Showing posts from October, 2017

Go For It -- We Can Do It!!


September was a good month for Pools. Victories, in particular, against the then league leaders, Dagenham and Redbridge and Leyton Orient, certainly warmed the cockles of the heart. 

Yet, It all came to a halt against Eastleigh and, for that, we had only ourselves to blame. Eastleigh were a poor side and were there for the taking but a score of missed chances meant that the unbeaten run came to an end. We seem to do far better against teams above us in the League – add to the above, for example, Wrexham, Macclesfield and Woking. Up to now, Pools have scored 12 goals and conceded 14. The goals ‘for’ certainly compares badly with other clubs but goals against is far much better when comparisons are made.

Defensively, the loan signings of Keith Watson and Michael Ledger helped our goals against column and its to be hoped that the injury to Keith Watson doesn’t keep him out too long. The fact that St Johnstone are quite happy for him to stay at Pools for treatment shows they are satisfied with his loan surroundings – and may extend this when he’s fit.

In general terms, Scottish players are no longer the force they were in English football, yet I see Scotland as a fertile ground for clubs like Pools. Remember when we had two Scottish full backs in Jack Ross and Hugh Robertson? Craig Harrison’s concern with the goals ‘for’ tally has seen him sign James Thorne and Tomi Adeloye and we can only hope that these signings do the trick.

Devante Rodney has shown some improvement towards the end of September and I think its only time before he hits the net. It will do his confidence no harm. Speaking of strikers, it was a shame Connor Simpson joined the injury list. I just happened to notice his entry on the Pools’ website. It lists his date of birth as 1/1/1901 so I suppose that makes him the oldest player ever to pull on a Pools’ shirt.
"Devante Rodney has shown some improvement towards the end of September and I think its only time before he hits the net."

The news that Pools have been drawn away to South Shields in the qualifying round of the FA Cup gives hope that we can make some progress and strike up some momentum for the more important business of the League. My ambition for the FA Cup would be to get a home tie against Arsenal or Chelsea on a day when the weather is the best that only Pools can offer – in other words, a Force 10 gale accompanied by incessant rain.(Remember Sheffield Wednesday in 2005?) If Arsene Wenger had to respond to a question on the weather he would probably say he didn’t see the raindrops. Still, there’s going to be an almighty scramble for tickets for the South Shields game – I reckon that there’ll have to be a ballot for the Pools’ allocation.

 Not much happening elsewhere for a change. The only thing I can think of is the crackpot idea of staging Arsenal v Liverpool on Christmas Eve. The best way of stopping this dead in its tracks is for Liverpool supporters to boycott the match. Anyway, keep the faith. String together a few good results and we’ll be up there near the top!!

And if you think that Pools have made a sluggish start, look to see where Tranmere are. 

Quarterly Review

BILLY'S CONTRACT does what it says on the tin

With just over a quarter gone in our first season of non league football, what do I think of Pools performances so far? Perhaps not 'Rubbish' as Eric Morecambe would say but I for one am certainly underwhelmed with what I have seen to date.

At the time of writing Pools playing record is five wins four draws and five defeats, yes five defeats. Arsene Wenger once said that to lose five times in a season would not win anyone a title (and he should know). Fortunately as this is the National league and not the Premiership this theory may not apply as current table toppers Macclesfield and fifth place Sutton United have lost four games apiece and third placed Woking, not unlike Pools have five defeats on the board. Last season Lincoln finished as champions with 7 losses and second placed Tranmere with 9. Dagenham, who reached the playoffs by finishing fourth, had 14 defeats to their credit. Such is the inconsistency of the National League so based on this Pools might see sight of the play offs.

The season so far has only seen Pools score more than one goal on two occasions. The loss of Amond and Cassidy has not really been addressed by bringing in untried, inexperienced replacements. I am acutely aware that Pools have no divine right to be crowned as League Champions at the first attempt with a record points haul, however it would be good if they started to make some sort of effort to get out of first gear and start motoring.

