Showing posts from August, 2017

Remainers and Remoaners

BILLY'S CONTRACT gets contentious

It will be interesting to see how many of the 'Remainers' from last season's squad will feature on a regular basis in Craig Harrison's starting eleven, let alone make the bench. I am convinced that the list of players given free transfers at the end of last season would have been much greater had some of those who were retained not had another year of their contracts to run, otherwise they would have been shown the door marked Way Out ...and don't bother coming back. 

 Based on the three friendlies I have seen (v Billingham, Dunston and Sunderland) I would say one of the first names on the team sheet would be Padraig (pronounced Paw rick, Irish for Patrick) Amond. Whilst there are rumours that he might be moving on to better things, unlike Nathan Thomas, he hasn't let it show, You cannot fail to be impressed at his work rate and commitment to the club. If he does leave, I say good luck to the lad. He is 29 and I would not blame him for wanting to play in the Sootball League.

Scotty Harrison is another player who has impressed pre-season, showing grit and determination -- surely first choice centre-half. Rhys Oates when he was played up front at Billingham looked more effective than when he is played out wide but will face stiff competition from the other forwards Craig Harrison has signed unless Amond moves on. Carl Magnay is the player who has impressed me the most so far pre-season and should command a starting place, especially as in addition to left back he can, if required, fill in at centre half and midfield. Unless it is the snug fitting new away shirt, Magnay, judging from his physique, and not unlike Scotty Harrison, seems to have spent much of the close season in the gym.
"I don't think we will see him standing still wearing a suit, folding his arms or using a brolly to keep the rain off his locks. "

I would hope to see Kenton Richardson in first team action. The lad is a natural footballer but will face stiff competition to get in the side in the form of Magnay unless he is allowed to play wide, which I understand is his favoured position. Although he had his critics last season and I name myself among them, I think that Nicky Deverdics could prove to be the surprise package this season. In the games against Billy and Dunston he was very much involved. Like Magnay and Amond he has previous in the National League so he should know what to expect and be able pass on his experience to other members of the squad.

As for the remaining remainers they will have to up the ante greatly to make the first team as Pools, much like last season, have a big squad but, unlike last season Craig Harrison appears to have assembled a good squad of players. To quote Brian Honour, 'He has signed players who have got fire in their bellies', so competition for first team places will be the order of the day.. I don't think (and hope) that we will see Featherstone and Woods in the same midfield. Too similar and not great at getting forward or creating much. Of the two Woods contributes more than his midfield partners but often goes missing for parts of the game.

From what I have seen so far, Craig Harrison's style of play is quick, incisive and flowing football, the ball being passed with pace with plenty of movement on and off the ball and not giving the opponents time dwell and to get back into defensive positions. So where does this leave Nicky Featherstone, who can only pass sideways and in reverse.

We were saying after watching Jack Munns' 40-yard chipped goal at Dunston that if Featherstone had tried a similar effort it would have been an own goal as he would have been facing the wrong way when he took the shot. The only role I can see Featherstone playing is coming off the bench late on, when things are tight or to hang on to a point, and taking the momentum and life out of a game well as the fans. They say David Flitcroft at Bury was keen on Featherstone last season as were Donny. Flitcroft is now at Swindon so might still be interested in signing him. If we get a fee for him all well and good. If not, it is one less player on the payroll, so a win-win situation all round.

I feel that some of our other 'remainers' as a matter of good housekeeping will be shipped out on loan as I am not sure if any of them are capable of commanding a first team place let alone a transfer fee.Therefore I was anxious when I saw the side that was fielded against Sunderland. I was concerned that this was going to be Harrison's first choice starting eleven for the forthcoming campaign, particularly the midfield selection. Newton was obviously selected to get him match fit but on the night that showed, as he looked like a lost soul. Woods and Hawkins carried on much in the manner as they did last season and did not offer much with little creativity and the ball being given away cheaply.

