Showing posts from November, 2017

The Wadsworth Syndrome Returns

This and that from GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY

Remember when Mick Wadsworth was manager of Pools? He did a good job but fell on his sword when we couldn’t win home games. 

No problem on the road but at The Vic it became so frustrating. Not quite as bad at the moment but we are picking up more points away from home:
Home : Played 9 Won 3 Drawn 3 Lost 3 Goals for 9 Goals against 9
Away: Played 9 Won 4 Drawn 3 Lost 2 Goals for 10 Goals against 8

At home, the problem seems to be twofold: we’re giving teams too much space to mount attacks and not putting enough pressure on them in the final third. To some extent, the latter problem may be solved and Nicky Deverdics needs to keep the forward position he played in against Torquay. Against Sutton, we held a fortunate lead until added time and our goal had some quality about it. Devante Rodney put in a powerful shot which the keeper couldn’t hold and Rhys Oates was in the right place at the right time.
"Wonder if there will be more Poolies at Morecambe than home supporters?"

Getting Jonathan Franks was certainly a masterstroke and he possibly needs to play in a more central position than on the flanks. Still, you could say that to be quite FRANK(S), we are starting to sow the wild OATES! What is worrying, of course, are the number of injuries and it seems that Carl Magnay will be out until next year. Let’s hope we don’t get too many more.

At least, the FA Cup gives us a break from the league and may enable experiments to be made. Still, winning against Morecambe may lay the foundations for a reasonable cup run. Wonder if there will be more Poolies at Morecambe than home supporters?

At the risk of revealing my identity, I had the very pleasant task of taking some memorabilia down to Sheffield last month for ex-Poolie, Darren Knowles. Strange state of affairs – Darren lives in Sheffield and came to work in Hartlepool whilst I live in Hartlepool and went to work in Sheffield. Darren, of course, joined the club when things were starting to look good for Pools – a shame he wasn’t here for the glory days. He was able to see how Pools had progressed in 2005 by being at Cardiff for the play-off final. Seems he left footy altogether as he’s now working in the steel industry in Sheffield.

Two developments overall. Its sure been a bad time for foreign managers. Rangers, Crystal Palace and Everton have all dispensed with overseas born bosses and I fully expect more will be to follow. Still, the good news was the winning of the under 17 World Cup by England. Let’s nurture the talent. At least, when I watch Pools I can pronounce the players’ names!!

Ticket to Ride

BILLY'S CONTRACT is worked up about tickets

For it was written, some say even fixed, that Pools would inevitably meet South Shields in the qualifying round of the FA Cup proper. It was common knowledge that due to the small capacity of Shields' Mariner Park ground that Pools would only receive a limited number of tickets for their travelling away support and that many fans would be left disappointed and unable to make the journey up the A19. 

What did come as a surprise was that Pools announced that only 409 tickets would be available for sale. I use the word surprise as York, who played Shields in the previous round, had an allocation of just under 500 tickets. The common feeling among many supporters was that Pools received the same number of tickets as the Minstermen but these were distributed to sponsors and within 'the club' itself.

I desperately wanted to attend this match, for several reasons. Apart from the match itself it was an excuse of having a couple of sherbets with my son who lives down the road in The Heed. I also have a very good pal who supports Shields and it would have been good to have the craic with him before the match, after which we would have headed down to Ocean Road, the curry capital of the North East, for an Indian.* Having said that, I had no intention whatsoever of getting up at daft o'clock in the morning to to queue for a ticket to ensure my place on the terraces at Mariners Park.

On the day the tickets went on general release I arrived at the Vic around 9.45, did a quick head count and reckoned that there were around 150 fans patiently stood in the queue, which extended thirty feet into the club's car park. Under the impression that it was one ticket per person I reckoned that I would have a ticket in my grubby little pandies within the hour.

Whilst standing 'In Line' as our colonial cousins would say, we heard that the ticket office had opened half an hour earlier than advertised but even so the queue was hardly moving at all and when it did move it was at a snail's pace. One could not help noticing that many fans who had left the ticket office had purchased more than one ticket, in fact I saw one lad stuffing about half a dozen of them into his wallet.

It was only when I got talking to a well known Monkey Business contributor whom I won't name, (but for convenience's sake let's call him/her 'Mr'. Running Monkey), that I learned that many fans ahead of him in the queue were purchasing tickets en masse on behalf other season ticket holders who had passed on their season tickets to save queueing themselves.

On the face of it this seems a laudable act, purchasing tickets on behalf of friends and family, particularly for those who travel the length and breadth of this great country to follow their team but were unable to get to the ticket office on the day due to work and other commitments. The flip side to this was that those who were actually in the queue, many who likewise travel far and wide to see Pools (the lad stood behind me had travelled down from Northumberland), were then put at at a distinct disadvantage on two counts:

1 In effect those fans who were actually stood in the queue were penalised by having to wait even longer than necessary whilst the ticket office had to process and confirm the names and addresses of those fans who were being issued with tickets and were not present in the queue.

2 More importantly it also meant that fans who had queued for several hours were penalised yet again as this lessened their chances of obtaining a ticket.