Even the matches that we have won we have made hard work of and not looked 100% comfortable and that includes the five match unbeaten purple patch that we had. To be blunt if it was not for the heroics of Scott Loach in most of these games our points tally would probably still be in single figures. Our first win against Guiseley was a continuation of the awful performance against Fylde. Again it was Scott Loach who saved the day with two breathtaking saves which kept us in the game against a team of part timers who are are now in the bottom three of the National League.

We did well to beat an excellent Dagenham side who were quick and pacy and at time had us chasing shadows. Orient had six first teamers missing from their side and a young lad thrown in at centre half for his debut and in truth, despite the win we hardly troubled them. If anything for the last twenty minutes they gave Pools an uncomfortable time.

A lot has been made about Craig Harrison's pre-season signings but most of them, Cassidy Watson and Loach aside, have failed to impress or have been injury prone or both.

Prior to the Barrow game Eddie Kyle, who talks bucket loads of sense on Radio Team Valley, questioned why Pools had so many injured players in the treatment room compared to other clubs, at this early stage of the season. Had we signed injury prone players? Are they not warming up/down correctly? Is it something in training that is causing the problem? Kyle suggested that Pools should get someone in from one of the local universities to find the source of the problem. I got the feeling that he was suggesting some of the players might be feigning injury.

As I have said previously, opponents should be so intimidated at the prospect of playing at the Vic that they feel that they are already a goal down before they have even got off the team bus due to their prior knowledge of Pools' pace and firepower. But in reality, instead of going at our opponents like they have not seen raw meat for a month, we constantly pass the ball from side to side and backwards with little or no pressure being applied to supply the lone striker up front. As such our opponents grow in confidence and start taking the game to Pools. Pools in turn respond to this by defending deeper and rely on, much like in the Hignett era, the ball being hoofed up front for a forward to run on to. More often or not the forward is still back in defence as our opponents quickly set up yet another attack on the back of this failed tactic.

Pools always have eleven players in the penalty box when defending corners. Case in point. Against semi-professional Eastleigh (who had seven first teamers out when they played Pools) defending one particular corner with all eleven players back we had no outlet up front to collect any possible clearance which enabled Eastleigh to bang the ball back, resulting in their having three attempts at goal, one of which nearly went in. The only time that I noticed that we had a man up front from defending a corner against Eastleigh was in the 90th minute and by then it was too late as we were already chasing the game. I can't understand why Harrison can't leave a man up front for most of the match particularly at home. Barrow did and the result was that two Pools defenders were tied up in marking him.
"if it was not for the heroics of Scott Loach ...our points tally would probably still be in single figures."

The failed midfield that got us relegated is still in situ. I could not believe Craig Harrison's comments in the Mail recently when he stated that he would like to build his side around Nicky Featherstone. Featherstone is a tidy non-productive player whose style of play might be suited to England or Barcelona when they are passing the ball around for no apparent logical reason but boring the pants off everyone in the process.

Woods' and Hawkins' best football comes when they do not have the ball, closing people down is their game. Last season our midfield managed just six goals. Hawkins hasn't scored for the best part of two seasons. It would be nice to see them getting into the opposition's box or even having a shot at goal. Munns, who came on for the last fifteen minutes in midfield against Eastleigh, had one shot and scored a goal which must have left Woods, Hawkins and Featherstone bemused.

Got to give him his due, Woods played really well against Barrow and got into the box on several occasions as well, having four shots at goal and scoring to boot ...or rather to head. Excluding Munns', that was the first goal that our central midfield have scored in 23 games, Woods being the last scorer against Cambridge last season.

With a fully-fit squad I would look at a midfield with Deverdics, Munns and Luke George with the possible inclusion of Liam Donnelly as a further option. I would also like to believe that Conor Newton has more to offer than what we have seen in his earlier outings.

Up until the arrival of Keith Watson our defence was a joke, Scott Harrison and Louis Laing being the main culprits. Blair Adams looks good going forward but at times his defending is questionable. If Liam Donnelly can rediscover the form he was in when he first signed for Pools he could fill in for Watson.

