joy to watch. I think in the past Wenger has sacrificed winning the Premiership in favour of concentrating on the Champions League. This season he should reverse this policy and opt for an early Arsexit from Europe. Failing that I wouldn't mind seeing Liverpool win the title, purely just to see Jurgen Klopp's Teutonic reaction the moment he knows that the trophy is his. Sadly, unless he strengthens it, like another German, his defence will prevent this from happening. I'm talking of another 'Downfall' here. Thanks to the likes of The Mackems and Hull City, the Borer, even with their lack of fire power, might just avoid the drop but all is not lost. They have only played one of the big teams and coupled to that, they do have a history of imploding over the Yuletide period.

My favourite entertainment comes from The Queen Elizabeth The Second London Olympic Stadium when West Ham are playing at home. Their fixtures should be re titled as Fight Night. Apparently there has been crowd trouble at every home game they have played so far this season ...even against, of all teams, Bournemouth,  whose fans I view as retired, gracious and genteel, and who like nothing better than afternoon tea. When the Hammers are not fighting opposing supporters they are battling with their own fans for something else to do. Can you image the carnage and bloodshed at that stadium if Leeds United and Millwall were in the Premiership. It certainly would be an updated version of Life on Mars.

The Premiership is only a quarter of the way through the season and it is too early to call who will win what, albeit that we already know, Sam Allardyce aside, that Sunderland are down. No doubt in January the Premiership clubs combined will probably fork out the best part of another billion pounds, not to improve any, but just to maintain the Status Quo (with sincere apologies to Rick Parfitt and Francis Rossi for that ...although in Sunderland's case you could say Down Down Deeper and Down).


I was reading the football section of last Saturday's Daily Mail (I know, I know!), which gave details of the team selection for each side playing in the Premiership that weekend. For a bit of fun I got my son to read out some of the names of the line ups and I/he had to guess which teams they played for. He read the entire Burnley team out and it wasn't until he named George Boyd that I could guess the name of the team. This same applied to the likes of Swansea Watford, Hull, Stoke and even Tottenham along with several other sides. Take away Defoe Cattermole and O'Shea at Sunderland and Downing Friend and Rhodes at the Borer, I did not know the names of any of their players.

In the seventies I could pretty much name every player in the old First and Second division sides and most in the third and fourth divisions for that matter. I suppose this is down to the amount of foreign footballers who now play in this country and the fact that back then most players were one club men who stayed with the same clubs for years on end. This is borne out by the amount of testimonial games that were played back in the day. It is the same in Scotland. I watched a bit of the recent Rangers v Celtic clash on TV and out of the 22 players on the pitch I could only name Kenny Miller. Having said that, he has been with Rangers for the best part of a thousand years.

It is much the same at Pools. I recently saw a picture of Matthew Bates and I had to ask my pal who he was as I don't recall seeing him play for Pools, or if he did it was a very long time ago!

Dear Vicki

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

Dear Vicki
I was a successful football manager at a fairly high level who was headhunted to take the reins at one of the top clubs in the world. That didn't work out and now I'm managing a team languishing at the bottom of its league. After a couple of failures, my career is in tatters. Should I do the decent thing, admit I'm not going to turn things round and resign, or should I sit tight and take the money when they inevitably sack me?

DM Sunderland

Dear DM,
There's all sorts of questions in play here. Do I want the money? Can the club afford to pay me off? Do I value my future career? When will I retire? Do I do what's best for the club? Are the fans demanding I be sacked? 

Only you can say which question is most important to you. I know that the obvious answer, one which makes all the above questions redundant, is to get some better players, but that is easier said than done. 

However, if you do decide to throw in the towel, with the writing already being on the wall, perhaps you should just wait a little longer until it appears on a banner towed behind a plane. 

Dear Vicki,
I am am a foreign Premier League manager who recently moved to a top team after two spells managing one of its main rivals. I'm living out of a suitcase in a hotel and my family have refused to move from London. 

