Showing posts from January, 2017
Are You Being Served?

BILLY'S CONTRACT on Christmas shopping

Christmas comes but once a year ...and we can thank God for that. Like most chaps I love the eating and drinking part of Christmas bit as well as having the family around the place but, and I probably speak on behalf of every sane and sensible male here, I draw the line at Christmas shopping.

It is not so bad if you have an idea of what you are going to buy for who and whom but going to the shops blind and second guessing what Christmas presents to buy people in my experience is one of life's nightmares.

This year was different though as my daughter came up with the brilliant idea of 'Secret Santa'. This involved the names of all the adults in the family being placed into a Dut. Whoever's name was drawn for you was the person that you anonymously had to buy a present for, with a £30 set limit. Ding dang doo.

Several, mainly male, members of the family were so impressed with her idea, that we nearly clubbed together to buy her an additional pressie as a measure of out gratitude for saving us all that time and money, but upon reflection that would not be in keeping with the spirit of the Secret Santa ethos.

The person I picked from the dut, whom I will refer to as Mr B, would, I thought, be a doddle to buy for as he is a Borer supporter (hence the 'Mr B'). Someone suggested that I get something from their club shop and job done. I argued that:
  1. This would mean having to go into Middlesbrough.
  2. This would mean having to go into their club shop and possibly be seen in the act.
  3. I would rather give my money to ISIS.
He has several interests and hobbies but when I started looking around he had either already got or owned the items in question or they exceeded the thirty pound Secret Santa cash limit. With Christmas fast approaching I decided to bite the bullet and get the job over and done with and despite the words ringing in my ear from someone who warned me 'You won't get anything in Middlesbrough's club shop as they never have anything', I set off for the Cellnet Stadium post-haste.

First impressions were deceiving as the place seemed to be ram jam full of stock and I thought that I could be like the SAS - go in undercover, do what I had to do and be in and out in a minute without being noticed, but this was not to be the case.

Firstly the security guard spotted my Pools logoed polo shirt and joked that I shouldn't expect any discount for supporting Hartlepool United. Whilst I was looking through one rack of T shirts my mobile rang. It was my son. 'Now Dad what you up to?' I told him he had blown my cover. You should have seen the look of the faces of the shoppers as I told him not to tell anybody upon pain of death that I was in Borer's club shop. I don't know who laughed more - my son or the punters who overheard the conversation.
"I thought that I could be like the SAS - go in undercover, do what I had to do and be in and out in a minute without being noticed"

Try as I may I could not find anything in the size I required and a lady in the store made the same comment that she was unable to find an extra large polo shirt for her son and the only sizes she could see on display were small, medium and triple extra large. A few minutes later another lady approached me, asked if I worked there and could I tell her where the training tops were. I pointed to my Pools logo. She said she thought it strange someone should be wearing a top bearing another club's motif serving in their rivals store. Ever the gent I directed her to the training top area of the emporium.

I went through rack after rack and was desperately struggling to find something suitable for Mr B when I came across a gaudy extra large polo top. I took it from the rack and sought out the first lady that I spoke to and asked her if this was something suitable for her son. After profuse thanks she wandered off to the till.

I went back to this glorified jumble sale. I say that as there were more items of clothing on the floor than there were on the shelves and racks. If any readers can recall the now defunct Dunnes Stores (now Tesco) in Billingham, you will get an idea of the set up.

By chance I thought I'd found something suitable for Mr B. but blast! - it was thirty five quid, five quid over budget. Whilst I was contemplating breaking the Secret Santa price limit in order to make a quick getaway from the shop, yet another lady collars me and asks me if I will do her a favour... "What. in a crowded shop?" I say. (This Pools top I am wearing seems to be a pulling magnet.) She tells me that I am about the same size as her boyfriend (fat get) and asks if  I'd mind trying on a black quilted waistcoat she is holding in her hand, to see what it looks like. I confirm that it is a good fit, well made and figure hugging and very warm and that the only thing that spoils it is the Borer logo on the left breast area of the garment. We have a laugh and she too wanders off to the till.

