Showing posts from December, 2016
A Tale of the Unexpected!


Like me, were you surprised at the outcome of Tuesday’s encounter with Accrington Stanley? 

Let’s be honest, like me, you probably felt that Stanley should have had it sewn up by half time. They missed a bucket full of chances and Pools had little to offer. When we did attack it was a case of trying to walk the ball into the net and the frustration of the fans was evident. We seem to be unable to shoot on sight – ok, we’re not going to score from all of them but on the law of averages one (maybe two) are going to go in. Its not as though they don’t practice – in the warm up before every match shots on sight are the order of the day. As it was we got out of jail.

According to a Hartlepool Mail headline Stanley boss John Coleman identified Padraig Amond as the danger man. “Stop Amond and we stop Pools” it said. Mark Hughes took it literally and the ensuing penalty was a story in itself. As Amond was racing up to take the kick, the ref halted play to book one of the Accrington players for encroaching. Then their keeper saved it but two rebounds and an overhead kick later Pools were 1-0 up. You couldn’t write the script.
"...if points are deducted then I can see a ground swell of opinion to pull out of the next World Cup"

Even with Hughes red carded, Pools still had to rely on a world class save from Trevor Carson. No doubt, Accrington felt aggrieved but referee Richard Clark was correct in his decision. Some referees would have ignored it for a quiet life but others apply the laws diligently. After all, referees were told at the start of the season to crack down on this and, on this occasion, Pools were the beneficiaries.

As I said at the start, it was a tale of the unexpected. All this doesn’t mean Pools can relax. Outside the top five clubs there’s so little to choose between the teams. A winning run can put you in the play off places; a losing run can put you in the nether regions. Let’s hope we’re not sweating again this season – our blood pressure won’t be able to stand it.

Looking at the table, I think Newport County will be one of the teams to be relegated – since their Euro Lottery winner resigned as chairman they seemed to have gone downwards.

The poppy row doesn’t seem to be going away. As I write, FIFA are still considering what sanctions to take against England and Scotland. Now, we have Northern Ireland and Wales being sucked into the whole messy business.

Apparently, their “crime” was that some supporters in the stands were wearing a poppy and specifically the Football Association of Wales is being charged on the basis that a member of the armed forces was holding a bunch of poppies at the exit to the tunnel and that a fans’ mosaic was displayed during the national anthem. How do these idiots get into positions of authority? Football has always been a great healer between countries but the way FIFA has (and is) being run negates all that is good in the international game. All this does is turn ordinary fans against FIFA and if points are deducted then I can see a ground swell of opinion to pull out of the next World Cup. I for one wouldn’t be bothered. I would be saved all the claptrap that goes with these international competitions.

We’ve got Pools and that comes before the national side.

What's the Craic?

BILLY'S CONTRACT feels like having a whinge

Strange Days. A winding up order for Pools from HM Revenue - the second within 5 months - is a tad worrying and brings back bad memories of  Garry Gibson's time at the club and all that ensued. 

The club stated that the outstanding bills have been paid and it was just an administrative error. Funny admin error as Pools ending up paying  the court costs which could have been better spent on the team. This would never have happened on Russ Green's watch. Correct me if I am wrong but did the club ever replace him?

Recently there have been conflicting statements from the club's hierarchy. Gary Coxall publicly stated that Pools would be bringing  in two new players during the January transfer window.  Within a couple of weeks the manager tells the Mail that we are not signing anyone during the January transfer window and he is happy with the resources that he has got at his disposal. Oh, how I laughed, I was nearly hospitalised.

I am surmising that it fully was the club's intention to bring in some new faces based on the premise of Nathan Thomas being sold on. Obviously with his long term injury that is not  now going to happen.

After the last minute defensive mistake that cost Pools the game at Doncaster, Craig Hignett said that there would be no wholesale changes to the team for the following match, three days later against Accrington Stanley. 
Three days later out go Richards, Jones and Carroll, which is 75% of the back four.

Rob Jones, having been given an unnecessary cameo last few minutes against his former club Doncaster, and who was at fault for the goal, didn't, unless he was injured, even make the bench. Now if that is not saying there is a problem I don't know what is. What was it that over the weekend made Hignett ring the changes? This action shows that the manager is not happy with his back four and it also raises doubts about his thinking and decision making. In one breath he is not going to change the side then on the day of the Accrington match the side is radically overhauled, not for the best and with a totally new formation.
"Hignett and Fleming are there to inspire and motivate the team and clearly this is not happening"

It was the same with Scott Harrison. Hignett correctly gave him a free transfer based on his performances of last season, only to re-sign him again at the start of the following season. What happened during the close season to make Hignett change his mind. To the outsider this shows indecision by the manager, and the same applies with his team formation(s). 

