Showing posts from January, 2018

Deja Vu


I started last month's Monkey Business by detailing Pools' November record of four losses and one win in five games, scoring eight and conceding four.

Each night we hear the same old banal paper talk from players and manager alike quotes such as 'Pools are in for extra training'. 'Harsh words used in the dressing room' 'The players must stand up and be counted' 'We are better than this' ' We have to raise our standards' etc etc. I fear shortly based on December's results we will be soon hearing that 'We are too good to go down'.

At the time of writing, in the event of Pools suffering a ten points deduction for going into administration, it would see the club one place above the bottom four by one point. Mind, if the Chester game had gone ahead and Pools had lost, they would be in the drop zone. December's results were even worse than November's: played five, drew one, lost four. Goals scored 4, goals conceded 11. It makes even worse reading when one of the results was the humiliating and costly cup exit at the hands of part-time Workington, two divisions below Pools.

The home defeat at against Maidenhead was equally humiliating on two counts:

1) After the Workington result Harrison had his team in the following day for training. During the week, ahead of the Maidenhead game we are told that the players put in a couple of double shift training sessions, which on reflection is just as well as the score could have been a lot worse.

2) Part timers Maidenhead have taken six points from Pools. Oh sorry, and all due respect to Pools, that isn't exactly true. I have since been informed that Maidenhead have two full time professionals on their books.

Basically since the beginning of November there has been no improvement whatsoever in style of play, tactics and more importantly results. Come to think of it, if I am brutally honest, there has been little or no improvement since last season, let alone this season. We are now at the stage of the season were we are playing teams the second time around. Already Maidenhead and Dover have taken, sorry, being given, six points from Pools, Dover giving us a damn good thrashing in the process, whilst Macclesfield have taken four points.

As I type this Macclesfield are 21 points clear of Pools which, taking nothing away from the Macc lads, apart from the four points that we gifted them, is a damning statement on how far we are off the pace. Never mind, there is always the play-offs I hear Craig Harrison say, but Pools are currently ten points adrift and would have to win four games just to catch up, and some teams have a couple of games in hand of Pools.

I can't make out if it is the Manager or the players who are culpable. In truth I think it is a a bit of both, or perhaps a lot of both. Craig Harrison is classed as a progressive manager with all his stats percentages, game plans, charts, tag lines etc etc. This may be all very well for a manager blessed with a talented squad of players who understands what is required and take it on board. At National league level and particularly in the Pools camp one needs to factor in the level of ability in the squad and play to their strengths ...if of course they have any, and try to not baffle them with too much science.

"one needs to factor in the level of ability in the squad and play to their strengths ...if of course they have any"
Many fans on the terraces, myself included, are now of the opinion that Craig Harrison is well out of his depth at this level. Although there is discontent mounting on the terraces there has not been any chanting demanding his dismissal as the fans are aware that Pools cannot afford to sack him and fund a replacement. The only way that can be done is if Harrison nobly decides to call it a day and resign with no strings attached for the benefit of himself and more importantly the club.

Another alternative is now that some monies will be freed up from releasing the two loanees Adeloye and Thorne and possibly Scott Harrison in January to get someone in, like Ronnie Moore or Eddie Kyle on a token wage to assist him in much the way Terry Venables was brought into the borer set up when Byran Robson was struggling with the managerial side of things. Another possibility would be to send Harrison away to spend three or four days with the successful Cowley brothers, the joint management team at Lincoln City, to get their input on how to manage a team at this level and get them out of this league.

If Craig Harrison is to make a fist of things I think that he should be harder on the players. Tell Deverdics for example to to stop bleaching his hair as he looks like a wuss, and concentrate on his football.

Because of the recent run of poor results, much like Sam Allyardyce at Everton, Harrison should have put his foot down and cancelled the players' Christmas party. Dublin I heard. Harrison should go back to basics and play 4-4-2 at home and, unless circumstances dictate 4-5-1, away from home. If it means ugly football as opposed to woeful football so be it. The manager needs to drop the tactic of having his starting eleven encamped in their own the penalty area when defending corners and to leave one man up front. Basic basic, basic stuff.

I am unable to recollect any other team in this division that uses this ploy. Harrison needs to look at how many goals Pools have conceded from this statagem. Not sure how many that is, but plenty seems to ring a bell.