After an hour we had reached the reception area of Pools' offices. Some disquiet amongst those in line arose when several Poolies who had got their ticket(s) told us that we were wasting our time staying and might as well go home as there were not many tickets left, which did not go down well at all. So much so that a couple of lads beside me went into the reception to ask if they could check if there was any point in their waiting. They were allegedly informed by the lady that she was too busy to check (This could have turned nasty after having stood for two hours, particularly had the weather been inclement).  Surely it would not have been too hard for her to wander down the corridor and ask the girls in the ticket office how many tickets that they had left, and do a quick head count and advise fans either to stay or go.
"would they have been allowed to purchase all 409 tickets in one felt swoop if they had had the necessary season tickets to cover them?"

I managed to persuade a young lad who was stood behind me, and who was all set to give it up as a bad job, to hang on, as he would kick himself if he later found that he had missed out. I also added that he would probably kick me if he did in fact get a ticket and see Pools get beat off Shields. After waiting an hour and fifty minutes I finally made it into the ticket office thinking that it would be ironic, having waited so long, to fall at the last hurdle and hear "sorry that's it, they have all gone". For a second I thought that was going to be the case, as the girl who was about to serve the lad in front of me was told by her colleague to turn her computer off.

For a brief second, I got same the feeling as those in the lifeboats when they witnessed the lights going out on the Titanic. Thankfully as it turned out they were only rebooting the system. I estimated that that I managed to get one of the last few tickets available as I then heard one of the girls say that she was on to her last book. HUFC and issuing tickets do not sit comfortably together. Not a great track record over the years to say the least.

It has to be said that it was a masterstroke when the club decided to outsource ticket sales for the play off final at Cardiff in 2015 otherwise many of us would still be waiting to get them. Firstly I would like it to be put on record, that this is not a criticism of the sales personnel in the ticket office, whom I have always found pleasant and helpful, but of the, let's say the admin backroom department within the club.

Two suggestions:

For big cup matches or ones with small ticket allocations such as the Shields game, the club should as a matter of course open the ticket office at 8.30 am or 9 am at the latest. I cannot understand the concept of opening at 10 am. Most people in the real world will have done three hours work by then. It would mean a couple of hours less standing/camping time for people like those who camped outside The Vic for the Shields tickets at two in the morning.

Communication. Intermittently someone from within the club should monitor any large queues and advise fans roughly how many tickets are left or how long it will be before they are likely to be served. Although it would be nice, I am not suggesting that they provide courtesy tea and biscuits to waiting fans, but some form of communication, no matter how basic, could allay any frustration that might be building up. As the ticket allocation was so small for the South Shields game they should have been issued one, two top whack, max per person. When asked why they were issuing more than one ticket per person the girl in the office replied that they did not think that they would sell them all ...obviously knows her fan base.

It was said that the first two people in the queue purchased 14 tickets between them. That is 3.5% of Pools' ticket allocation. I wonder would they have been allowed to purchase all 409 tickets in one felt swoop if they had had the necessary season tickets to cover them? Knowing Pools I think the answer might have been yes.

* Turned out he didn't get to the match after all as Shields had sold all their tickets. That didn't prevent us enjoying our post-match curry. I offered to treat my mate to a sweet but the waiter told me there was no direct Indian translation for 'humble pie', so he had ice cream instead.

Funny Old Game

Churlish to Complain

WAGGA MOON is pleased, but...

One defeat in 13 games is like taking us back to the Danny Wilson days but the football on display is a world away. It may be churlish to complain when we are not getting beat every week as we have been used to but this is the National League and the standard ain't good.

After our shocking start to the campaign our manager has taken the attitude that we will not get beat. Unfortunately this negative system sees us getting home draws instead of victories. While one up front away from home seems to be doing the trick the same system at home is not only unnecessary but is stinking The Vic out.

After bringing in two new strikers the fans are still waiting to get a proper look at them due to injuries. When they are both ready and Jake Cassidy is fit again there should be something to look forward to and no excuse for a negative line-up so lets hope Craig Harrison really goes for it with all the firepower he will have at his disposal.

We really have nothing to fear in this league and should be taking the game to some of these part-timers. Now that we have Luke George and Nicky Deverdics in midfield it should make a big difference to the area which up until now consisted of last season's failures, Featherstone, Hawkins and Woods doing not a lot to influence games.
"Unfortunately this negative system sees us getting home draws instead of victories."

I am trying my best to like Craig Harrison but while he keeps playing Featherlite I find it increasingly difficult. What exactly does he bring to the party? He can't run, can't tackle and can pass - sideways or backwards. Liam Donnelly is a far better bet and if Carl Magnay is out with a hernia, Kenton Richardson is a more than adequate replacement. He played very well last season in a piss-poor team.

It is sad to hear some of the local half-wits getting on Connor Simpson's back. The young man has a bright future in the game if he is handled correctly. And that does not mean playing him up top against two big centre backs kicking lumps out of him. He needs a big striking partner and some proper service from the wings or full backs. What was interesting at Torquay late on was that Scott Harrison was sent on up front and we could do a lot worse than him. When Ronnie Moore was in charge he said Scott had the best shot on him of everyone at the club. And he can certainly put himself about a bit, a little too much sometimes. As long as he is not put back in the centre of defence.