I used to be popular with the media for my forthright views but have recently been ignored and I've become a bit of a grump. How do you think I can do something about it?
JM Manchester

Dear JM,
You aren't the first and you won't be the last football manager to go the same way. Brian Clough and Malcolm Allison were both similar characters who were media darlings for a few years, but the media latches on to certain people for a while but then gets bored with them. You just have to live with the fact that your media star has waned.

Becoming a grump is more of a worry. That tells me that you are not a happy person, that things are not right in your life. Perhaps you ought to take up some alternative therapies to bring you back to your old self, such as mindfulness, yoga or tai-chi. Waving your arms about can do wonders for your state of mind. Sir Alex Ferguson swore by it (or was that swore with it?)

Dear Vicki
I am a former top football administrator who has become increasingly disillusoned with the sport of late. I am still in my prime and have much more to give to the sporting world so can you recommend any other sports that might be able to use my considerable experience?
SB Switzerland

Dear SB,
I would think that some of the more minor games might well benefit from considerable experience like yours. With energy and determination I'm sure that tiddlywinks and marbles could be the big sports of the future. Who knows, perhaps in a few years we may yet see 100,000 seater Marbledromes popping up all over the world. And with its brightly coloured equipment, tiddlywinks could be a natural for television - just think of all the money that could bring in.

Funny Old Game

Should He Stay or Should He Go?

BILLY'S CONTRACT asks the inevitable question

I see in some quarters that the natives are starting to get restless regarding Craig Hignett's tenure as manager of Hartlepool United. I for one was pleased when he was first appointed as I felt that he was the natural choice for the job.

It was widely believed that during Colin Cooper's reign as manager that Hignett was the brains behind the organisation and to a lesser extent the same applied over at Middlesbrough when he became Karanka's right-hand man. Fuel was added to that statement as when he left each club both Pools and Borer went into a slump.

In the press he says all the right things and talks the talk. However, after a poor display from the team he is similar to Ronnie Moore in that he will publicly blame the players for their faults and mistakes but won't shoulder any of the blame himself for his own limitations.

Despite a promising 2-1 victory over Yeovil in his first game as manager, results were slow to go his way. Then in early March Hignett's side clicked and hit a purple patch picking up 18 points in nine games, drawing two and losing one. And scoring 16 goals in the process whilst conceding 6 in the against column. This was promotion form and looked like the shape of things to come, particularly for those who witnessed the football lesson and 5-2 thrashing that Pools handed out away at Morecambe.

Little did we know that the points gained in this run served to keep Pools in the Football League. Thereafter in a six match run, Pools only managed to pick up three points for the rest of the season, and even those were acquired from a desperate bottom-of-the-table York City side who not only played three quarters of the match with ten men but also had Scotty Flinders in goal as well!

On this losing run of 5 matches Pools conceded two goals in each game with the exception of Plymouth who lashed 5 past us.  

Problem One: Retained list
Close season was a strange one: signing three non-league players and not the experienced dominant midfield player as everyone had hoped for. Scott Harrison was handed a fully deserved free transfer only to be re-signed again a few weeks into the start of the new season, and at this time of writing is still performing no better than he had previously. Likewise Brad Walker, who also falls within that same ilk.

Matthew Bates is another high earner at the club who should at the very best have been put on a 'pay as you play' contract due to his ongoing injury problems. There are at least another four players who are currently at the club who in my opinion should have been released. Stuart Parnaby was handed a 'created' job behind the scenes on the medical side with little or no experience in that field apart from being a patient for most of his career, permanently being hospitalised through injury. Jobs for the boys? With the savings made on wages against these four/eight players alone Pools could have invested in a decent midfielder.
"things cannot continue in the current vein otherwise we will be playing Darlington 1883 sooner than we expected"

Problem Two: Tactics
As the new season unfolds Hignett readily admits that he does not know what his best starting eleven is or what is his preferred system, 4-4-2, 5-3-1 or 4-3-3. Away form is currently better than home performances and to date Pools have yet to secure a home win. This is because Hignett/Fleming set the side up with one up front (Padraig Amond who is not a target man) and play as an away side hoping to hit the opposition on the break. I could not believe that this formation was employed when we faced third-bottom Orient at the Vic. This must have given the Londonders such a boost. We might as well have told them that we are scared witless of them. As well as scoring three goals the O's enjoyed more possession and in the second half played as if they were the home team and I can only recall Pools having two scrambled shots during the that period.