I have said it many times that one of the main reasons, and there are many, why Pools lost their league status last season lies firmly at the door of our midfield, whose performances bordered on the naive at best and shambolic at worst. This is the area that Harrison needs to clearly address. It was notable that when Jack Munns came on as a substitute for the injured Oates, notwithstanding his assist in Donaldson's goal, he seemed to liven things up in that department and was here, there and everywhere. Surely he must be a certain starter for a place in the centre of the park.

The thing that has impressed me about Craig Harrison's signings is that, with the obvious exception of Jack Munns, they are all six foot plus. How many times in the past have Pools struggled against taller teams and come away with nothing. The other noticeable thing is that the teams he has fielded are far more vocal that any I can recall. Harrison himself is quite animated on the touch line and is not averse to issuing instructions. I don't think we will see him standing still wearing a suit, folding his arms or using a brolly to keep the rain off his locks.

Many of the new signings have stated that they have come to a 'Big' club and seem to be delighted to be at Hartlepool United. Even some of the National League fans on their forums view us as the Manchester United of this league.

With that in mind my prediction for Pools for the end of next season. Ever the optimist and not wishing to put any pressure whatsoever on Craig Harrison, I don't see the treble as being unachieveable. I would consider anything less as failure.

The Only Way Is Up

The view from WAGGA MOON

So after years of decay and neglect we finally hit the buffers and went out of the league. After all those years of dodging relegation and getting our pals to re-elect us we finished in the bottom two once too often. 

Our downfall began with Uncle Ken, who prided himself for his business sense and attention to detail, and who would take months deciding on a manager, and getting rid of one who had just got us promotion. Then pocketing the transfer fees for Jack Baldwin and Luke James without signing replacements, failing to provide any investment while we struggled and then selling the club to a pair of shysters. This after pulling out of a deal that would have had another set of Dodgepots getting their hands on the club. So much for a period of due diligence and the League insisting on people taking over clubs being fit and proper persons.

With a record of liquidations and bankruptcy a blind man on a galloping horse could see Coxall and Co, were up to no good. And so it turned out with money soon disappearing out of the coffers, dates in the High Court over unpaid tax bills and players being sold off with the money disappearing and no replacements signed. Add the disastrous appointment of Dave Jones as manager and we were goosed on the pitch and off.

The lowest point was when we lost to Leyton Orient who were on a losing run of 10 games, played their youth team and still beat us. That led to the exit of the Scouser but too late in the day. A brilliant second half display against the league leaders just failed to save us despite two wonderful goals from Devante Rodney. This is a striker we signed in January and could not get a game in a side struggling to score a goal. That says it all about the management at the Vic.
"Add the disastrous appointment of Dave Jones as manager and we were goosed on the pitch and off."

Nice to see stand-in manager Matthew Bates give him a chance and also youth team striker Connor Simpson who looks like he could turn into a very useful footballer. But in a summer of change we have a new owner/chairman, new strip, new badge, new manager, coaches and eight new players; things are certainly looking up. Although one guy we retained, Josh Nearney, remains a mystery to me. Last season when we were short of centre backs he never got a look-in despite us having to switch a midfielder to perform there. Now, last Friday and Saturday having to put two teams out to face Boro kids and Whitley Bay, and still there's no sign of the elusive pimpernel. Which begs the question.: What exactly is his role at the football club.

Manager Craig Harrison at least brings a winning mentality with him after his successes in the Welsh League. He is not tainted with the failure and neglect we have seen at the club over the past five years. I wish him all the best as it will make a nice change to be celebrating a few victories instead of the constant defeats of whichever no-hoper was in charge at the time.

It looks like we could be featured live on BT Sport this season and hopefully make up for the debacle when we entertained the "mighty" Blyth Spartans. Our new captain Carl Magnay appears to be eminently suited to the job as he is one of the few players who actually put a bit of effort in last season.