It is really unfortunate Keith Watson got injured just when he was really looking the part at the heart of our defence. What does seem strange is that he is staying with us while he is injured and not returning to his parent club. It is unclear who is paying his wages while he recovers but it would be odd if Pools were and he is not our player.

So halfway place in the league table, in touch with the play-off positions, and in striking distance of Dover who did not look a top team when I saw them at the Vic on the first day of the season. With a fully fit squad we are surely capable of overhauling those in front of us. Well, come November and it is FA Cup time again and Morecambe away is not the worst draw we could have had - an eminently winnable game and £18k in the pocket if we do so. Nothing to worry about as I always regard Morecambe as a Non-League side, having their little bit of fame the EFL. On loan from the Conference, as they used to say. 

Jon Gets a Tattoo

Another Janice and Jon story from SHEDRICK

Janice had an appointment at the hairdressers, she told Jon he would have to amuse himself for a couple of hours and gave him £5 to get himself a cup of tea and a cup cake at the corner café. 

Jon liked cup-cakes; see his fillings when he smiles. 

On the way to the café he passed the tattoo parlour. Janice had always warned him not to go in as nice people didn’t go there. Jon looked at the artwork in the window and liked the colourful pictures of ladies who all seemed to be trying to do the splits. 

A voice said “come on in, we won’t bite.” It was Miss Pin, whom Jon had often seen talking to motorcyclists. Jon told her he liked art and she said it wouldn’t hurt for him to have a closer look. Some of the ladies in the paintings did not have clothes on. 

Jon was getting hot so he took off his duffle coat and scarf. Miss Pin saw Jon’s scarf. “Oh you support Pools”, she said. “Yes” said Jon I like to let everyone know so I wear my scarf everywhere I go.” 

“That must get a bit hot in summer” said Miss Pin; if you had a nice 'Pools' tattoo across your chest you could leave your scarf at home and take off your shirt like those Toon Army fans do.”

I’d better not” said Jon, “I have to keep covered up because of my asthma, and a tattoo would be too expensive. I only have five pounds.”  

“I could do a small monkey on your arm instead”, said Miss Pin, “so people would know you are a monkey-hanger, and it would only take a few minutes.” 

Jon declined her offer as he thought it would hurt. Do you know what it is like to be a wimp? Jon does. 

Jon went for his cup of tea and met Janice later outside the hairdressers. 

“Did you manage to occupy yourself?” she asked. “Yes” said Jon, “Miss Pin stopped me and took me inside for a closer look at her pretty ladies. I took off my coat and she said if I took off my shirt as well I could have a big one. 

I told her I get out of breath and only had five pounds, she said I could make do with a small monkey and I could keep my vest on. 

Janet pulled a hair grip out of her new perm and stabbed Jon with it. 

He was glad he hadn’t gone ahead with a full tattoo if it hurts that much.

Home and Away


One can almost write a match report on Pools without even attending a game or reading or seeing any post match media coverage on it.

Home match: Away team starts time wasting 25 second after the game has started. Pools begin ponderously and slowly passing the ball from side to side and back to the keeper. Pools are now playing like an away team with a lone striker up front ...when I say a lone striker, I am not talking about someone like Jack Thorne, who we have brought in on loan, but with one man up front. Twenty five minutes pass of Pools huffing and puffing about, getting nowhere and our midfield is AWOL. In a Road to Damascus moment it suddenly dawns on the away side that Pools aren't exactly the Manchester United of the National league and start taking the game to Pools and pin them in their own half, peppering the goal and putting in crosses and shots from all angles. Scott Loach once again pulls off a couple of stellar opposed to Stella saves to keep Pools level at half time.

Second half begins. Pools once again start slowly and their opponents seem to have more of the ball. On a break Pools sneak a goal and then have to defend like their lives depended on it. Pools sit back deeper and deeper giving cause for concern to what's left of the National Coal Board that they may disturb old subterranean mine shaft workings as they are now playing so deep. Playing on the break Pools either hang on for a win or a draw but in any event our opponents miss a glorious chance right at the last gasp to snatch a draw or all three points. Pools either win one nil or draw one all.
"The last ten minutes is spent defending our goal as if it was the Alamo."

Here is a a quote from Gary Owers, the Torquay Manager,  after his team's defeat by Pools, which Craig Harrison and Nicky Featherstone should take note of. “We didn’t really look good chasing the game. We started passing the ball sideways and back to the goalkeeper instead of forward, which you shouldn't do, especially playing at home''. He could have also added "and not have eleven men back in our box when defending corners".

Generally away from home it goes something like this: Pretty much under the cosh from the off. Team looks disjointed and defence looks edgy. Scott Loach pulls off a couple of his customary world-class saves to keep Pools in the game. After thirty five minutes Pools have their one and only shot at goal which, although on target, rolls safely into the keeper's hands.

Second half: Pools slowly get into the game and create more chances. To their credit the Pools players are grafting hard for each other and sneak a goal. The last ten minutes is spent defending our goal as if it was the Alamo. Pools win by a solitary goal or earn a solitary point with a solitary goal. (Prior to the Torquay game Pools' record read: Played 17 Goals for 17 Goals against 17). At the end of the match a Hartlepool player leaves the field injured and we don't see him again for a couple of months.