Aside from not knowing which formation to employ, I am not sure if Hignett knows in what role to deploy Liam Donnelly. In the space of half a dozen games Donnelly has played, and very well to be fair, in four different positions but does Hignett see him as a right/left full back, a midfielder or a centre half? It would not surprise me if Hignett puts him in goal ahead of Carson for the Stamford match.

Problem Three: The case for the Defence
Basically I can offer no case for the defence, particularly the back four. At time of writing Pools have let in more goals than any other team in the division and in the main it is due to individual basic mistakes. The defence has been shuffled and changed on numerous occasions. They have been shouted at, abused and forced to watch videos of their own poor performances but still they do not seem to improve. All of them are capable of making the most horrendous mistakes; it's like having a back four of Chris Smallings.

To be brutally honest I would say that most of them are not good enough as they all have their own particular failings, and three of them would be on my free transfer list next June. On the (further) down side the normally competent Trevor Carson has started to make Scotty Flinders type errors, but hopefully it is only a passing phase.

Problem Four: Leaders 
We have no natural leaders in the squad. No shouters, brawlers or bollockers: players who are not only prepared to take the game by the scruff of the neck but also, when needed, to take their team mates by the scruff of the neck ...and elsewhere, and not bothering who they upset in the process. Oh, for a Billy Bonds!

Problem Five: The Midfield
Hand on heart, when was the last time you saw an assured midfield performance from Pools? Probably when Tinks, Ritchie and Trigger were running the show. Our midfield is adequate at best but lacks pace, and attacking option, and does not dictate games. Worse still, it fears to cross the invisible force shield that is on the halfway line. One thing it is good at doing though is passing the ball back to the keeper.

Problem Six: The Management
The only thing we hear from Hignett in the press these days is the shameful touting of Nathan Thomas, who will only be allowed to leave the club for £1million. By coincidence Gary Coxall has stated that they are looking at bringing in two new players, hopefully a pair of nasty B------ds, in the January transfer window. Let's hope that these targets will come to the club based on the sale of the currently-crocked Thomas, who looks like he will be out for some time. Hignett has made a couple of loan signings in Tom Heardman from Newcastle and Bradley Fewster from the Borer but we have seen little or nothing of them. If they are no better than what we currently have in the squad why bother signing them in the first place?

Pools currently have a squad of 34 players on their books and to my mind we would struggle to get a decent first eleven from that number. The better players from the reserves should be sent out on loan to gain experience and I don't mean, with all due respect, to the likes of Whitley Bay with whom Josh Nearney is currently plying his trade. Reserve players with potential should be offered to National League sides or good non-league sides like Spennymoor or even Darlo. Lewis Hawkins had a spell with Spenny last season and came back to Pools a better player for it.

Craig Hignett is currently still on a learning curve. Word has it that he was hoping to attain a play off spot this season and although that is still not impossible I cannot see that happening. He has publicly stated that he wants, as indeed we all do, to see Hartlepool United play football the right way but there has been little evidence of that so far.

Lady luck also plays a pivotal role in a manager's destiny. So far this season Pools have had, including the manager himself, five sending-offs. Some could be classed as dodgy refereeing decisions but the blatant hand ball that Toto Nsiala gave, leading to a fifth minute minute penalty against Luton and his subsequent dismissal, cannot be factored into any manager's pre-match plans. At another point in the season Nsiala's moment of madness could have led to his manager losing his job.

Unless of course Pools lose to Stamford in the FA Cup, I would give Hignett more time redress the situation and put things right but things cannot continue in the current vein otherwise we will be playing Darlington 1883 sooner than we expected. To compare Craig Hignett's managerial record with some of his predecessors, listed below for the stattos among our readers are percentage win ratios for each manager. The nearest comparison to Hignett's current managerial record is that of Martin Scott who, at the time of writing, had managed two more games than Craig Hignett.