Eventually after about thirty five minutes in the store I found a polo shirt in the right size (shan design though) and took it to the till. I asked the cashier if it wasn't the correct size could Mr.B return it. No problem she said as long as he has the receipt and it is back before the 6th of January. Getting into Alan Partridge mode I was in half a mind to inform her that this would be an infringement of the Sale of Goods Act (Revised), but if her management team, in training. had not bothered to explain the detail of the Sale of Goods Act (Revised) to her, why should I?

I know I am anti-Borer on all levels and hate them with a passion but having worked in the clothing trade myself for over thirty years, even I was taken aback at the poor quality of the majority of merchandise which was on offer with high end pricing. Some items were very thin and did not look as if they could survive a short cycle wash. As I was leaving the store the jovial security guard collared me again. "Did you find what you were looking for, Monkey Hanger?" I told him "not really" and mentioned that the quality of clothing on offer left a lot to be desired. I took the Borer polo shirt that I purchased out of the bag and asked him to compare it quality-wise to the Avec Pools polo shirt that I was wearing. he said nothing but the look he gave me was "it would be more than my job's worth to comment".

I left the Sellnot car park thinking "not the best experience in the world" but on the bright side: job done; Christmas shopping finished.

I was feeling well smug with myself and it wasn't until I got thinking of the three ladies that I assisted in the store that I realised the awful thing/sin that I had committed. Between the three of them and my efforts I probably was responsible for the Borer shop taking in an additional £250. It was about three o'clock in the morning when I awoke suddenly and sat bolt upright in my bed sweating and shaking with the realisation of the awful thing, nay crime against football that I had committed. It was bad enough my spending £28, but that £250 might be used to sign a star striker. Oh Lord forgive me for I have indeed sinned.

Talking of Customer service. During the half time interval in the match against Blackpoo,l two mates who had not been to Pools for nigh on twenty years went for some Bovril to warm themselves up. They came back sipping tea. They said that they could not believe that they were unable to get any Bovril. "Perhaps they are out of stock" came the reply.

We Need Leadership - and Quick!!

GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY tells us what's needed

Leadership has always been considered as important within British culture and nowhere is this needed more than in the game of football – be it in FIFA, the FA or, dare I say it, Pools. 

The latest noises to come out of FIFA suggest that the current president, Gianni Infantino, wants to have an expansion of World Cup finals from 32 to 48. Already, the Scots have jumped on the bandwagon hoping that they will finally get a place in the finals. Sorry to disappoint you, Scotland, but those extra places will be given to those nations who provide votes at FIFA elections.

With all the problems FIFA have you would have thought the last thing they’d be concerned about would be fining the English, Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland FAs over poppies - worn to remember out war dead. And what will happen to the money paid over in fines? Your guess is as good as mine – no doubt it will be used to provide junkets for the FIFA bigwigs. And what are FIFA saying about the doping scandals that have engulfed Russian athletics? Not a dicky bird. They still plough on ahead with staging the 2018 World Cup in Russia. After all, there’s a lot of money involved and that’s what its all about. Who needs leadership like that?
"When men are badly led, they quickly become a rabble!"

Our own FA aren’t blameless either. They are still allowing the Premier League tail to wag the FA dog and, despite noises from government, still plough merrily ahead as though there’s no problem. As it's transfer window time, no doubt agents will be allowed to run amok and create chaos. Already, Premier League games are showing reduced attendances and Sky Television are having to offer reduced packages to attract punters. Dare we think the unthinkable?

Nothing is permanent. Free market economics is great when things are going well but can be very cruel when it goes wrong. Once again, the FA seem to be letting things slide instead of providing leadership.

Which brings me on to Pools. It could be that our League status will be safe again. As I said last month, Newport look as though they will be finishing bottom and may be accompanied by Cheltenham. And, of course, Notts County look as though they may be in freefall. However, this doesn’t mean we can be complacent. Recent winding up orders from HMRC only served to focus the mind on what our financial position could be. As things stand, there seems to too much emphasis on developments away from the playing area.

On the field, there seems to be a lack of direction when things go wrong. If the visiting side take the lead at Pools, you always have the feeling that there’s no way back – they’ll hold on to the lead or even increase it.

Could it be that we lack a manager on the pitch? I always remember that before we got the bog standard Premier League those great managers Matt Busby and Bill Shankly always had managers on the pitch to sort things out when necessary. Busby had Noel Cantwell and Pat Crerand and Shankly had Tommy Smith and Ron Yeats (I once heard Cloughie say that Ron Yeats would kick his own grandmother). And when Cloughie began to construct his Derby team he obtained the services of Dave Mackay – a very tough character indeed!