Up front is a different ball game altogether since we lost Jake Cassidy through injury and Padraig Amond to pastures new. We are lacking experience on a massive scale. Someone up front like Billy Paynter would be have been ideal in this division. Like many I was surprised that it took so long to find a replacement for Padraig Amond and even then it came in the form of James Thorne, who has less experience than the raw Rodney and the novice Simpson, both of whom are still learning their trade. Even when we did have a centre forward in Amond, Craig Harrison did not know how to play him, leaving him and then Cassidy to play as the lone striker both home and away.

I am guessing that Pools spend time in training practising moves from throw-ins but that does not seem to be the case on match days. We never take a quick throw and generally the players do not seem to know what to do or make little movement once again slowing the pace of the game down to suit their opponents whilst the thrower looks desperately to find someone who actually wants to receive the ball. In fairness to Harrison this trait has gone on for five or six seasons.

There is a lot of time wasting in this league. Up until recently I did not see any ball boys in place at the Vic. Of late we have seen the introduction of some ball girls under the age of ten years old. The other week two of them were sat together in front of the Cyril Knowles stand. When the ball came near them did they retreive it and throw it back? No. They sat on their backsides chatting away to each other oblivious of everything. Needless to say one of the opposing players sauntered up to collect it thus winding the clock down in the process. We need ball boys who are quick to respond to keep the game flowing. If they cannot get kids to do this task maybe they should get some of the youngsters from the youth teams trained up and involved.

It may sound as if I am being negative but hey, I am a glass half full, nay even quarter full type person but if this current side was in the Football League I think we would be occupying one of the bottom two spots.

Harrison needs to start getting his 'show on the road' and make a statement. We all know about Pools' finanicial problems but if some of the cash from the sale of Amond/Walker etc. were made available,  Pools should invest in a couple of experienced players that would make the difference, change no points to one point and one point into three points and who could make a fist out of Pools getting out of this league, otherwise, not unlike Wrexham, we may end up becoming one of the more established sides in the National League.

Funny Old Game

Got Change Out of a Fiver?

WAGGA MOON looks at the change in Pools

After a good start to the month we came back to earth with a home defeat to a poor Eastleigh side while we were missing our two centre backs. Keith Watson and Michael Ledger showed us what we were missing in central defence and were a vast improvement on Scott Harrison and Louis Laing. But with injuries to the two former players we may be stuck with the deadly duo along with Nicholas Featherlite who is still keeping the position warm for Luke George.

When we will ever see this guy in action is anyone's guess but it says a lot for Criag Harrison's summer signings. Apart from George we have Blair Adams, Conor Newton, and Jake Cassidy which is roughly half of his summer signings who appear to be injury prone. Indeed on closer inspection their previous injury records make for miserable reading.

After selling our top scorer Padraig Amond and losing Cassidy to injury Harrison waited for three weeks before bringing in a free agent, James Thorne, to play up front. First impressions of this guy look promising, him being a big powerful striker, someone who we have needed up front for a long time.

It is looking more and more obvious that Rhys Oates is not the answer up front -- speedy but too lightweight, whereas Devante Rodney on the other hand could make a good partner for Thorne. Quick and not afraid to put himself about he is definitely worth persevering with.
"We certainly have nothing to fear in this league"

The standard of this league is very poor and we really should be top three at the present time and pushing for the top spot. Why we aren't is down to some really negative tactics, especially at home. We certainly have nothing to fear in this league and we should be going at these teams with all guns blazing.

What is going on at the time of writing is the trial of the two businessmen who first tried to buy Pools. Obviously as the case is sub-judice we can't say much about it apart from the snippet that Ken Hodcroft offered them the club for £5, debt free and Russ Green did the deal on it. Which brought the question from a number of wags: "Are we worth that much?" One thing for certain is that Messrs Hodcroft and Green didn't learn their lesson, going on to sell the club to some Cock Knee barrow boys who brought Pools to its knees. Down and almost out.
And this from a chairman who took pride in how prudent he was although not allowing the club to see any of the transfer fees for Jack Baldwin and Luke James.

