Showing posts from September, 2017

Relegation Battle

WAGGA MOON assesses the situation

After all the pre-season optimism and dreams of a play-off push or better in this knob-end league it has all gone tits up before the end of August. One win in seven games and five points on the board appears to suggest we have another relegation battle on our hands especially with games against Dagenham and Leyton Orient on the horizon.

Big questions need to be asked about new manager Craig Harrison and some of the deadbeats he has brought to the club and his team selections and formations. He appears to change tactics about three times a game and not always for the better. Seven games in and I don't think he knows what his best team is. and when he refers to Nicholas Featherlite as his Ginger Ginola you have to wonder if he is being serious. Or is he on this planet.

Scott Harrison has appeared in all seven games and dropped at least one bollock in every one. Yet he is our brave warrior according to our manager when in fact he is our red card waiting to happen.

Padraig Amond was on his bike last week for an apparent pittance as the "undisclosed fee" raised its ugly head. The manner of his leaving is still being questioned as Harrison said he refused to play and Amond denies this. The Newport manager stepped in and said Harrison offered to sell him Amond on the Wednesday before the game. Make your mind up on who to believe. If ever a player's talent was wasted by a club it was Amonds's. 39 goals for Grimsby in the National League playing alongside a big bustling striker in Omar Bogle. Now he starts at Newport alongside another big bustling striker in Frank Nouble and he started with a goal and an assist last Saturday. While with Pools he is played in a lone role up front by a succession of brain-dead managers. A complete waste of the guy's talent. I wish him well with his new club.
"He appears to change tactics about three times a game and not always for the better."

While we picked up our first win at the "mighty" Guiseley on Monday it is of grave concern that we had two injured players in the team and a midfielder playing full back. Now it is not that we have a small squad, far from it but come to August and we are relying on unfit players. By the manager's admission Scott Harrison and Jake Cassidy were not fully fit and both had to come off before the end. Whether they have made their injuries worse is anyone's guess. As we have binned the physio we might have more problems.

What was nice to see was Connor Simpson getting some game time. I would go as far to say that he should be in the team from the start; he may be young but he is certainly good enough compared to some of the rabble who have been getting a game. Hopefully we will see a couple of players brought into the club before deadline day although they will probably be loanees. Michael Ledger from Sunderland to replace Harrison and a striker to replace Amond would be sensible signings.

The Maidstone game on Saturday is certainly a big one for the manager. With the club's first choice for manager in the summer, Paul Cox, now looking for work, he would be well advised to take his team on a winning run. 

A Load of Shambolics


The Grandbairn who came to visit was wanting to play footy in the back garden and said to his Dad "You be Newcastle and I will be Borer." "Whoa, Whoa" we both stepped in, and asked him where he learned language like that from. He attends a school in Stockton and has come into contact with children who have a form of learning difficulty ...Borer supporters.

I informed his dad that my own son attended a school in Eaglescliffe and had been subject to the same harrowing experience. Now was the time to indoctrinate him into all things Pools because once youngsters start droning on, zombie-like "C'mon Borer, C'mon Borer, they will be lost forever.

On 26 August at 3.45pm he stepped into Victoria Park for the first time. The trouble was - it was the game against Fylde. Having watched Pools for the best part of forty-plus years I can say without fear or contradiction that the two nil home defeat against Fylde was the most shambolic performance that I have ever witnessed from any Hartlepool United side. The worst ever bar none, and I have seen plenty of dreadful displays of ineptitude* during that time. I recall the eight one home defeat by Plymouth in 1994 but at least we scored. The drubbing inflicted at the Vic by Donny in 1989 springs to mind mainly because at the end of the game the Pools fans gave Robbie McKinnon a standing ovation for giving 100% and not giving up despite the fact Doncaster had put 6 goals past Pools for the reply of none. That same season saw Aldershot knock six past Pools with York going one better by scoring seven. Dreadful times and awful results but unlike the game against Fylde there was always some fight and battle, no matter how small.
"I could not have been more surprised had he used Facebook to convey his instructions. "

At present we have several players who to my mind are surplus to requirements but are still with the club only because they are into the second year of their contracts. We have a number of players who are not giving 100% and some who even at this level of football are clearly out of their depth. To date only Cassidy and Loach can stand up and be counted in terms of fight and consistency.