*Neale Cooper43.64%
Danny Wilson43.61%
*Chris Turner32.2%
Colin Cooper29.23%
Martin Scott28.2%
*First time around with the club
Out of Sorts

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY and LOL MORAN at the ex-Vic

Pools 1 Leyton Orient 3 (League 2) Saturday October 22nd 2016

The problem with statistics is they never seem to tell the whole story. According to statistics we should have got three points today and we got trounced. 

The visitors were below us in the table but getting results away from home, and Pools were also getting more points away than at home but seemed to have a slight edge if you go by statistics. The same statistics tell us we have had one defeat in the last six games yet another statistic says we have lost seventeen points this season after leading in games. Those seventeen points would have put us in the top three.

The talk on the terrace today was obviously about how long you should give a manager to get it right. I am still a fan of Mr Hignett but I know I am in the minority after listening to some of the fans today. The Sunday afternoon game on the 6th of November could be his Waterloo no matter what happens away at Barnet next week.

So many players today looked out of sorts. We battled towards half time under a lot of pressure, snatching an undeserved goal at the death. Ok I may be a little harsh, but to be honest the set up of the team today never ever looked like it was going to produce a goal. The good point of the goal was it might give the scorer, Laurent, a bit of confidence in front of goal.

The midfield just did not work at all today and not down to individual players, more down to the set up of the side. Both teams gave the ball away easily and Pools were often running down blind alleys or going square all the time. There was no driving force in the middle of the park and we lacked ideas.

Orient were a fast-paced side and only poor finishing stopped them from taking the lead on a couple of occasions when they hit the woodwork. Toto put in a brilliant run that set it up for three Pools players to have a chance to score but Alessandra, Amond and Thomas all failed to hit the target, but it was a great effort from the big defender.

The Pools goal came after a corner when Alessandra sent in a cross that Hawkins headed back in and Laurent, close in, pushed the ball past the keeper. The lead was soon cut back in the second half when the ball was squeezed beneath Carson who, on his day, would have had no problem with a ball like that.
"The Sunday afternoon game on the 6th of November could be his Waterloo no matter what happens away at Barnet next week."

From then on it was all Orient and it was plain to see why they play so well on the road. They attacked with speed and in numbers and we chased shadows for the rest of the game. Two more simple goals followed and Orient were time wasting with twenty minutes to go.

Criticism was aimed at Hignett when he took off Amond and replaced him with Paynter, which only made things worse. Hignett has to take a good look at his team and decide on a system that stops us from shipping goals, gives us a midfield that can hold the ball and carry it forward, and at least make an effort to ensure that whichever pairing he uses up front has the opportunity to at least have a shot on goal, as those statistics may just prove to be the end of his career at Hartlepool.

I was intending to come up to the Hartlepool Folk Festival, but discovered that Pools would be at home to Leyton Orient, so I planned that into my very busy Saturday at the festival.

But when I discovered that an old friend would be performing with his singing partner, whom I had never seen, from 4pm to 5pm, I decided to divide my loyalties and leave Pools after 65 minutes then dash round to the ship and catch the second half of the concert.

So on the day I went to a couple of concerts in the Trincomalee, then one in the Town Hall before the three-minute walk to the Vic - which became a ten-minute walk to the ticket office at the Clarence Road end of the Town End.

I had earlier agreed that I would write a match report so Running Monkey could have a day off, other than helping me out with the bit I'd miss. Of course I realised that if things went badly for Pools after I left, then I would get the blame for jinxing them from Running Monkey and some of the other Monkey Business contributors. Luckily for me on that point, Pools were already losing before I left.

As I approached the Wingfield Castle, just an Asda and a railway away from an inaudible Vic, a check on my phone revealed the score was now 1-3, which was both a relief and a disappointment at the same time. It meant that I didn't have to have my eyes glued to the phone all the way through the concert, only most of it.

The concert itself was very good, and the evening concert at the Town Hall featuring the Young'Uns, the Wilsons, Vin Garbutt, a few others and a brass band, all performing songs by local writer Graeme Miles, was one of those events you will always remember - like Cardiff!