Talking of a club for a fiver there is a very good documentary on C4 by that name (which can be seen on YouTube) about Leyton Orient being sold for that amount. The film goes behind the scenes and features a classic confrontation in the dressing room featuring joint managers John Sitton and Chris Turner (yes, that one) with Sitton lambasting the players while Turner nods his head in agreement. One player is sacked on the spot while another is offered a fight outside and told to bring his mates and his dinner with him. Very, very funny. In fact when Turner got the Pools manager's job I rang him and asked him if he would be bringing in Sitton as his assistant. He said no and was quick to point out he hadn't seen him since that programme.

The jury is still out on our present manager but I think with a more attacking formation and the fact he is learning about this league pretty quickly I think we could have an exciting second half to the season. 

Radio Gaga

BILLY'S CONTRACT goes on (about) the airwaves

When Darlington lost their league status it was noticable that the highlights of their games, however brief were no longer featured in the sports section of Monday nights BBC Look North.......obviously freeing up more time to feature Newcastle and Sunderland.

What is also very noticeable is that despite our demotion into the National League Pools have, in the main, retained their spot in this section of the programme. Which is just as well as, apart from Paul Mooney's weather forecast, it is now the only reason I watch Look North, particularly as they have recently started classifying Hartlepool as being part of Teesside.

I am unable to say for certain if Pools still appear on the Monday evening football slot on Tyne Tees (Channel 8), as it is always on at an awkward time for me ...namely when I am having my tea. Is Roger Tames still the sports presenter there?

It was much the same in 2012 when Darlo 1883 were thrown into the outer limits of non-league football due to debts owing to their creditors and at a stroke BBC Radio Borer/Cleveland/Tees/Team Valley or whatever they are called these days dropped them like a very hot potato or should I say a very hot parmo, which freed up more air time for them so they could slaver all over the Borer.

I dare say, much to the Borer commentators' displeasure, Pools, allowing for their recent demotion are like a bad penny, still turning up and receiving full match day commentary on DAB radio. Got to say I enjoy the commentary on DAB as almost two hours, no matter how bad, is devoted to Pools. The other plus about the DAB station is that beyond the odd score flash there is little or no mention of the Borer at all and we do not have to listen to those screaming imbeciles who do actually do the match day commentary on the Tees sliders. 
"Pools ...are like a bad penny, still turning up and receiving full match day commentary"

I also like the fact that Darlo are now getting a tad more airplay than they previously did on BBC Radio Team Valley, but, inevitably their fans have to wait for a break in the Pools play before they get a match update on their team which barely lasts twenty seconds. It is good to hear the voice of Ray Simpson back on the radio once more reporting on Darlo's progress or otherwise.

Ray is a Darlo fan through and through and and has a lot of knowledge regarding the local non-league scene ...which is a must for Quakers fans. At times he reminds me of our very own Arthur Pickering, who, back in the day, only had to utter two syllables and one knew that Pools were getting well beaten before he said a word. Ray Simpson is very much in the same vein. My favourite Ray Simpson radio moment came a few years back when Darlo were still a league team (The radio had valves in back then!) and as the Quakers took to the pitch he announced that Darlington will be playing in their traditional black and white shirts, black shorts and black and white 'Stockings'.  You can't imagine the image that that conjured up in my mind ...and what colour were the suspenders?

Once the Pools commentary has finished at 5pm the DAB radio reverts back to the Radio Cleveland-on-Tees studio for the Borer hour and that is my cue to reach for the off switch -- unless of course the Borer have been beaten and I generally leave it on for ten minutes listening to the great unwashed moaning on about their team of under-achievers.

I am looking at changing my car early next year. I can picture the car salesperson telling me all about the features and benefits of the model he is trying to foist onto me. I will explain that if it ain't got a turbo charged, fuel injected two litre DAB radio as standard, forget it.