Craig Harrison needs to have a look at his own performance, decisions and management skills, considering the number of players that he has already used in seven games. As far as I am aware the starting line up has never been the same. Does he know what his first starting eleven is? I doubt it. He is already dropping players that he has brought into the club in favour of some of the dead wood who got us relegated in the first place. The differing tactics and many formations used during each game seems to be confusing not only the players and the fans alike but the manager himself. Craig Harrison needs to stop over-complicating things.
As Terry Venables once said, a five-minute team talk to the players in the dressing room is sufficient as they do not have the required attention span for anything longer.

The strangest thing that I ever saw during a football match was the hand-written note that he sent out to Nicky Featherstone during a lull in the Fylde game. I could not have been more surprised had he used Facebook to convey his instructions.

So far I cannot see much difference between Harrison's, Hignett's and Dave Jones's sides. Instead of coming out of the starting blocks at Mach 9 we pass the ball every way but forward and stroll into our opponents' half in a stately and sedate manner and then look surprised when the opposition break and attack with pace and purpose. Corners are defended with eleven players back in and around our own penalty box with no Pools player sited near the half way line to pick up any clearances We still have little or no width. No one seems to know what their roles are when throw-ins are taken and the midfield is still not creating anything or having a pop at goal.

I could go on... Oh, I will... The re-signing of Jonathan Franks is still open to debate but what is the point of signing a right winger then playing him on the left wing? Dover were celebrating as if they had won The F.A. Cup final after they had beaten Pools on the opening day of the season. Even if they had won they should have left the field of play knowing that they had been in a battle. Teams should fear coming to the Vic (excluding Pools that is!) a bit like some of the teams in the Premiership when they used to visit Old Trafford when Sir Alex was in charge. Many were beaten before they got off the team bus. If they were defeated by three or four goals they would take that as a moral victory, having kept the score down to that level. This should be the case when visiting teams come to Hartlepool.

As for away games it should not be the case of if you can't beat them join them (at their level). Put the fear of God into them with quick decisive football. Though somewhat lucky to gain all three points, the win at Guiseley was welcome. In the end it was the result that mattered. Being brutally honest the performance was only marginally better than that against Fylde. Pools need to have a serious look at themselves and ideally bring in some experienced players if they are to make an impression in this league let alone avoid yet another relegation.

Despite selling 2,600 season tickets Pools attracted a decent crowd against Dover of nearly 4,000 supporters. That was an an unexpected 1,400 floating fans paying cash through the turnstile on the day, which would have brought in an additional and much needed £17k on the day. The crowd attendance for Fylde was down to 2,900 spectators which means 1,100 floating fans have not returned due to poor results and equally poor performances. This revenue that Pools can ill afford to lose and it will take longer to win those fans back again than it did to lose them in the first place. I am beginning to think that it is not Craig (or Scotty) Harrison that is needed at Pools but Harrison Ford.

 "Oh", I hear you say, "what did the Grandbairn think of his first match at Pools?". Got to say, for a six year old, he described his first experience at Pools very eloquently when he said. "It was rubbish."

The Riverside here we come.

* I missed the game against Barnet last season but I was informed it was up there with the Fylde match.

Funny Old Game

What a Shambles!

A considered view from GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY

When Fylde scored their second goal last Saturday I’ve never seen so many Poolies vote with their feet and make for the exits. It was a pitiful performance and summed up the season’s start. 

Tactically, we were na├»ve to say the least – and predictable with it. The midfield bring the ball to the centre circle and then its across to the wing followed by a centre. And these centres are dealt with quite competently by opposing defences.

Say, what you like, the National League isn’t the best in the country but their teams can deal adequately with what Pools have to offer in attack. This is where the problem lies. Its not our defence but rather our inability to put opposing defences under pressure.
"the National League isn’t the best in the country but their teams can deal adequately with what Pools have to offer in attack."

I did notice one incident in particular in the game against Fylde. Jonathan Franks, working down the left, put across a low centre into their box and the defence got the shock of their lives – as did out strikers!! Let’s have more of it. As for Jonathan Franks, I always admired the way he fought for the ball and tried to keep it. His only failing was that his delivery wasn’t so good. Do more of that, Jonathan, and you’ll do for me. I know there’s a lot of Poolies who aren’t fussed with him but another attribute is to pop up and put one away. Have we found our saviour?