He should consider why 'Pools concede so many goals within the first ten and last ten minutes of a match. Concentration and fitness spring to mind here.

As for the players, let's not beat about the bush, it is a poor squad, average at best. Due to two year contracts we are stuck with many of the team that successfully got us relegated in the first place. To make matters worse, half the players that Craig Harrison has brought in are no better than what we had previously and the other half are injury prone or both. One ex-Pools legend has commented that he would scatter the whole of the current squad as they have no heart.

The only level of consistency that Pools have is that of inconsistency throughout the side. One week a player will have a blinder then he can't play for toffee the following week. This is something few managers can legislate for unless by dropping them (but then they are still on the payroll), or shipping them out elsewhere (but who would have them?)

We have been told that injuries have had a big impact on results. I don't buy into this. We have a squad of 29 professionals which is bigger than most league clubs. Until the loss of the two right backs Magnay and Richardson a few weeks ago we have had cover in pretty much every position on the field. The only significant loss was Keith Watson who not only kept our opponents' forwards at bay but had the added benefit of keeping one or other of the chuckle brothers from playing in our back four.

We have not missed Ryan Donaldson at all as prior to his injury he was fairly anonymous in most games. In the little of what I have seen of Luke George he has failed to impress at all and is probably better off in the sick bay as far as the first team is concerned. The midfield is slightly more attack-minded with the benefit of Featherstone's absence, so the ball is not being returned to his keeper at regular intervals. Jake Cassidy has yet to start firing on all cylinders since his eagerly awaited return so I cannot accept the injury situation as an excuse for our current league standing.

I thought that last season's league two was poor but the National League is even worse, with some truly awful sides it.

No team has a divine right to win the league or gain promotion but one would have thought that with the resources Craig Harrison has at his disposal Pools would be making more of a fist of it. I never thought for one instant at this stage of the season that we would be 21 points, yes 21 points behind the league leaders.

The one thing Craig Harrison has done so far is firmly establish Pools as a National League side. After today's game against The Plastic Geordies at the Vic he should be taking a good long hard look at himself, however he would probably respond to that with "Hartlepool United are unbeaten in 2018".

Funny Old Game

Troubled Times


Indifferent performances, a club up for sale and an injury list as long as a wet weekend in Darlington. These are the three elements that face Pools as the New Year gets under way.

On the field, I suppose we could bumble through but it's off the field that raises concern. If the club does run out of money then the ultimate nightmare would be administration and a subsequent deduction of points. So a season that started with optimism would see us staring relegation in the face.

The fans have not been slow to express their concerns. Social Media now makes it easier to fans to vent their feelings and it has led the Northern Echo’s Nick Loughlin to say the following : ‘The club’s support is somewhat fractured with various parties squabbling like kids in a playground’. Sorry, but I can’t agree.
"In terms of Pools being taken over, I have to be pessimistic."

Facebook, and in particular, the Hartlepool United Supporters Group, has shown just how much Poolies care about the club and there are bound to be disagreements on the plight of the club they love. Gone are the days when supporters used to write to the local paper about their club – but how often do you see letters in the Hartlepool Mail? No, they don’t do that any more – they go on social media.

I’m a member of the Hartlepool United Supporters Group. I make comments from time to time but prefer to read the opinions (sometimes with bad language and a reference to Harrison’s girth!) What Nick Laughlin needs to realise is that newspapers are old hat; their circulations are falling as people get their information from other sources. I would suspect that there are more members in the Hartlepool United Supporters Group than there are Northern Echo readers in Hartlepool. Newspapers might have had influence at one time but no more.

When browsing on the internet, I came upon a Daily Telegraph website entitled The Least Trusted Professions (date unknown). It said that journalists are trusted by 7 per cent of people. As they say, don’t believe what you read in the papers.

In terms of Pools being taken over, I have to be pessimistic. Local money men are thin on the ground and one of the few times that Pools enjoyed stability was when IOR were at the helm. Sadly, the oil industry went belly up and IOR weren’t making the profits to invest in Pools. Whilst we had a chairman who was away from Hartlepool on business, we still ran a tight ship with Russ Green at the helm. Sadly, those days are gone and we must look to the future with uncertainty. I hope I’m wrong.