The BBC were recently taken to task about its biased reporting during the recent Brexit campaign. You could compare their coverage on regional football in much the same way as they do with the political parties. The two big hitters Labour and Conservatives (Newcastle and Sunderland) get the bulk of the airtime. The Lib Dems (Borer) get a token amount. The SNP (Pools) are featured just to keep the natives happy. The Monster Raving Loony Party (Darlo) get a snippet of publicity which is normally reserved for the end of the news in the 'And finally' bit', to send viewers/listeners home with a smile on their faces.

What a Weekend!


Saturday 18 October 1975 featured the following fixtures: 
Div 2 Bristol Rovers v Sunderland 
Div 4 Exeter City v Pools 
Div 4 Torquay Utd v Darlo (evening match) 

Not being booked up on a coach for Exeter and living and working in Sunderland, here's what happened:

I persuaded the SAFC supporters club to allow me to travel on one of their (I think 3) coaches.

I travelled down overnight, and there was plenty of banter and interest about Pools - nice bunch of supporters. I said my thanks and wished them good luck against The Gasheads and was dropped at 5am at Bristol Temple Meads station.

From there I made my bleary-eyed way by train to Exeter and with greasy food and alcohol got to St James' Park early to witness Pools lose 1-3. I might be mistaken but I think Alan Goad got Pools' consolation goal that day and he an Exeter lad.

Then I blagged a lift on a coach with some Poolies who were down for the weekend and staying overnight at Torquay, at a guest house owned by a Poolie! We are everywhere! Off a load of us went to Plainmoor that Saturday evening to see The Scum beat Torquay 4-2 (Earlier in the afternoon, The Gasheads had beaten Sunderland 1-0).

The Torquay fans were curious but friendly when we joined them behind their goal to cheer them on and yell abuse at Darlo. Ah well.

I was drunk that night back at the guest house and managed to blag accommodation and a ride back on the Poolies' coach on the Sunday morning for a couple of quid.  It was a very long journey back up the motorway to the North East. They were the days. I couldn't afford to do it now.

It's Torquay for Pools on 28 October this year and as I write Torquay Utd haven't won in 12 games. Please, no...

 Greetings to all Poolies and Bunkerites from Cornwall 

Jon Goes to the Match

A "Janice and Jon" story by SHEDRICK

Janice was looking forward to getting the spring-cleaning done while Jon was out at the football match. He was getting ready to go.

“Don’t forget your scarf and your hat Jon”, she shouted. “I won’t, I’m just putting them on” said Jon. 

He came downstairs and Janice pushed the ends of his scarf down under his pullover and tugged them hard from underneath.

“There, that will keep the cold off your chest, and if Pools score don’t throw your hat up into the air like you did last week, you were very lucky that kind man with the tattoos let you have it back.” 

Jon skipped down the road towards the Vic, stopping off at the corner shop for some lozenges to help his voice. Jon liked to join in singing funny songs at the football match -- have you heard the inventive lyrics? 

Jon has. 

Jon had his usual problem pushing through the heavy rusty turnstile, but the people behind shouted words of encouragement and one of them even called him the same name the man with the tattoos had the previous week. Jon assumed there must be someone who looked just like him working in the local branch of Barclays. Do you know what a double-ganger is?

Jon enjoyed the match, and at half-time he saw a lady walking back to her seat with two curry burgers that were steaming in the cold air. Jon smelt them and wished he had kept some of his money back to buy one. 

The kind lady saw the look on Jon’s face and let him have a small bit that was about to fall out of the wrapper. 

Pools lost again, but Jon skipped home to keep warm, and was looking forward to his tea. Janice asked him how he had got on at the match. 

“We lost again” Jon said “but we sang songs about the club’s new bar steward who apparently always wears black, and must be sad because he doesn’t have a daddy. 

“And a kind lady who brushed past me was really steaming. She asked if I would like a bit and gave me a nibble of her baps, then she got out a tissue and wiped the dribble off my chin.” 