There’s one player who would certainly benefit from this kind of service and that’s Devante Rodney. He’s got to be given an extended run in the side – after all, someone who can score two goals against a League Two promoted side must have something going for him.

And what of Craig Harrison? The win against Guiseley will have given him breathing space but things need to happen – and quick. The season started with optimism; season tickets sold well and new signings added to what we thought was going to be a good campaign.. Already, however, the warning bells are sounding. Against Fylde, the gate fell below 3,000 and this should be of concern. I’ve never booed a team off the field but I can understand those who do. After all, they pay their money and expect something in return.

A focus for discussion was the departure of Padraig Amond. With the emphasis on up and under he was effectively frozen out in terms of goal scoring chances and it was inevitable he’d be on his way. The fact that he scored for Newport on his debut shows he still has goals under his belt.

With Pools being out of the Football League, there was no need for Poolies to set the alarm for 4.15am to get the draw for the League Cup – which was held in China. Which crackerjack thought of this one? The EFL are supposed to be seeking to develop commercial opportunities in the Far East. If that’s the case, how about a televised game between Newport County and Accrington Stanley on a Tuesday night in February. One sharp shower short of a Paddy Field might just appeal to the Chinese and others in the Far East!!

Another issue which is causing concern is the number of dementia cases among retired footballers. It's affirmed that this might be due to constant heading of the ball and research is currently being conducted to see if this is the case. It does appear, however, that the FA and the PFA are sitting on their hands and not taking the issue seriously enough. Watch out, if you don’t get involved the lawyers might.

Bill Green 1950-2017


I was saddened to learn of the untimely death of former Hartlepool United stalwart Bill Green at the relatively young age of 66. Back in the day when I started to follow Pools, Bill Green along with Malcolm Dawes tied for the title of being my first favourite player(s) at Hartlepool United. 

Green made his debut for 'Pools at the age of 18 as a Substitute against Newport County in 1969. He showed a maturity way beyond his years and at the age of twenty was made club captain. This at a time when Pools had more experienced heads in their ranks such as the likes of Tony Bircumshaw, Alan Goad, Tony Parry and Nick Sharkey. The young Geordie Green was a natural leader and led by example. My most memorable image of him was in the must-win game at Feethams in 1972 when he rose up and headed the equaliser against the Quakers which sent the 6,000 plus travelling supporters wild. From there on the noise rose to a different level and inspired the team on to a famous victory courtesy of Willie Waddell's winning goal which although not transcribed to paper has been passed down through the generations from father to son (and daughter) as part of Poolie unwritten folklore.

Earlier in that desperate season Green wore the number 9 shirt on three occasions, scoring once, in the two one home defeat to Cambridge. Green's talents did not go unnoticed and in 1973 he signed for Carlisle United, two divisions higher than Pools, for the paltry fee of £15,000 - Pools, as ever at the time, were in desperate need of the cash.

In his first season Carlisle gained promotion to the then First Division, now the Premiership, by finishing in third place behind Luton and Jack Charlton's Middlesbrough. Carlisle's opening game the following season in Division One was against Chelsea at Stamford Bridge which saw Bill Green, the Club Captain, opening the scoring, not with a header but by toe poking the ball beyond England goalkeeper Peter Bonetti and in one and the same moment entering his name into the Cumbrians' history books as being the scorer of their first ever goal in top flight football. When I heard, probably via the stop press of The Footy Mail, that Green had scored, I made a point of not going out that Saturday night as nothing, and I mean nothing, even a night out in The Gemini, was going to prevent me from watching Bill Green's opener against Chelsea on Match of the Day. The goal itself was interesting. ( I have just literally come across it on Youtube). A Carlisle free kick and Green in the centre forward position runs between two Chelsea defender and gets his head to the ball. The momentum of his run and the kindly bounce of the ball have put him in a position with only the keeper to beat. He controls the ball with his right foot and scores with his left. All this when he should have been stood on the half way line.

Carlisle went on to win their next two games but thereafter they struggled and eventually finished bottom of the league and were relegated along with Luton and Chelsea. As I have previously mentioned in these columns in the late sixties and early seventies before I had my 'road to Damascus' moment and discovered 'The Joy of Pools' I used to follow the Happy Hammers (Don't ask). My all-time favourite player was not Hurst, Moore or Peters, but a certain Billy Bonds who, apart from looking like a Viking, was a 'Battler and a Warrior' as well as being an exceptional footballer (Oh for someone of his ilk at Pools and, come to think of it, at West Ham too, who both nowadays. seem to have 'Bottlers and Worriers' in their ranks).

