Showing posts from May, 2018

Happy Days Are Here Again


We have had ten successive inglorious seasons with Pools and when you thought that this season could not surpass the previous ones and it could not get any worse, then it did. I thought that dropping into the National League last season capped it all but with all the events of this season Pools decided to top all previous catastrophic efforts by producing the daddy of them all ...with whopping big gold-plated knobs on and a candelabra to match.

Looking back, in the cold light of day, there was too much to take in ...and actually believe that it ever happened. Pools had a new manager who was clearly well out of his depth and a chairman who was clearly well and truly in debt. At the start of the season Pools, being a full time professional outfit, were being tipped among the favourites to gain automatic promotion, or at the very least attain promotion via the play-offs. Nothing could have been so wide of the mark as Pools spent most of the second half of the season not only missing a play-off spot by a long distance but spent most of the season avoiding relegation.

Pools were not only regularly beaten but were well beaten on numerous occasions by part timers a-plenty who, while lacking in skill, made it up with spirit and fight, as well as in conning refs. Just as we were getting over the embarrassing thrashing in the FA Cup at lowly Morecambe, a team who had previously not won in ten matches, Pools managed to surpass this lamentable performance by being knocked out of the FA Trophy by Workington FC, two divisions beneath the National League. As well as the team's pride it was also two money-spinning opportunities lost. Many of the players gave the impression of not caring or worst still putting in nil effort. Admittedly in some cases they might be wondering when their next pay day might arrive, but that should never stop them from pulling on the shirt and giving their best on a Saturday afternoon, if for no other reason than to alert and to impress other clubs with their talent should they be forced to look elsewhere for alternative employment.

The club then went into financial meltdown. The football strips were being held as ransom by the laundry company until the outstanding bills from many months previous had been paid. Then we heard that team had to take the train to London for one match owing to the coach company's refusal to do so because of outstanding unpaid invoices.

It was revealed that the club had a head of recruitment on its books who, it was rumoured, had been paid £100k per annum. I am guessing that he would have had trouble sleeping at night, having taken that wage based on some of the players he signed during the close season. After he had recruited all these players he must have had a lot of spare time on his hands.. Numerous prospective buyers came and swiftly went but most were put off as the incumbent, seemingly incompetent, directors appeared to be reluctant to open the books fully to scrutiny and investigation.Worse still, it appeared they were also reluctant to open up the many cupboard doors with various skeletons in them which not only appeared to be well and truly locked but even boarded up. None of this reflected well, particularly on Pam Duxbury, who is by trade an accountant and a chartered one at that.

"there is a lot of heartfelt feeling and a bit of love for little old Hartlepool United."

Bizarrely, off the field we had two groups of fans who both love the club but seemed to be at odds with each other's modus operandi. They both should have got together, forgotten their differences and shown a united front.

Several good things did emerge from this season's carnage, the main one being Rachel Cartwright's crowd-funding appeal which undoubtedbly saved the club from going into immediate administration. I am sure that many more people would have put their hands in their pockets and raised far more than they actually did if they had known for certain that the money raised would be going directly to the club and not into the owners'/directors' pockets. The way fans from all over the country and particularly those across the water in Teesside rallied behind Pools showed that there is a lot of heartfelt feeling and a bit of love for little old Hartlepool United. Danny Graham, the Blackburn centre forward showed that not all footballers are driven by greed and donated £2,500 to the cause because he knew how passionate people are in the North East about their football. Let's not forget all these people's efforts.

Hartlepool Borough Council's role was highly commendable as it was they who engaged with potetial buyers and on two occasions loaned money to the club to cover HUFC cash flow problems. The Council obviously knows how much value the club brings to the town both publicity-wise and economically. Jeff Stelling,  another true blue, behind the scenes was talking to prospective buyers  and invested a substantial part of his own money in the club.

The HUFC Trust itself also played a prominent role and has got stronger as the crisis progressed, prepared to work with any new owners and more importantly waiting in the wings if the whole thing collapsed. It will be interesting to see if Raj Singh will allow them to have any direct involvement with the club at board level or indeed at any other level at all.

Then along came Raj. It would be fair to say that many fans are sceptical about his motives in light of him putting Darlington FC into administration. Many Darlo fans are on record of saying it was one of the best periods in their club's history under his tenure as chairman, getting to Wembley and winning a trophy,  but in the end he was left with no other option to than put the club into administration.

Added to this is the long history this club has had with shysters and con men, so it is not unreasonable for many Hartlepool supporters to have their doubts about the new owners. For every Harold Hornsey there are a half a dozen Garry Gibsons, Gary Coxalls, Peter Harrises or Steve Murralls - the latter two currently rightly serving prison sentences for their fraudulent activities at Pools.