We are nearing the halfway point of the season and I firmly believe that despite trying every formation known to man, Hignett still does not know which is best suited to the players that he has available. Talk about Tinkerman.

After each defeat we keep hearing the same old same old story that the players were 'cruising' or were 'second best' or they were 'laboured' or the most recent comment from Hignett that they did not look sharp. Surely these problems should be laid firmly at the doorstep of the management team. 

Questions need to be asked as to why the players are laboured and do not look sharp? 
Did they have a poor pre-season? 
Are the players slacking in training? 
Are their fitness levels not up to speed? 
These problems should have been addressed by the management during the close season and not allowed to carry on into the season proper on a make-do-and-mend, match-to-match basis.

Hignett and Fleming are there to inspire and motivate the team and clearly this is not happening, as is proved by their repeated inept performances week in and week out. 

As for the win against Accrington, two-nil flattered Pools. Accy, like the majority of away teams who have played at the Vic this season, were the better side and even with ten men pushed Pools right until the end, until Alessandra's last-minute break away goal settled the match as well as the crowd. 

Hignett as we all know was hoping to snatch a play-off spot. He needs to forget about that and focus on getting as many points on the board as he can to keep Pools out of yet another relegation fight. That will be success. He must also realise that he cannot keep depending on Orient, Newport and Cheltenham to keep on losing each week as sooner or later one or all these teams might go on a winning streak, as Newport have of late.

As for the players, with the exception of Carson, Bartlett, Alessandra, Amond, Thomas, Donnelly and possibly Hawkins, I would scatter the rest of them including 90% of the reserve side and go back to the drawing board,  preferably without the existing management structure. 

On the plus side, somehow or other we have more points on the board than we did going into the previous two Decembers.

P.S. If 'Pools do manage to sneak a play off spot please disregard all of the above and apologies to all concerned.

The Poolie Festive Songbook

Compiled by BILL THE BIRO

Here are some excerpts from 'The Poolie Festive Songbook', which is newly published by Hartlepool University Press at £12.99, and only available online from www.

23  I Saw Three Clubs 

I saw three clubs from the North-East,
On Match of the Day, on Match of the Day.
I saw three clubs from the North-East,
On Match of the Day in the evening.

But that was a decade ago at least,
On Match of the Day, on Match of the Day.
But that was a decade ago at least,
On Match of the Day in the evening.

Their places they will always swap,
On Match of the Day, on Match of the Day.
One promoted one for the drop,
On Match of the Day in the evening.

They think that they are 'The Big Three',
On Match of the Day, on Match of the Day.
How long before all three we see,
On Match of the Day in the evening?

35 Coventry Carol

Lully lullay thou little shrunken club,
By-bye lully lullay.
That folk once liked but now they snub,
By-bye lully lullay.

Your stadium's too grand today,
By-bye lully lullay.
You share with Wasps to make it pay,
By-bye lully lullay.

The days of Houchen years ago,
By-bye lully lullay
Will they return? We think No!
By-bye lully lullay.

They'll not return,
By-bye lully lullay.

38 The Poolies and the Smoggies

The Poolies and the Smoggies,
When they are both full grown.
Of all the clubs in Tees valley,
The Poolies take the crown.

The rising up to League One,
And the falling back again,
And just like us they know their place,
In the Prem. they won't remain.

41 We, the Kings

We, the kings of taxation are.
Pay your tax or we'll have your car.
If you're tardy we'll get mardy,
You know that we won't say ta!

     Where's our money, where's our dosh?
We'd send the boys round with a cosh.
But they won't let us, solicitors' letters,
Are what we use, being posh.

But if you still don't give us our dues,
A winding up petition we'll use.
There's nothing to it, you bet we'll do it.
The whole bloody lot you'll lose!

     Where's our money, where's our dosh?
We'd send the boys round with a cosh
But they won't let us, solicitors' letters
Are what we use, being posh.

45 O Little Club of Hartlepool

O little club of Hartlepool,
How low we see thee lie.
You cash all gone, will you go on,
Or will you have to die?

Yet thy dark news telleth,
To every Poolie fan,
The dreads and fears of many years,
Continue to go on.

You thought that funds you'd raiseth.
A million for Nathan.
But he got crocked, which left you shocked,
Screwed up your business plan.

Yet thy dark news telleth,
To every Poolie fan,
The dreads and fears of many years,
Continue to go on.

52 Once in Dimi's Smoggie City

Once in Dimi's Smoggie city,
Stood a lowly empty shop,
Where a goalie built a restaurant,
To serve Greek food, a tenner a pop.