In short, what I am saying is that Pools, whilst not playing too badly, have been riding their luck and have not exactly set the league alight or put the fear of God into our opponents. For all that, Pools are only three points away from a play off place. As yet no team is running away with the title. For a time Dover Dagenham and Macclesfield looked as if they were going to go off at a pace but all three have been pegged back by inconsistent form, which suggests to me that this is a poor league, even worse than the one that we should not have dropped out of.

The optimist in me is saying that with some minor tweaking (Deverdics and Munns in midfield for example) Pools will at some stage get their backsides moving and slip up into fourth gear and when that happens I think there is the possibility of picking up the title. The next best thing would be a play off spot.

On one worrying note, Pam Duxbury, Craig Harrison and some of the players have mentioned the play off's in several media interviews. I am hoping that they have not given up already on becoming National League Champions and winning the first piece of silverware in the clubs history. I can to a point understand talk of the play-offs and should Pools get promoted that way all well and good, The finanicial rewards to the club would be be greatly enhanced rather than going through the route of automatic promotion. It is a massive risk to take if the play-offs are indeed the club's target. To my mind they should only be used as a fall-back if we fail to secure automatic promotion at the first attempt.

The consequences of failure in the play-offs do not bear thinking about. One season in the National League is a bit of a novelty but any more than that would be Hell.

Sloppy Lost Points

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Pools 1 Tranmere 1 (National League)
Tuesday October 24th 2017
Victoria Park

RANT. Never in the history of human conflict on a football field have I ever seen so many cheats in the one team as the visitors tonight. 

Ok, you expect a few late tackles, the elbows in the back of the head. I don’t mind the odd push now and again in the early part of a game until the ref finds his feet and settles the game. Like it or not, it all seems commonplace in today's football. Tranmere seem to make it compulsory in their approach to the game. Pushing, charging, kicking after the ball has gone and even jumping in at players without any chance of winning a ball was all part of their game.

Today Pools fans witnessed the ultimate in cheating. Late in the game two Tranny subs were warming up down the line and one of them was trying to attract the attention of his goalkeeper. He was so desperate that he walked round the pitch and stood talking to the keeper and it was audible that he was telling the keeper to go down, obviously under instructions from the bench, as Pools were putting pressure on them. The fourth official spotted him next to the goal and came round to move him but he took his time and got his message across and was taking the P*$$ out of the official.

Within minutes the keeper went down in the box clutching his ankle and the rules say that if a man is down then the ref HAS to stop the game. The ref called on the physio and then was called over by the fourth official but no action was taken against the sub or the keeper. This is a new low in football but I suppose we have to get used to this in the division. Once back on his feet the keeper wandered to the edge of his box, keeping away from the Town End fans as much as he could as they chanted “CHEAT CHEAT CHEAT" but it was no matter to him as he just pointed to his temple indicating he was using his brain to take the sting out of the Pools attack.

The Ditchburn Poolie commented that this is a throw-back to the time we beat them at home and they went out of the league and we stayed up. So sad to see the game going this way.

Despite my rant on the cheating, it turned out a good performance, at least in the first half. Both teams could have won the game but sloppy defending from a corner levelled the game and robbed us once again of another two points. The run continues but the six early games and the points dropped in the run would have pushed us into the play-offs but I still think we lack that little edge to take us all the way.
" It was as if Moses had parted the Red Sea"

Pools took the game to them. The first foul from the Trannies took twenty-five seconds as Rodney was chopped down in the first tackle. Pools looked lively early on but a breakthrough by the visitors found Laing in a tangle in our box after Loach had blocked a shot and Laing managed to clear the danger. Pools had a good early spell and both Franks and Deverdics went close to opening the scoring. Deverdics can take a canny dead ball kick most of the time. One or two of his corners seemed a tad too long but today his ratio of decent service was good, less of the over-enthusiastic wellies that no one has a chance to get to. He looked to have taken a kick to the head as he went down in a challenge on the edge of their box and when he got up he looked like a kid with mumps as he had a bandage round his head and chin. He did change his shirt which meant there was some blood-letting in the incident.

He is not everyone’s favourite but I think that, despite his indecision sometimes to push forward, Featherstone is still an asset to the side and he broke up a lot of their attacks tonight. Tranmere were quick on the counter-attack and were keen to get in our faces when we had the ball. Magnay was having a good game and was not frightened to have a shot when the opportunity arose. One very clever low shot from him caused a lot of panic in their box till the ball was hooked clear.

Just before the break Franks, on a run across the box, had a shot that was blocked and Oates tested the keeper with a header that brought a corner which was cleared. It was a decent half for Pools, who defended well and played some good attacking football. Tranmere's game plan was to get a quick ball down the right wing to their Raheem Sterling lookalike, who was a decent winger but loved a dive or three, and Donnelly had his hands full marking him. The ref had to part them a couple of times during the game as the tackles got quite heated.

The second half was just as brisk ,leading to a much deserved goal for Deverdics, who hit another belter. The ref pulled up the game and we were unsure what he had given but Oates on a run was hacked twice and the ref played advantage then took the ball back to the original offence, giving Deverdics a better angle. I was astonished to see the Tranmere defence marking Pools in two groups at either end of the six-yard box. It was as if Moses had parted the Red Sea and left this huge void in the middle for Deverdics to aim for. I was looking down this huge gap and could see Deverdics lining up his shot, and said to the Ditchburn "This is going right in the top corner" and sure enough a wonder goal from the lad hit the net. Tranmere had not done their homework on him as it was a repeat of the winner at Shields.