In those heady days at the turn of this century you could always rely on Micky Barron to lay his body on the line – as would Mark Tinkler. What we’d give to have characters like that in the side now. Yes, leadership is important and in this I’m always reminded of the words of Colonel Nicholson in the film 'The Bridge on the River Kwai'. He said, “When men are badly led, they quickly become a rabble!"
Funny Old Game

Moving On

WAGGA MOON considers the unexpected

There has been a few goings from the Vic and not the one everyone was expecting. Curtis Fleming, Toto Nsiala, and Peter Goldberg (although this has to be confirmed) all leaving while Craig Hignett battles on and oversees a slight upturn in form.

While there are probably a few more going out of the exit door there appear to be a few replacements on their way. There has been some more alarming news on the club's finances with the taxman being paid late on more than one occasion and a loan from the business community's equivalent of Wonga. News that Trevor Carson was missing from Monday's game at Accrington was quickly translated into rumours that he was talking transfer terms with Huddersfield for a fee of £250,000, although the club pointed out that the reason was a shoulder injury picked up in the game against Cambridge United.
"If Nathan Thomas can get fit before the end of the month it looks nailed on he will be on his bike"

If Nathan Thomas can get fit before the end of the month it looks nailed on he will be on his bike but not at some of the prices being quoted on the message boards. As for any newcomers at The Vic, it appears they will be loan signings and youngsters. We are in need of about four journeyman pro's but whether we can raise enough money to pay for them remains to be seen. Dean Whitehead has been mentioned and while it would be impossible to pay him his wages, a player/coach position might suit him as he appears keen to live in the area.

Centre back David Mirfin is not playing regularly for Scunthorpe and might fancy regular first team football. Another Scunthorpe player, midfielder Neil Bishop from Stockton, would be more than welcome to bring Pools' midfield up to scratch.

I have no doubt our chief scout Tommy Miller has got some interesting players in mind and if he can find any more players like Liam Donnelly we won't go far wrong. We still haven't seen anything of the two youngsters we signed a few months ago, Harly Wise and Isaac Assensso which seems a bit strange as we could do with some decent reinforcements.

Whether the recent upturn in form has anything to with Sam Collins and Rob Jones being involved more in the coaching or is just a coincidence remains to be seen. But there doesn't appear any rush to employ more coaching staff.

Good to see Scott Harrison making a big improvement in recent matches. Now I am far from being his biggest fan but appreciate he has been working hard lately. I remember when Ronnie Moore was here he reckoned Harrison had the hardest shot in the squad and could maybe do something up front. The way he thumped home the equaliser at Accrington would have made any striker proud. Wham, bam, thank you ma'am if you please!

The Short-Lived Takeover

BILL THE BIRO looks back

In November, the Stratford-upon-Avon Herald reported on a court case involving two local residents who just happened to have taken over Hartlepool United - but not for long.

Sub-Judice rules mean we can't make any comment, possibly for another 12 months, so no further statement will be issued by Monkey Business on this matter.
Totolly Gobsmacked


As Jimmy Greaves once said 'Football is a funny old game.' In fact it is a bloody funny old game. Prior to the January transfer window everyone was expecting that one or both of Pools' star assets, namely Nathan Thomas and Trevor Carson, would be on the move once the last chimes from the great bell of Big Ben had rung in the new year. Bong ...sorry, I meant wrong. 

Who would have thought that Toto Nsiala would have been the first player out the door and moving up a league (well, for half a season) and Pools would actually be getting a fee for him. I for one was totally gobsmacked.

There was a rumour doing the rounds on the terraces during the Morecambe match that he was off to Shrewsbury for £25k and that Carson was staying. My mate said he would even drive Nsiala to the New Meadow ground if it meant clinching the deal. The rest of us said it had to be a rumour as what club would pay £25k for him. One wag suggested that we should pay £25k to Shrewsbury to take him off our hands.