The skipper who guided us out of the league, Nicholas Featherstone, looks to be on his way out of the club after losing the captaincy and, with the number of midfielders Mr Harrison has brought in, that can only be a good thing. 

Funny Old Game

Out of Darkness...


“OUT OF DARKNESS, THROUGH FIRE, INTO LIGHT” Poolies, so far as I can work out, have two mottos. There’s ‘Never Say Die’ and ‘Poolie till I die’. Very appropriate in the circumstances. Yet, given what’s happened, the I Zingari Cricket Club motto is just as appropriate. 

The darkness was getting relegated to the National League; well, we came through that with determination. The fire represented what we had to do to put things right – and, up to now we haven’t done a bad job. What’s happened in this close season is what was needed in past seasons. Had past seasons shown the same urgency then we wouldn’t have been playing in the National League.

We appointed a new manager early in the close season thus giving him the chance to make signings which hopefully will equip us for the National League, and having got rid of some of the dead wood made it easier to make the signings.

And then there’s coming into light. We’ll know that after the first few games!! The number of season tickets sold I think surpassed all expectations. Once the reality of getting relegated from the Football League had sunk in the fans began to show where their loyalties lie. And the club seem to be on a reasonable business footing.
"Once the reality of getting relegated from the Football League had sunk in the fans began to show where their loyalties lie."

I’m in total admiration of what Pools are trying to do on the business side – this is, of course, in complete contrast to what is happening in the bog standard Premier League. Up to last weekend, Manchester City, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool had spent a combined £570m on new players and the figure could go higher. I am more confident about the long term future of Pools than with some of the so called top clubs. Wait for the crash – it will happen one day. There’s only one word for it – obscene.

The BBC list of top earners certainly put the cat among the pigeons. Some years ago, I tried to find out what the BBC spent on football pundits; they declined my request on grounds that it might affect competition. (You couldn’t write a script for that answer). The fact that Gary Lineker earns between £1,750,000 and £1,799,999 didn’t surprise me – after all, he’s on the telly more than Ant and Dec. What did shock me was that Alan Shearer is getting between £400,000 and £449,999. Bloody hell – what does he do to earn that much? The trouble is I’m having to contribute to that with my TV licence fee. Still, roll on to my 75th birthday when I won’t have to buy a licence.

Anyway, hope you’ve all enjoyed the close season. Let the wagons roll and get back into the Football League pronto.

Deer or Dear?

Something from our deerest contributor JANE AUSTEN'S ALLEGRO

It goes without saying that even allowing for the generous parachute payments, the forecast loss of income through lower gate receipts and less away fans making the journey to the Vic, HUFC has already seen a substantial loss on its much-needed income stream even before a ball has been kicked. The club's precarious financial position is well documented and as such we are in a situation where every penny counts. 

The recent friendly match against Sunderland saw just over 4,700 fans in attendance. I worked out that allowing for concessions the gate receipts would be around £40,000. No doubt Sunderland took their half of the takings and who could blame them as pro-rata they are in a worse state financially than Pools, being in debt to the tune of £90-100 million. Sunderland however are not our concern. The £20k picked up from this match might not sound a lot but the club shop would have to sell 526 adult replica shirts to match that figure.

I am guessing that with the sale of Lewis Alexandra and Trevor Carson, plus the compensation due from Crewe for Brad Walker, the club will have netted a further £100,000. That figure will also be supplemented in part by many of the high wage earners having since left the club. With luck this will allow some breathing space before the season begins and hopefully keep the taxman and the other creditors from the door. Ideally a successful Hartlepool United side could make this task easier with the additional revenue they could generate.

Pam Duxbury has to be congratulated for her sterling efforts, not only in keeping HUFC from the hands of the administrators but by securing a three year sponsorship deal with Hartlepool company Utility Alliance, worth in the region of £240,000. It would be good to see other local and national companies based in the town and surrounding areas supporting the club in some capacity, even in a minor way to assist reducing the burden of debt.