Janice threw Jon’s dinner into the yard. He hadn’t realised she would be quite so upset that Pools had lost yet again.

Start of October

JANE AUSTEN'S ALLEGRO responds to recent events


I was fully expecting Pools to comfortably beat lowly Barra (who had not won away from home), by at least three goals and build on the Woking result and start another unbeaten run going. 

As per usual Pools started off ponderously allowing Barra more of the play and we did well to go in at half time at nils a piece, If the first half was turgid the second was even worse. Players not able to string a couple of passes together, playing deep and side to side without creating much.

It suddenly dawned on me why we were playing so poorly, as at one stage we had eight players in the side, (I will, though, exonerate Rodney) who were involved in last season's relegation and boy did it show. Deverdics is not a full back and Scotty Harrison is still lacking in confidence, The midfield was, well, the midfield - albeit Woods put a shift in. Up front we once again looked light.

The crowd was beginning to get hostile and started booing the team. The first murmurings about Craig Harrison's managerial ability and tactics were being voiced by many on the terraces. If Barra had scored late on the knives would have been out for Craig Harrison big style. Many, myself included, began to believe that he was going to be content with a point and keeping a clean sheet.

I was expecting the 'Harrison out' chant to ring around the Vic but it does not have the right meter although someone did shout 'Harrison this is embarrassing' which did have a bit of a rhyme to it.

Barra created and squandered numerous chances compared to Pools but their poor finishing let them down. On another night they could have easily scored four. Luckily, Woods got a late winner and all the dreadful football played by Pools was soon forgotten as another three points went on the board.

At the end of the game I genuinely felt sorry for the semi-professional side and their fans as, when the final whistle finally went, many of their players fell to the ground or held their heads in their hands as they knew that they had put in a decent shift and had come so close to getting a result ...and were basically robbed.
After later quaffing a pint I was satisfied with the three points and tried to forget the performance, but for a fleeting few seconds began to wonder if Craig Harrison might not be up to the job.
"I was expecting the 'Harrison out' chant to ring around the Vic"

A couple of laughs at this match included a delay whilst one of the linesmen apparently felt unwell and had to make a dash to the loo. Whilst the game was held up for five or six minutes and the fourth official got ready to take over from the 'poorly' lino, the Tannoy suddenly burst into to life and the club announcer said something like "Whilst the officials are sorting themselves out, birthday greetings to Tommy Atkinson. (or whoever), who is 25 today'. Only at Pools. This was greeted with howls of laughter by the Poolie faithful.

A few minutes later the fifth official held up the board and from I where I was stood it looked as if, instead of having seven minutes of additional time displayed, seventy minutes were shown. As one wag said "Pools would still need longer than that to score".


I was greatly disappointed by the FA Cup draw, not so much by being drawn against a very in form South Shields, but by having to play away. Had Pools gained home advantage, I would have anticipated a money-spinning crowd of around 6,000 plus if the club allocated part of the Mill House stand to the Shields fans.

Another downer is that Pools will only be allocated 400/500 tickets for the game at Mariners Park so here's hoping for an 'F.A. Cup draw' leading to a replay at the Vic. One worry is that if  the South Shields manager took in the Barrow match ahead of the forthcoming cup clash,  he must have gone home very confident.

Shields, unlike Pools, play to a high tempo and won't give our static midfield and defence time to dwell. This will be a real test of Craig Harrison's mettle and I am hoping that he does not field a side comprising of a mix of youngsters and reserves as I think the first team will have a job to do a job on them, let alone a weakened side

Funny Old Game

A Bit of Luck at the End

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Pools 1 Barrow 0 (National League)
Tuesday Oct 3 2017
Victoria Park

This fixture is a blast from the past, the old Third Division North possibly, but the Ditchburn Poolie reckons it was sometime in the seventies that they went out of league football.

A lesson for us all there.