In the Bleak Midwinter


SIX games without a win as at the start of the season, 15th in the league fifth tier and the club still potless and up for sale, things have hardly been as bad as this at Victoria Park. 

Surprisingly at the time of writing Craig Harrison is still in charge although he has done nothing to retain his position. It appears the lack of money at the club means Sage Investments are unable to pay up his contract if they sack him and it appears dubious that the players will even get paid this month.

It appears that quite a few will be leaving this month through the shortage of cash and this might not be a bad thing given some of the dross Harrison has brought to the club. It is very unlikely that any leaving will bring in a transfer fee as we will be lucky to give them away. I would say Scott Loach, Liam Donnelly and Connor Simpson are the only ones we would get any money from but given our attitude in the transfer market they will be sold on for peanuts. And any money made will go to the outgoing owners.

"we are hardly an attractive acquisition"
There appears very little likelihood of anyone coming along to buy the club. Given the fact we don't even own our ground, have huge debts and no assets apart from a bunch of losers on the football field, we are hardly an attractive acquisition. There is talk on one of the club's message boards of a Trust for the fans to take over the running of the club. But reading some of the postings on there it would appear that most of the guys on there should be in a mental institution rather than running a football club.

The serious position the club finds itself in is by far the worst I can remember in all my time as a Pools supporter. The team is probably the worst I have had the misfortune to watch and the crowds are beginning to dwindle and it will get a lot worse before it gets better. The club have started with the clearout by releasing James Thorne whose signing was as much use as a chocolate fireguard. As a replacement for Padraig Amond it definitely did not work.

Scott Harrison looks to be on his bike and whoever thought of giving him a new contract last summer deserves shooting. I think most of Harrison's signings could be released without being missed with the exception of Keith Watson. It is only his injury problems that make him play for Pools and not at a much higher level.

This window looks the perfect opportunity to offload Xavi Featherfanny and my offer still stands to drive him to his next club free of charge. As far away from Pools as possible hopefully. Torquay or Weston-super-Mare sounds good to me.

Connor Simpson has had little game time in our latest barren spell while he looks the ideal partner upfront alongside Jake Cassidy. Two reasons for this, Harrison is too conservative to have two strikers up front and the second is that the club don't want him getting injured before they sell him this month. While it looks certain he will going let us hope it is for a realistic price with add-ons for when he plays a certain number of league games, when he plays in the Premier League and when he has scored a certain amount of goals. No more deals like the Jack Baldwin one grabbing the first offer that came in and no replacement signed.

Now to the serious business in hand of getting our first win of the year at Dagenham tomorrow. While we live in hope I think we might have to wait a while longer for a three-pointer.

Funny Old Game

Retired Player of the Century

a thank-you from RITCHIE HUMPHREYS 

After 23 years as a trainee and professional footballer I retired from professional football in the summer and I would like to thank all the people who have helped me along the way, coaches, managers, volunteers, club staff, supporters and of course my team mates and fellow professionals.  

The staff and the supporters of all of the clubs I’ve played for have all played a part in my experience as a professional footballer; I feel I have more than fulfilled my boyhood dream to be a professional footballer by managing to play for so many years. It has been a privilege to play over 700 professional games.

Playing for one of my home city's teams was a tremendous honour for a boy from Sheffield. My youth apprenticeship and 5 years as a pro at Sheffield Wednesday was fantastic and playing alongside the senior players they had at that time gave me a good understanding of what it takes to continue in this fantastic profession.

My spell at Cambridge United was enjoyable yet short. Spending the last four years of my career at Chesterfield FC has been professionally rewarding; getting a league winners medal, playing in a cup final at Wembley and receiving the prestigious honour of being the Chairman of the Professional Footballers' Association, a role offering me the privilege of representing all members of the PFA.
"the memories of all the highs and lows will remain with me forever"

Of course a special mention for the club I spent 13 seasons playing for, Hartlepool United. My time in the north east will always be a special memory for me and my family. By the time I left in 2013 I’d managed to break the all time appearance record for the club, which now stands at 543, had a testimonial and was part of a team which was the most successful in the club's history.

So many great people to thank and life long friends made with team mates I had.
I’d also like to thank the staff and supporters of the clubs at which I had short loan spells. Scunthorpe United, Cardiff City and Port Vale.