Gary Coxall has stated that £25k was not the fee. If it was twenty five quid Shrewsbury have been taken to the cleaners. If nothing else this piece of business has rid us of the worst centre half Pools have had since Tommy Sword. When Pools signed Nsiala the Grimsby message boards pre-warned us what and what not to expect from him. In one breath they said he could look class one minute then he could look like the class clown the next. From what they were saying Toto seemed to be the Chris Smalling of non-league football. Then again I put this down to sour grapes by the Cod Army, as Pools had also snaffled their leading goalscorer Padraig Amond to boot.
"Who can forget his deliberate 'hand of God' handball against Newport County...?"

When I saw Toto take to the pitch for the first time in a Pools shirt he looked a big unit, something that is essential at this level of football. He also seemed comfortable on the ball and looked fairly mobile. His best attribute to my mind was blocking a ball and putting his body on the line.

Initially I put the basic errors that he was making down to adjusting to the pace of League Two football. As the season wore on these basic errors multiplied in proportion and became massive grade one mistakes of the highest order. Who can forget his deliberate 'hand of God' handball against Newport County, his subsequent sending off and the resulting penalty being converted, all in the first four minutes of the game?

The majority of Pools fans including myself, despite his mistakes, wanted him to succeed and do well as there was a footballer in there somewhere but as the season progressed he became more and more error-prone and a liability to the team. It would make interesting statistical reading to see how many goals Pools conceded that were down to him (20% plus?), and how many penalties and needless free kicks that he gave away. He probably has more bookings to his credit than the rest of the back four put together. How many games did he miss through suspension and being dropped?

Gary Coxall was quoted as saying that Nsiala did not want to play for the club and the Mail went even further by questioning his professionalism regarding his attitude on and off the pitch, and that several of his team mates would not be sorry to see him leave the club. The fact that Pools are getting a fee for him (sorry, but I can't stop laughing about that), and it gets him off the wage bill, in turn freeing up the budget to either bring in a loan player or two, or at the very worst keeps the Inland Revenue at bay for a few weeks, has got to be a plus.

I am very surprised that Hignett and Fleming did not do their homework on Nsiala well before they signed him. It will be interesting to see how he performs with Shrewsbury this season but based on his current form they may be relegated sooner than they planned. I think Nsiala will be back at the Vic sooner than he (or we) thinks, but thankfully he will not be wearing the blue and white of Hartlepool United. I would like to wish the lad luck but I regret that I am unable to do so.
Pools' Tactics so Far This Season


I am writing this a couple of days after our horrific exit to Port Vale in the 2nd Round of the FA Cup. 

I am absolutely furious with Pools, not just yesterday but over the last few games. Though the 4-0 defeat was hard to take, it was not an embarrassment to go out to Port Vale. We have to remember that Port Vale were in a division above us. So if we had have beaten them, it technically would have been a shock if a club such as ourselves had won. Having said that, when the draw was made, I did think it was a winnable tie. So to hear in Mr Hignett's comments afterwards saying things like "embarassing" and "spineless" was terrible. 

 I know fully well how much bad results in the Cup can really increase your chances as a manager of your job being in trouble. Today is the 2nd anniversary of our embarrassing FA Cup exit at the hands of Blyth Spartans, chosen by the BBC to televise, Alan Shearer in their dressing room (oh dear), and all that.  We were 1-0 up and cruising towards Round Three, when we conceded two late goals. It was such an embarassment to go out to them, that that was Paul Murray's last game in charge at Pools. After what happened on Sunday, Mr Hignett could easily have gone as well.

I unfortunately was there the day Pools were mullered by Stevenage away. It is somewhat of a bogey team for us, judging on past results. However, Pools looked utterly spineless that day, and in my opinion, as Hignett said at Vale, we were right too boo them off. On these occasions, they are simply not fit to wear the shirt. The fans deserved a lot better in these circumstances. We all deserve a lot better.

I believe we've had some really good results so far this season. The fact we managed to go to Carlisle, Doncaster and Plymouth and come away from there all so disappointed not to win was incredible. But that's the thing about this club. We don't fear anyone regardless of position. However, regardless of that, it all seems rather futile to go to somewhere like Plymouth and get a draw, yet not be able to beat Newport at home.