It may be a bit churlish to criticise the Pools management team who have lost only one game in nine, but at tonight’s game we seem to have attracted a lot of angry fans now that we are playing non league football. Ok I can see they are dissatisfied with the relegation as we all are and the way it came about over the last five or six years, but the truth is once IOR pulled the plug we went into a decline that we may never get out of, and remember those same fans criticising IOR when they were in charge. To be fair they had a lot to complain about in the early part of this game.

This was another team we should have ripped apart, but we just could not apply any real pressure on them. We were scrappy, poor passing giving the ball away too easily and no real threat in their box. This team must have been low in confidence after a very poor run, yet tonight it looked as if they were going to be the better team and for a lot of the game they were the better side.

I have the opinion that the management at Pools have not yet worked out how to challenge these non-league football teams and our lack of goals when we are on top gives them the confidence to come at us and most of them are quite successful in exposing our weakness. According to the wireless prior to the game Harrison was going with three strikers from the start led by Rodney. In theory this sounds good but in practice to have a three man attack you have to have those three players actually linking up and threatening the visitors. Tonight this was not the case, Rodney is limited and as yet has not shown any real threat and to be fair is not getting the service that suits his game. There is no sense in pumping high balls to him as even if he wins a header there is no one close enough to feed off him. Every challenge he made tonight was with a marker clinging to his back and the officials at this level tend to ignore wrestling during the game. Play the ball to feet and let Rodney run is the only solution as he is fast, when he remembers to take the ball with him but service yesterday to him was awful.

Barrow's game plan was to hump high balls up, get in our faces in numbers and they won ninety percent of the second balls. They left one man up front even when we had corners and free kicks and at least three times during the game I saw him take on three Pools defenders all at the same time and easily slip away with the ball and threaten our goal. It was a good job for us that most of their shooting skills were missing tonight.
"in practice to have a three man attack you have to have those three players actually linking up and threatening the visitors"

As you know I never criticise officials unless it is warranted. Tonight’s shower has to be the worst lot we have seen this season; to a man they were bloody awful. In the first Barrow attack there were two fouls and a handball that was waved on, which allowed the offender into our box to shoot. I got the impression tonight that this ref was a cheat, looking at some of his decisions; strong words you might say but not when an official thwarts every attack we make on the edge of the box by instantly stopping the game for no apparent reason then allowing the visitors a free run every time, even overruling the lino at times. Maybe the ref did not trust the linos' judgement as he possibly only had one eye and could not see the whole of the pitch at the same time. There was a peculiar incident when the ref stopped the game and the fourth official was despatched to the dressing room. The Ditchburn commented that the doctor had been called but nothing seemed to be going on. The visitors took the chance to have a bottle party in their technical area so the Pools management sent out a couple of footballs and in no time both teams were having a kick about on the pitch. This break lasted a good ten minutes and when the fourth official emerged he took up the flag. At this time the crowd had started a slow hand clap to and a few choice phrases were hurled at the officials but it had little effect.

Apparently the lino who had gone off had a severe case of the “TROTTS” but as the Poolies said, he was full of S()!+ anyway. They thought he had injured his shoulder by the number of times he had flagged us offside.

We did make a few chances and Woods got in the way of a shot from Franks but he would have been offside anyway. Loach made a great dive early on to palm a ball away, a fantastic double block to thwart the visitors who broke fast in numbers. Deverdics was Man of the Match for me. He did waste a few crosses and free kicks but did test the keeper with a great shot late in the game. He is wanted at full back though. Donaldson went off on twenty five minutes with what looked like a sore ankle after a challenge. Oates came on and livened things up a bit with his height and pace and battled hard tonight. Magnay is a great leader on the pitch and often carried the attack, even having a couple of decent shots as well as some smart tackling in defence. Laing had a steady game but Harrison is becoming a liability as he seems to get upset too easily. He needs to concentrate on keeping his place rather than getting tangled up in meaningless scraps; he could have seen a red card after one tangle when he threw a player to the ground, which the ref missed. Hawkins had a quiet game but Featherstone looked to be the calming influence when we were under pressure and he too could have been Man of the Match. Franks had difficulty slipping his marker early in the game but never gave up. He and Deverdics found a lot more space late in the game and started to threaten the goal. Rodney was booked for a sliding tackle but no contact was made and the defender looked as if he was feigning injury to help the ref make the decision. He was taken off for Munns shortly after his second slide tackle in his desperation to get the ball.