Carlisle United now have a hardy band of volunteers who turn up at the club on nominated days to do odd jobs around the ground such as tidying up the terraces after match day, minor repair work, or painting various buildings etc. Their chairman said their help is vital in securing the future of the club. I think 'Pools should consider introducing something similar along the same lines. I am sure many fans would like/love to help their club. I think that this is something the Trust should take up with Pam Duxbury

I might be wrong but I always felt that the club shop never fully realised its true potential, particularly after it had been contracted out to Nike. Most of the stock consisted of 'Pools home and away strips and then odds and sods of polo and tee shirts, nearly always in Pools colours. There is only so much blue a chap can wear. When Gary Coxall was still with Pools there was talk about him bringing the shop back in-house. I felt that this could be a risky move particularly if you are not familiar with the clothing trade. If you don't get the get the quality right, the range, the colours, design and price,  you could be left with a lot of slow moving stock on the shop floor which equals dead money, which then has to be written off.

I believe appointing BKL as offical team kit and clothing suppliers to be a step in the right direction. I see that they have now got their name over the club shop so I am persuming that they have been given the franchise to run it as opposed to the club. Although it is early days and the shop is far from fully stocked I thought the quality of what was on display was a bit hit and miss. Some of the jackets similar to what Craig Harrison is always pictured in looked good and were sensibly priced. However the quality of the navy Polo shirts looked cheap,until you see the price tag of £30. You would not expect to pay that figure for an Adidas shirt. My main concern on two counts is the quality of the embroidery of the club's new logo. On some of the polo shirts I viewed it is obvious that the 'hoops' used to secure the garment prior to embroidery have been put on too tight and as such you can see the circle outline of the hoop within the garment. This cannot be removed.

To be fair, the Hart/Deer/Doe/Bambi/Caribou or whatever it is looks fine (still a bloody awful badge though), but it is the the text which is poorly replicated. It is too thin for starters making the writing on the logo look spindle like and in some cases causing the thread to disappear into the weft and weave of the fabric because of its lack of thickness. One shirt I viewed had the first letter 'O' in the word Hartlepool resemble the letter 'C'. In several examples on display the excess white thread is hanging from the shirt and has not been trimmed off once the embroidery process has been completed. Should the loose thread be pulled by the unsuspecting wearer the embroidery is ruined and cannot be repaired.
"There is only so much blue a chap can wear."

Perhaps the clothing had been rushed out to meet a deadline prior to the club shop's reopening but in the event some basic quality control is required if they are looking for repeat sales. We were informed that one of the main reasons for the change of the club's logo was that it was a difficult motif to replicate in art form but it would appear that BKL is having a similar problem with the new club badge.

In a former life, having worked in the clothing/embroidery trade myself for a goodly number of years can I offer some well meaning advice:

For the would-be customer:
Examine the embroidery very carefully prior to purchase.

For BKL:
Find an alternative embroidery supplier. There are several really good ones on your doorstep. I hope BKL do get things right as we need a successful club shop to bring in much-needed revenue for the club. I've got to say that I very much like both the home and away shirts BKL are providing to HUFC. There is only so much you can do with striped shirts, you only have to look at the Mackems' new tops (yuk!), but this blue and white one is a winner.

My first sighting of Pools' new away shirt was at the Billingham Town friendly. I had to do a double take as it was difficult to identify our players. It was almost like camouflage - the players blending in with the dull grey skies and the backdrop of Billingham. It put me in mind of the time Southampton thrashed Man United by four or five goals. Sir Alex did not blame the defeat on the referee or on indeed his team's inept performance, or that on the day Southampton played them off the park. There was no mention at all of not enough 'Fergie time' being allocated. However as far as the United Manager was concerned the defeat was firmly and squarely the fault of the club's new grey away shirts, as several of the United players claimed that they could not see their team mates on the pitch.