With a young family I now look forward to watching them grow up and have their own hobbies and interests. I know for sure that without the help of my parents as a youngster my career as a professional footballer wouldn’t have been possible. With the amount of dedication and commitment required in professional sport it’s not always possible to be as sociable as you’d like and attend certain events. So I have to thank my closest friends and family for the support and understanding over the years and of course my amazing wife.

It has been a privilege to have had the job that I dreamt of having as a kid. I am no longer a professional footballer, but the memories of all the highs and lows will remain with me forever.

Thank you football.

Ghost of Christmas Past


Back in the days of my youth I would be preparing for Christmas as far back as August. No, I was not buying the presents early but looking at the just published fixture list to see where Pools would be on Boxing Day...and invariably they were at home. 

The other ritual we all had was counting down the days from mid-December, eagerly awaiting the arrival of, not Santa, but the Christmas editions of the Radio and TV Times in our local newsagent so we could stategically plan our Yuletide viewing. The blockbuster Bond movie on Christmas day, Zulu, The Great Escape, Where Eagles Dare. Ironic, really how the Christmas schedules were all full of death violence and a bit of the other, and not too much of the good will to all men scenario.

Christmas night viewing usually comprised of The Morecambe and Wise, Mike Yarwood, Nana Mouskouri, Lulu and (best of all) Val Doonican Christmas Specials.  I have got to say that despite the industrial unrest at the time, the blackouts, the miners, power workers and bin men all being on strike, there was nothing, and I mean nothing, more reassuring than Val smiling at the camera, standing in front of a blazing fire place bedecked with tinsel and Christmas cards and stockings as we bloody froze to death, crooning away to himself in a comfy jumper and all in the world for that magical hour was well. Ah those were the days.

A couple of weeks ago the Housekeeper/Carer and myself were in the supermarket. Whilst The Bride went to stock up on our depleted supplies of corned beef and other essential victuals for Christmas dinner, I decamped into the reading library section of Sainsburys. To my absolute surprise and delight the first thing I came across was rack upon rack of both the Radio and TV Times. I honestly thought that they ceased publication at about the same time as the demise of steam traction. So for old time's sake I had a quick peek at both magazines and instantly had to double check the date on their front covers -- that it was actually the 2017 edition and not  the 1971 one,  as,yes, The Bond movie The Great Escape, Zulu, Morecambe and Wise and Val Dooncan et all still featured prominently. Some things never change. Afterthought: What a great name The TV Times is. The title says it all really. The TV Times -- that is all you need to know. More or less does what it says on the tin ...oh, sorry I meant paper.

Fast forward to Christmas day 2017 and I am opening my pressies and wondering if Pools' financial worries are all but over owing to the number of items that have been purchased for me for Christmas from the club shop. I handed the Housekeeper her pressie and thought that she would roll her eyes when she opened the envelope which contained a ticket for the Gateshead match on Boxing Day. Never let it be said that I don't know how to treat a Dame.

She was actually quite pleased as she used to be a regular at the Vic, but apart from the pre-season friendly at Dunston she had not seen Pools in many a good long year. "Lucky her", I hear you say.

The fixture list was kind to us as it meant that we were able to drop my son, after his Christmas stay with us, back home in The Heed. After a pleasant run up there,we parked on the banks of the mighty Tyne just outside of my son's local, The Schooner, the second best pub in Gateshead, so the sign reads on the outside of the building. I am near enough a regular here myself. and I would not argue with that statement.

Reinvigorated by a few craft beers, a short walk saw us inside the Plastic Geordies' Stadium in less than ten minutes and that allowing for a quick frisk from security at no extra charge.

Due to the nature of the stadium being geared up for athletics we were seated a fair bit away from the action but unlike West Ham's Olympic Stadium the players did not look like micro dots, and you could see, with a decent telescope, who was who and got a decent view of how the teams and formation were set out. That said we did not get a clear view of Oates' penalty call and Blair's second booking, both of which when viewed later looked extremely harsh.

Pools' travelling contingent of nearly 2,200 were very vocal prior to and just after kick off, bringing back memories of the good old days under Neale Cooper and Danny Wilson. However Craig Harrison's men managed very successfully in a matter of minutes to quieten down the hordes who travelled up the A184 via the A19 with the quality of football that was being served up. The first half saw Gateshead do most of the attacking and looking at our back four we did not have a defender among them.

In a rare foray into the Gateshead penalty area we were fortunate to get penalty which I think was our first and only shot on target during the first half. As half time approached The Heed gained a corner and I pointed out to the Bride Craig Harrison's illogical and insane tactic of having 11 men back in the penalty box when defending a corner; actually it was only ten as Blair Adams had been sent off by this stage, with no one left up front.

 I hadn't got the words out of my mouth when The Plastic Geordies scored from a well-worked set piece that Loach had no chancewith, owing to a wicked deflection off a Hartlepool player which wrong footed him.

Five minutes into the second half and it is Deja Vu time. Dear reader, just re- read the above paragraph word for word to describe the goal that put The Heed in front. Talk about Dog day afternoon. (For the record, The Heed's first goal at the Vic a week later stemmed from Harrison's eleven men back in the penalty box strategy.)

Give Pools their due, in the last twenty minutes they decided to take the game to Gateshead and Louis Laing, who cannot defend for nuts, made three excellent runs carrying the ball forward, beating opponents, Franz Beckenbauer style and on his third run he passed the ball to Rodney who slipped it to Woods who in turn neatly slotted it home. Probably the best worked goal Pools have scored all season.
" you could see, with a decent telescope, who was who and got a decent view of how the teams and formation were set out."

Minutes later Woods nearly grabbed the winner but all in all a draw was a fair result. The whistle went, I took £18 from the bookies, guessing the correct score, and whilst glad of salvaging a draw with ten men it still felt like a defeat. It was  noticeable that Craig Harrison did not join in with the players by coming on the pitch to applaud the massed ranks of  Pools fans, but in retrospect that was perhaps a wise decision.

Back to the Schooner 'to sink' a few sherberts and we later we made our way to Saja's and although there was no sign over the door stating it is the best Indian restraurant in Tyneside we knew from past experience that it was and it, unlike Pools, did not disappoint.

Over Liver Tikka I asked the bride for a summary of the game. She could not believe how poor Pools were. She said that they did not appear to have a set formation or even a plan. Lacked pace and did not anticipate danger. She saw little or no communication between the players. Some looked liked they'd never played together before. She could not recall the forwards winning any headers or making any meaningful challenges or there being a midfield. She added that Rodney ran like a girl (Apparently she can say that because she is a girl whereas Bono, as much as I dislike him, has been pulled to pieces by the liberals for saying something similar in the press about someone or other.)

Having said that, as I said earlier, in Pools' defence the bride had not seen them since the halycon days when we were blessed with the likes of Joel, Ritchie, Tinks, Eifon, Westy, Nelse Clarkey and the rest. On the drive back home she asked who was the manager of Pools anyway. I answered by giving her a quiz question inspired by her own question. Q; Who Sang 'Better Go Now?' A: The Moody Blues. Very apt in the circumstances I thought.

I asked he if she would like a ticket for the return match on New Year's Day but she declined. Instead she spent the day taking down the Christmas decorations which spoke volumes really.

The match on New Year's day was a repeat of the one of Boxing Day. The Heed once again could feel aggrieved at not having taken all three points, being the better, quicker and seemingly fitter footballing side. Big plus for Pools was the return of Keith Watson, who scored twice and with his feet, and who not only showed our forwards how it is done but also the players who attempted to fill his boots when he was out injured the art of defending as well as scoring.

Sadly all his good work was undone by sloppy defending from Lewis Hawkins who was responsible for both the Heed goals. After the match over a pint we worked out that the gate receipts Gateshead took from the 2,000 plus travelling Poolies would net them around £27k plus whatever was taken at the refreshment kiosks. What was supposed to be the seasons biggest away following at the Vic today amounted to a paltry 352 Heed fans who only filled a third of the Rink End, which we estimated only contributed less than £5k to Pools' coffers.

Heed v Pools (and vice versa) were both billed as derby matches, the first time these two teams have met in any league for over 60 years and yes, whilst both matches, certainly for the neutral, were enjoyable to watch, they lacked the passion and fight both on and off the pitch to be considered as proper derbies. Come back Darlo all is forgiven.