     The first of many, to hear him talk,
     He wants to run before he can walk

63  While Poolies Watched

While Poolies watched the clock by night
With five mins left to play
They nervously looked at the bench
Please, no more subs today

For they had seen it all before
Defence is coping well
They make a change and straight away
The whole thing goes to hell

68  The First Newell

The first Newell knew of what we had done
Was when he'd left the pitch after Scunny had won
They not only won, they with us wiped the floor
So being promoted was a shock that's for sure

     Newell, Newell, Newell, Newell
     Got us promoted, but he couldn't tell

     Newell, Newell, Newell, Newell
     For losing that championship we gave him hell

74  See Amid the January Snow
See amid the January snow
Transfer window, off we go
Pools won't join the frantic quest
Think their squad will stand the test

     We think that it's all hype and spin
     We think their cashbox has nowt in
     They haven't got a penny left
     Of cash for players they're bereft

78 Away Wins Spell Danger

Away wins spell danger
It has to be said
You think you're world-beaters
And it goes to your head

And next week you will prove that
It's no flash in the pan
But your opposition
Has a different plan

93 The Twelve Days of Christmas
On the ... day of Christmas my true love sent to me:
1   a monkey that hung from a tree
2   two Pools gloves and
3   three Shearer paintings
4   four season tickets
5   ...five phones that ring
6   six ketchup sachets
7   seven ancient programmes
8   eight ticket stubs
9   nine plastic pintpots
10 ten Monkey Bizzes
11 eleven lottery tickets
12 twelve months of grief

Who's to Blame?

WAGGA MOON wants to know

ONE step forward and two steps back. That is how it seems down at Victoria Park at the moment. Home win one week and up to mid table followed by an away defeat and it is back to the relegation dog fight. 

Manager Craig Hignett is still trying to determine which is his best team and which tactical formation is the best for the team but apparently is still undecided.

It is apparent to 99% of the fans that Jordan Richards and Scott Harrison have no place in any team he puts out. Hignett is still playing them week after week, and all the time leaving a good journeyman pro, and last season's leading scorer, club captain Billy Paynter, on the bench. Now Paynter should be walking into the present Pools team, which begs the question, What is going on?

It appears there has been some falling-out between the pair and that is not a good thing. Rumour has it that Paynter will be on his bike in the January window which is also not a good thing.
"If you sign enough Non-League players you will end up with a Non-League team*

Hignett was quoted in the Hartlepool Fail last week saying that we need a couple of experienced players in to help the youngsters, but it won't be happening in the January window. Presumably this is due to a lack of funds which might explain the failure to pay the tax bill. Twice. Things are not looking too good on the financial front at the moment and it appears our owners haven't a pot to piss in.

Things will get a lot worse if we go out of the FA Cup on Sunday and the gates inevitably fall when the bad weather kicks in. Our two Premier League loanees are now back with their parent clubs and unlikely to return. No surprise considering the clubs are doing us a favour and we don't even give the guys a game. Maybe their clubs will think twice about lending us players in the future.

Meanwhile Charlie Wyke who we twice had on loan and failed to make it a permanent deal has hit six in six for Carlisle to take them top of the league. A team with some good old professionals and an experienced manager showing what it takes to succeed in this division. This League Two is the worst in living memory and any half decent team would be in the top three.

It is becoming nauseating to hear Hignett come out with his standard excuses every time we lose. It is never his fault. Mistakes by the defenders, a useless referee, players looking leggy, not following instructions but they are his players, he signed them and he picks them.

If you sign enough Non-League players you will end up with a Non-League team. The squad is far too big with some of them having no realistic chance of being picked for the first team. Quality rather than quantity should be Hignett's motto for next season. If he is still here.

I'd just like to finish by wishing all Poolies the compliments of the season and some better football to watch in the New Year. We certainly deserve it after the garbage we have endured over the last six years.
Funny Old Game

Bizz 2017 Poolie Calendar

by ELMO 

Very late in the day (i.e. on publication day) we knocked up a calendar for readers to print out and fold up.

If you print it on an A4 sheet of card or photo paper crease it and fold it up you've got a Poolie desk-type calendar. You can glue it. staple it or tape it together.

Download the file here 
Every Picture

JANE AUSTEN'S ALLEGRO considers the new club badge

I have not heard much feedback from the club in the media about the new logo that Pools are going to adopt as from next season.

Fans were asked to submit their ideas to the club, who in turn would submit the best designs to the arty types to make the finished product look professional and it would then be emblazoned on shirts, merchandising, letterheads, tickets and on all things Pools.

I have said previously in these columns that I was never a fan of the existing logo, looks like a child designed it ...oh it was. I was delighted when Gary Coxall announced that they were looking for a change of corporate image.
"Got to admit it is going to be a bloody big badge. The first team shirts are going to be massive to accommodate the motif."