During their tenure in the First Division I made a point of going over to see Carlisle play the East Londoners for no other reason than to watch my two heroes Bonds and Green, respective captains of their teams, shake hands with each other prior to kick off and do battle. The game itself was a drab affair mainly because, much like the coastal town of Hartlepool, the ever-present wind (and rain) put paid to watching a decent game of football. The Cockney boys eventually ran out one-nil victors thanks to a Frank Lampard (Snr) goal from the edge of the penalty box.

I remember trying to make a mad dash back to the railway station to catch the then British Rail train back home via Newcastle, and ended getting caught up among a group of West Ham fans who were being corralled by the Police. Despite my protestation, and by my not wearing any club colours (which unbeknown to me was what a certain section of Hammers fans did so they could travel incognito) the police would not allow me into the station as they were seemingly obsessed, that I should be travelling on the later London train, and with a rival Rail organisation by the name of the The Inter City Firm ...and this was in the days before anyone had even considered privatising the Railways.
"nothing, and I mean nothing ...was going to prevent me from watching Bill Green's opener against Chelsea on Match of the Day"

Actually, once you got chatting to the ICF, mainly about the dreadful weather, they weren't such a bad bunch of lads. Fortunately I was able to make a break for it when foolishly a group of Carlisle fans came past throwing various objects (dead sheep mainly), at this rival rail company's employees and they in turn replied by breaking through the police cordon with consummate ease and laid waste to the Cumbrian bovver boys. I on the other hand wandered off and sedately boarded the train back home and let them get on with whatever it was they were getting on with. Whenever I think of Bill Green or make the trip to Carlisle I can't help a wry smile coming over my face when I recall that miserable wet day up in Cumbria.

That was not the end of the West Ham connection as apparently The Hammers had offered £150k for the Carlisle captain during the season, which the Cumbrians had flaty turned down. However, when relegation came calling the Vultures from West Ham came back with a much reduced offer and secured Green's services for around £70/90k. Much like how Carlisle had signed Green from Pools a few years earlier.

Now it was Carlisle who were desperate for the cash. A case of what goes round comes round. I was delighted to see both of my heroes, Bonds and Green, playing in the same side. Over two seasons, mainly due to injuries, Bill Green only made 35 appearances for the Hammers and it is fair to say that he struggled to establish himself in what was a struggling side during his two-year tenure with them. I made a point of going to see West Ham play at Old Trafford in 77/78 season and they were well beaten by three goals to nil. I recall Joe Jordan and Jimmy Greenhoff giving Hartlepool's favourite a torrid time. I can also picture Billy Bonds giving him a right good rollicking during the game. It appeared that my Super Heroes did not get on together that day.

Green scored his one and only goal for The East Londoners in a two nil win ...ironically against Chelsea. The Hammers were relegated and Green moved on to Peterborough for £60k.

After a relatively short stay with the Posh he moved to Chesterfield for £40k, spending four seasons with them. His playing career ended at Doncaster and although he only made eleven appearances for them he was very highly thought of. Upon hearing of Bill Greens death. a Donny fan emailed me to tell me his mate was a big friend of Bill Green and that he could not speak highly enough about him and that he was an absolute gentleman. This has been endorsed and echoed by many who have paid tribute to him.

Bill Green stayed on the football scene. He became manger of Buxton, who were so hard up that he refused to take a wage from them. He also managed Scunthorpe between 1991/93. his managerial record was impressive for the Iron which read: P 101; W43; L32; D26. He was caretaker manager for one match at Sheffield Wed. and it is said that in the nineties he applied for the vacant manager's role at Hartlepool United. He also scouted and had roles at Bradford P.A,, Derby, Wigan, Sunderland, Sheff Weds and, at the time of his death, Southampton.

Bill Green's playing career: Played 486 games, scoring 20 goals. 143 of these games were played for Hartlepool United in which he scored 9 goals.

Bill Green, Hartlepool Legend.
From this Pools fan, thanks for the memories.

A page from a West Ham match programme from 1978

Out of Our League

BILLY'S CONTRACT thinks about names

My all-time favourite name for a football team, bar none, was the now defunct Third Lanark. I often wondered whatever happened to the First and Second Lanark. 

I viewed them as the Scottish version of Accrington Stanley (another great name). Stanley folded in 1966 and Third Lanark went the same route the following year. Happily Accy have made a comeback that Lazarus of Bethany* would have been proud of.

Other names which bring a smile to my face and are familar to many, are the likes of Airbus UK, Prescot Cables, Shepshed United and not forgetting Cleethorpes Town and Frickley Athletic. However once you start scrolling down the leagues as featured in The Non-League Football Paper and get yourself immersed into The Evo-Stik Southern Central and South West League there are some absolute belters. Good job Pools do not hail from the South West of England otherwise on current form they would soon have to familiarise themselves with some of the names hereunder. Given some licence and a good deal of leeway, a fixture list could well look like this:

AFC Totton v Slimbridge (No wide loads).
Bowers and Pitsea v Yate Town
Burgess Hill Town v Needham Market (If you need Ham this is the place to go).
Chipstead v Potters Bar Town
Larkhall Athletic v Taunton Town (This team takes the Micky by ridiculing other towns).
Mangotsfield United v Bristol Manor Farm 
Shortwood United v Kidlington 
Waltham Abbey v Bishop's Cleeve (Sounds very rude)

"Sounds like a right toff, a bit like Jacob Rees Mogg. Very old school tie and High Church. Well mannered and polite with a hint of cynicism. "
The names that stand out, or should I say are outstanding and deserve special mention are:

Folkestone Invicta
I have got to say that this sounds like a British made 1950's four door saloon. I dare say that Folkestone Invicta, like Morris Motors, would have been sadly absorbed by British Leyland.

Hartley Wintney
Sounds very much like an author of children's books. Not dissimilar to the Reverend Wilbert Awdry who penned Thomas the Tank Engine 'penned' I do not mean that he covered the little blue 0-6-0 locomotive in graffiti. Come to think of it Wilbert Awdry would be a fantastic name for a football team.

Chalfont St Peter
Sounds like a right toff, a bit like Jacob Rees Mogg. Very old school tie and High Church. Well mannered and polite with a hint of cynicism. Likes 'Drinkees and Chuckles' prior to playing croquet on the archbishop's lawn. 

Swindon Submarine
A bizarre one this. Unless there has been some massive coastal erosion, the last time that I looked at a map of the UK, the hole that is Swindon is some 56 miles away from the nearest beach and salt water. Very confusing. Do they know something that we don't?  I can hear some fans chanting at their relegation rivals 'You're going down with the submarine'.

...Oh, damn and blast, I have just been informed by the editor that I should have gone to Specsavers, as the name of the team should read as Swindon Supermarine and sadly not Submarine. (I'll get a joke or one liner out of this even if it kills me). 

Supermarine, as every schoolboy knows, were the aircraft company that manufactured the most beautiful plane ever to take to the skies, the Spitfire. I am unsure if Swindon had any association with the construction of this most iconic of aircraft as they were mostly built in Birmingham, but I stand to be corrected.

That aside, I have checked Supermarine's standing in the league and after four matches they currently lie sixth in a play-off place. Should they win their next game away to Tuffley Rovers (where do they get these names?), and other results go their way, they will find themselves in second spot. I think with a good run of form I fully expect them to 'Take off' and find themselves In 'The top flight'.

The only other Supermarine that I am aware of is Tony Toms, the trainer who served with Hartlepool  in the early seventies.

Thame United: Sounds like Pools (Nuf said on that one).

Carlsberg, I note, are main sponsors of the South West Penisular League which sounds like something from the wars of the Crimean penisula or in the Iberian penisula (abeit both are in the East and not the West as stated in the league's name). There is a team in that league with the wonderful name of Cullompton Rangers. Can you imagine their fans chanting that 'there's only One Cullompton Rangers' (repeat)?

The more I hear Bishop's Cleeve(age) the ruder it becomes. Actually your prayers are requested for Bishop's Cleeve as they currently lie bottom of their league having played 4 and lost four with nul points, God help them ...Oh, he probably will!

What's in a Name?
Talking of obscure names,  driving down to Guiseley on Bank Holiday Monday I could not help but notice the number of caravans we got stuck behind. The thing that tickled me was the names that their manufacturers had given them. Buccaneer, Crusader, Stellar, Swift (Swift, don't make me laugh!) All pretty much named after various jet fighters of the late fifties and early sixties.

I am sure that the next generation of caravans, in order to move with the times and the advancement of military aircraft, will have names emblazoned on them such as the like of Widow Maker, Stealth, Apache Typhoon, Falcon and Mig 25. 

The best name I came across recently was that of an Irish Newspaper from the 19th century called The Galway Vindicator. Can't make my mind up if it sounds like a Mach 2 fighter bomber, a sports car, a speedboat, a guided missile or, like Monkey Business, a jolly good read. (though not so much of the jolly in this edition).

* Bethany does not have a football club.

Poolie Crossword

Compiled by Mrs CONTRACT

The crossword has a theme that should become apparent. You can either write down the answers on a piece of paper or click on the crossword and it should open a new page which you can print out. Writing the answers on your computer/tablet/phone screen is DEFINITELY NOT a good idea, though.

11942 Animated Disney film.1A fashionable and spirited young man.
5Another name for Wapiti.2Alces alces
6A party for the groom.3A cut of expensive meat.
7Animal of the arctic tundra.4Small antelope.
8A hoofed grazing animal with branched antlers.7A large family of ruminant mammals.
10Fish eggs.8A village on the outskirts of Hartlepool.
11Light yellowish, brown colour.9Sounds like lots of money.
You can find the answers on the Any Other Business page.

Worse Still

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Pools 0 Fylde 2 (National League)
Saturday August 26th 2017
Victoria Park

Today I thought this was our chance to make our mark and turn around the dismal start. Newly promoted Fylde were on a similar journey to ourselves, both of us having only two points on the board and just off the bottom. 

We have to grasp at straws when we have had such a shocking, disheartening start to out non-league career. I was of the opinion after watching three pre-season games that we should do well in this division.

Having previously been tempted to pay at the gate match by match and see how it went, sadly, I let my heart rule my head and bought a season ticket. I felt robbed at the end of last season when we went down so abysmally with really weak performances. I thought I would give them a chance and really expected us to at least compete.

I now feel robbed once again. We really should have looked back to the end of the IOR reign and seen that the future without them was not going to be anything but a struggle. I listened to the same whingers on the terrace back in their reign when things looked a little dodgy, and took no heed of the abuse they were throwing at the owners, at a time when the said owners were laying out a million pounds a year to keep our club afloat. The moans at the time were “why do the owners not tell us anything?" Well, I wish they were still involved and saying nowt.

Today there was a lot of foul abuse hurled at the players, but whenever has abuse of players ever turned them into better players. OK I can understand fans not being happy at our position but hurling foul abuse at the team is not going to change that. As a fan of Pool for a few years now I feel that a lot of today's abuse was unjustified so early in the game, some of those abusive fans have to get it into their heads that non-league football is going to be a whole new ball game and we have been wrongly named as one of the probables to go straight back up. The expectations of some fans are not realistic as most of the other teams are probably better financed than we are and we all know football at any level is all about money.

 It has been reported that we got a good deal on Amond, £40.000 - what good is that going to do? I would rather have had a striker than three other players who must be inferior signings to what we have let go even if Amond did not want to stay, as it was reported.
"they worked out that we are p*** poor and began to walk all over us"

Enough of the rambling and onto the game. Not a lot to say actually, we matched them for about twenty minutes until they worked out that we are p*** poor and began to walk all over us. It has to be said that it was even worse than the end of last season. We were living on our nerves at the back, just could not get the ball clear and when we did we could not hold onto it. They cut through us like a knife and always had numbers in the box and backing up.

It was an excellent run to the by-line by the winger who crossed a low ball in and it was stroked home at the near post with not a challenge to be seen. This only sent some of the Pools fans into an orbit of rage, Harrison in particular taking a lot of stick. He did mess up in front of the Town End when he went into a challenge right on the line and the attacker fell down and even on his knees he robbed Harrison of the ball and got a cross in that was scrambled away.

Early in the second half with us still under pressure the manager in desperation used up his last two subs to try and change things but the way we were playing it was never going to happen. Another poor defensive slip let them in with a free kick that was knocked in at the near post again.