Against Gateshead some wag in the Town End shouted across to Devante as he slowly limped off from the field of play. "Don't worry Rodney, this time next year we'll all be millionaires."  Unlike Rodney. Priceless.

Jon Buys a Shirt

Another "Janice and Jon" story by SHEDRICK

Janice was meeting a friend for a coffee and a chat. She took Jon with her as he wanted to buy the latest Pools replica shirt. 

Jon was so excited he had to go back into the house to use the toilet again. 

Janice went into the coffee shop and handed Jon a ten pound note “and be sure to get your shirt plenty big enough, with no loose seams”. 

Jon skipped down the road and pretended to kick an imaginary ball into an imaginary net. He felt a twinge in his leg and limped into the sports shop.

Mrs Jones dragged Jon further in, saying “Come on in, don’t be shy. Have you pulled a muscle?” 

Mrs Jones was forceful and played hockey. Do you know what a “hale and hearty” woman looks like? Jon does. 

“You look like a medium” said Mrs Jones, but Jon told her how he must get an extra-large one to grow into, with good seams. 

Mrs Jones got down an extra-large shirt and pulled it down over Jon’s head, squeezing his ears. “Look, it reaches past your knees and you could fit two people in there, so be careful you don’t trip up. If there is a problem with the seams just come back and we will try another one”. 

Jon paid for the shirt and kept it on over the top of his anorak. 

When he got back to the coffee shop Janice was waiting for him. “You have been a long time” said Janice. 

“Yes” said Jon. “Mrs Jones saw I was a bit stiff so she grabbed me and helped me get it on. She said that it was down past my knees and I should be careful not to trip up, but if I had any problems I could come back and she would give me another one”. 

Janice had bought Jon a cream doughnut for his tea, but she decided to give it to him early.

We Got What We Deserved

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Pools 2 Gateshead 2 (National League)
Monday Jan 1 2018
Victoria Park

This match was a throw-back to the days of olde when this type of double fixture was the norm at Christmas but latterly it was another team -- I think they called them Dartinton or something like that; it is so long ago now I can’t remember them. 

I cried off the first fixture of this double act on the pretext of not wanting to travel up to the frozen north on my own as I had been abandoned by the sprog who thought it might be better to go with her mates. I don’t see why as I never stand at the Vic amongst her and her mates -- they are far too rowdy -- but the main reason for not going was our form leading up to these back-to-back games. I thought "What is the point when I can see them at home the following week?"

After a two-all draw all the fans I spoke to were pretty confident that we could do the business at home and finally get a home win. We had what looked like a decent side out with the return of Watson and Ledger after having spent sometime on the physio’s bench.

We got the early break when a free kick from Deverdics into the box was scrambled into the net by Watson. We looked comfortable on the ball and despite some dubious tackling from the visitors we looked to be in charge of the game. One incident upset the home fans when Deverdics was booked for diving; he was tripped and had he not been tackled unfairly by the last defender he would have been through on goal. Why would the lad when all he had to do was out-pace the defender and there was no cover for the last man but the ref blew and walked up and booked him. This brought a chant from the town End of “WE WANT A REF” as this feller was looking a bit like the rest of the officials we have to put up with these days and they have been dire.
"Pools looked to be going backwards, which has happened so many times this season."

Donnelly for me was man-of-the-match and one run he made in the first half was brilliant; he picked up the ball after a tackle near our box and made a fantastic run down the line leaving defenders in his wake. He did lose the ball in the run but battled till he got it back and continued his run into the danger area. They eventually stopped him but it was an impressive move by him who had a very good game today.

The visitors stepped up their game and Pools looked to be going backwards, which has happened so many times this season. We let them back in and they began to look the more dangerous side. Loach had to block a stinging shot from the edge of the box as they battled for an equaliser.

Hawkins was at fault for the first Gateshead goal as he chased a cross ball wide of our box and made no real challenge and the lad Preston whipped in a low cross which I thought he had scored with but the official site gave it to Peniket who had got a touch, but Preston has to be given credit for the way he took the game to Pools. He was causing trouble all game till thankfully he was taken off late in the game. He would be a good asset to our side on today's display. Maybe a deal could be done as Scott Harrison was rumored to be moving the other way.