Personally I would revert back to the previous badge, The outline of the Stag/Hart with the letter H in the backround. Still looks class.
I am guessing that the chairman is looking for something altogether new and different. 

I was disappointed not to have had a response to my own submissions:

1)  A gadgee (or a Chorber) sat on the edge of the Pilots Pier winding up his fishing rod with a Tesco Trolley attached to the end of the line. Said Gadgee has a tab dangling from his lips and he is wearing a HUFC  Dut at a rakish angle and a string vest (It does get cold on the Headland). In the foreground is the scraphead on the docks in Middleton. On the ground beside him are a few empty Hansa cans of lager. In the backround is Verrills chipshop with a group of punters looking at the window at their open hours or should that be their closing hours.. In the middle ground on The Fish Sands is the remains of a monkey hanging from a makeshift gallows. Got to admit it is going to be a bloody big badge. The first team shirts are going to be massive to accommodate the motif.  

2) Still on the Verrills theme. Full frontal of Verrill's with a fish fritter rampant either side of it Two chips crossed at roof level. A scroll underneath in latin bearing the legend Clausa (Closed).

Once again no reply from the club. Typical.
If any readers have any of their own suggestions please submit them to the wheelie bin or send them to us here at Monkey Business and we will put them in the wheelie bin on your behalf.

A Bit of a Worry

Match report by BILL THE BIRO at Adams Park

Wycombe 2 Pools 0 (League 2) Saturday November 26th 2016

Having found somewhere to sing 'The Kaiser Demolished Our Grandstand' on the actual centenary of said event (Sunday 27th November), I woke up on the Saturday with the idea of writing another song to tag onto the end, about the actual Zeppelin raid itself. 

This duly done, I set off for Wycombe, picking up the French Poolie on the way. Nothing much had changed at Adams Park, although Wasps Rugby Club have now moved out. The red kites still fly round like seagulls do at the Vic, and as usual we were in the vast away end once the pint of Theakstons had been disposed of, and a double cheeseburger and chips consumed. The FP disposed of another cheeseburger at half time too. I know he'll become a father again in a few months, but I'd always thought the expession 'eating for two' only referred to expectant mothers.
"The jinky passing in midfield would almost invariably end with a misplaced pass or play returning again to where it had started"

Pools started with an unchanged team after Hignett had been dithering over the formation, with three at the back. From the off, Pools took command, with quick passing moves that showed great promise, Alessandra especially catching the eye.

However, by about the fifth minute we realised that promise doesn't mean much. There seemed to be lethargy all over the pitch. Passes went astray too often, Pools were second to the ball every time, Wycombe wanted it more, and even that barrel of lard Akinfenwa could get through our defence with ease. The jinky passing in midfield would almost invariably end with a misplaced pass or play returning again to where it had started, and the home central defenders and goalkeeper (all huge) weren't really stretched.

It seems that long balls are prohibited under Hignett, and Amond wasn't really much use at all as nobody could get the ball to him. His one opportunity was fluffed, as was another late on by Woods, but really Pools were no threat.

The substitutions helped a bit, with Pools being a bit more industrious towards the end, but they were never going to pull back those two goals, one in the middle of each half. The score was a fair reflection of the match. We weren't robbed. We beat ourselves.

Carson did fairly well. The defence struggled, although Bates was a calming influence. As has been said by others, Toto likes to play football when hoofing it may be the better option. The midfield would time and again weave fancy patterns which went nowhere, with little movement off the ball to give more options.

With Pools apparently penniless, their biggest asset crocked, and the one they are now touting, Laurent, not looking much better than the rest, it's all becoming a bit of a worry.

p.s. The new song never got performed in the end but at least the loss of both Grandstand and Zeppelin was appropriately commemorated.

More than Pools Deserved

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at the ex-Vic

Pools 2 Accrington Stanley 2 (League 2) Tuesday November 20th 2016

It was a grim night for Accrington’s visit to the Vic after our usual pre-winter-weather hammering following the new moon. 

It looked like an end-to-end game early on but it was more of an edge-of-the-box to edge-of-the-box game as both teams only ever looked like scoring with shots from outside the area.

With our new-look line up it was obvious from the start that we looked suspect to the counter attack. Both teams were shooting well wide of the mark. Pools looked quite mobile attacking down the flanks but those attacks invariably broke down at the crucial moment.

One decent move from an Alessandra ball set up Deverdics, who tried to play in Amond, but once again some good defensive work by the visitors foiled the Pools attack.

For a long spell in the half it looked as if we were giving the ball away in almost every pass we made. It may have been that the visitors were reading our game too well but it was frustrating to watch each move up the field break down because of a too casual pass.