We are less secure on the back foot, and sloppy defending at a corner then gave them a free header and it levelled the game, once again robbing us of two points.

Once again we capitulated late in the game after playing so well. We lost Magnay to an injury and we literally fell to pieces. The anchor to our defence was gone and the subsequent subs made it little better. We tend to drop further back and invite them on. We need to finish these teams off and as I said we just need that little extra lift from somewhere to make a realistic challenge at the end of the season. 

Fat Chance of a Win

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Pools 1 Sutton United 1 (National League)
Saturday October 28th 2017
Victoria Park

This was a great chance to reach the play off places for Pools, but every one of the teams in this division see us as a big scalp, the big boys from the football league, and it must raise their game a little.

The gods were against us today as most of them were dressed in black. One in particular should have worn a yellow shirt as I have never seen such a biased display by an official. I would not be surprised if I read in the “GREEN ;UN that he came on as a sub and scored the equalizer, as he gave them plenty of time and opportunity. OK, we all say that when we feel we have been robbed of a point but today;s official was criminal in his duties to the game of football and fair play. I wrote in my notes R P U P A nine times in the first half alone, which stands for ref pulls up Pools again.

It was a bright start with Pools winning the toss and kicking left to right along the slope, seeing as the end-to-end slope was ironed out during the closed season.
The return of the showboat Walton to the Vic was a damp squib and no goal from him like the last visit he made with whoever he was with. I have to say Showboat Walton is twice the man he used to be, no I will tell the truth, he is fat with a capital “F”. He is still inconsistent, dropping in and out of the game. He performed his glory cross field pass a couple times to little effect before he was yanked just after the break. Still wearing the shan tan though.

One sad moment in the game was as the ref stopped Rodney for another supposed foul, Shan Tan was seen pointing out to the ref that he had made similar fouls earlier in the game, pointing his finger to different areas of the field and like a good little boy the ref pulled out his book on Rodney. Showboat has always been a S( )!±.

The game started quite quick with Pools on the front foot and a confident Franks tried an early shot but was wide of the mark, but at least he has the confidence now to have a go. There was a RPUPA when the ref pulled up Rodney who was on a charge and was tackled but the free kick was given the other way. Pools are more confident going forward with Rodney, Oates and Franks all playing at a better level than the start of the season and we looked dangerous. One little aside is that we missed the drive of Featherstone today.

Their keeper has to be one of the smallest in the league and looked suspect at times and we should have punished that. More difficult than that was to get past the Sutton tabbies - half of their team out there today would have out-weighed our whole team. Some fat players can play football, especially the old hands who, have come down the leagues and they had at least five out there today who, despite their weight, used the ball well enough.
"Pools paid the penalty of not being alert enough to clear their box"

Loach made a class save from close range as the visitors threatened from a free kick after another RPUPA. A round of applause in memory of Michael Maidens rang round the ground on twenty-five minutes which the visitors’ fans joined in, which would have been a nice gesture for the visit to the Vic of his parents. 

Magnay returned today after a miracle cure, as the wireless said yesterday that he was out and about to have an operation, Magnay has been a good leader and has been playing well but I just hope he is not carrying an injury while playing because he slowed visibly after putting in a great shift, but it had been a tough game today.

Pools got the goal they deserved after a ball in from out wide. Rodney picked it up and struck a low shot that was blocked and Oates slipped in to slot the ball home just before half time. The second half saw the visitors take up the challenge and pressed us back for long spells, which is where our weakness in the middle of the park was exposed.

Pools on the break almost scored a second as Franks robbed a defender and went for the by line. His shot was pushed away by their keeper and Rodney was able to get a shot off but he was just too far past the post to turn the ball in for a second goal.

Pools were living on their nerves as the visitors pushed us back looking for an equalizer. After a few more RPUPA incidents they had a good chance with a free kick in the middle of the park just outside the box but again Loach came to the rescue with a great save,

Woods Oates and Rodney were all subbed during the half. It was a good move for Rodney as he seemed to be a target of the ref and was booked for a fifty-fifty challenge that in any other game or if the visitors had made it, it would have gone unnoticed. The ref had lost the plot by this time and was making a mockery of the rules of the game.

As their keeper was about to take a goal kick he walked off the pitch for a discussion with the Sutton management team, Their keeper, who had not noticed this and without hearing a signal or whistle from the official, took the free kick and the game was going on while he was still in discussion. The upshot of all this confusion was that the Sutton officials had complained to the fourth official about a comment from the Pools boss. I suppose we will never find out what that was all about.

Connor Simpson came on and was spoken to by the ref in his first challenge which was a farce. One of the little Sutton fatties tried to out-jump Simpson and was shielded away, which was enough for another RPUPA moment and they were becoming monotonous.