We are making these teams, who are in the main part-time footballers, look like world beaters and we are about to become the whipping boys of the division if we carry on in the same way.

The manager could walk but would he? The word on the terrace is he should go now or be shoved, He will be lucky to carry on past ten games if this form continues.

A couple of highlights of the day, just to lift the gloom, were the two great saves that captain-for-the-day Loach made in the game. Also he was the only player to walk down the three sides of the ground applauding the fans. Can we please beg Ronnie Moore to come back?

The rumour that Magnay was on his way to be sold was scotched before the game to stop such rumours, as a club statement said that he had gone down with a virus.

Watson, the new boy, made a cracking clearance in the box to stop the assault.

The sad part of the day was the minute’s applause for the ex-Pools legend Bill Green, who has died at the age of sixty-six.

Another downer on the day is that they have painted out the MONKEY BUSINESS sign between the flag poles at the Rink End. [Can't really complain since we paid for one year and got about ten - Ed.]

Just to lift the spirits, the one big scoop of the day was they have repainted the floor in the gents' loo a nice shade of grey.

Funny Old Game

A Point at the Vic

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Pools 1 Chester 1 (National League)
Tuesday August 15th 2017
Victoria Park

Not sure how long it is since we played Chester but it seems like a long time since they dropped out of the league, but the club was re-formed in 2010. Our second home game of the new division with a decent crowd of just short of four thousand with a creditable one hundred and eighty Chester fans making the trip up to the Vic.

They did not take long to find their voice as once again another “BLOOPER” from a centre half to follow the gift we gave Maidenhead last week, this time from Harrison who just turned and swept the ball back, allowing the attacker to read every move and the forward swooped on the chance which Loach managed to block but the rebound was hit home with barely a minute on the clock.

It was a carbon copy of the one Laing,  or LANK as the commentator on TV insisted on calling him, made at Maidenhead last week. It was a very casual ball from someone you would think should be more experienced than that. This was a bloody awful start to the game which set the whingers off and I was tempted to join in. We really have to remember that despite us being tipped as one of the favourites to go straight back up, the early promise shown in pre-season means nothing if you are not winning games, especially at home.
"We still need a leader in the middle of the park, a Tinkler or a Boland who can turn the game in our favour."

We need to start applying ourselves to the task as this division is a totally different experience. In the two games we have seen at home, the smash grab and defend tactics of the visitors are hard to break down. Teams will be coming to the Vic and expecting to turn over the big boys who have just dropped down.

Once we went a goal down Chester shut up shop with the same tactics of time wasting. It took an age to take free kicks and goal kicks, throw ins were always a march down the line, kicking the ball away once the whistle has gone wasting as much time as possible. All of this was never once checked by the ref, Ok I tell a lie; there was one incident in the second half when the visitors were given a free kick wide of our box as the ref placed the ball and paced out his nine yards. A Chester player moved the ball up about three yards but the ref turned and spotted him. The ref then moved the ball back a yard, and paced out the ten yards again making a total of about twelve. This is the quality that we have to put up with in the division. OK I complained last season about the officials but apparently this lot are linos from the league learning to be referees so I would not expect any of them to make a higher mark than 4 which the first and this one have been awarded.

There was a booking for Cassidy who never made contact in the tackle but the play acting got him booked. A cracking shot by the visitors was ruled offside, luckily for Pools. Deverdicks was unlucky, hitting the woodwork twice, but it was really a poor half for Pools who never really settled.

The second half had a similar start to the first with Pools humping the high ball up to Amond who never won a header all day against the visitors. Munns was brought on for Deverdicks, which brought boos of derision, not at Munns but at the decision to take off our only legitimate left-footed player, who was having a good game and leaving on Donaldson and Amond who were struggling to impact the game. Magnay, who for me was Man-of-the-Match, played a captain's game. He hit the bar with a screamer that looked from the opposite end to bounce in the goal and Magnay, Amond and Munns all went to the ref to argue the case but were waved away.

Pools were now putting pressure on the visitors who looked shaky. Munns's cross was met by Cassidy who now has two goals in three games and is looking the part. We still need a leader in the middle of the park, a Tinkler or a Boland who can turn the game in our favour. Munns could be the man but he needs to start the games.

Sad to say, the visitors even so late in the game were still wasting time but did manage to bring a great low diving save out of Loach to keep us a point.