 I would like to have seen us win more games than we have, specially at home. There was an amazing statistic floating around a couple of months ago about the amount of points Pools had thrown away so far this season.  The Grimsby away result was probably the best result so far this season. Accrington, Cheltenham and Stamford get an honourable mention. The problem is that we've had many results this season in which Pools have shot themselves in the foot: at home to Notts County and Newport, and away at Doncaster, Barnet (partially our fault, should have won), and at Preston where only a last minute goal lost us the match.
"The Grimsby away result was probably the best result so far this season"

I believed Pools had a massive opportunity in the Port Vale game. Win this tie and they would have been in the 3rd Round of the World's Greatest Cup Competition. More kudos for the Club. More prize money. But I did not hear any reports suggesting that Pools could have been proud of their performance at Vale Park. However to hear words like embarassing, there was utterly no way the club could have put on a positive spin.

Now I admire our new Chairman, Mr Coxall, who is one of the nicest people you could ever wish to meet. He himself wants to see the club succeed. However, I just wonder, if things continue to deteriorate in the way they have, does he really have the kahunas to make the decisions needed, should, by the time you read this, Mr Hignett is in serious danger. Because I believe we need to start getting some kind of results as soon as we can. If we don't, I believe Mr Hignett won't be with us at the end of January, even earlier if that bad.

I really wanted to go to the Doncaster away game. Doncaster have one the most modern football stadiums in League 2. However, I was unable to attend, so I decided to order a copy of their match day programme. I like buying programmes from the matches I attend, as I'm always interested in what the other clubs in our league think about us a club. Among the usual couple of pages about the Pools squad for this season there was a small article about key players in the Pools team, presumably the key players in the Pools team to watch: TOP STOPPER went to Trevor Carson.  DEFENSIVE ROCK went to Toto Nsiala!!!!!! MIDFIELD MAESTRO went to Nicky Featherstone. DEADLY STRIKER went to Amond.

Now I'm sorry but if Toto's meant to be our Defensive Rock, then quite frankly I'm Shirley Temple. I have heard very few positive reviews about him since he came to the club. I mean nothing personally, however, I do not believe he should even be at the club. I have heard too many reports of too many worrying defensive performances that have involved him somewhat this season. I have heard little good news about him, though he did score once.

Now this is the most surprising thing. I went on the BBC Sport website to check the team Pools put out at Vale Park, and I was horrified with what I found: Carson, Bates, Jones, Toto, Carroll, Laurent, Deverdics, Woods, Alessandra, Amond, and then FEATHERSTONE!!!!! Now, unless I'm very much mistaken unless I have not guessed Mr Hignett's formation for the Cup tie, that seems to indicate to me that Nicky Featherstone on Sunday was playing upfront. Now someone has to ask the question there: What was Nicky Featherstone, a midfielder according to BBC, doing in a traditionally attacking role? The responsibility for this surely lies at Mr. Hignett's door. Surely, you could look at that team and judge that Mr Featherstone was being played out of position. And surprisingly the more games this season that have featured the likes of Harrison, Donnelly, Jones, Paynter and Amond, and Nicky back in midfield, the more points we've won from them.

And here's a worrying thought to end: no Hartlepool United manager during the last few seasons has kept his job beyond the middle of December.
Cornish Poolie

A first article from TO THE HARTLEPOOL 2-0

I am Cornish born, and aged 12, in October, 1965, my family moved to Peterlee, County Durham. (Please tell me what I did in a previous life?) So, on Saturday 23rd October, 1965, my late dad took me to see Pools play Barnsley, in a Division Four league match. My first Pools game and they lost 1-2. Harrison scored, Amby Forgarty was sent off and the crowd was 4,194. Dad and I stood on a very muddy broken Mill House Terrace. This was five years before the stand would be built. 

Pools games usually kicked off early on account of their not having floodlights either.
"These are the people who pay your wages and you should remember how privileged you are to be playing football for a living"

I was bullied at Acre Rigg Secondary Modern School in Peterlee for, amongst other things, my instant love and allegiance to my nearest home town team Hartlepools United FC.

I recall Pools beating Bradford City 1-0 in a league match on a blustery cold Friday night of 27th October 1967, with a goal late on up at the Rink End. It was a header by either Jimmy Mulvaney or Ernie Phythian. By a quirk of fate, a new boy from Bradford joined our class the following Monday and he got in with the bullying and you would have thought the many so-called Mackems in the school would side with me seeing that Pools were their nearest league team? No, they sided with this BCFC fan. These were Mackems who had probably never even seen the inside of Roker Park.