I have just thought of a money-spinning branded item of clothing that BKL could stock in the club shop. Not the Tommy Hilfiger range but the Dave Jones catwalk range. Off the shoulder black acrylic jumpers. No need to worry about embroidering them just a dash of tomato sauce and egg stains down the front for that man-on-the-move look. For an extra £4.99 you could also purchase a contrasting white tee shirt for that man-ran-out-of-town look.

Talking of football shirts, have any of our readers caught sight of the Borer's effort? In a word, awful. You can't miss it. The shirt itself is not the worst you will see, but the lettering of the sponsor's name is in block capitals almost two foot high, ruining the thing. It is not so much a sandwich board but a billboard promoting the local pawn broker. A great advert for the new Team Valley area.

Finally, here's a rejected suggestion for the HUFC new badge. It was going to have a motto, the original text of which would be written in Latin, and had been inspired by Homer Simpson: "Doh! A Deer" (with apologies to Julie Andrews).

Football Hooliganism: Was It as We Remember It?

GARY DALY's research project aims to find out

The older readers amongst you will remember the moral panic that was associated with football hooliganism during the 1970s and 1980s. This short article will ask if the demonization of football supporters by politicians was justified. It will also question the legitimacy of the claims made in the press at the time that football hooliganism was symptomatic of a society which had lost all sense of morality and was a problem that could not be controlled by conventional methods. 

This view is illustrated for example in the claim made in the Daily Mirror at the end of the 1973 season that:

“Stabbings, beatings, kickings and destruction were almost commonplace at the nation’s football grounds”.

Moreover, this portrayal of football supporters as an undisciplined underclass having very little in common with mainstream society and having complete disrespect for its sense of morality was also expressed by politicians who, in attempting to be seen to be tough on the problem, used language that we would now associate with the condemnation of unfriendly foreign governments. An example of this was Neil Kinnock’s response to the Heysel Stadium disaster at a press conference in Vienna in May 1985 where he said that:

“A voluntary ban on English soccer teams would be giving in to hooligans. If the tribute we pay to these thugs is to reduce the freedom of thousands of other football supporters then the thugs have won.”

In this case Kinnock’s soundbite was designed to marginalise those involved in football violence,but it also had the impact of popularising and legitimising the measures which saw ordinary football fans herded into the caged enclosures in which ninety six men women and children were crushed at Hillsborough on April fifteenth 1989. However, what has been forgotten with the passing of time – and the justified campaign by the families to overturn a flawed judgement that effectively accused Liverpool supporters of deliberately killing their own – is that contempt for the safety of football supporters by the authorities that are supposed to protect them on a Saturday afternoon is as old as the game itself.

As any football fan who is familiar with the history of the game knows, Hillsborough is merely the most recent in a long list of stadium disasters involving British football supporters and can list Burnden Park (Bolton), Ibrox (Glasgow – three times) and Valley Parade (Bradford) as sites where many perished watching the game they loved. With the exception of the Bradford fire, all these disasters had a common cause, which is that the grounds where they occurred were overcrowded due to the negligence of either the stadium operators or the authorities. Yet little was learned from them and the press, on occasion, chose to blame fans who attended games, claiming that they were responsible for these events. One example of this was the Guardian’s article from 1970 with the headline “Barrier collapse was home crowd’s fault”, which accused Stoke City supporters of deliberately causing a crush barrier to collapse during a fixture against Leeds United and injuring 61 people.
"academics ...have made little attempt to define what they actually mean by the term 'football hooligan' "

Until now these attempts to demonise the football supporting public have been explained, by those who have re-examined these disasters, as being a result of a willingness by the football authorities and political elite to view the supporters who sustained the game as pack animals and wild dogs. As a result of this they found it easy to engage in what academics have subsequently described as “victim blaming”, which was essentially a concerted effort by the football authorities of the time, assisted by the press and politicians, with the aim of removing responsibility for crowd safety away from them and placing the onus upon the fans themselves, by stereotyping them as an ill-behaved rabble. But was this depiction of the football-following public of the time justified? The answer probably has to be that the jury is still out on this one.