Simpson rose well to meet a great cross from Adams but was just wide of the mark. Three points were on the cards for Pools after a really tough fight. And that was just with the ref, He had the last laugh after a collision between George and Coombes of Sutton where there was no intent as their legs tangled in a nothing tackle. The latter was carried off with what looked like a broken ankle.
This allowed the official to carry the game on for nine minutes and after a long break in the game Pools paid the penalty of not being alert enough to clear their box and the game finished one-all, which saw the Sutton management celebrating jubilantly on the pitch as the goal went in.

Two points lost despite it being a tough game. We now battle for every point but still have slip ups to gift them a point. I lost count of the number of RPUPA incidents and the bookings but what does it matter when officials like this get away with being useless.

Up a Bit for the Cup

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

South Shields 1 Pools 2 (FA Cup)
Saturday October 14th 2017
Mariners Park

Another first for Pools today as we go into the first round qualifying game, a tough game against South Shields,  aka The Mariners. Who have been on a fantastic run of fifty three games without a defeat. Although this fact does not include the other fact that they won the league last term and decided not to be promoted. Even so it takes a good team to make that kind of run in any division of football.

I don’t mind saying that I was worried about the game; we need some success even after our own run of one loss in nine it looked a daunting task as we travelled up the A19 to Mariners Park.

Only just over four hundred tickets for the Pools fans meant a seven o'clock start in the queue last Tuesday. At seven o'clock there were about twenty five people ahead of me in the queue, a couple of lads at the head of the queue had been there since two in the morning, With a handful of season tickets each it was reported that they collected fourteen tickets between them. OK it has been done before and will be the same next time but this system obviously has problems for others who are not able to queue for tickets due to circumstances. I am of the opinion that the system need changing and an allowance of four per person could help the fans who cannot queue during the working day and would aid families to get at least four tickets when needed.

Stories of people turning up after the ticket office had been open two hours and still passing tickets to friends stood in the queue, if true, are unfair on the people still queuing. I just hope that those who did queue were successful.

South Shields' tidy little ground nestles in the middle of a industrial park. We found a good parking place five minutes from the ground and made it in early to claim a spot at the fence just right of the goal. The ground had a small stand about the size of the one at Billingham Town with a club house and a dressing room block and another building that looks like it was a club with a verandah viewing area on the first floor. On the other side there were a couple of small covered terrace areas with just a couple of steps in them.
" The bigger insult was when Shields scored first and they chanted “Are you Darlo in disguise?” "

The four hundred plus Pools fans were given one of these stands and half of the area behind one goal. A ploy I thought as they wanted to be less effective in supporting our team. The gents toilets were first class. It was a strange atmosphere as the home fans applauded politely as the teams came out apart, from a couple of dozen in the other small small covered terrace which was segregated from the Pools fans. The dozen or so fans in the back of this terrace took great delight in hanging a couple of monkeys in the roof of their stand, which they probably thought was an insult to us. The bigger insult was when Shields scored first and they chanted “Are you Darlo in disguise?”

Once the game started all the doubt disappeared as the manager had made some changes and for the first twenty minutes it looked as if it was working. We played some canny football but never really threatened them, which has been the case for most of the season in the games I have seen.

Shields should have had a penalty when even from the far end you could see Harrison take down their striker in the box. I said last week that he is a liability as for most of the game he gets involved in unnecessary wrestling and today they seemed to play on this and it looked bad. I think we only had one decent shot in this spell and it was straight at the keeper.

Rodney went close when he flicked a ball up in the box but he never really had control of it and it went over the bar.The home team cheated the ref and were given a free kick after Arca feigned injury in a challenge. The ball was hoisted forward and defenders stood watching rather than challenging and as Harrison lost the ball they slotted a ball through the legs of Loach. They played the better football throughout the half and could have gone four up with some good shots and a couple of which rattled the Pools bar.

Half time brought out the moaners, "Harrison has no idea what he is doing", "He should be scattered", and most of the team came in for criticism as the Pools fans took out their anger on various players and formations. One critic said "Harrison is not going to change things as he has left out all the subs, Rodney should be off, Deverdics should be off". All of these football managers had their own combination of players they would like to see and Harrison was not given the lickings of a dog. Harrison then did his own thing and left the starters on, and it paid off.

Oates, who for me was Man of the Match, was involved in every attack and always gave 100 percent, charged into the box and connected with a Franks cross. His shot was blocked and up popped Rodney to gently roll the ball over the line to make it one-all. The second goal was a peach of a free kick from Deverdics after Oates was chopped down. The shot from well outside the box was majestic as it curled past the keeper into the net. The football managers on the terrace all fell silent around this time.

Shields came back strongly after going behind and they were making chances. Loach had to pull off a couple of decent saves and we could have blown it with a handball from Laing, who guided the ball out from a corner with his arm, which both the lino and the ref luckily missed. We then ran the clock down with some good running from Oates, Woods and Featherstone.

Hawkins took a card for the team when he brought down a man breaking free but he could do little else. Deverdics and Rodney, both having been heavily criticized at half time had just won a cup tie for us but I suppose if you pay your money you are allowed an opinion but most of the football managers should keep their opinions to themselves.

