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Showing posts from February, 2017
It's Not All That Bad!



GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY looks on the bright side





To look at Social Media you’d think the world had come to an end because we didn’t sign anyone in the transfer window. I’ve always considered that the two transfer windows are no more than FIFA-inspired nonsense – and in some ways we’re better out of them. (So far as the latest transfer window is concerned the only advantage in it is that it will replace Donald Trump as the main source of interest on Radio 5). 

Of interest to Poolies was the transfer to Shrewsbury of Toto Nsiala and that came at the start of the window. However, it was those who didn’t go that should cheer us up. When Trevor Carson was left out at the end of the year everyone assumed he was on his way; and then there was the future of Nathan Thomas. He was another one destined to go but his serious injury at Barnet on 29th October put paid to any chance of him leaving. It now seems that he’s working his way to full fitness and that should help Pools achieve a reasonable position at the end of the season.

After the Stevenage game, there were those who were looking to the play-offs; one week later, after a 3-1 defeat at Newport County it was relegation staring is the face. Dave Jones isn’t going to work miracles with a squad that has weaknesses. I see his aim to keep us in the Football League and then build up a squad of his own choosing and getting rid of the dead wood.
"Dave Jones isn’t going to work miracles with a squad that has weaknesses."

We are fortunate to have acquired the services of an experienced manager – the last time we chose a similar boss was Danny Wilson. Could lightning strike twice in the same place? Let’s hope so! Even then, there were complaints that he’d had no experience at League Two level.

Marvellous isn’t it? Pools’ interest in the FA Cup finished on 4th December when we were dumped out of the competition by Port Vale. The main focus of interest last week was the number of weakened teams put out by bog-standard Premier League teams – and, of course The Mags. What puzzles me, though, is that if the FA Cup is losing its interest why is the final played on Saturday evening to attract overseas viewers? Importantly, of course, the game finishes too late for many fans to get home by train. Of course, the real problem is a lack of leadership from the FA – something I touched on in last month's MB.

 Well, well, well. It looks as though a club from the bog standard Premier League has finally met its match and it’s the rugger home of Twickenham that’s done it. While Stamford Bridge is being redeveloped, Twickenham had been earmarked as a possible temporary home for Chelsea (up to three years); however the RFU have guaranteed that the club will not be allowed to play there. The local MP for Twickenham, Dr Tania Mathias, wrote to the RFU in the following terms: “Following the decision by Hammersmith and Fulham Council to approve plans for Chelsea’s new stadium, I am writing to you to re-state my position that I do not support Chelsea FC being based, temporarily or otherwise, at Twickenham. My opposition …is based on concerns regarding increased problems for local residents such as match-day traffic, an increase in litter, public urination and other anti-social behaviour.”

Oh dear, I always thought that Chelsea had the poshest supporters!!
Out with the Old and in with the New


BILLY'S CONTRACT




It is always the same isn't it. A manager is given the old heave-ho by his club and his replacement comes in and gets a result. Much the same happened when Sam Collins took over as caretaker manager following Craig Hignett's departure from the club. Not only did Collins' side get a win on the day, against Stevenage, but the style of football differed,  not forgetting a change of personnel, particularly on the bench. 

It's apity Craig Hignett did not tap into some of big Sam's ideas - he might still be here. From the half dozen or so games Collins has had over the years as a caretaker boss (I think his record is five wins a draw and one defeat but I stand to be corrected on that),  which is pretty impressive to say the least. Based on that alone he had to be one of the bookies' favourites for the role of permanent Hartlepool manager.

On this occasion I was pleased that the job went to Dave Jones (yet another bloody Scouser), purely and simply because of the precarious situation in which Pools once again find themselves, and much as when Ronnie Moore joined the club an external appointment needed to be made, a fresh pair of eyes so to speak, and with contacts throughout the game. Having said that I think it is only a matter of time before Collins gets his chance in management.

After the welcome two nil win against our bogey side Stevenage the media were all going crazy about the performance that the team put in and how it might now be no longer be necessary to dip into the transfer market after all due to the untapped talent within the club.

I was not comfortable with all this hype, particularly the match ratings which the Mail handed out after the Stevenage victory, which would have been seen as over-generous even to the Liverpool side that pulled back a three-nil deficit against Milan in the Champions League final known as The Miracle of Istanbul. Most of the Pools players were awarded an 8 but Rhys Oates, who was rightly acclaimed as Man of the Match, was given a 9. He was good but not that good. If he had not missed the penalty would he have been awarded a 10?