As we all know, football supporters are a diverse group, which was as true then as it is now. However, it is also true that violence did occur more often at football matches during the 1970s and 1980s than it does now. So what really happened?

If we believe the current dominant academic explanation for the rise of football hooliganism as a social phenomenon, then the answer is that football hooliganism was just an extension of local working class gang rivalries, played out on a national scale. This explanation in my opinion needs to be questioned and it is the core question of my research project, where I am suggesting that we need to reassess how we look at a topic that has been discussed by academics who have made little attempt to define what they actually mean by the term 'football hooligan'.

My project seeks to address this by talking to supporters who were attending games during the 1970s and 1980s, with the aim of giving a voice to those who are usually written out of history, and telling how it really was. It is hoped that it will show that those attending football matches, even the hooligan element, and especially in north-east England, had a strong sense of pride not only in the team they supported, but in who they were and in where they came from, and that the post-war resurgence of football hooliganism in the region was primarily due to the economic decline of the region, which saw the collapse of the local shipbuilding, mining and steel industries, and in turn brought about the collapse of traditional social hierarchies in the area. This created a growing feeling of disillusionment among working class young men who, in the resultant power vacuum, aimed to gain social standing for themselves within a substitute hierarchy that largely conformed to their community’s values, but also reshaped how they maintained them.

Therefore it can legitimately be argued that the reality was that attempts by the press and politicians to portray football hooligan groups – and football supporters in general – as right-wing yobs who had values that had little in common with those held by the majority of the general public, were misguided and that the reality was that they were part of subculture which had a far more nuanced relationship with their community than was suggested at the time.

Gary Daly, Teesside University (AHRC funded PhD Candidate and Northern League ground-hopper).

For further information on my PhD project please go to the link below or contact me via e-mail at or on Twitter @GaryDaly01

Dear Vicki

Poolie agony aunt VICKI PARK solves your problems 

(assisted by Elmo)

Dear Vicki,
I am a famous manager, possibly the most famous manager in the world. I've only been in my present position for six months but I've already achieved so much, it's incredible. My team ticks like clockwork and is admired by everyone.

However, there are those who spread lies about me, mock and laugh at me because I'm a bit of a maverick who says what he thinks, like Mourinho before he got old.

How can I convince them that I'm not the deranged fantasist they think I am?
DT, Washington DC
Dear DT,
When the opportunity arises, manage Sunderland and get them into the Champions' League. Any deranged fantasist could promise that but no deranged fantasist could actually do it.

Dear Vicki
I've captained my top London club and my country, and won the Premiership, but have now decided to spend the twilight of my career with a Championship club in Birmingham. Would I have been better off retiring?
JT, Aston
Dear JT,
With that pedigree you surely don't need the money so it's more about wanting to keep on playing rather than wanting to go out at the top. Either is a perfectly fine way to go. Some can't face slumming it at ever-lower levels in front of smaller crowds  while suffering longer injury lay-offs, yet some, like Teddy Sheringham, can go on for years. 

But Birmingham ...really?

Dear Vicki,
I own a football club in the middle of nowhere which recently was promoted to the Football League from the National League. I extend my vegan principles throughout the club and the players are banned from eating some foods. This poses some difficulties with recruitment. Do you have any suggestions?
DV, Nailsworth (Glos)
Dear DV,
The simple answer is that if it causes you problems, don't do it, but that must cause you grief, so let's think of how to address this. 

Some players won't sign because you only allow them to have vegetarian food. And vegetarian food gives you wind, which means they could be rocket powered - better for both the club and the player's career, if not for attendances.

Some may just object on human rights grounds to you imposing your personal lifestyle choices on others, but when they're pulling out of tackles or otherwise letting the side down, aren't they doing the same thing?

Some may just not like vegetarian food, and I'm not sure there's an answer to that without resorting to therapy, but you can't win'em all.

Best wishes for the coming season and I hope you'll have something to celebrate at the end of it, presumably with a slap-up salad. 

Dear Vicki
Recently my BBC pay as a top football presenter was revealed to the nation and many people were incensed that I earned so much. It's not my fault that the BBC chose to pay me that much. What do you think I ought to do?
GL London
Dear GL
I'd take a sabbatical and let Alan Shearer do it for a season. Then everyone will realise what a bargain they've got and will be happy to throw more crisp tenners at you. And while you're having your sabbatical, other 'crisp' tenners will no doubt be arriving to keep the wolf from the door.

Funny Old Game

Seeing Off the Boro

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Pools 2 Boro U-23 1 (Friendly)
Friday 30 July 2017
Victoria Park

Tonight we had a visit from the Borer under twenty-three team, which was led by ex-Poolie Graeme Lee, possibly assisted by Michael Barron but he could just have been an observer. All these lads were potential Premiership players - well at least they were last season. Not sure if this game was advertised in the Borer as it looked as if the away supporters had come on a motor bike, being were outnumbered by the stewards in the Rink End.

It was good to see Pools come out and have a go at the opposition as we have been doing in the pre-season games I have seen. It was even better to see us step up our game after going a goal down as we did tonight instead of heads dropping as they did last season.

I said it in previous reports that we looked a decent side and a very tight squad that can play some decent football. We look as if we have cover in all positions. Tonight we were without Oates and Deverdics, who had played previous games and we still looked strong.
"The back line looks solid and they like to push up when the chance comes to break"
First half it was all Pools and the visitors only managed the odd sortie into our half. The back line looks solid and they like to push up when the chance comes to break. Laing and Harrison made charges forward and looked impressive.

Second half the visitors stepped up their game and scored an early goal, a well worked move from the initial corner with the ball being switched to the back post and dropped back in the middle for the scorer. There was an appeal to the lino from the Pools players but I could see nothing wrong with the goal.

Pools got their act together and started stretching the visitors with some good play. And the pressure paid off with two goals in two minutes as Laing scored with a low dive and header and with an individual goal from Jack Munns it was game over.

One rumour tonight was that two clubs are chasing Amond so I hope he stays on. Also Featherstone is a target but I would be less inclined to hold onto him.

The rain-soaked pitch held up well but there was some discussion with the Ditchburn Poolie on how he thought they had levelled the slope out so that kicking down bank was not going to be the advantage we had used in the past. It was clear to my keen eye that there was now a tilt in the pitch towards the docks which may flood the dugouts but can certainly be used to our advantage.

Annual Night Out to Billy Town

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Billingham Town 0 Pools 6 (Friendly)
Thursday July 6th 2017
Bedford Terrace

The new non-league Pools side took on our neighbours Billingham Town last night. A good turnout of Poolies and the word was 2000 season tickets sold at the last count.

This first game of the season is usually a bit lively with BT flexing their muscles against us. No different today as some hefty tackles early on tried to unsettle the lads. Their so-called best player went off injured in his first tackle as he went to challenge Harrison who was driving forward with the ball. With a deft side-step Harrison left him for dead and the lad went to the ground,. It took a while but he went off on a stretcher, The word at half time was the lad had played the end of last season with an injury and trained this season with the leg strapped but he looks like he will be out for a while.
"we look like a very strong outfit on this showing"

Pools played two teams, one in each half:
Scott Loach, Kenton Richardson (Curtis Obeng 46), Josh Baynes (Blair Adams 46), Carl Magnay (Liam Donnelly 46), Scott Harrison (Josh Nearney 46), Luke George (Martin Smith 46), Josh Hawkes (Ryan Donaldson 46), Lewis Hawkins (Nicky Deverdics 46), Rhys Oates (Jake Cassidy 46), Michael Woods (Padraig Amond 46), Junior Mondal (Jack Munns 46).
So, a few new names in the squad.

We were excellent and I only remember Billy being in our half a couple of times, We played some very good football, ok It was only against BT but had we played this game at the end of last season they would probably have hammered us. The man of the game for me was Rhys Oates.  Finally they are playing him as a striker and he notched up two great goals, the second being a sheer touch of class as he was fed by Mondal and,  back to goal he turned on a tanner and hit the sweetest ball you will ever see, The lad looks really fit and raring to go.

Mondal is a gem who needs to be snatched up now. He was dropped from the Borer academy but showed real skill and guile every time he had the ball. - an excellent half from the youngster as he pushed forward, made some great runs, just dropping a shoulder and drifting past his man. A joy to watch.

Blair Adams is the new Terry Cooper. I have never seen any defender go down the line and whip in the perfect cross since Shuggy left us. Magnay and Harrison never let anything through and we look like a very strong outfit on this showing - play-offs at least.

Any Other Business


So after all the doom and gloom, the end of the world and all that, we've now resigned ourselves to life in the Conference. And not only that, we've bought thousands of season tickets, been impressed with the new manager and players, and are expecting good things. Yet just a few weeks ago it was touch and go as to whether Pools would even be around by now.

Perhaps that shows that things have been turned around, or just that Poolies are easily seduced (like we were by a certain recent chairman) because they are desperate for some sort of success, even if it's only in the National League.

The reality is, however, that Pools have, especially with the complex new playoff rules, more chance of playing at Wembley than ever before, and with no transfer window there's more opportunity to make mid-season personnel changes, so that lot may generate excitement to make up for some of the less-inspiring stadiums.

Whether Pools can return to the EFL sooner or later, it will be good to have the experience at a lower level. It didn't do Leicester City and Southampton much harm to slum it with us a few seasons back. Perhaps clubs have to drop below their level in order to regroup before reclaiming their place.

For those of you who are into humour (and you need a sense of humour to follow Pools), there's an exhibition at the Museum of Hartlepool celebrating 60 years of Andy Capp in the Daily Mirror.

I'm sure most of you know that Reg Smythe's famous character, like his creator, was a Hartlepudlian (Reg did much of his cartooning in Caledonian Road), and the odd local reference did creep in from time to time (such as the Boilermakers' Club), so we can all guess which stadium Andy would watch matches in.
The exhibition continues until 27th August so have a look before it's too late.
Follow this link to find out a bit more.

Pam Duxbury seems to have been like a breath of fresh air when compared to recent chairmen. We went twenty years without ever really knowing why Ken Hodcroft wanted Pools. With Gary Coxall we knew after 20 months, but that was some expensive 20 months.

The Pools Supporters' Trust is now in talks with Pam with a view to being involved in some way with the club. They may lead to nothing, to fans eventually owning the club, or to something in between, but given the turbulence of the last few seasons, all of this is a step in the right direction.

So if anyone wants to join the trust or just find out what they're up to, go to their website here.

And finally, some alleged quotes supplied by Tony Beysens

The young ‘uns

“I told that young Beardsley lad that if he keeps pulling faces, one day he’ll stay like it.”

"Alan, will you stop heading that ball against the shed, you’ve got less chance of playing for Newcastle than Blackburn have of getting into the First Division.”

The owld ‘uns 

“I used to play in goal for Scotland, you know”
“You’ve dropped your Hobnob”
“What Hobnob?”

“Do you remember the time their speedy winger sent you the wrong way and put it between the goalie’s legs?”
“Yes, I should have realised there wasn’t a chippy in the High Street and my girlfriend stopped playing keeper for the girls’ team shortly after that.”

 “It’s a Benefit Match”
“Who for, I don’t recognise any of the players?”
“No, what I mean is, since relegation they are all on benefits.”