Funny Old Game

Pools Are Motoring


Solihull Moors 1, Pools 2 (National League)
Saturday October 7th 2017
Damson Park

Well before Pools 'went non-league', I'd usually have a good trawl through all the football results in the Sunday papers including those from the National League to see how our old adversaries Wrexham, Torquay, Lincoln and the like were getting on ...or coping. For some reason whenever I saw the name Solihull Moors in print, through being 50% dyslexic and 50% just plain thick, I always read their name as Solihull Motors. Happened all the time. 

It could be that I thought that Solihull, being on the outskirts of Coventry, had some connection with the once mighty BMC (British Motor Corporation), which later became British Leyland, manufacturers of the Austin Allegro, the Marina, the Maxi and the Morris Ital ...types of cars that Germans could not (ever) build.
Once I saw this season's fixture list, I decided that Solihull would be one of my nailed-on away jaunts, if for nothing else as some form of exorcism to eradicate the word 'Motors' whenever I saw it in its written form.

Literally at the last moment I nearly had a change of mind about making the journey - well, who wouldn't after watching the Pools v Barrow game. Yes, we picked up the three points, how I don't know, but it was as dreadful a turgid display as you could (not) wish to see. The only reason I did decide to motor down to the Motors - sorry the Moors, was that I had previously arranged with my mate from Bristol to use the fixture as an excuse to meet up as we had not seen each other for the best part of 8/9 years.

From here on I will refer to my former County Durham friend as Mr. T. Like algebra, the Midlands, apart from Coventry, is a bit of a mystery to me. Coventry on the other hand, which I am familiar with, is a lot of a mystery to me. So with that in mind I made straight for the ground,  which is sandwiched in between the massive Jaguar Land Rover factory on one side and the control tower at one end of the runway at Birmingham Airport, which until very recently I thought was East Midlands airport. I did say earlier that the Midlands was a mystery to me.

A bit of useless information: according to my satnav, Solihull, give or take a few miles, is almost equi-distant from Hartlepool and Torquay. That is perhaps why they are in the Midlands.

Got to the ground in good time and very soon met up with Mr. T from Bristol and minutes later Mr. L and friends from Stratford on Avon but sadly never got the chance to say hello to Mr.J. from Nottingham who was also in attendance. (Sounds like Characters from the film Pulp Fiction. sorry I meant Pools Fiction).

Solihull's ground occupies a very large site; indeed the car park, out of season could be used as an additional income stream for the club as an overflow parking area for the airport*. The ground itself is not bad at all, with the exception of two stands of scaffolding construction, one with a tarpaulin over the top of it to protect those sat in (the middle of) it from the elements and the other one without the luxury of the tarpaulin in the away section. Guess where we were sat when it rained!

Like most non-league outfits the staff could not be more friendlier if they tried. After a quick pint in their impressive club house we took our place midway up the scaffolding, much like that famous 1930's picture of the group of New York workmen sat on a girder 40 storeys up, having their bait and tabs.

Mr T who in his youth had played football at a decent level had been 'cramming up' on Pools beforehand by reading match reports as well as watching TV clips etc, He grilled me about Pools, their players and formations etc. To which I replied that a good number of first team choices were out injured, Our most creative player is on the bench (Jack Munns) and we don't have a properly functioning midfield. On the plus side we generally play poorly but of late we get a result of sorts and this was, as it turned out pretty, much the order of the day.

Pre-match Mr. T was keen to see Rodney and Franks play and wondered if Harrison and Laing were as bad in the flesh as he had heard. His jury was surprisingly out on Loach as he seemed to think he has a tendency to palm a few of his shot stops back into play. On the other hand he is not totally convinced about the appointment of Craig Harrison.

The first half proved to be a dud - a dour midfield struggle with the odd breakaway from both sides. The best Pools could muster were three really good crosses into the box. Two of them wasted as none of Harrison's so call three up front were anywhere near up front and the one cross that did eventually reach a Pools forward resulted in a shot that was so tame it could have been classed as a gentle back pass to the keeper.

This sadly was Pools only real attempt on goal in 45 minutes of play. With the referee about to blow, Scott Loach pulled off his customary reflex save and kept Pools in the game by tipping the ball over the bar. Seconds after the half time whistle went Mr. L informed us that Jack Munns was coming on for Lewis Hawkins. I think that Mr. L had heard this before Hawkins had been informed that he was going to be subbed. He also told us that Oates was coming on for Thorne which was not a surprise and if the lad was honest it should not have come as a surprise to him either.

I momentarily reflected on who was actually running the side, Mr. L or Craig Harrison. During the halt time interval Mr. T pointed out that one of Solihull's subs, who was warming up, was Richard Brodie, ex-York and Gateshead, along with a good few others under his belt. Mr.T. said that Pools would need to watch him if he came on as he was a ne'er do well, or much stronger words to that effect.

During the interval Solihull paraded about 250 kids around the ground, all in Solihull shirts. Here's me thinking that they had a record crowd because Pools were in town, but it would have been boosted massively by the parents and families who came to see all of these youngsters. I later read that The Moors have over 30 teams in various Saturday/Sunday/youth and junior leagues. This is a credit to them particularly when one considers how many big clubs are on their doorstep. Pools should certainly look at taking a leaf or two from their book.
"Brodie went to ground, as someone behind me said 'Like a soft tart.' "

No sooner had the second half started than Pools scored a really well worked goal with their first bit of fluent football in the match so far. I'll use the You Tube highlights to describe the goal as I was still queueing for my Bovril when the goal was scored. Some lovely interpassing of the triangular nature between Munns Deverdics and Woods sent Jonathan Franks down the wing, who initially beat his man and the ball looked as if it was going roll out for a goal kick. And the Jonathan Franks of old kicked in and he stopped running after ball. The ball then seemed to stick on the line and the new, supercharged Jonathan Franks of 2017 kicked in and much like Luke James, the patron saint of lost causes, chased after the ball, won it off the full back who was trying to shield it, then went past another defender and passed to Munns, who squared to Oates to slot home.