Laurent, turning on a ball, lost out in the tackle and gifted them a free run on goal but a rush of blood helped the Accrington man to hit the side netting when it was easier to score. The Ditchburn Poolie, who was visibly upset by our play made a comment on about fifteen minutes which went something like "That’s (£*$+^( awful we look like the {“+*}^&; visiting side rather than the [‘//?+* ]\;,)@&* home team.

The visitors did look more likely to score and the old Pools nemesis Billy Kee was putting himself about and only poor shooting let us off the hook. Carson made a great save but the attacker was ruled offside anyway, and Alessandra returned the favour, bringing a good save out of the Accrington keeper as the game settled and the players adjusted to the very wet conditions.
"It was not just one player, as nearly every one of them could have and should have been booked"

One half time comment was “shameful display” and quite a few were critical of Hignett. Not so much on his selection, more on the lack of a game plan. I told the Ditchburn at half time we would win this game, kicking down the bank in the second half with the wind and rain behind us.

The young loanee Martin we have from the Borer looks a canny player, quick and alert, and he made an impressive debut. The game lifted a bit after the break as both sides stepped up their game. Mattie Bates made a last gasp header to thwart an attack. Harrison Toto and Bates worked well together.

The story of this fixture will go down in history for the most exceptional circumstances I have ever seen at the Vic. Mr Wright, the man in the middle, will go down in folklore. He had not really given us anything in the first half as a very physical Accrington had grappled like Mick McManus throughout the half, grabbing at anything in a blue shirt that came near them. It was not just one player, as nearly every one of them could have and should have been booked for persistently dragging our players all over the shop as we challenged them or tried to pass them. OK, all players have pulled a shirt or two but to almost throttle a player in front of the official would at least attract a yellow card, I would have thought.

One of my pet hates in football is persistent cheats who try to con the ref, especially those that wear gloves. Accrington had just such a wuss in their side today and he screamed like a bitch every time a tackle was made on him. Well justice was served as Toto rose to a crossed ball in the box and brought a good save from the Accrington keeper. As the whistle went we thought he had blown against Toto but behind him a Pools man had been dragged to the ground as the cross came in. Mr Wright rightly pointed to the spot and a penalty was awarded.

The offender was sent off and as Amond went to take the penalty he made his walk back a long one and outside of the “D”, so a smart-arse Accrington defender moved and stood in the line of Amond's run up, all quite legal but a Pools player who I think was Featherstone tried to move the player out of line and as Amond made his run up the defender on the line tried to step in front of him again, Amond slowed his run waiting for the ref who finally booked the player, I presume for gamesmanship.

Amond took the penalty and it was blocked by the keeper. It fell to Alessandra who tried to push it in to the middle, then rebounded to Hawkins who took a shot which was also blocked, and finally dropped for Deverdics who spun on one leg and struck the volley home to give Pools a well-deserved lead for their approach after the break.

Just after the goal there was a really bad two footed tackle from an Accrington player that should have brought them another red card, as the red mist descended on them after going a goal down, and all hell broke loose in a free-for-all between the two teams. One player from each side was booked but it set a bit of fire in the bellies of the Accrington player who set about Pools in the dying minutes and came close on a couple of occasions as we tried to close out the game.

After one Hartlepool clearance late in the game a slip from Featherstone almost let them in, as an Accrington forward was one-on-one with Carson, who made a great one-handed save to foil the attack.

Pools went two up in the six minutes added on by Mr Wright. Pools, playing some neat passing football, ripped the visitors apart, setting up an easy ball for Alessandra to slot home to make it two nil to the Hartlepool.

More than we deserved after the first half but you have to give the lads their due, this game early in the season would have seen us dead and buried by half time, but the lads stuck to it and in patches played some really good football to give us three valuable points.
First League Home Win

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at the ex-Vic

Pools 2 Cheltenham 0 (League 2) Saturday November 12th 2016

After the cup win last week Pools fans were hopeful that we could now do the same in the league but the visitors were on a roll having a run of nine unbeaten games.

The visitors turned us round at the start and after a perfectly observed two minutes silence the game was on. They had their fair share of tall players but quite a few shorties too but none as big as Toto.

There was a good pace to the game as both sides played some good football. Toto nearly always has at least one blip and he got caught turning on a ball that was whipped away from him and they nearly caught us out but the shot was poor.

Toto was caught again and it was only the offside flag that saved us after the Robins had the ball in the net but it looked an easy move that allowed the shot on goal. We had to be aware of the fast breaks from the visitors.
" was good to see the teamwork which has been missing at home games"

Carson had flown into Newcastle only that morning from his international duty and was able to play but sadly he had to go off after he had blocked a shot and went to smother the ball, and from the opposite end of the pitch it looked to me that the defender had jumped in on Carson. OK, he has the right to go for a loose ball but not to kick it from hands. We really did not expect Mr Salisbury to make a decision. The word is that Carson has to have an X-ray on a possible broken finger.

Bartlett was a very good deputy for Carson and looked very cool under pressure. Our form dipped a little half way through the half but they never looked like breaking us down as Toto and Bates held the back line and Featherstone darted everywhere clearing up. Just before the break Pools were lining up very well and attacking in number led by Alessandra. Deverdics and Amond were stringing some really good moves together and Hawkins, who is improving game on game, looks a class act on the ball.

With Donnelly, Featherstone and Laurent all pushing the team forward,. The game was running down to half time but both teams were challenging hard for the brea it was good to see the teamwork which has been missing at home gamesk-through and it was Pools who got the goal after a great move from midfield. Alessandra hit a great shot on the turn to make it one nil to Pools at the break, and on balance I think we deserved it for the effort the whole team had put in against a dangerous side who on their day could have overrun us.

 As I was walking back to my spot - I was just left of the Town End goal - when a sliced clearance from Toto went spinning to the top corner of the goal and I was ten feet from Bartlett as he made a spectacular dive and managed to palm the ball away from the goal for a corner.

The second half saw Pools keeping the pressure on a desperate Cheltenham side trying to preserve their unbeaten run. They were so desperate to get an advantage they were taking the mickey out of the man in the middle by just going to ground in every tackle and appealing and sure enough the ref just obliged them. I just do not understand this cheating attitude that is prevalent in football these days but I have led a rather sheltered life.

A second lull in the game for Pools in this half gave the visitors hope and they tried to rattle the Pools players with a lot of elbows being thrown and a centre half who thought throughout the game had to grab every Pools player around the neck. The sad thing is it took about eighty minutes for Mr Salisbury to get a card out on him.

Alessandra, who for me was Man of the Match, sent in a great free kick onto which Bates managed to get a head and make it two-nil to Pools, which calmed the nerves of the fans at least.

In the end Pools ran out easy winners with what I would call the best home performance of the season. OK they had chances that they did not take but today we played some very slick football, and against a lesser team we could have had four or five from the chances we created. Yet still after the game there was moaning about us papering over the cracks.

As you can see from the pic, one of my pet hates is seeing players gaining a few inches by placing the ball outside of the chalk on the corners. I walked over and took the pic of this player who was not a happy chap as, along with the crowd jeers and me leaning over the barrier, the ref came over to check that the ball was in the right place, but never said a word to him. Which is what we expect of the officials we get at the Vic.
Funny Old Game

(Both based on suggestions from Billy's Contract)
The Start of a Cup Run 

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY at the ex-Vic

Pools 3 Stamford 0 (FA Cup) Sunday November 6th 2016

Well it looks like we have a cup run on our hands, well until the next round anyway. This one could have been a banana skin, as all these early cup games especially involving Pools are so unpredictable.

Pools were probing but not getting much joy. Could be down to the fact sadly once again we were playing with one up front. Four changes to the side from last week but it mattered little to the formation of the team as once again we struggled to get going early in the game against a team we should be blowing out of the water.
"I have never seen us give away as many slack passes as we did today."

I have never seen us give away as many slack passes as we did today. Stamford were guilty of the same offence and one wag in the Town End commented that they had been watching too much Hartlepool play. At one point in the half Toto must have been fed up with the lack of threat on the visitors goal, after going up for a corner he decided to stay there and rattled a few defenders as he went charging into the box but his shot was blocked.

The Stamford game plan was to sit back and try and hit us on the break but until the last minute of the first half they were imitating Pools by playing only one up front. The last ten minutes they were becoming confident and pushed us on a couple of occasions but not really threatening our goal. The stats might say we dominated the game but it was a far cry from total domination. It took us fifteen minutes to even have what you might call a decent shot at goal and twenty minutes to win our first corner.

Richards did have a shot on target but it was well saved by their keeper who was having a canny game. In the last ten minutes Pools stepped up their game with both Laurent and Richards and pressed the visitors a little without success but the visitors looked quite confident but the one shot they had was wide of the mark.

The second half, Pools weathered the early spurt from the visitors and having the advantage of kicking down hill they started to get some success against the non-league side. Laurent covered some ground in the game but only threatened their goal once with a shot that was wide of the mark. It was Deverdics who broke the ice after being up-ended. He took the free kick and calmly stroked a ball into the top corner leaving the keeper grounded.