My late dad worked at Siemens, AEI and GEC Telecommunications and recalled first hand to me the day that the late, great Brian Clough visited the factory with the Pools players and told them "These are the people who pay your wages and you should remember how privileged you are to be playing football for a living".

I remember going home on the bus from matches and Brian Drysdale, a Pools full back from Wingate, would be on the bus, and posters advertising Pools' home matches were regular features on the colliery villages' walls.

My connection with Hartlepool seemed fated as I worked at The British Steel Corporation South Works and also attended The College of Further Education. Chuck in fishing off Middleton Pier and The Heugh, being burnt stupid on The Fish Sands and acting stupid after drink down the various pubs and clubs in Church Street and surrounding roads. Happy days.

I read now that Darlo have resurrected their old Tin Shed. I hope somebody had the good (?) sense to keep in storage our old wooden Clarence Road post-Zeppelin stand!

And now let's go on an unbeaten January 2017 run all the way to the end of the season. 
Funny Old Game

Another Game of Two Halves

report by RUNNING MONKEY at the ex-Vic

Pools 3 Morecambe 2 (League 2) Friday December 30th 2016

They call it a crucial three points, but we all know it means a lot more than that as this was a game where we could show how we play football and in the first half we did just that. 

We all pray for an early goal at every game and I guess Amond was even more surprised when his shot left ex-Manure keeper Roche for dead with a super volley to open the scoring in front of the Town End after the visitors gave us the advantage of kicking down the bank in the first half.

The second goal looked like a gift as the whole team and the crowd screamed for a penalty after they all saw a defender handle a cross into the box. As we know from experience they do not all go our way and the lady running the line down the Millhouse side was unsure, but the Ditchburn Poolie claimed it was the best bit of “flag waving” he had seen at the Vic for some time. There looked to be a bit of a squabble over who was taking it but Paynter claimed the ball and duly despatched it into the net.

Pools were flying, turning it on against a side that looked to be playing like we did on Monday against Blackpool, sloppy, could not hold onto the ball and lacking in direction. This must have been one of the first times that Hignett had got his selection right enough for the fans, The benefit of playing two up front means you score goals and both the front runners Amond and Paynter managed a goal even if one was a penalty.
"This must have been one of the first times that Hignett had got his selection right enough for the fans"

It was great to see Featherstone net his first goal for the club which came from one of the, if not the best ball through you will ever see from a Pools player as Woods laid it on a plate for Featherstone to stroll through the defence and volley the ball into the net to make it three nil to the Hartlepools.

As well as we were playing and pounding the visitors, they stuck to the task and an early substitution for them looked to be paying dividends as they pressed us right up the half time whistle.

The second half proved a big disappointment to the fans. Once again the half-time break seemed to work against us as the visitors started stringing passes together and now it was Pools' turn to look a little ragged yet again. From where I stood their goal looked like a cracking strike but those with better eyesight than mine claimed it was a deflection that beat Carson, but they all count.

We lost Paynter just before the hour mark and the visitors sensed they could possibly get something from this game and set about Pools, who lost their shape and their ability to pass the ball or hold it for any length of time, and under pressure they scored again making it a very nervous end to the game for the Pools fans.

We really need to learn how to play the second half the same way we played the first. Ok, a win is a win, but it could have been so different on the night, which only exposed our weakness when at half time the fans were talking about another Grimsby result.

The Ditchburn Poolie was unsettled tonight and rambled on a bit about an old uncle. Apparently he was disappointed that his uncle Scrooge had sold his soul and joined the plebs.

For once the Town End rumour mill had got it right as Toto has moved on for an undisclosed fee, He will be a “BIG” miss.
Boxing Day Blues

report by RUNNING MONKEY at the ex-Vic

Pools 0 Blackpool 1 (League 2) Monday December 26th 2016

Boxing day blues for the Pools fans once again today as a poor Blackpool side done us over after another decent start to the game. 

I say decent in the sense we took the game to them in the first half and throughout the forty-seven minutes they only had three threatening chances on our goal.

With a strong wind blowing across the Vic the game started with Pools fielding an unchanged side. Pools were stringing some decent passes together and looked comfortable on the ball. Featherstone was the first one to get a shot off but it was high after some excellent approach play by the home side. Both Laurent and Oates managed to get good positions but both hit the keeper who did not look in any danger, in fact he had an easy afternoon as most of the efforts from Pools went straight to his arms. The Bizz C.E.O., who was paying a flying visit, had the theory that most of our marksmen were attracted like moths to a flame and the keeper’s bright yellow kit dazzled them so much that they fired right at him. It was refreshing to see shots at the keeper, as lately we have been trying to walk the ball in or lose it on the edge of the box.

Today it looked like we were controlling the game and looked more threatening than the visitors as the Pools defence stood strong. The visitors liked to put themselves about a bit and if they were not whinging at the ref they were feigning injury after every lost tackle they made. The visitors' best chance in the first half came from a corner that the striker met at the far post but was wide of the mark with Carson nowhere near it.
"the usual second half Pools slump reared its ugly head once again"

Most fans were happy with the commitment that Pools had shown but once again the lack of goals was very worrying. The last home game against Cambridge had gone the same way in the first half and then we were well beaten by five goals at the end of that one.

At the start of the second half Blackpool could have been three up in five minutes as the usual second half Pools slump reared its ugly head once again. Just what the hell happens to our team at the break of every home game? Is it the tea, the break, or could it be the team talk? We have seen this phenomenon periodically now for a number of seasons way back even to the first reign of Chris Turner at the club. Could it just be that teams know we are not going to score so they let us tire ourselves out in the first half then stuff us in the second. I think that visiting managers can suss us out far too easily and they learn our weaknesses and can act on them, whereas Pools' management are devoid of such guile. Whatever is the cause it is bloody galling to watch week in and week out.

Today the second half went to the same plan as the Cambridge game. A quick break from the visitors saw Carson make a fantastic one-handed save to keep it all square. Oates made a good run giving Alessandra a chance but his snap shot was wide of the mark.

Pools had a free kick on the edge of the box which in my opinion was taken too quickly by Paynter, who should have had the sense to calm things in a hectic spell, but he lost the ball through a bad pass and the visitors broke fast and scored, which was so easy for them.

Heads went down and the play became ragged and disjointed until Pools were given a penalty after a handball in the box. Once again panic took over and the fastest penalty I have seen, thirty seconds from the whistle, the ball was sent flying into Morrison’s car park by Alessandra.

The ref today, Mr Eltringham, was full of the Christmas spirit and did not want any confrontation with the players and ducked out of a few chances to reprimand the cloggers but did book one for a heavy foul on Alessandra as he broke clear, but by the same token he could have booked Paynter for a challenge on their keeper, but I think the ref was fed up of them trying to con him so waved it on.

Not a happy Christmas for the three and a half thousand Pools fans today. I'm not sure whether this is five or six games without a goal and a very meagre points haul and I do not really want to check the chart as I am depressed enough.
No Man of the Match

report by RUNNING MONKEY at the ex-Vic

Pools 0 Cambridge 5 (League 2) Saturday December 7th 2016

Well it was a match against Cambridge at least for the first half. One of my lasting memories of watching Pools over the recent years is the game of two halves.

More often than not they have been in the same category as today’s debacle. I often wonder after such second half slumps what the hell goes on in the dressing room during the break. I think it has been more of a problem since the start of IOR years, although the "We are unbeatable" era was a bit special but seems to be so long ago now. "It must be the half time cuppa" was the answer I got from most fans.

One theory, which is the vogue in modern day football, is that we are over-complicating the team talks and baffling our players on various theories of how to play the game. Other forces such as chairmen getting involved, player power getting in the way of team work, or the fact we have sub standard players who cannot play to the manager's game plan may also have an effect.

We have read the press releases in which Hignett claims Pools work hard during training. They are expected to work hard to be picked for a game, So it stands to reason that if the training is ok and it all falls apart on the pitch then it has to be down to the squad we have, or the manager's game plan not working. In a lot of the games recently, and I am only talking about home games, we seem to be found out either very early in the game or soon after the restart. We ship in a goal and then it is heads dropping, tackles not being made and passing comes under pressure and becomes woeful.
"the natives became restless as the chants against Hignett echoed around the ground"

Today’s game looked promising as changes were made after the four nil drubbing in the cup last week and at least it looked as if the manager was actually playing people in their best positions. After an even start Pools looked to be doing ok, playing some good football in spells and pegging the visitors back in their own half. Sadly it was going the way of a lot of our recent games, good approach play from the back but breaking down in the last third. Some tidy football was let down by a wasted ball, hit either too short or too long, or the attacker would lose out in a tackle on the edge of the box, which brings into question the work done on the practice ground.

We fluffed a couple of chances when the keeper dropped a Deverdics cross on his line, and Toto missed with a header over the bar. Toto had a great battle all afternoon with the biggest lad on the field Ikepeasu who was not the best footballer I have ever seen but he was mauling our defenders all day shoving an pushing them around. Late in the game we should have had a penalty after he had hold of Billy round the neck in the box but Mr Boyeson bottled it, although I think Billy spends too much time on the ground, which makes the officials ignore his pleas.

The visitors packed their defence and broke quickly and almost caught us out before Carson made a great save to thwart the attack. Just before the break the visitors were given a penalty after Toto followed a defender into our box, I have no argument with the decision as a tackle was made and it was a touch heavy. I would argue with the rushed foul that led to the goal but we have to learn to be alert to the quick ball. Berry, who scored all the goals against Coventry last week really laced into the shot but Carson, going down to his right post, managed to block the ball and it was cleared. Carson was injured in the dive but carried on, possibly a spell to take the sting out of the game but Pools just don’t do that do they?

Early in the second half the other Pools team decided to sit back and after one save, one block and three shots, we were a goal down. Pools were visibly shaken by that goal and we looked to be all over the place once again. A second goal followed soon after and Pools managed a shot over the bar. The third one came from a corner and the natives became restless as the chants against Hignett echoed around the ground, and with twenty-five minutes still on the clock half the crowd had left the stadium. For the first time in my memory I saw the Ditchburn Poolie, the staunchest of supporters, leaving the ground a full ten minutes early. He did don a disguise but sadly for him he missed the last goal that made it a five nil rout.

I could not really pick a man of the match in this game and I never heard any announcement but the truth is none of them deserved the accolade. Let's hope that the squad will not be so benevolent on Boxing Day, by which time Mr Hignett may no longer be in charge.
Any Other Business


Last month in this column we suggested that a second winding-up petition in a year didn't look good, and now Pools have acquired a third, although the chairman suggests that this one isn't one, really. When you add that to the departure within a few months of the chief executive and assistant manager, both without replacement, and the very obvious touting of Thomas and Laurent as transfer candidates, it was no surprise that fans would become apprehensive that all is not well off the field at Pools.

That unrest led to the chairman making a statement which painted a rosy scene, suggesting that the club were going to buy the ground from the council (something that IOR couldn't do in 18 years of trying) and redevelop the surrounding area (which IOR also failed to do). To that end the owners have taken out a loan.

It doesn't appear that the current owners have anything like the resources that IOR did, so why would the council be any more keen to deal with them than they were with Ken Hodcroft? ...Well, ok, Ken could give a masterclass in rubbing people up the wrong way, and the council probably needs the money a bit more now. But does the Mill House area, or in fact the town, need more shops, houses or hotels, and equally importantly, would that be an appropriate location for any of them? 

If the situation was a bit of a worry last month, it seems a bit more of one now. Planning for the future is something that Pools, like all businesses, have to do, but in the current situation Emperor Nero comes to mind.

This is what happens when you ask Scotsmen to print reports on New Year's Eve ...or are Norwich just x-rated?

(spotted by Wallace and Gromit in the Sunday Post)

Welcome to Hartlepool, Sean Kavanagh and Devante Rodney. 

As could have been expected, Sean's just a loan signing until the end of the season, but at least he's a sort of replacement for Toto, but we'd hope that he's earmarked for full-back, with another centre half coming in soon. And Devante is a striker, and a permanent signing.

Sorry to lose you, Trevor Carson.

Following all the transfer rumours concerning Trevor's absence at the start of the January transfer window, it turns out that not only was he really injured, but it'll keep him out for the rest of the season. It's not only Trevor that could do without that.