After that Pools were in the driving seat, or as John Motson would say The acendancy, and were only occasionally troubled by The Moors with the odd tame shot which was bread and butter to Loach. That changed in the 89th minute when a innocuous cross came into the Pools box and Louis Laing went up with Brodie, who had come on as a sub and with little or no contact, living up to his moniker, the ne'er do well Brodie went to ground, as someone behind me said 'Like a soft tart.' Mr. T was not impressed and said it was one of the softest penalty decisions that he had seen in a long while. At the same time his ire was rising even more because it was Brodie who had come on, done his job and conned the ref. Some would call him a seasoned professional who has been around the block. I'd call him something else. A cheat.

Penalty converted, the Solihull skipper sending Loach the wrong way. Not that I saw much of the penalty in full as, like the others who had deserted the uncovered scaffold seeking shelter from the rain, we had moved to the covered end behind the goal.  Due to the numbers in this cramped stand it was difficult to see Loach, only the penalty taker. So grateful thanks once again to You Tube, which enabled me to see the spot kick in full in the comfort of my own home. 

With a long drive ahead of me back home and seconds remaining on the clock I made a dash to the gentlemen's facilities near the half way line. I had done what I had to do just as Jack Munns' free kick got headed on, the ball went across the face of the goal and I heard the roar in the away end as Pools snatched what proved to be the winner. When I returned to my spot on the terrace Mr. T. asked who scored goal and I told him I could not rightly say as a portly chap in front of the dug outs moved to the right and blocked my line of vision. The portly chap was none other than Craig Harrison.

Summary; Once again Pools made hard work of beating a team in the bottom half of the division and like other games seemed to show their opponents too much respect instead of swiftly putting them to the sword. In the plus column Harrison must have finally grasped that Lewis Hawkins, who should have been dropped long ago, is not cutting the mustard and Munns, who drove the midfield forward once he came on, should be an automatic first choice selection.

Munns, along with many on the day did not play well against Fylde and was consigned to the subs bench for several games. Hawkins who has played poorly for most of the season was selected week in and week out made me think it was a case of players' faces fitting or not fitting with the manager as the case me be.

With luck Craig Harrison will break the existing midfield up (keeping Woods as a sub), as that got us into the National League in the first place. Scotty Harrison probably had his best game to date whilst Louis Laing is still not firing on all cylinders. Basically if we play the way we did against Solihull I can see South Shields dumping us out of the FA Cup as Pools have no answer to teams that come out of the traps running and who have pace.

Mr.T's summing up of the match: Far from being a great performance, or A match Pools deserved to win. However he sees Louis Laing as the weak link, who does not seem to know how to kick a ball properly and gets caught out. Like me he thought James Thorne looked out of his depth. Funnily enough there was no mention of the mid field but as I said to him afterwards we don't really possess one. In the plus box Mr. T. thought Jonathan Franks the pick of the bunch, a footballer. He also liked the cut of Deverdics' Munns' and Magnay's jibs and thinks, as many Poolies do, that there is a footballer in Rodney somewhere, and that Scott Harrison put in a reasonable performance.

Mr. T. was taken aback to hear the away support starting to get on the team's backs when things were not going Pools' way, which he thought unusual for Hartlepool fans, who normally give there all, particularly when things are not going all their own way. I told him if he had seen what we have had to put up with these last few years they are lucky to have to have any support at all.

He is still unsure about Craig Harrison and his tactics. Mr. T reckons at the end of the season Pools will be up there but sees Dagenham as the team that will be collecting the silverware at the season's end. Like me he also agrees that the grey shirts are awful.

Oh, did I forget to mentioned that Mr.T is a life-long Darlington fan?

The drive home was a bit of a nightmare as my left eye was playing up. It is little wonder I missed all the goals. Here's me blaming Pools' grey shirts when it turned out I had conjuctivitis which, as I write this, has transferred over to my right eye!

Any Other Business


In the top half of the table at last. If only just.

But that league table looks so wide open that predicting who'll even be in the top half of the table come May is a bit difficult, let alone who'll be fighting it out for automatic promotion. Pools do seem to have the ability to thrive in this league, but also have the ability to make hard work of it. Those two home matches in 4 days would have put Pools third in the league but for conceding late equalisers in both of them.

Of Borderline Interest
Spotted by one of our regular contributors
 Carlisle in 'Merc or brake' effort' to stop support dwindling further

That trial

Here's the report from their local rag of the trial of the two men convicted of the dodgy goings-on which happened at Pools after Ken Hodcroft found some new owners. Not to be confused with the dodgy (and probably quite legal) goings-on which happened at Pools after he found some other new owners.