Pools looked to be on top once they scored and the visitors, a little rattled, were now showing their true colours and leaving a few boots in after missing tackles as Pools began to run them ragged. The visitors were unlucky with the second goal when a low shot from Richards hit a defender's knee and sent their keeper the wrong way, giving Pools the breathing space they needed.

With the introduction of Hawkins and Paynter, Pools looked at ease in the game, pressing the non-league team back. Then a trade-mark goal from Paynter, who found space on the back post as a great ball from Deverdics was headed low back across the goal, made the scoreline look a little more respectable.

The five hundred and five Stamford fans were in good voice at the end, enjoying their big game of the season and the one thousand or so Poolies went home reasonably happy if not totally convinced that we had turned a corner. Some fans were complaining that after the first goal we should have gone for the jugular but the wise ones were saying we were taking the sting out of the opposition. So many back passes did not make for great entertainment but at least on the day we got the right result.

One little slip by the tannoy guy at half time was “The early cock off in the Scottish Prem” brought a few half-time chuckles from the Town End fans.
Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

Match report by ALREET at The Hive

Barnet 3 Pools 2 (League 2) Saturday October 29th 2016

The first difference on Saturday was that the weather was pleasingly mild compared with the bitterly cold visit last season. 

The next was that the original North Stand had been replaced by a larger, amber and black all-seater stand over the summer although not currently in use. Considering that their home gates are not far in excess of Accrington’s, I wonder how they see their future. I recall reading somewhere that the revised capacity for the ground now exceeds the maximum figure stipulated by the council; how very odd. 

Having read the Barnet message that visiting fans would need to go to the other end of the ground to purchase a ticket to get in, I found that I had wasted my time, being told that I could pay by cash at the turnstile. 

Barnet got the game underway by kicking off towards the new stand but Pools won an early corner which Thomas took on the left although the resulting shot was easily saved. The home team hit back and a quick break behind our defence saw their huge No. 9, Akinde power in a header from around five yards which brought a magnificent save from Carson. 

We were beginning to string several passing movements together and looking decent in possession but a long ball down our right just evaded the lurking Akinde. Another patient move saw Featherstone receive the ball from Carroll before transferring it on to Thomas who won a corner on our left. It was taken short and we nearly lost possession but we managed to produce a low short which was saved low down by their right post. 

Thomas made a good run along their line and won a corner but this was wasted. Alessandra cut inside from the left but his shot was blocked. Donnelly, on one of his runs, won a corner on our right which was taken short by Thomas. Receiving the ball back, he took a couple of paces and curled a chest-high shot into the goalmouth where one of their retreating defenders diverted it past his keeper and into the net. 

Thomas was again in the picture when he went on a long run before going over on the edge of their box but no foul was given. Alessandra latched on to a through ball but his left-footed effort was kept out. Barnet made a substitution. A good move saw the ball with Thomas but his cross went over everyone. 

Akinde picked up a yellow card for a late challenge from behind on Toto. We won a free kick on the half-way line but the ball to the far post was headed across goal with no one able to convert. One nil at half-time was a fair reflection of the game. 

"To say that the game turned on the penalty decision was a massive understatement."
We started the second half on the front foot and Amond put the ball just behind Thomas in their box. A neat move out to Thomas wide on the left saw him pass his opponent and his quick, direct cross into their six yard box split two defenders and was met by Amond whose downward header put us two goals ahead. 

Carroll gave the ball away but the Barnet shot ended up in our side netting. Barnet made two substitutions and Hawkins tried his luck from twenty five yards only to watch his shot pass over the bar. A through ball saw Akinde galloping into our box pursued by a couple of Pools defenders. It was difficult to see exactly what happened from the other end of the pitch but there was a tangle of legs which saw Akinde sitting on the deck and Donnelly being given a red card. The ref awarded a hotly disputed penalty although, tellingly, the home players hardly raised a protest at the tackle. After the aggrieved Donnelly made the slowest effort to trudge to the other end of the pitch, Akinde dusted himself off and casually rolled the ball home. 

Carson got himself booked for time-wasting and the home side made a further substitution. Thomas, who had earlier spent a short time down in the far area was now lying crocked at the other end. He was obviously in a great deal of discomfort but play had transferred to our end before any of the officials seemed to notice. There followed what can only be described as a Whitehall farce as it took three or four minutes for anyone to arrive with a stretcher. We then witnessed another lengthy spell before the unfortunate Thomas left the pitch during which time the home keeper removed two further stretchers and left them at the side of his goal. I heard someone say that they were the wrong size but, whatever, Richards came on as a replacement 

Their diminutive No.11 was neat and tricky and had caused us problems all afternoon. He received a ball out wide on our right, beat Featherstone and sent in a cross which bypassed everyone, including the flailing Carson, and ended up in our net for the equalizer. 