Just before the break Deverdics hit a screamer that the keeper dropped but they managed to scramble the ball away. The second half was all Gateshead for a long spell; they looked the better side and seemed to break easily and with pace and put us under a lot of pressure as we were pegged back.

Son of Tinkler, a Borer loanee, was very slick and Donnelly had to be on his mettle to deal with his runs, We had a glorious chance when Rodney, who on balance had a good game as he broke up a lot of their attacking play down the wing, robbing them of the ball in a melee of tackles and stumbles but was unlucky in his attacking play. One great move saw him break free on the left and hit a beautiful ball low across the goal that everyone missed. The Official website says Cassidy was close but he never really got near it.

Deverdics, whose dead-ball kicking today was more than satisfactory, sent in a corner. and Watson hit his second goal of the game giving Pools a lead once again. The Gateshead second goal was a sloppy affair as poor defending by Pools again allowed the visitors to snatch a point and to be honest it was deserved by their approach to the game.

We have to learn to be more alert for ninety minutes and not give the opposition easy chances. They almost had a third goal as they come straight back at us and a cracking shot rattled the cross bar and bounced away with Loach nowhere near the shot.

All in all we got what we deserved and the visitors will think they were unlucky not to get all three points as for periods in the game we looked second best.

Poor Against Part-timers

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Pools 1 Maidenhead 2 (National League)
Saturday Dec 23 2018
Victoria Park

It looked like we had a decent side out today but I wish Harrison would play with two strikers up front as the line up with Oates and Cassidy looked to be a good shout until Oates went out wide. He is a much better threat down the middle.

The visitors made a strong start to the game. How many times have we seen that? It took a while for Pools to settle into the game as the visitors were very physical, as are most of the teams in this division.

We did look as if we had a shout for a penalty that a few of the Pools players protested about but as it was in the opposite end you go by players' reactions; anyway the officials were not impressed. Pools looked to have settled and we played some good football as Maidenhead began to stutter, which led to a Pools goal. Rhys Oates was as usual our most potent threat and made a great run and shot which the keeper had trouble with but managed to smother the ball.

Deverdics is hot and cold with his free kicks but the one for the Cassidy goal was inch perfect and the striker connected well but I find he disappears from the game in spells whereas Rhys is ever present in attack and defence. We lost Richardson when, on a great run, he left a couple of players for dead and headed for goal when he was chopped down. The bad fall he had has dislocated his collar bone so another injury woe for the manager. Harrison replaced him.

"We could not control the ball never mind hold onto it."
Whether it was the loss of Richardson, I don’t know but we once again seemed to be second best in nearly every challenge. We could not control the ball never mind hold onto it. We were bullied throughout the game as the big lads in the visitors' side really put themselves about. Again, how many times have we seen this?
Maidenhead were now playing the better football and looked the more likely to score ,and the two subs, Rodney and Simpson, made little change to our play.

Another run of five games without a win and we look a very poor side, even against part timers, I dread to think how the manager can lift them in the next two games against Gateshead who will be chomping at the bit to take on Pools twice over the next week.

I had made my mind up not to go to the Gateshead game after the last home defeat and the subsequent away games did little to change my mind so I only hope we can scrape a point away and at least a win at home. Otherwise the cards will be out for Harrison, although the financial situation means we can’t afford to sack him and I do not think he will walk.

Some foolish fan who stood next to me thought the answer was Bates and Sweeney taking over but I think it is a bit late for that now.

In the words of Private Frazer “WERE DOOMED I TELL YOU DOOMED”.

Funny Old Game

Pools Fall Apart

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Pools 1 Macclesfield 2 (National League)
Saturday Dec 2 2018
Victoria Park

This is another blast from the past as Pools host Macclesfield Town. 

I always dread this fixture for one reason, Danny Whitaker. I think every time we have played Macclesfield he has been in the side and for what seems like the last forty years he has tortured the bloodly life out of us. How the hell he keeps it up is a mystery to me. This is one class player who obviously looks after himself and is very adept at getting goals or setting them up against us. I love and hate him at the same time. Love his mobility and his guile but it looks as if he will be playing for another forty years. I have to say today he had a good game against us and even at a slower pace he was head and shoulders above the rest of the players on show in his dedication to the game.

With Featherstone out with a broken leg and George out with a a “sick note” (allegedly), Pools had to make changes. Then on the way over the wireless said that Rhys Oates had injured himself in the warm up -- but he was ok and had a good game despite being double marked throughout the game, and both Magnay and Munns were able to start.

The game started brisk enough and and the visitors had a bad miss on one and a half minutes when they should have scored from a corner but shot wide of the mark in the goalmouth scramble. Both teams seemed to have the same problem of holding onto the ball long enough to make an effort on goal.

Pools settled first and took the game to the opposition, playing some good football but lacking the killer instinct. We were shooting but the teams were cancelling each other out,
"In the last five minutes it all fell apart for Pools as the visitors sensed the chance of getting something from the game"

Pools then started to dominate the game, which was surprising to me looking at our recent history and the fact that the visitors were sitting in third place in the table. There was a good move down the right by Cassidy and Munns, and  initially I thought Woods had blown the chance as he side stepped and looked as if he had lost the ball, but he then nicked it back, looked as if he had overrun the ball, then turned and hit it into the bottom corner to give Pools a much deserved lead.

Despite both teams having chances there was no real threat on either goal and Pools went in at half time a goal to the good. Pools looked like they had gained a very tough three points in a tough second half with both teams having chances and both defending very well.

In my book it was sod's law that Macclesfield would get an equalizer, especially considering the way we were playing late in the game, Usually Harrison would freshen up the side on the hour mark and all the subs were warming up yet there was no sign of a change though it was obvious that Magnay and Munns were flagging.

In the last five minutes it all fell apart for Pools as the visitors sensed the chance of getting something from the game as we were giving away silly free kicks and an equalizer was slid in. Then Harrison once again got involved and took another booking and from the free kick Macc scored the winner.

Once the game was gone, angry fans were criticising the manager for his late substitutions and chants of "Harrison out" rang around the ground once again.

As I write this at 11 minutes past seven the reporters are still waiting for Harrison after the players were locked in for a long spell after the game.

Any Other Business


Can it get any worse off the field for Pools?

January should be a time when we think ahead - chuck out old calendars and diaries and look towards the days getting longer, daffodils appearing and the distant prospect of summer holidays. But not for us Poolies.

Like last year, the football spending spree that is the January Transfer Window will for us actually be more like a one-way mirror, with all the activity going one way. But unlike last year the closing of the window could also be the end of Pools unless someone steps in fast to keep them going after Sage Investments pull the plug.

We Poolies have had a few dire times but this looks to be the direst so far, both on and off the field. Good luck to everyone who's fighting hard to keep Pools going. The picture may look bleak but all we can do is try to do whatever we can towards our common purpose - still having a football club to support.

The Supporters Trust has a plan in place for if the worst should come to the worst, and there are rumours that 6 potential new investors have come forward so far. However, the owners will have a different agenda to us long-suffering Poolies, and if they've given up on Pools ever being profitable (what took them so long?) and are trying to simply get as much of their investment back as possible, then whatever we think won't matter one jot.

So no doubt it's going to be a rough ride over the next few weeks and months.

Can it get any worse on the field for Pools?

I know it's difficult to run a football team with a poor squad of players, no money to bring in new ones and with each game being a cup final for the opposition, but surely the manager must realise by now that he is part of the reason Pools are making no impression whatever on this very poor quality league.

The manager persists in fielding players who are guaranteed to give away a goal per match. An untried junior player would be no worse, yet might actually prove to be a revelation.

And as for his substitutions, they tend to be a bit weird. I was listening to the Macclesfield match on BBC Tees and Eddie Kyle pointed out that Pools were bringing on two subs, obviously to replace two players who had run out of steam. Yet Harrison inexplicably kept the two on for another ten minutes, putting pressure on the rest of the team to cover for them, and perhaps contributing to the late goals which lost Pools a match they had been winning. Then, too late, he brings on the subs in added time.

Still, it can't be good for morale at the club with what's going on off the field, with the possibility looming of not being paid or even redundancy. And for those with a chance of going up a division, there's the added pressure of getting a transfer before the window closes in three weeks.

...And finally

In these difficult times it seems that nothing will stop Poolies from getting into fancy dress.