Pretty Much Like Last Season

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Pools 0 Dover 1 (National League)
Saturday August 5th 2017
Victoria Park

At ten to three as the lads were warming up the heavens opened and a lot of fans in shirt sleeves were thoroughly soaked. A nice start to our season I thought. Welcome to non league football. After all the euphoria of the great football we had seen in some of the pre-season friendlies, the 3954 Pools fans that filled the Vic today were, like myself, expecting a lot more than what was on show in todays debut game.

As Dover only brought one coachload it proves the point that the Pools fans will turn up, but Pools had better start showing more that what we were served up today. OK the first game of the new season, but it was so important to put on a display to keep those fans and let the other teams in the division know that we mean business.
"we were ordinary and were bullied off the ball for most of the game"

Sadly, after fifteen minutes it was poor fare and looked pretty much like last season. Despite the change in personnel, we were ordinary and were bullied off the ball for most of the game. Dover had a few decent players but most of them were just big hoofers who, once they took the lead, did everything they could to disrupt the game.

I made a pact not to slag off officials this term as we just cannot go on blaming them for our ills. I will instead give the ref marks out of ten at the end of the piece. Well, maybe I will have a little moan as the excuse is you play non-league football so you get non-league officials which, like today, give you abysmal service.

For the game itself there was very little to write home about as Dover snatched an early lead with at least three players offside but the unknown ref allowed the goal and the lino on the Millhouse side was so far out of position he would not have seen it anyway.

From the goal onwards it was a shambles as Dover took every second they could out of the clock with throwing the ball away, passing it along the line and back again till they decided to take the throw in or one of the many free kicks they were awarded. It was frustrating for the fans and rattled the Pools players that you could visibly see the discipline go from the lads. I'm not sure how many were booked but it was awful to watch.

As I said earlier it was a bit like the end of last season; today I counted only three shots that could be called chances throughout the whole game. So not an auspicious start to our non-league career. The manager made some changes in the second half bringing on Oates and Cassidy for Munns and Woods, who really had been ineffective. This helped to carry the game to Dover a little more but not enough to save the day.

So with three away games coming up in the next two weeks we need to start showing some progress. I had to sack the Ditchburn Poolie, as, when I asked him who the official was he said he had no idea. One name of interest in the Dover side apart from Ryan Bird (who did not do a lot) was NORTIEI NORTY who we nicknamed A DRAW.

Kevin Kyle of Radio Tees fame said his father should have christened him Very. Before the game Kyle was extolling the virtues of Pools and his opinion was that we are one of the favourites to go straight back up at the end of the season.


I must add that Podge, Oates, Harrison and even the manager were taking issue with the official as they left the pitch, and the mark out of ten for his performance today is: minus 4.

Any Other Business


Well, the pre-season confidence evaporated pretty quickly didn't it? Other clubs' fans were warning us we'd be playing 46 cup finals, that this division isn't much different to League Two in quality, and that we'd find it hard etc., but we took all that with a pinch of salt.

We were encouraged by the pre-season friendlies and the impressive array of new players and everything seemed rosy.

So what went wrong? Did we all (including the players) believe all the hype and disregard the warnings? Did we not expect that opposing defences would use any means to stop us? Did we not expect pitches like ploughed fields or referees even worse than those in League Two? More importantly, how did we expect a squad containing the poorer half of last season's relegated squad to succeed after the (relatively) better half had moved on? With hindsight it all seems as if we were deluded to expect anything different.

Welcome to another season at Pools!

Great Scoring Feet

Richie's career, according to Wikipedia
For nothing better to do, one of our contributors (who wishes to remain nameless so we shall just refer to him Billy's Contract), was checking out details on Richie Barker's playing career, and noticed some impressive scoring feats. Richie's scoring record for Pools compared to his number of appearances is impressive to say the least, but  pales into insignificance when compared to his goal tally at Doncaster. That must have been one hell of a match. Our informant guessed that the Donny manager at the time must have been hard to please, or had very high standards as, according to Wikipedia, Richie never played another game for them.

Crossword solution

That wasn't so hard now, was it?
Either turn your laptop/tablet/phone round to view the solution, or for those with desktop computers, simply stand on your head.

Standing on your head may actually improve your experience at the Vic these days. It certainly won't make it any worse!