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.