Brad Walker had a reasonable game but came off after an hour and he was given an 8 or a 9 as well. Unbelievable Jeff. It has to be said that 'Pools did play a lot better than in previous matches and for a change we beat a side that was worse than ourselves. Let's not forget that Stevenage hit the woodwork twice and missed two open goals so the win was not as comfortable as it looked.
"the pitch looked as if it had held the Welsh Heavy Horses Ploughing Championships the night before"

Dave Jones got to see the real Pools the following week down at Newport. Yes, perhaps the game should never have been played and the pitch looked as if it had held the Welsh Heavy Horses Ploughing Championships the night before but it is the same for both teams. Some argued that it was an advantage for the home side but I don't accept that as Newport had signed twelve players during the transfer window and many of them had not seen, let alone set foot on that pitch before the game with Pools.

Basically they were a bigger and more physical side and bossed and bullied Pools. You only have to look at Newport's second goal where they had three free unchallenged headers before the ball went into the back of the net. No Pools player got close or even attempted to get close. 'Men against boys' should have been The Mail's headline on the sports page on Saturday night.

Dave Jones's number one remit is to retain Pools league status and I am sure if he does this he will then be given a contract. Even at this early stage I am sure that Jones has already made his mind up about a few of the players in his squad and no doubt has pencilled a few names down on the end-of-season free transfer list. 

If I were in Dave Jones's shoes I would be absolutely brutal about which players I would let go; I no longer have time for sentiment. In fact it would be quicker and save time if I listed those players that I would keep: Carson, Bartlett, Donnelly, Amond and, if he is still here at the end of the season, Nathan Thomas.
I would cut the size of the squad down by a third and go for quality rather than quantity. I think only Chelsea have a bigger squad than Pools and they are in the Premiership for goodness sake. With these savings and the money we get in for Nathan Thomas I would bring in some tall, quick and experienced players and one or two nasty lads.

If possible I would try to bring in Sean Kavanagh on a permanent deal. He is one of the few actual footballers that we currently have at the club but I think he could find a club a division or two above Pools. Anyway let's see what happens next Saturday and bring on Yeovil Town, another one of our bogey teams whom we have only beaten twice in our last ten meetings. Still, records are there to be broken.
Funny Old Game


More Bumps in the Road


WAGGA MOON is happy despite the bumps




So our chairman changed his mind and went from saying Craig Hignett's job was safe to giving him both barrels after Christmas. This appears to have happened after he spent the previous week discussing the manager's job with various candidates. 

Of course it was the right decision and Hignett's record as manager was abysmal. In the Bobby Moncur, Colin Cooper and Mick Docherty bracket. The trouble is he has overloaded the squad with players who are not fit for purpose and given us one of the biggest squads in the league.
"If he is half as good as people tell me he is we are on to a winner"

The size of the task facing new manager Dave Jones was made abundantly clear when we were shafted 3-1 at the bottom club. It could and should have been more as the spineless bunch of ragamuffins capitulated without any sort of fight.

 I applaud Gary Coxall's decision to appoint Jones as it makes sense to appoint someone who understands the job and not some rookie with no experience, i.e. the cheap option as favoured by our previous regime under Mr Bodgecroft. There are plenty of rumours circulating about the club's finances or lack of them and the consensus appears to be we haven't got a pot to piss in. Allegedly three winding up orders from the tax man and the chairman borrowing money from the business equivalent of Wonga.

The BIG January announcement he talked of before Christmas failed to materialise and he himself is talking of "more bumps in the road" before the end of the season. Certainly there doesn't appear to be any money around to buy any players at the time of writing just before the transfer window is about to slam shut.

We are certainly not clear of the relegation pack as Newport and Notts County are starting to get their acts together. This despite what our acting captain Nicky Featherlite is saying this week: that we are 12 points off the play-offs and that is what we are aiming for. Clearly this little halfwit will never get a place on Mastermind but it is how he gets a place in Pools team that is the biggest mystery. He couldn't tackle a fish supper.

Getting back to something important our new manager is hopefully going to do big things for us. I have friends in Cardiff and have worked in the city and all I hear is good reports about Dave Jones. If he is half as good as people tell me he is we are on to a winner.
It's Not Rocket Science - Oh, It Is!


JANE AUSTEN'S ALLEGRO




Albert Einstein is recorded as having once said something about 'Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results',  which in itself is a fitting epitaph for Craig Hignett. 

I admit I was delighted when Gary Coxall appointed Craig Hignett as manager but I have to say I was equally delighted when he left the club, if for nothing more than to keep the damage down to a minimum and giving someone else the opportunity to repair or carry out a 'bodge' job on the damage already done.

By his own admission Hignett agonised over formations and team selections and on numerous occasions he would put square pegs into round holes to accommodate the player rather than have the team balance right. Some of his statements were also worrying such as when he said that 'We are not looking over our shoulders at the teams below us'. I required smelling salts when I first heard that as I recalled the previous season the Tranmere manager saying near enough the same thing when Rovers had a little run going for them and they climbed a couple or three places away from the relegation spots, only for them, a few weeks later, to be overtaken by Ronnie Moore's Rasta army and Tranmere stayed rooted to the bottom of the league for the rest of the season.

Pools are now in a similar situation to that Tranmere were in at the time of their manager's boast and like then the majority of teams below us are starting to pick up a little bit of form and most of them have a game in hand over Pools (Accrington have two), so complacency is the last thing that we need at the club.
"what makes this more worrying is that some of the teams that beat us were very poor indeed"

The other thing that raised my hackles was when Craig Hignett and indeed some of his players said on several occasions in the media that 'There is little to separate the sides in this division and anyone can beat anyone.' However, Pools did not seem to be in the business of beating anyone on a regular basis. At the time of writing our defeats are almost double our wins and what makes this more worrying is that some of the teams that beat us were very poor indeed.

At the risk of repeating myself (see back issues of The Bizz) it was Hignett's style of football which boiled my pee. Always, always sideways and backwards and on many occasion a promising attack on the edge of the opposition's penalty box would end up with the ball being passed back to Trevor Carson. Allied to this was the 'all eleven men' back tactic when defending a corner, without one Pools player loitering with intent on or about the halfway line in an attempt to pick up a clearance or at the very least occupy the attention of a couple of defenders and prevent them from pushing forward.

We had this week in and week out. It was like Groundhog Day. The same thing over and over again, played without pace or incisiveness but plenty of predictability so that even the poorest of our opponents had us sussed by half time.

In his last match as manager I watched as once again an attack fizzled out and the ball came back to the keeper. I turned round on the terrace and in desperation, and to my mates' astoundment and that of those behind me, I started pounding my hand on the crush barrier behind me and shouting 'No, no, no', which was more than Craig Hignett was doing.

It may well be that Hignett wanted to play a certain style of football but did not have the players to carry this off. That being the case he should have tried something different rather than proving Einstein's statement over and over again.

It is not as if it is exactly MC squared that we are talking about. Karanka at Borer is in the same mould - they stick to their principles, or have no other plan, or are just too plain stubborn to admit that they have got it wrong. Sadly, Craig Hignett, along with the likes of Colin Cooper and Paul Murray, are unlikely to get a first team management role again at league level and at best it will be a backroom/youth team coach job behind the scenes, due to their failure at the Elephant's graveyard that is better known as Hartlepool United.

Unlike New York, New York, If you fail here you can fail anywhere. Mr Einstein please note.

Isn’t it ironic?



RUNNING MONKEY on Danny Wilson and Ritchie Humphreys




An interesting snippet with a link to Hartlepool F.C. popped up on the footynet during January. Sir Ritchie of Humphreys who is still plying his trade at Chesterfield F.C. was asked to stand in for the man the club had just sacked as manager, none other than Danny Wilson, ex-Pools boss and former manager of Sir Ritchie.

As history shows, Wilson was a successful manager at Pools, taking up the reins of the club in 2006 after the Martin Scott/Steve Agnew debacle. Remember the SCOOTY OUT sign in the Millhouse stand that got a long-time Pools fan ushered out of the ground despite that being the feeling of most of the fans at the time. I believe there were some fisticuffs over this between management and players but that is a story for another day.

Wilson did well picking up a decent side and taking the team on an unbeaten run of twenty-nine games. Starting with a 2-1 win at Accrington Stanley, with a goal apiece for Effion Williams and Sir Ritchie. This was probably THE best side we have seen at the Vic in recent years. Names like Porter, Humphreys, Williams, Monkhouse, Brown, Liddle, Daly, Strachan, Clark, Robson, Sweeney, Duffy, Barker, Nelson, all in the stats pitching in with goals on that great run. How lucky were we back in the day? It seems so long ago now.

Danny Wilson never came across as a likeable bloke, but I suppose if you are successful you do not need to be popular with the fans. When you compare Wilson with the likes of Neale Cooper who was, and still is a fans favourite, it makes you wonder what it takes to be a success.

Turner was successful, or as I would say LUCKY to be in at the start of the IOR phase, which was probably the only time that a manager was given adequate funds to form a decent side. Odd also how our most prolific backers became so unpopular with some sections of the crowd at the end of their tenure.

Wilson’s record looked as if he was heading for bigger and better appointments and at the end of his run with Pools he was after a quick getaway, and was soon off to Swindle Town. Looking back on his record between his first job at Barnsley and his latest job at Chesterfield he only ever stayed a couple of seasons at any club.
"Danny Wilson never came across as a likeable bloke, but I suppose if you are successful you do not need to be popular with the fans"

The reason for this piece is to highlight the irony of how someone is always standing in the wings waiting for you to fall. In Wilson’s case I think it is so ironic that Sir Ritchie was waiting in the wings to step into Wilson’s shoes, albeit for only one game as they now have Tony Mowbray in charge of the team. Sir Ritchie’s managerial record reads: played one, won one, but it was the first win in six games for Chesterfield, which I consider a poke in the eye for Wilson.

I often think there must have been some history between these two from back in the day. Remember when Wilson came to the club and Ritchie was on a record run of games, becoming the first player to make two hundred consecutive league games for the club. Wilson stopped this great run at two hundred and thirty four games even though the team was doing well and Ritchie was playing his part.

Wilson, obviously in a fit of pique, sent Sir Ritchie out on loan to Port Vale. Sir Ritchie returned after seven games and went on to set Pools' all-time record of five hundred and forty four games. In twelve seasons at the club he picked up quite a few awards including two Player of the Year awards from fans, one Player of the Year award from his teammates, as well as the award for Player of the Century (2000s). He was also recognised at regional and national levels, being named on the PFA TEAM twice, and recognised as the North East League Player of the Year in 2006. He helped the club win promotion out of the fourth tier in 2002–03, and again in 2006–07.

SO Danny, he was a lot more than a bit player!
Money, Money, Money


BILLY'S CONTRACT remembers previous financial problems


Many Pools fans are concerned about what is happening behind the scenes at Hartlepool United in relationship to winding up orders and the rest. I always believed that a winding up order was near enough the death knell for a business or that the business in question was in some form of dire financial difficulties.

Gary Coxall has reassured supporters not to worry about these winding up orders which are no more than final notices to pay your bills. This begs the question as to why Hartlepool United find themselves in this position in the first place. Are they not in fact, paying their bills?

This, God bless them for all their sins, would never have happened on IOR's watch. It could have been an administrative error or an oversight that a bill or several invoices have not been paid to HMRC (Her Majesty's Recking Crew) but more alarming is that on at least one occasion the players and presumably the staff had not been paid, which suggests that the problems lie deeper than they actually seem.

Has the club run out of money and if so why and how has this cash flow problem occurred? Could it be that JPNG does not have the financial resources that IOR had. That nice Mr. Hovercraft estimated that IOR put near enough one million pounds per annum into the club just to keep it afloat.

I know it is only a rumour but they gather pace when no information is forthcoming, that the club have secured a loan of sorts to pay off their debts but not at the most favourable rates. I just pray that it is not Wonga that is providing the finances otherwise we would need to sell half a dozen Nathan Thomases just to cover the interest charges alone.

Other rumours abound about our new owners and some of the directors' track records regarding managing financial affairs. And we hear that the club is looking at buying the ground and redeveloping the surrounding area behind the Rink End. I'll level with you, I can't get my head around all of this it as it is all very contradictory but here's hoping that some of it will become clearer when Mr Coxall has spoken at the forthcoming fans' forum the week after this edition of the Bizz appears.
" he was curing the ill, restoring the sight of the blind and raising the dead just by looking at them"

Many supporters are, for obvious reasons, naturally concerned about the owners' motives for trying to buy the ground. It has been said that The Supporters Trust would be entitled to have the first option of purchasing the ground should the Council decide to sell it, but the question that begs is "Where would the Supporters Trust obtain the necessary funds/security to make the purchase?"

I have no axe to grind with Gary Coxall - he comes over well and says the things that people in the main want to hear but so did Garry Gibson. I recall one night at a packed working men's club in the town with over 200 Hartlepool fans crammed inside waiting/baying for Mr Gibson to address them and let them know about the latest financial crisis.

Prior to his arrival the atmosphere was so toxic that breathing apparatus was being issued to the punters. What people were going to say to him or do to him is not printable in these columns. It got to the point that many doubted that the chairman would turn up on the evening and that he would bottle it. I was genuinely expecting the headline in the following night's Mail to read: "Chairman Gibson lynched - 50 arrests".

Garry Gibson to his credit did turn up and boldly entered the bear pit (...or should that be beer pit?) at the appointed time. It was a bit like a Western when the baddie comes through the saloon doors. Everything and everybody went quiet - even the piano, or in this instance the space invaders machine.

Gibson took the stage and told the audience exactly what they wanted to hear and after his speech fought his way through the hordes with the words of the chanting Poolies ringing in his ears that there was only one Garry Gibson, One Garry Gibson. Poolies were fighting each other just to shake his hand or give him a backslap or get a blessing from the Great Man. As he made his way to the exit he was curing the ill, restoring the sight of the blind and raising the dead just by looking at them. He would have died of instantaneous sclerosis of the liver had he took up the offer of every free pint the fans were offering to buy to buy him on the night.

I confess I have never seen anything like it. It was like the second coming, and I don't mean Neale Cooper. It was like attending one of these evangelical meetings in the southern states of America. I was nearly convinced with everything Gibson said on the night but I took it with a massive dose of salt. Just as well as the club went 'pop' shortly afterwards.

I am praying that history will not repeat itself. I just cannot bring myself to visit Bamburgh Castle since, and I sincerely hope that Gary Coxall proves the doubters wrong and brings his promises to fruition. Only time will tell.

Quick, get me a Tardis!

What is is about Newport and Pools?



Back to the 70's with CORNISH POOLIE



What is is about Newport and Pools? Sunk 1-3 at HMS Rodney Parade without a trace in January 2017. Go back to season 1970/71, and "The Exiles" or "The Tangerines" as they were then known were at it again. Circa 2017, and County go three months without a win and along come Pools, predictably. Go back 47 years and a poor Newport County team lose their first 10 league games and then visit... guess where? Yes, The Vic, where they grab their first point in a 2-2 draw on 3 October 1970.
"Go back 47 years and a poor Newport County team lose their first 10 league games and then visit... guess where?"


I was at that game and my most memorable recollection was when a large plank fell from the old Clarence Road wooden stand and almost hit the linesman. I can still see those Newport tangerine shirts and how Pools' generosity was once more on show. The crowd that day was 3,238 and play went on after the said plank was removed. If it had happened today? A risk assessment, match abandoned due to crowd safety and Clarence Road evacuated for three days until accredited plank removers were found. As I said, what is it about Newport County?

Just to rub salt in the wounds Pools lost 1-5 at Newport on 21 October 1972. Having stayed overnight in Newport for the Cardiff final against The Wendies, I've had enough of the place and their team. Don't wish them out of the league again but please stop receiving gifts from Pools.

And before I forget. Newport finished above Pools in that long ago 1970/71 season. 
That Was Utter Sh***!



Match report by ALREET at Rodney Parade




Newport 3 Pools 1 (League 2) Saturday January 28th 2017



Well, if anyone would like a precis and to be spared the gory details, that was utter shite. Having travelled in vain to Newport last season and missing a previous match due to it being switched to a Friday evening because of the rugby, I finally managed to see Pools play at Rodney Parade but would it prove fruitful?

Arriving at the visitor’s entrance, it was heartening to see a trailer selling tickets for the game and that the previously closed metal gate was now open. Approaching, I saw a movement under the gate and caught sight of a very large darkish grey rodent scuttling below it. From my brief glimpse, I initially thought it was probably a squirrel but it’s long, scaly tail identified it as a rat. Allowing for it being a pregnant female, it was still a huge bugger and the first one I have seen in years. The rattus equivalent of “Who ate all the pies”.



I had a chat with the steward at the gate and didn’t see a single Poolie correctly negotiate the ticket reader allowing access to the ground, comforting in no small way as I had spectacularly failed to do so myself. Before I left for my seat, a second, reddish brown rat appeared in front of us before disappearing under the fence. I know creatures can have a variety of colour shades but these two were markedly different from the standard brown rat. I realized the attraction to this particular area as the entrance is situated adjacent to the food outlet.


Chatting to the locals about small clubs and their finances, I was told that Westley had complained about the state of the home pitch. Apparently, it costs County £40,000 p.a. with another £40,000 from a grant and a similar amount due from the rugby clubs although the latter were not vigorously pursued. This reinforced my previously held impression that County very much play second fiddle to rugby.

Taking my seat and staring directly into very bright sunshine, the announcer prior to kick off was giving out various names including one for “six year old ‘x’ who is here today with his twin brother who is six as well”. It brought the only smile of the afternoon.

Newport started proceedings but surprised me by not sporting their traditional amber colours, wearing an all white kit with black trim instead. The pitch looked very boggy and the home team set their stall out early, playing long balls from the back to their eager front men. Needless to say, they won the vast majority of the challenges. They then played a low pass back to their keeper which went out for a Pools corner but it was hit too long and came to nothing.

Bartlett cleared a long pass out for a throw-in before a shot from distance came back for him to catch. Pools put a good move together down their left only for the home keeper to make a save low down. Another attack from the home side was put behind for a corner which was cleared off the line by Hawkins. Harrison missed the ball about twenty yards out but their shot went wide of our right post.

Donnelly was seeing a lot of the ball but it mainly involved him making long, high clearances up the pitch to clear danger down our right. County then had a shot deflected for a corner on our right which was taken by their striker Reid. His long right-footed ball went to our far post where Bird, soaring high as one would expect, outjumped several defenders inside our six yard box before planting a firm header past Bartlett who was stood on his line.
"on reflection, I thought the missing fans were the wise ones"

The County No.2 was playing up against our back four while their keeper was casually roaming around the edge of their box as we were offering nothing. Bird then challenged Donnelly for the ball and elbowed him in the face, directly in front of the ref. but escaped a card. A three man County move ended with a shot deflected out for a corner. Interestingly, when the kick was taken, their attackers all moved away from our goal to be replaced by their large, domineering defenders.

We finally strung a few passes together but the final lobbed shot went harmlessly over their bar. Normal service was resumed but they took too many touches and the ball squirted behind for a goal kick to us. Oates (?) was pulled down and Donnelly took the kick but put too much on it and it sailed harmlessly behind their goal line.

A few spots of rain started to fall accompanied by Pools shouts of “Call it off!”. We got the ball out wide to our left but in keeping with the game, the final shot was well over. The minute of added time passed without incident.

The second half commenced in the same vein with little passing and plenty of aimless high balls. Oates chased a through ball but his effort was blocked. County got in a shot after a turn on the edge of our area but the ball went over. We tried a long ball but their keeper came out of his area to head it away.

Woods, who had hardly got forward all game, was replaced by Smith. They won a corner on our left and once again, it was met by a white shirt around our penalty spot. The ball went on to our six yard line and then on to yet another white shirt who couldn’t miss from just under our bar with hardly a challenge in sight. They continued to win their headers with ease before having a shot saved by Bartlett.

We managed to get the ball up to Alessandra only for him to be challenged by their keeper although he was also flagged offside. At this point, Amond came on for Oates. County forced yet another corner which, for once, we cleared but the ball only dropped to their defender standing outside our box and he cracked a superb left-footed volley on the up which flew past Bartlett and nestled in our net for their third.

The home crowd who probably hadn’t enjoyed such a comfortable lead for ever and a day were now singing, “We want four”. Attempting to satisfy their fans, County chased a long punt down our centre but their snatched right footer from twenty yards cleared the bar. We then had a player blatantly pushed off the ball in the area but the referee allowed play to continue and they won a corner which we fortunately cleared.

Hawkins was replaced by Laurent and the announcer added that there were 103 Poolies among the 2,271 crowd. I thought this a little disappointing considering our impressive win the previous week and the dawn of a new era (???) but on reflection, I thought the missing fans were the wise ones. (I wasn’t aware of any postponement talk until later). Four minutes of added time were announced and the home side survived another penalty appeal for a blatant push.

For once, Pools worked the ball up our left flank and Kavanagh turned inside his man and delivered a teasing right-footed cross behind the home defence to find the lurking Amond who just about managed to get his studs on it to turn it into the net. Well into added time and at last, a nice piece of play by Pools but obviously far too late to affect the outcome.

Bartlett didn’t impress today, being caught on his line for crosses and headers and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see Fryer given the nod next Saturday. Both Donnelly and Kavanagh had decent games in the circumstances but although Harrison started quite well, his game fell away while Bates was outmuscled and didn’t play with any authority. In midfield, Woods was very average and was replaced early in the second half as was Hawkins later who, at least, was making an effort but he always seems to get hooked.

Alessandra, who has flitted in and out of games in the past, now doesn’t even flit and has become anonymous. How he or Walker, who was weak and bypassed on a regular basis, stayed on for the full ninety minutes, I haven’t a clue. Featherstone contributed little although the pitch did not suit his style but the word “pedestrian” does not even begin to describe our midfield.

I actually felt sorry for Oates who ran all afternoon without receiving any support whatsoever. That was a dire performance all round. I wouldn’t know whether we were playing hoof ball to instructions due to the state of the pitch but even so, against a team who (politely) specialized in launching the ball and challenging for it, there was only ever going to be one winner. We were weak virtually all over the pitch and were no match for Newport’s direct approach with plenty of elbows.

Pools hardly ventured into the final third of the pitch, treating it instead as if it were Private Property. Man of the Match went to their stocky No.18, Pipe. Reminding me of the actor, Brian Glover, who played the Sports Master in “Kes”, his stocky frame showed us how to provide some strength and effort in midfield although he seemed to be playing wide right of their defence later in the game.

I’m sure that Jones learned a lot today but how much of it was positive, I dread to think. Speaking to a Newport fan on the train back to Paddington, I asked him why they played in white today and he said he had no idea. He mentioned, however, that he thought Westley liked to change things around, adding that they have a decent striker on loan from Swansea but he was only sat on the bench today. He added that Westley never plays the same team twice and next week’s match would see a different set of players at Cheltenham due to their superior pitch.

Apologies for the lack of football content in this report but any football was a scant commodity, I’m afraid.


Sam Delivers the Goods



Report by RUNNING MONKEY at the ex-Vic




Pools 2 Stevenage 0 (League 2) Saturday January 21st 2017



Sam Collins was taking charge of the team again today as we took on Stevenage, somewhat of a bogey team to Pools, who have never beaten them since they came into the league, and prior to today had only managed three draws from their seven games. 

Brad Walker was given a start and Rhys Oates had the job of running the line up front with Alessandra, due to Paynter being injured. It was Oates who had the first real chance after a link up between Walker and Woods who laid a ball up for Oates running in but the ball was cleared.

Stevenage's first chance was a blast over Morrison’s from just inside our half but they looked a decent side passing the ball and moving up in numbers but the strong Pools midfield held their ground and gave little away to the visitors. The lads had been using a different approach in their warm up and were seen passing the ball and laying off chances prior to the game, which was a different approach than normal. I watched Bates carefully take down a cross and instead of pushing it back to the keeper or turning on it and losing possession he carried the ball back to them and even though he was blocked eventually it was better than lumping the ball up all the time.

Pools settled early and started to play some excellent football. Oates, who was leading the attack, had a low shot stopped by the keeper. Donnelly also had a long drive that had the goalkeeper scrambling across his goal to smother the ball. Donnelly again was sending some great balls in from the wing, which was unsettling the visitors.

A long ball out found the Stevenage winger tearing down the Millhouse side, which was wide open but his cross was dismal and the Stevenage striker was in a fit of rage as he screamed at the winger as his delivery was not good enough.
"It was pleasing to see this type of performance that lasts the whole game rather than the fleeting glimpses we have seen of late"

Hawkins, another vastly improved player at Pools, has some good control and can take on defenders. He won the ball down the right and his cross into the box was handled by a Stevenage player and Mackem ref Mr Webb blew for a penalty.

Now this act of kindness brought a wry smile to the face of the Ditchburn Poolie who is full of statistics about such things and commented that he owes us this as three times he has taken charge of matches at the Vic and we have lost all three.

In the absence of Mr Paynter, Oates took the penalty and it went straight back to the keeper who cleared the ball. This action was upsetting to a few people around me who claimed we never score from penalties. The fact is it looks as if Paynter is the only squad member who can take and score a penalty.

Late in the half Featherstone, who I thought had his best game for Pools today, found himself free in the box and it took two shots to beat the keeper to put Pools one up, which was a great response by the team after just missing a penalty.

As half time was approaching Pools went two up with a shot that beat the diving keeper from Walker after a great ball in from Oates. Pools thoroughly deserved this lead and for once looked very comfortable on the ball, with players backing each other up and making a lot of space as the visitors chased their shadows. It really was that good.

Once again we all thought the half time cuppa was again going to play its part as Pools for some reason went on their back foot for a good spell early in the half. Stevenage were making the chances now but apart from hitting the bar and skimming a few balls across the box their luck was out and Pools gradually got themselves back into the game, playing the way they had in the first half.

It was pleasing to see this type of performance that lasts the whole game rather than the fleeting glimpses we have seen of late. The visitors, looking like a beaten side, had resorted to more physical challenges and Hawkins and Thomas, when he came on, got some stick. Once again Mr Webb upset the Ditchburn when he booked Oates for an incident he did not even see, reacting to calls from the visitors that he had blocked the kick of the goal keeper when he was never that close to him. The keeper just kicked the ball out and Oates just stuck out a foot and blocked it.

There is no underestimating the performance of Pools today. Just maybe some of them were just trying to impress the new boss before he starts in the job on Monday. That could well be because, if you believe some of the rumours, that there is going to be a clear out. If that is the case then Mr Jones had better get a move on.

As a team Pools played some great football. Individually Harrison and Featherstone were the pick of the bunch, along with Donnelly and Woods. It does sound as if I am going to name the whole team but for my money Rhys Oates was the star man today.

The other matter on the talk vine was the interest being shown in Featherstone who is being pursued by Doncaster and Bradford, It would be such a shame as the lad has really come into his own in recent weeks.
Hignett's Days Numbered?


Report by RUNNING MONKEY at the ex-Vic



Pools 0 Grimsby 1 (League 2) Saturday January 7th 2017




Almost the nearest thing we have to a Derby game as the visitors reportedly sold a thousand tickets. It looked impressive in the Rink end, something we rarely see these days since that other big Northeast club paid a visit. A shame they are now three divisions below us despite making it back to their hometown after a few years exiled. 

One report says they have hung on to their “TIN SHED” which apparently is now their lucky charm. One ex-Poolie now making his mark for the Quakers says the sound and atmosphere coming from their fans is better than that of Old Trafford or even the Kop. No, I won't name and shame him - suffice to say he has a twin brother.

Today we had Grimsby Town who have also gone through a transition in recent years and were sitting six points above us at the start of play. They won the toss and used the advantage of the slope in the first half and it was a brisk start to the game, putting a little early pressure on us.

Pools settled and started to hold Grimsby and the new lad Kavanagh looked a handy player, going for the line and getting most of his crosses in, but once again we lack the people to be more alert in the follow up. To be fair Paynter was inches short of sliding a Kavanagh cross in, but as the old saying goes "You get nowt for nearly". Bartlett, deputising for Carson, made a very good save from a low shot that was on target.

At the other end Woods had a shot blocked and a corner was given. When the corner came over, a striker defending the Grimsby goal literally slapped the ball down to control it before it was cleared. Mr Drysdale and his assistant on the Mill House side were both looking the other way, much to the annoyance of more than half the Pools fans in the Vic who spotted it. But we should not criticise the officials as they are above the laws of the game.

Grimsby were up for the fight and it was looking like a decent game as both teams went for it. Pools were playing some decent football but once again it petered out around the visitors' box. Whether it was the extra touch we always seem to need or good defensive work I can never work out, but I think it is the latter. We are shot-shy in attack and as we have seen recently too many shots over the top might be a factor in the way we approach the game, looking as if we are trying to walk the ball in. Having said that you have to give credit to the visitors, in your face every time a ball was played up and we played right into their hands. When getting nowhere we were back to launching again and if Grimsby missed the first ball they invariably picked up the second ball and broke in numbers. Mr Drysdale once again ignored a Pools player getting wiped out but instantly blew for a foul by Featherstone as one of their players overran the ball and fell down. Well done the wall in this instance.
"Hignett... is the one that must get us motivated and start to show some positives, otherwise his days may be numbered"

As the visitors prepared to take a corner there was an incident in the goalmouth where Donnelly was floored but no action taken, as it was a red shirt which contained the offender. The best chance of the half fell for Pools after a great ball down the middle from Woods, who found Amond running into the box one-on-one with the keeper, who made a good save. The goal seemed to come from nothing in a similar situation when a Grimsby attacker latched onto a ball over the top, found himself one-on-one with Bartlett and slotted the ball past him to take the lead.

You might be able to forgive the officials of one misdemeanour in the hurly-burly of a game but for the same two officials to miss a second handball in their box by the same players smells a bit fishy to me and it was not from Grimsby.

Paynter had a shot over the bar just on the break but once again our finishing let us down. It seems like we had a decent half despite official blunders and poor finishing so we expected the second Pools team to come out for the second half but surprisingly despite kicking up the slope they did ok. We were not launching the ball and I do not remember Bartlett kicking the ball from hand as we rolled the ball out and started to build from the back thus keeping possession.

A combination of Hawkins and Featherstone came close to an equaliser but all we got was a corner that was cleared easily. Pools were now playing some football, not hoofing, and it looked as if the visitors were getting pegged back by their efforts. A succession of changes again seemed to upset our form and Paynter was taken off after jarring a knee.

Oates, who I think should be a starter up front rather than on the wing, and Alessandra did little to change our luck and the game was gone, sadly to a sloppy first-half goal that many of the pundits in the ground considered was offside, and with the fact that we had two penalty claims turned down, it was a bad day at the office.

One comment on the crowd of 4388 was that if the visitors brought a thousand where were the Pools fans today? One fan in the Town End was seen stood on the guard rail early in the match trying to whip the multitude of moaners into a frenzy and was later seen berating the fans for not getting behind their team. I can agree with his sentiment but surely they have to give us something to sing about.

At the end of the game there were lots of calls of "Hignett out", and ultimately he is the one that must get us motivated and start to show some positives, otherwise his days may be numbered. Not that I totally agree with those sentiments, as there seems to be more to this saga.

One rumour today was that we are about to sign Gary Liddle, who could be a good signing, but from what I hear lately he is a big favourite of Keith Curle at Carlisle so that may be the choice.
Any Other Business



MERVYN THE MONKEY mops up


POOLS' FINANCES

The situation with regard to Pools' finances doesn't seem to have changed much since last month. They're still having to go to the High Court on February 6th for another winding-up petition.

Yet again another January transfer window has gone by with Pools worse off at the end of it, and this time the division's team sleepwalking to relegation looks as if it could be us.

Following the turnaround in fortune caused by Sam Collins' latest managerial outing, normal service was resumed at Newport once Pools had another permanent manager in place. Consistently inconsistent, that's Pools.

The strugglers have all made signings, but yet again another January transfer window has gone by with Pools worse off at the end of it. And this time the team sleepwalking to relegation looks as if it could be us, if the club lasts that long. 


FAKE NEWS

Of late this has become a hot topic, with the internet becoming flooded with lies disguised as news. It's becoming such a problem that election results are being questioned due to fake news having swayed the electorate. The likes of Facebook and newspapers are having to vet stuff more thoroughly to ensure this stuff doesn't get out, or at least is quickly dealt with.

We at Monkey Business are proud of our history of creating fake news, spoof stories, ads and whatever, and wish to reassure readers that we will continue to do so. However these have always been and will always continue to be obvious fakes.


SOME FOOTY JOKES from Tony B
Player, one-on-one with the goalie- "In all the excitement I can’t rightly remember whether I have missed five or six chances today so you have to ask yourself, “Do you feel lucky, punk?”
…………………………………………………………
Manager- “Yes we’re rebuilding the team from scratch. We’ve installed goal-line technology across the half-way line and will move it up as and when”.
…………………………………………………………
Manager to Coach- “ That psychology book was very useful. Apparently when our striker finally manages to bundle the ball over the line we are not supposed to say “Which part of your useless body did the ball bounce off?”
…………………………………………………………
Son to Dad- “If they are not even worth ten bob in old money why do you pay £30 a week to go and see them?"
…………………………………………………………
Tactics- “If they all come up for a corner, you stay on the half-way line and we’ll boot the ball up to you. Run up to their penalty area, the keeper will run out, just lob the ball over him” 
“But Boss, how does the ball get from the halfway line to their penalty area?”
………………………………………………………….
Striker- “You’ve scored, why so glum?” 
“It’s been so long, we’ve forgotten the moves for our celebration”.