The same player, in a similar position, tried his luck again and this time, his cross cleared Toto and dropped at the feet of their attacker who had run unchallenged into our box and couldn’t miss from a couple of yards. Groundhog Day all over again, conceding three goals in a quarter of an hour but we rallied and started to exert some authority even though a man short. 

Hawkins was replaced by Deverdics and the announcer said that there would be ten minutes of added time. Deverdics sent in a ball from our left which was punched out while a good ball from Alessandra on our right found Carroll whose powerful left-footed drive was pushed away for what would have been a deserved equalizer. That was as near as we came and the ref called time on another extremely frustrating afternoon. 

Carson, having made an outstanding save at the beginning of the game was, unfortunately, all at sea with their second goal allowing a ball from distance to pass over his head. He doesn’t seem as secure as in earlier games. Donnelly put in another impressive performance. He was solid in defence, having been pressed into service on the right side of our back four and also looked useful when attacking down our right flank. His dismissal completely changed the complexion of the game. 

Toto was solid against some rather large opponents but is still poor with his pass selection and I thought Harrison started well and looked secure although he lost his man and allowed him a free run to score their winner. Carroll had an in and out match but was unlucky not to have found the net with his late strike.

 Featherstone played his usual role in front of the back four, saw lots of the ball in deep positions, picking it up and laying off neat passes but not offering much by way of protection to the defence. Hawkins put in another energetic performance in midfield while Laurent covered the pitch, closing down the opposition in defence and managing to link with the attack including a rising shot in the second half. 

Alessandra had a good afternoon’s work, constantly offering an outlet for the ball and providing opportunities for others. He provided an impetus after we went down to ten men. Amond ran and ran and was rewarded with a typical poacher’s goal. Thomas proved a handful to the home team, looking confident and contributing to most of Pools attacking moves. Apart from scoring one himself and making the other, he posed a constant threat to the home defence and it was obviously a huge blow when he went off injured. 

To say that the game turned on the penalty decision was a massive understatement. We were the better team for the majority of the game and were in control of it for long periods although not necessarily threatening. Walking back through the park to catch a local bus and chatting to a couple of Poolies en route, I caught the raucous calls of a group of Ring-necked Parakeets sitting in nearby trees. 

Following this latest surrender of points, my only consolation was that this was my one truly home game of the season and I was home within the hour.
Any Other Business


The second winding-up petition in a year doesn't look good, suggesting Pools don't have two pennies to rub together. And the rather transparent campaign to sell Nathan Thomas in January, before his injury knocked that on the head, followed by another campaign to big up Josh Laurent instead, and then the announcement that no players would be signed in January, all hint of desperation and that the team will only be weakened, not strengthened.

With the chairman suggesting he can run the club on the proceeds of player sales, he's expecting to pull off a trick that very few clubs manage.

Given that the club's credit-worthiness will now be at rock bottom, any player sales will also now be at rock-bottom prices (they'd be free agents if the club went bust), so it's going to be an interesting few months. And this while the grubby demise of BHS is fresh in our minds.

This paedophile business with junior footballers has the potential to be as big as what followed the Jimmy Savile revelations.

And that could apply, not only in football, but in most other sports too, so let's hope that the current cases lead to a full enquiry, both to identify any incidents and culprits, and to reassure parents that such things wouldn't happen today.

At Wycombe we saw this behind the goal at the away end. As you can see, an old advertising sign has been re-used and it now faces towards the away crowd rather than the pitch. But when you look closer  you see that the round badge on the left isn't Wycombe's but Reading FC's. You'd have thought they'd have covered up the badge at least, even if they're happy to live with turned-round signs.

A few years back we did some models of the old Hartlepool Corporation Christmas bus (which some people are now trying to preserve.) 

The pdf files are still available to download, print out onto card and cut out to have your own Christmas bus, either the one with sleigh on top, or the one with a tiled roof The instructions are printed on the sheets but you can look at the original articles from the December 2011 and 2012 editions, in the archive.

We were saddened to hear that Norman Oakley had died at the age of 77. He was the Pools goalkeeper from 1958 to 1964, which included some of the infamous re-election seasons. Despite Pools being awful at the time, they obviously would have been much more awful without him, because he was good enough to move on up a dvision - and for a transfer fee. His record number of appearances in goal for Pools wasn't bettered for half a century.

Some of us remember seeing him and his family, surrounded by luggage, waiting on West Hartlepool station for the 8:22 train for Kings Cross that would take them to their new life in Swindon.

Finally we'd like to pass our best wishes to all our readers, all our contributors, and all Poolies, including all at the club. 

Let's hope that the festive season gives us plenty to cheer about and that the new year will do the same.