The extra ten minutes gave us an advantage and we stepped up our attack far better than the visitors as we went for the win. Franks hit the post with a shot and it was a clinical cross this time from Deverdics that found the head of Woods who headed home in a crowded box. He deserved the goal for his performance and he too was a candidate for M-o-M. Nice to see Pools have that little bit of luck at the end of a hard fought game.

Top No More

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Pools 1 Dag & Red 0 (National League)
Saturday Sept 9th 2017
Victoria Park

A fine day for football at the Vic today as the league leaders paid us a visit. All the doubts came to mind, however. Although our form has lifted over the last two games, you still wonder what kind of performance we are going to see. Some of the football and decisions of the officials that we have seen to date in this league have been totally bizarre. 

Harrison called for a quick start against the visitors and early doors it was end to end. Loach made a couple of great saves early on and Pools could have taken the lead when Watson headed against the bar. An edgy but entertaining first half with a very quick Dagenham side taking over the game with some fast counter attacking football. Loach must have saved four goals in the first half as the Dagenham attacker switching sides really got at us down the flanks, he looked unstoppable.

Pools look a steady side now and with the centre backs and Magnay controlling things we looked comfortable under attack. Connor Simpson won a lot of headers but most of them fell to an empty space or were cleared by the visitors. He did get in a couple of decent headers on goal but he later went off injured. Both Franks and Rodney failed to connect with Simpson and the chances were wasted.
"you must see on TV the class of the chip Franks made over the keeper to put Pools one up"

I did say at half time that the visitors went at such a pace they could not maintain it and would tire in the second half, especially not having scored after all the effort they had put in. A bright start again for the visitors saw them test Loach again but this lad is not just a good keeper he is an exceptional keeper and was my Man of the Match today despite Watson taking the accolade at the end of the game.

Pools now looked the sharper side once the ref realised there were two teams on the pitch and started checking the visitors after about sixty minutes of ignoring every misdemeanour they committed. Pools got the break they needed when Deverdics found Franks who turned towards goal and saw the visitors' keeper advancing on him and you must see on TV the class of the chip Franks made over the keeper to put Pools one up. It was time for Pools to steady it down now and take their time and play the sensible game. Magnay was twice spoken to by the ref for slowing things down. The Daggers did try to make a fight of it, their tempers fraying as their unbeaten run was coming to an end and Pools did the sensible possession game and let them do the dramatics as we saw the game out and the four extra minutes.

At the end of the game I gave a one man chant  "Top of the league - you're having a laugh!" ...but I did wait till the whistle had gone. Some good football was played today both in attack and defence. We now seem to have found our midfield and a balance in the side which we have not seen in a long while. Keep it up chaps.

Any Other Business


So, after the traditional bad start (or a good start that peters out), it was the former this year, which vasttly improved when we got to September.

The turnaround was greatly assisted by the arrival of two competent central defenders. And when they were both injured, the form reflected their loss, but Donnelly helped out before going off to international duty, leaving us once more with the weak defence we started with, and the clean sheet against Barrow was more to do with awful finishing than with fine defending. As others have suggested, there's not much to worry us in this league, apart from Pools themselves!


Judging by the BBC website's Pools page following the defeat of Barrow, their man at the match must have had an aberration or gone home early, for him to write a match summary like this, and nobody noticed that the real result was right next to it.

The monkey

No doubt everyone's already heard that someone has dramatised the monkey legend and it's doing a small tour of the country, including performances in Hartlepool Town Hall on 14th and 15th November. 

There's a decent piece on the BBC website (this time without obvious errors), telling the story of both legend and play: