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A Few Words Which Might Be Helpful



The voice of experience: MARK DINGWALL




I’m a Rangers fan. I was on the board of the Rangers Supporters Trust for a decade and have edited the Rangers fanzine and website Follow Follow for yonks. Hartlepool is your club and you have different circumstances from what we went through but I hope a few pointers might be of help to you. We made our mistakes along the way, I hope you can learn from them.

1: THE POUND IN THE BANK IS YOUR BEST FRIEND
The nearer you get to the money the nastier people become - equity is king in football clubs and if you don’t have shares or money you’ll find yourselves sidelined from the big decisions. Start collecting cash now.

2: DELIVER FAN UNITY
We created the Union Of Fans to bring in the supporters groups and websites who wanted to fight the Spivs we had in charge. You won’t agree on everything but move together as far as you can in the same general direction. The punters love unity - nothing is more discouraging that seeing fans fight amongst themselves.

3: CHOOSE YOUR PARTNERS CAREFULLY
You’ll probably have to partner up with someone with a fair bit of unencumbered capital (i.e., they haven’t borrowed it from somewhere else) - if you can’t find they have much of a track record then alarm bells should go off.
"We made our mistakes along the way, I hope you can learn from them"

4: GET SOMETHING FOR YOUR MONEY
Be careful how you structure things - if you fundraise in a certain way you won’t be able to donate it and get shares in return. Ideally put in your cash in return for shares or the money being regarded as a loan. It’s a crisis so there is the pressure just to put money in a bucket and hand it over to the current lot and that’s understandable. But long-term it would be a mistake. Attach strings.

5: ALWAYS HAVE A POSITIVE MESSAGE
Even when delivering bad news. We gave the Spivs a real hammering but always finished off with a bit of positivity to give people hope and activities to engage in.

6: GIVE PEOPLE THINGS TO DO
Build up your activist core with leafleting at the ground etc. One of the things that worked well for us was making huge leaflets which people could hold up at 18 and 72 minutes (Rangers formed in 1872) - at halftime and when the team came out. Every home game is a fantastic opportunity to fundraise and get your message over.

7: UNITY OF COMMAND
Get your message straight - get a spokesman who will be the contact point and make sure others who have been in the media in the past. Direct enquiries to him and don’t dilute the message.

8: DISCIPLINE
Aggro turns off far more people than it turns on. So keep all your activities lively and fun.

9: DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Read everything - League regulations, Articles of Association, Accounts, old court cases, etc, etc. It’s amazing what you can find. Be prepared for any eventuality and know your rights.

10: THERE’S A WORLD OF HARTLEPOOL FANS OUT THERE
Use the internet to connect with them - accountants, lawyers, researchers - build a database of fans online. It’ll all be useful.

I know these are dark days for your club right now - but they are also great days when you will see the best in your fans and if you work together you will have a better future for the club.

Best of luck!



Billy's Contract's Skool Daze



An educashernal peace by BELIZE KONTRACT




By any standard it was quite late in life before I began to take an interest in association football or soccer. I think I was fourteen or fifteen before I kicked a football in anger.

It naturally followed that my hard-earned pocket money was now being spent on football kits and not Airfix kits, as well as football magazines such as Charlie Buchan's Football Monthly and Shoot, as well as Goal, in which every bit of print was devoured and every picture scrutinised.

Then I started attending football matches. Initially Pools were not on our radar but a group of us would every few weeks randomly turn up at Hartlepool railway station with a view to taking in a match. Not a clue which match we would be taking in until we got on the platform which would either be bedecked out in fans wearing the red and white of Sunderland or the black and white of the Mags. It was only then we knew what our destination would be.

We got to see many of the all-time greats, nay legends of the game, such as Hurst, Moore and Peters of West Ham, Best, Law and Charlton of Man Utd., Bell, Lee and Summerbee of City,  Greaves, Gilzean and Cyril Knowles of Tottenham, and not forgetting Wyn Davies and Pop Robson at Newcastle and, errr... mmmm...  and hmmmm... of Sunderland.

For us schoolkids the biggest purchase of all and the most essential, in any game, was the football itself. Normally this would involved two or three lads chipping in and 'sharing' the ubiquitous* Size five, orange, Wembley Trophy heavy-duty plastic football which cost around seven shillings and sixpence, which for the benefit of our younger readers, in new money is around seven shillings and sixpence.

Prior to joining the real world, one of the biggest tragedies, disasters, disappointments, call it what you like, occurred in my young life about this time. The weekend was upon us. A wonderful sunny day but my pals and I were unable to get a game going because no one had a football. I was a few bob short of the purchase price of a Wembley Trophy football. For the benefit of our younger readers, a Bob is shilling, not the name of any of my chums. To that end I spent the rest of the day scavenging for money, putting my hand down the sides of the front room suite to see if I could retrieve a few mislaid coins.

I informed our kid that if he wished to partake in a game he needed to cough up a few pennies from his piggy bank for the privilege. Further funding was secured when I raided the larder which contained my dad's 'cigarette money' in the form of empty pop and beer bottles that were stored under the cupboard. These were taken down to the 'offy' in exchange for truppence; for each bottle. For the benefit of younger readers 'truppence' or 'three pence' would, in today's money  be worth around half of nothing, but they looked very similar to the new pound coin.

With finances secure a bee-line was made to Tommy Raw's newsagent and the purchase made of a Wembley Trophy football. On the way up to the Triangle on the Town Moor I carried, nay, cradled that ball like a proud father holding his first-born, though orange, child for the first time, not allowing anyone to touch it ...or kiss it. As there were only half a dozen of us we decided to play three pots in until the other thirty or forty regulars turned up. Only snag was that we did not have any goal posts.

Jumpers for goalposts were out of the question as it was summer and no one from the Headland even in winter would consider wearing such a thing. The lads would not give up their football shirts for the same purpose as they wanted to be seen in their various teams colours. All red or all blue. Our kid pointed out that some building work was going on at the adjacent bowling green pavilion and returned with two pieces of scrap wood measuring about an inch square and a foot high, which, for the benefit of our younger readers. in today's measurements would be roughly 36 degrees centigrade and 8 grams long. Or thereabouts.

Posts having been hammered into the ground with the aid of Our Kid's head, the game commenced. From the goalkeeper's throw (Our Kid again ...well he had to be first choice to go between the sticks having only contributed twopence to the cause), the ball fell nicely in front of me, bounced once and I was able to hit a first time left foot shot from around 10 yards which hit the recently installed left hand post. Next thing, we noticed the ball was spinning around on its axis with air hissing out of it. Turns out that there was a small nail left in the goalpost that had punctured the ball. One kick - game over.
"As there were only half a dozen of us we decided to play three pots in until the other thirty or forty regulars turned up"

As I was led away for counselling one of the lads noticed that there was a repair kit contained within the box in which the ball had been supplied. Not one of us had previously noticed this. Basically the kit consisted of a square inch of orange plastic along with a branding iron with a small circular head,  about 5/16ths in diameter, which you would heat up over a gas ring or similar. The orange plastic patch would be put over the puncture then the branding iron would be rubbed around the patch, which in turn would melt, and nine times out of ten the repair would be effected. On the down side, depending on the quality of the repair, one could not pump up the ball to its full regulation size for fear of it bursting. And if you managed to head the ball and came into contact with the repair itself it could be quite a painful experience and left a mark on your forehead.

Meanwhile, back in the classroom. I willingly hold my hands up and confess to not being the brightest in class but my new-found love of football helped me academically on two levels. In an upstairs classroom during a French lesson - can you imagine they were teaching us French up in West View in 1968 ...a century and a half after the hanging of the monkey. Instead of paying attention to my Un, Deux, Trois I was looking out the 'fenetre' at a football match on the playing fields, when the teacher shouted at me 'If you are so interested in what is going on out there why don't you go and join them'. And I did. Within a few weeks practically every lad in the French class was shown la porte and had joined me on the playing fields of St. Peter's Sec Mod.

I'd be the first to admit that my end of term French report was a bit of a disaster but I did get a high mark for my P.E. A few years later, our kid got poor grades in his school report in every subject with the exception of PE and Religious Knowledge, in which he got very high marks. My Father, upon reading this, and not impressed at all, said "what are you going to do with your life, become a running vicar?"

Through football my knowledge of the British Isles was greatly enhanced by researching the locations of various English as well as Scottish football teams. Who would have ever thought that Grimsby did not play in Grimsby at all but in the town next door, Cleethorpes? That Heart of Midlothian and Hibernian were from the Scottish Capital, and as for Charlton, where the heck was that? I could now pinpoint Walsall and West Bromwich on the map but the most significant discovery I made was not that Port Vale was not on the coast, but that Aston Villa was not a town in Italy.

When Pools joined the National League it came as a shock to accept that perhaps my geographical knowledge was not as good as I first thought. Who are all these strange teams that inhabit this league and where do they hail from? I had obviously heard of and even been to the likes of Tranmere, Halifax and Torquay in the past when they were football league teams but where on God's planet were Ebbsfleet, Eastleigh and Guiseley located? In fact, the only reason why I went to the Guiseley v Pools fixture was purely to find out that the place actually existed. As for Fylde I thought that they were located at the top end of Scotland.

Pools Joining the Vanarama league, in my case, was pretty much like joining an adult learning class. Certainly taught me a lesson!

* This word put together with the aid of spellcheck.



Winter of Discontent



JANE AUSTEN'S ALLEGRO looks back




Tucked away, for safety, between the pages of one of my books on Hartlepool United I came across (see picture) a yellow single sheet Team Sheet from 1974 which brought a lot of memories flooding back. When historians look back at the years 1973/74 they tell us they were dark times in British History, mainly because the power workers went on strike and for long periods we had no lighting!

The country was almost bankrupt. Inflation was raging, Companies were going bust all over the place, Power workers, miners, bin men and Uncle Tom Cobley an' all were out on strike. The government of the day, in order to save fuel and coal and to keep the lights burning, introduced such draconian measures as The Three Day Week. TV companies were instructed to finished broadcasting each night at 10.30pm. Little wonder that era became known as The Winter of Discontent.

With all that, the the country was in a mess politically and financially but at the time I hardly noticed it. I was twenty one, life was good and I was having a ball. I had a job, started courting and I had a great bunch of pals.

Every free moment was spent either playing or watching football. When we were not doing that we would be in our favourite local supping a pint of Norseman lager and either be reading about, or talking about football. Despite all the hardships inflicted upon us by Government and Unions alike we made the best of it and considered it more of an adventure rather than an inconvenience and having a laugh along the way. I supposed the Dunkirk spirit kicked in.

On one occasion we were walking down to the pub on Durham Street during one particular power cut and it was so dark you could hardly see where you were walking, bumping into unemptied dust bins and wading through litter. In fact the only light available to us came from the berthed ships in the nearby Victoria Dock.

Such was the darkness that when we got to the New Inn I thought that we had mistakenly entered a church midway through a service. Candles (stuck in bottles) everywhere with people singing. The only religious item missing was a collection plate. Pools, in keeping with the times, were in much the same state as the country, only in a bigger mess. Much like they are today come to think of it.

Looking at Pools' results at the time and their lack of goals, one could be forgiven for thinking that their strikers had gone on strike in sympathy with the strikers. With the so called Winter of Discontent proper upon us (both on and off the field), Pools had played 21 games, winning three, drawing six and losing eleven. Sounds familiar.

Owing to the power cuts there were no such things as night matches as there was no supply of electricity to power the floodlights. I recall Hereford beating West Ham in an F.A Cup replay which due to the power cuts was played on a Wednesday. Nothing strange in that you might say, but it was a Wednesday afternoon. And well over 17,000 fans turned up. Mind, most of the fans had no work to go to, or they were taking a break from manning the picket lines. It came as no surprise that they all turned up at Edgar Street on the day en masse for a couple of hours of light relief.

A combination of the industrial unrest and the fact that so many people worked on a Saturday and were unable to attend football matches, led the Government to relax the restrictions on playing football on the Sabbath.

On February 3rd 1974 Pools opened their gates for the first time on a Sunday for league football to be played at the Victoria Ground. I recall it being a sunny day and being quite warm. I stand to be corrected, but I think it was an early kick off, in order to avoid using the floodlights, thus saving energy and not being subjected to power cuts.
"one could be forgiven for thinking that their strikers had gone on strike in sympathy with the strikers"

Due to some archaic law or another fans were not allowed to pay on the turnstiles to gain access to the ground. This minor technicality was got round by purchasing a programme, the yellow team sheet, from the turnstile operator, which coincidentally just happened to be the same price as the normal admission price into the Vic. The powers that be must have had a sharp-suited Manhattan lawyer to work that scam out. When I think about it that must be the most expensive programme/team sheet that I have ever purchased, but having said that I got into the ground for nowt!

As a result of the team sheet being issued there was no official matchday programme. Nevertheless whatever revenue Pools lost in programme sales was more than adequately covered, not only with the non-use of the floodlights, but with 5,747 souls packed into the Vic, almost double the crowd that had seen the previous game against Torquay, and nearly seven times higher than their lowest- ever recorded gate (844) against Scunthorpe a few months earlier.

The icing on the cake was that Pools ran out three-nil winners, Kevin McMahon, Alan Gauden (pen) and Malcolm Dawes being the goalscorers. Pools' following home game two weeks later was also played on God's day of rest when Mansfield were thumped four-nil, in front of a crowd of 4,000-plus fans. The third and final Sunday game was played in early March which saw Pools beat Workington three nil. Disappointingly, although the crowd was still high by Pools' standards of the day, it had dropped to 2,800. Perhaps people had had enough of Sunday football and preferred to spend their time in the pub followed by a full Sunday dinner and a nap on the couch.

At first I was dead against the idea of Sunday football but after the Mansfield game I became an advocate of it mainly because it freed up my Saturdays. Don't forget that back in 1974 Sunday was not like it is now, what with Sunday shopping and the like. There was absolutely 'bott all' to do. With the exception of  parks, churches, the countryside and the seafront, everywhere else was closed. I think it would be interesting to see what sort of reaction we would get if Pools played the occasional match on a Sunday now. What do you think Vicar?

That same season Pools played Darlo twice in the league in December, over a four day period, the crowd at the Vic being 6739 (we lost 1-2), and that at Feethams being 6723 (drew 1-1). Looking at these figures demonstrates that even back then Pools had a far better support than our Durham rivals.




Funny Old Game





Into the Abyss?



GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY is still hopeful




Saturday was very, very cold. As the breeze blew off the North Sea, I thought “Never mind, Pools might make me forget all about the cold afternoon”. Fat chance. 

Let’s be honest, Ebbsfleet could have been ahead after only 35 seconds and maybe should have been 5-0 up at half time. Indifferent striking was the order of the day for them. But what did Pools have to offer in terms of attacking? This mainly amounted to speculative long balls into the Ebbsfleet penalty area and these were dealt with more than adequately by their defence, particularly their big centre half.

It's known as basics. And teams are coming to Pools offering no more than basics and going away with three points. Some fans are campaigning to have Ronnie Moore brought back as manager but would it make any difference? Ronnie Moore’s strength was to bring in loan players which definitely improved the side but we can’t take any players on loan or indeed offer terms to free agents. So that means we’re stuck with the players we have.

If Pools go into liquidation, then those players will want to sign for another club. You’d think that they’d be playing out of their skins to impress the vultures but with one or two exceptions, I wouldn’t bank on that happening.
"teams are coming to Pools offering no more than basics and going away with three points"

Other warning signs are surely there. On Saturday, the attendance dropped below 3,000 so that means less money coming in at the turnstiles. Since dropping into the National League, Pools supporters have been very loyal but it won’t happen every season. The fact that the Swedish consortium have gone away to consider their options does not bode well. If that comes off the rails then surely administration will beckon. If the administrator can’t find a buyer then its curtains.

The supporters have been fantastic – both Poolies and those of other clubs – but you can only expect so much from that quarter. Speculation was rife  after Saturday, when Lee Clark was spotted in the directors’ box. It's normal for a potential manager to eye up the side he might be taking over, but what were his thoughts after seeing Pools perform? Maybe Sol Campbell might try his luck. He’s been complaining that nobody wants him despite all the honours he’s picked up.

I suppose the main talking point over the past week was Wigan’s victory over Manchester City. Don’t forget that Wigan once dropped out of the Football League and came back to play in all four divisions. I’d like to be more hopeful but as things are there’s not too much to be hopeful about.



Jon Takes up Rugby



Another Janice and Jon story from SHEDRICK




Jon was refusing to come out of his room after the grief and sadness Pools had caused him. 

Janice told him  “Snap out of it Jon, I bet none of the ex-Pools owners is hiding under the bed and moping about the place with a face as long as the bonnet of his Bentley. 

I see that a new Pools rugby team are having a practice this afternoon, why don’t you go down and watch?” 

Jon decided to give it a try and set off with a bit of trepidation as he had heard that it was much rougher than football, with real hard men, and alcohol allowed on the terraces. 

Have you ever had sand kicked in your face on Seaton beach? Jon has. 

When Jon arrived, he realised it was the ladies' team that was practising, but just as he was about to turn round and go home, Mrs Rucker saw him. 

“Don’t leave young man, you are welcome to join us for a training session,” she said.

Jon did as he was told; he had heard that the men in the pub compare Mrs Rucker to the construction of a public convenience, but had not understood what they meant. Until now. 

She said “When all of the girls jump onto the ball Meg will hook it back, then she will hold it while you kick it up into the air, and we can chase after it.” 

Jon quite enjoyed it without really knowing why, and before he realised, it was time for him to go home for his dinner. 

“Is that you, Jon? How did you get on at the rugby?” asked Janice. 

“Well, it was the ladies' team, and their captain encouraged me to join in. She said I would like it once I had enjoyed a good ruck with her girls. 

“Then Meg, who was a hooker, held my ball while I did an ‘up and under’ ”. 

If Jon’s dinner had hit the wall it would have been easy to wipe up, but Jon didn’t duck in time.



Economies of Scale



More from BILLY'S CONTRACT




Craig Harrison relieved of his duties. I have got to say I did not see that one coming, purely based on the premise that the the club could not afford to sack him or afford a replacement.

The decision to part company with Harrison is the correct one and in normal circumstances with any other club let alone Pools he would have lost his job months ago. It has probably dawned on Pam Duxbury/Sage that in order to cut their own losses and make the club an attractive proposition to any potential buyer that their first and foremost priority is to avoid relegation at all costs, and with at least an eleven point buffer should the club fall into administration and suffer a points deduction. They rightly thought that Craig Harrison was not the man for that particular task.

At  the beginning of the season the club were flashing the cash like it was going out of fashion, on the likes of goalkeeping coaches and other unnecessary backroom staff, as well as investing in a new corporate image resulting in expensive new signage being installed on the front of the ground bearing the club's new logo.

It is amazing how in such a short time things change. From being in 'Viv Nicholson' mode (she was the 1960's Football Pools winner, of "Spend, Spend, Spend" fame), the club now finds itself in a "Sell, Sell, Sell" situation.
"British Leyland are now long defunct and if Pools don't get their act together soon they could go down the same route"

The first thing the club should address, and it would cost nothing at all, is to change the new logo which should represent the current state the club finds itself in, and as such, it should be turned upside down so it shows the Stag on its back with its four legs up in the air.

Like with any other employer, staff are one of the biggest overheads, but, as well as being an asset, they can also drag a company down if they do not perform. In many ways Pools remind me of the British Leyland car company of the 1970s. Dreadful outdated management, an overstaffed, overpaid, lazy shopfloor* who did not produce the goods. Sounds familiar?

British Leyland are now long-defunct and if Pools don't get their act together soon they could go down the same route and be consigned to history. Since January, the club have lost around a dozen players/backroom staff which must have made a considerable hole in the wage bill and perhaps given the club a little breathing space.

Burger vans now operate within the ground, having replaced refreshment kiosks (and their staff?),  and no doubt they are paying a few hundred pounds per match for the privilege. Old Pools football strips and memorabilia are being auctioned off on Ebay for very little.

I also note that the half-time lottery winnings have been reduced from £500 to £400 and the tickets themselves are now printed in black and white with the absence of any colour on them. A small saving some might say but a saving none the less which could keep the club keep trading, which makes one wonder why it wasn't run like this in the first place. All these economies might have gone to waste if Craig Harrison had still been in charge, and may even still do so unless the right man, preferably from an external source, and one who know this league, is appointed quickly.

After the abysmal performance at Halifax it was no surprise to see a drop in the crowd attendance of around 150 for the following home match against Ebbsfleet. It is bad enough losing season ticket holders, who have already paid up front, but if this total includes fans who normally turn up and pay on the gate it is a substantial loss for a club of Pools' size. According to the Mail, the club and HUST are due to have a meeting to look at 'maximising takings at their next home games'. Here's hoping that they come up with something, but a winning team would go a long way to helping the cause.

* HUFC office staff excluded.



On the Road to Nowhere



WAGGA MOON




Just when you think we couldn't get any lower the charlatans ruining our beloved club have managed it. After taking the fans' money to pay a tax bill and using some to pay the staff wages they then decide to sack the manager, albeit way overdue, but having no money to appoint a replacement.

Although it is illegal for a company to trade while it is insolvent this lot seems to bungle along from crisis to crisis while claiming they are in talks with potential buyers.

The most ludicrous situation at the club is the employment of Paul Watson. This head of recruitment was responsible for the hiring of Craig Harrison and a number of players last summer. A complete failure at his job. And now with the club under a transfer embargo his job is redundant. But heigh ho, he resurfaces as Head of Performance and the least said of our performances the better.

Although it has been said he is leaving the club he still seems to be robbing a wage out of us. The sacking of Harrison, who now officially takes his place as second worst Hartlepool manager of all time behind Mr Robert Moncur, was a chance to try something different, but what happens? One of the gang of four responsible for our present position is put in charge while the assistant manager suddenly feels the need for personal leave and the goalkeeping coach mysteriously does one also.
"If Sage are really trying to sell the club they really need to invest in a manager to save us going out of this league and get some money back on their investment"

Matthew Bates is one of those four responsible for our present position and if he was any good as a coach he would have sorted out our centre back partnership, by far the worst in the league. He may be good at taking selfies but apparently not as a football coach. A Sick Note for all his time at Pools, at the start of this season he decided he couldn't be arsed with playing anymore and yet got a cushy job as a coach with no experience or qualifications to take on the job. Even half fit he wouldn't be a worse centre half than Scott Harrison or Louis Laing.

The obvious pair to take charge after Craig Harrison were Youth team coaches Ian McGuckin and Antony Sweeney but it appears there has been some more fallout there and they are not prepared to help Bates out. Bates complained bitterly to the Hartlepool Fail about the situation but we didn't get to hear the other side of the story. Instead he has turned to two of his mates, one obviously another ex-Borer player, to help him out unpaid.

Hopefully last Saturday's display against Ebbsfleet was not a true reflection as the players looked as though they had no desire to play for Bates, just like they had no desire to perform for Harrison. Indeed even fans' favourite Xavi Featherfanny is looking at least two stone overweight. Now apart from being unable to tackle, pass, shoot or head the ball he can't run.

Jeff Stelling's suggestion that we should go cap in hand to Ronnie Moore seems a good thing to do but one that isn't going to happen. If Sage are really trying to sell the club they really need to invest in a manager to save us going out of this league and get some money back on their investment. To leave someone like Bates in charge for any length of time is signing our own death warrant.  Someone like Lee Clark or Phil Brown is needed, who knows the club and the area and could get a performance out of the perennial non achievers with a couple of youth team players given a chance. 




Not-so-Funny Old Game


Neighbours



BILLY'S CONTRACT feels like Billy-no-friends




At half time in the Ebbsfleet match, myself and my mate were discussing West Ham United's generous offer of sending a strong starting eleven for a friendly match against Dagenham and Redbridge who, not unlike Pools, have financial woes of their own.

This got me thinking. It was fantastic to see the support that the Borer fans lent to Pools and rallied to help us in our hour of need but unless I missed it Middlesbrough FC, as well as Sunderland and Newcastle United for that matter, have been strangely silent in their support for Pools. I did hear that some of these clubs and others did offer players on loan to Pools and that they would pay their wages in full. Pools sadly were unable to take advantage of this generosity due to the transfer embargo that is currently imposed upon them.
"Be realistic, who would want to come and watch the Borer?"

I suggested to my mate that as MFC itself owes Pools big style for 1986 and that Steve Gibson, their chairman, could have made an offer of arranging a friendly with Pools with Dimi in goal. My pal replied "Be realistic, who would want to come and watch the Borer?" He had a point. Newcastle on the other hand could be a different proposition altogether as, along with their fans from Tyneside, there are many plastic Mags in the town who have never seen their team in the flesh, so one would expect a reasonable gate.

Hey, everyone needs good neighbours and we could do with some just now.



abysmal, dire, chronic, diabolical



Match report by RUNNING MONKEY




Pools 0 Ebbsfleet 1 (National League)
Saturday February 24th 2018
Victoria Park



Here we go again, another manager sacked and we are left with Master Bates to take the reins, a job he did not really want. 

If you believe the rumours we are now paying three former managers for sitting on their a&$£$;. Apparently David Jones, the fat Welsh waste of space is still getting paid. In charge for about eight games and did sweet F.A. for HUFC. If he is still getting paid then it is time someone at HUFC was put on criminal charges for the contract he was given. I understood Hignett had been paid but the talk today was that he is still on the payroll. Now Harrison in his leave of absence is still on a contract. How the hell can a club that hasn’t got a pot to P1§§ in be able to cover wages for these people?

The more you hear, the more you get the impression we are “GOOSED.” Evidently the Swedish millionaire Daniel Kindberg is taking a couple of weeks to decide whether to take us on. Sorry Daniel, but we just don’t have the time to wait.

With the assistant manager on gardening leave, why did he not act like an assistant manager and take the job on? Or does he know more than the fans know about the financial situation. Even the goalkeeping coach did a runner, and the fitness coach went to a job away from football while he had the chance. I hope I am wrong but it certainly looks like the end of the line.

Last Saturday we had struggled and won three-two but at least we played a bit of football in the process. Today was a real eye opener, probably the worst start to a game I have ever seen - abysmal, dire, chronic, diabolical, down right shoddy.

I'm not sure if Bates was to blame but he is in the hot seat that no one else at the club would take up. The only good thing in the game was a double strike from Woods and Cassidy but the ball was blocked both times as it spun up in the air, hit the post and went out for a corner. I think there was one other shot by Woods but can’t swear to that.

With the financial situation we are in, can we bring in another manager? Are we in fact allowed to bring in a manager when we are on the edge of liquidation? Names being bandied about this week such as Paul Ince looks as if they are all  out of the window. We all know that Ronnie Moore is still a popular choice but is he daft enough to come back with the club in this state?
"we need some new players, new ideas and more than a bit of luck"

Another of the names, and a face at the Vic today, was Lee Clark, but he turns up every time Pools are looking for a manager.

Ebbsfleet were the better side today, and we could have been down four or five nil at half time as they played us off the park. A first-half strike was enough for Ebbsfleet United to take all three points on a disappointing afternoon. We never got a look in on the ball other than belting it away. It was one-way traffic for the visitors and we helped their cause by being very poor on the basics.

Not a good week to be a Poolie and I just hope someone is coming in soon as we need some new players, new ideas and more than a bit of luck.

One notable incident today was the substitution late in the game for the visitors. The man coming off was down near the corner flag duping the ref to give them what looked like their sixty-eighth free kick of the game when his number came up. He went to the ground and feigned injury, taking an age to walk across the pitch to leave the game. Even the ref caught up with him and told him to get off and he complained to the ref that his injury was so severe that he could not walk any faster. The official just smiled at him and let him take his time. It is time that something was done about the time wasters and the amount of divers in this division is absolutely ruining the games but it looks as if the officials are party to it all. Whinge over.

Lets hope there is another game next week but the Ditchburn Poolie reckons we have two games left and that is it. I was wondering why the schools penalty shoot out today seemed to have been rushed, and I concluded that it was to make sure the winners and runners-up got their trophies before the gates closed.



Eighty-Eighth Day Winner



Match report by RUNNING MONKEY




Pools 3 Woking 2 (National League)
Saturday February 17th 2018
Victoria Park



Phileas Fogg went round the world in a balloon in eighty days and it took Pools eighty eight days to get two wins on the board. There is probably a better explanation for all the time we've wasted in this division but I am at a loss to explain just what that is.

Pools, after a 'mid-season break', as some wag called it, needed a result after all the shenanigans that have surrounded the club over the last few weeks. One fan who will remain nameless seems to think the next week’s home game with Ebbsfleet will be our last. I have no idea where the Ditchburn Poolie gets his info from; he really must stop wandering around the ground at half time talking to strangers.

Auntie Pam made a statement in today's programme but there has been a lot of duff info flying around lately including some from HUFC. "Hartlepool United chief executive Pam Duxbury has revealed a potential takeover of the club could be completed 'very soon' ". The Pools chief admits that there could be light at the end of the tunnel, with the club seemingly staring into a financial abyss. Further to that, she also admits that a number of interested parties are doing due diligence and things could progress very quickly. She said: "While I am not able to give out too many details at the moment, with regards to the club there are interested parties progressing due diligence, which is very positive and I am hopeful a deal to take over will be done very soon.’’ As longtime fan Kev said, “Did you see that pig fly over the Rink End there?”

We long-suffering fans take promises and statements like this with a pinch of salt. The club has really hit rock bottom with rumours of them not making substitutions recently so as to not pay appearance money.

The sales of chips and burgers at the ground were put out to tender and four different burger fans set up ready for the hungry masses. I did not see any foot long sausages, and chips were hard to find before half time but they reckon the burgers were very good even at £3.50 a shot.

On the playing side, with the squad seemingly decimated at the transfer window, the side that turned out did not look too bad. Loach was in goal and he'd said all along that he wanted to stay. George got a start at right back and had a very good game, Laing did ok but looked a bit rusty. Harrison and Adams completed the back line. It has to be said they were both steady away and Harrison was really brave putting his head into the fray when lesser players would have pulled out.
"Did you see that pig fly over the Rink End there?"

Featherstone and Newton in midfield worked well together and Newton was possibly a candidate for man of the match, and I have no argument with the manager’s choice for strikers when all three, Rodney, Cassidy and Oates, notched a goal.

Rodney broke the deadlock with a cracking shot after he broke free, turned his man and hit a screamer past the keeper. He looked so cool too but it was a shame he could not repeat the task on the five other clear chances he had during the game. I told the Ditchburn he should try a nutmeg now and again instead of blazing his efforts over the bar.

Cassidy got the goal of the day with a very sharp turn and shot after a Woods corner was cleared, battled to win the ball in the scramble and hit a beautiful shot through the crowd of players giving the keeper no chance.

Oates's goal was well deserved as he was struggling early in the game, having not played for a while. He went up for a high ball the keeper should have taken  easily but Oates won the challenge and dinked the ball over the keeper into the net.

Three nil up at half time and we were getting bossed around by the visitors but as we know it is goals that win games. The half time chat was about the Woking goalkeeper who went to collect a ball and found himself stood in the ‘D’ with the ball in his hands. Then, as Pools fans politely expressed their opinion to the official, who was oblivious, the keeper took a backward jump into his box and all was well.

Our first dip into this division has taught me one thing, that is: go down and you get a free kick; get wrestled to the ground and you get nowt. You have to do either a triple salko or a forward spin with pike just to attract the attention of the officials. Also you have to whinge a lot and keep getting in the ref's ear or you will be totally ignored; it is not good enough just to play football.

One instance late in today's game: George was bundled to the ground against the hoardings at the Town End as he guided a long ball from Woking over the line. He was hacked to the ground and stamped on right in front of both us and the ref, and he at least gave us a goal kick. The visitors played the ref all through the game and two non-fouls won them the free kicks that led to both of their goals late in the game. Pools were not alert enough when one free kick following a dive on the edge of the box and a screamer was shot past Loach. In extra time a similar situation arose and a free kick was headed home at the near post, but it was Pools that ran out three two winners which was great to see.

First half we were all over the place and looked a little rusty as our passes kept missing and tackles were broken and Woking came at Pools with a lot of intent. We weathered it for most of the half and broke to score three goals. Second half we backed off, giving them more of the game and it evened out a bit as Pools were determined to keep the points but because of that conceded two.

Woods, Newton, Harrison or any of the scorers could have been Man of the Match


Any Other Business



MERVYN THE MONKEY mops up



The death-throes continue

We don't seem to have advanced much in the last month. Pools have missed a few matches and lost the ones they didn't, so perhaps the postponements were no bad thing. However, given the embargo on signings, and the lack of  a manager, it's probably only putting off the defeats. 

The Swedish interest now seems to be being played down, so things are still perilous and Poolies seem to be being worn down by it all. Whether the fundraising was really helpful or ultimately just subsidised Sage's misguided investment, we may never find out, but the whole situation remains grim.

The police are investigating matters that presumably lie somewhere between fraud and incredible stupidity, but given the way sensible businessmen make sure they have sharp accountants and lawyers watching their backs, fraud may not be provable in court and being stupid isn't actually illegal, so nothing is likely to come from it either way.


Free Speech

Last month's Bizz caused a bit of controversy because of one sentence in one contributor's article which managed to upset people on both sides of the Trust/anti-Trust divide.

We would just wish to remind readers that the views expressed by individual contributors in the Bizz don't necessarily reflect those of the editor or anyone else connected with Monkey Business, and that they have a right to air those views.


...Owzat?

Despite having followed Pools all over the country since the days of annual re-election, folksinging Poolie Steve Turner did his first-ever gig in Hartlepool only in December,  and he followed that with a tour of Australia. 

A cynic might say it was a trip to see the Ashes cricket, and he took the opportunity to do some gigs while he was there anyway. Good job we're not cynics at the Bizz.

However, he wonders whether his return trip may have been the longest-ever trip to a Pools match, because he arrived back at Heathrow and then drove straight up to Chester to take in Pools' game before going back home to Nottingham. Melbourne to Heathrow is 10,504 miles and Heathrow to Chester is 190 miles, making a total of 10,694 miles. Can anybody beat that?


...And finally

Should Pools go down the pan soon they'll have gone all 110 years without getting a single piece of first team silverware, unless you count the Durham Senior Cup (and who would?) 

So at least there was plenty on display inside the Vic at the Ebbsfleet game when the penalty shootout competition finished with silverware for both finalists, St Joseph's (in red) and Barnard Grove. Well done to both.