In the end Running Monkey did a report to which I could add little, and with hindsight I should have given Pools a miss completely, saving money and seeing two other folk events that I'd paid for. Putting a finger in my ear would have been preferable to putting my hands over my eyes!
A Drab Game

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at the ex-Vic

Pools 1 Crawley 1 (League 2) Saturday October 8th 2016

A drab game today settled by two penalties that no one could really argue against. In fact Pools could have had a second one against them late in the game.

Once again we lost the toss and I think it is always a bad omen for us as we kick down the bank first half. The Ditchburn tells me that the man in the middle was a newbie but for once I have little to complain about apart from some very early tackles from the visitors that he let go and consequently they chanced their arm a little and got a few more bad ones in.

Alessandra was taken out on a run which the ref let go, then shortly afterwards Thomas, on a run into their box, tried to sidestep a tackle and was chopped down. Give Mr Jones his due, he promptly pointed to the spot. The chat was on the inability of left-footed players to score from the spot and sure enough Thomas’s penalty was blocked by the keeper. Alessandra charged in to pick up the rebound and push the ball into the net. Where did we get this lad from?
"Kieran Green ...looked like a pro today. He had a good game and was only replaced by Paynter late in the game just to waste a few more minutes"

Crawley were a good side but on today’s evidence do not take their chances. In their next attack some swift flowing football found us outnumbered in our own box and in a flash they had hit the post. Their rebound then was blocked by Bartlett, then a second rebound was hit against the bar.

The visitors were testing our defence and we rode our luck. Deverdics went off after taking another hit and a young Kieran Green came on. I had never seen this lad but the reports of his display against the Mackems on Tuesday were excellent. And he looked like a pro today. He had a good game and was only replaced by Paynter late in the game just to waste a few more minutes.

 It has to be said again of the visitors, that being a goal down was not making them too shy in the tackle as they pressured Pools for good spells of the game who managed to get to half time with a one goal lead.

Pools were trying to press higher up the field but the visitors had some quick men in their side and wasted no time returning with the ball to our half. It was becoming monotonous the number of times our attack broke down and the pressure was straight back on us.

Jake Carroll, marking their striker Collins, slipped on the ball and as the striker raced into the box, Carroll appeared to be hanging onto his back and Mr Jones did not hesitate and pointed to the spot. It was possibly the only real chance Collins had had throughout the game. There was an incident as Collins was about to take the spot kick and a Crawley player fell in the box as the striker stepped up to take the kick. Harrison was booked for a foul and the spot kick was duly dispatched, and despite a good effort from Bartlett, Collins got the equaliser.

The Pools of old would have died a death at this point but they battled on and Toto came close with a header from a corner that was inches wide. Toto was straight back in action, making a great clean tackle in our box to rob an attacker and break down the move.

It was end to end as both sides went for the winner and Laurent was unlucky after a great move but his shot was saved. Crawley had their moments too when a move ended with a shot that cannoned off the bar dropping for Collins. I would have to see the replay of the tackle that Harrison made two yards from the line to literally take the ball off the striker's foot as he was shooting and clear the ball for a corner. It was easier for Collins to push the ball into the net but that fantastic effort from Harrison saved us a point.

A good point, and I think most would agree despite not too many wins, the side are looking good considering the number of players missing today.

Any Other Business


Did any readers see or even take part in Question Time from Hartlepool on October 21st? One who did take part was Poolie Bernadette Malcolmson, who left the Ukip speaker speechless at the end of the programme, and another was H'Angus, who also put in a great performance in a trailer for the programme:

For those among our readers who aren't Ritchiephobes, here's a good article about his whole career:

Finally in this centenary month, here's a picture that sums up Hartlepool's First World War.
An unidentified Zeppelin flies above a German battlecruiser. Not just any battlecruiser but the Seydlitz, one of the three which bombarded Hartlepool. She subsequently survived through the whole war despite taking 22 hits during the Battle of Jutland and led the defeated German fleet to their final resting place of Scapa Flow.