Raj Singh, first and foremost, has to convince the Poolie faithful that his intentions are indeed honourable and that he wants what is best for the club. The fact that Jeff Stelling is part of the consortium lends it immense credibility. Raj needs to quickly engage with the fans and get them on board or even on the board. It would make good sense to have a meet-the-owner question and answer session at the club as early as possible to get this new relationship off the ground and up and running.

New dawn - same old faces?


The worst season in the club's history is thankfully over and most of the dross that has infested the club for the last number of years has finally gone. And good riddance. How much on the playing and coaching side staying remains to be seen but it is looking likely that Matthew Bates will be installed as manager with Ged McNamee and Ross Turnbull assisting him ...and hopefully being paid for it this time around.

Bates would not have been my choice by any means. Part of the losing culture at the club for the last four years and since last summer does not fancy getting fit and playing for the first team. Instead moving himself into a coaching position despite the fact that on the field we had two of the worst centre backs, Scott Harrison and Louis Laing, ever seen at the club. Not that Bates was any Rio Ferdinand but in the few games he would play each season he could make a passable impression of a fifth division centre back.

"Let us hope it is a total clearout and not just a few of the dregs moving on"

It is all right for people to say he saved us with next to no staff but some of the players we did have could not get a game. The squad was good enough to stay in that jumpers-for-goalposts league with the groundsman running the team. I look to the home defeats against bottom four teams Guiseley, and Solihull Moors and the jammy home draw against Torquay when they actually tortured us despite being bottom of the table. Add to this Bates's statement after the final game that in our 15th place we had over achieved this season and it brings me to the conclusion that the guy is totally deluded.

If it is Bates then it looks like we have gone for the cheap option which is never a sensible thing to do. The saving grace is that Craig Hignett as Director of Football will be running the football side of things and Bates will be his Yes Man. It certainly makes more sense for Hignett to be signing the players and getting rid of the rabble at present on the books. Let us hope it is a total clearout and not just a few of the dregs moving on as it will be another wasted season. And Hignett is responsible for tactics and team selection leaving Bates to get on with the coaching.

The standard of football in the National League is abysmal shown by how Macclesfield gained promotion this season. Of the present staff I would keep Scott Loach, Kenton Richardson, Josh Hawkes, Liam Donnelly and Devante Rodney and scatter the rest of the perennial losers.

Finally to our new owner and chairman Mr Raj Singh. I have been very impressed with his early statements and how professional he is. No fancy promises and raising expectations but telling it like it is and forming a board of directors is a step in the right direction. Jeff Stelling can contribute a lot in his role of honorary President by keeping thr club's name in the limelight and getting us plenty of publicity.

Now we are rid of the lying, conniving shitehawks who have been infesting the club for the past few years it appears we have a responsible person with the good of the club at heart. I wish him well and am sure all loyal Pools fans will get behind him to bring some good times back to Victoria Park.

Send in the Clowns

Tranmere 1 Pools 2 (National League)
Saturday April 29th 2018
Prenton Park



Well, April was quite a month wasn’t it? Pools were saved when Raj Singh took over the club with help from Jeff Stelling and we averted relegation. Just think: we were awarded Manager of the Month twice but could still have gone down. Fortunately, we live to fight another day.

Raj Singh seems to be sorting out the business side of the club pretty quickly yet the playing side could take a little longer. As most Poolies would agree, there are a number of under-performing players who need to be shown the door – yet some of them seem to be on two year contracts and can’t be released immediately.

The defence seems to be a problem. Too often, we have taken the lead only to lose out through defensive mistakes. Most visiting clubs seem to have one thing in common – they appear to have 6 feet 3 inch centre halves who can gobble up anything in the air. That’s one area we need to look at and there must be a number of those kind of players around. Last week, I was listening to Radio 5 and on air was Tommy Walsh, the DIY guru from Ground Force. He was explaining that his 6 feet 7 inch son played centre half and it set me thinking – just what Pools could do with. Wonder if he’s any good?

Now that the embargo has finished, let’s hope that the North East clubs have players who could be sent on loan to Pools. The last home game against Torquay certainly showed up another problem. Pools were well worth their 1-0 half time lead but what happened in the second half? They sat back and handed the initiative to Torquay. On the basis of possession, it must have been in the ratio of 95:5% to Torquay. We were marmalised in the second half and lucky to get away with a 1-1 draw. In some ways, I was sorry to see Torquay relegated and reports suggest that they may struggle to survive.

Looking at some of the attendances for the last batch of games, I’m surprised how some of the National League clubs survive. Boreham Wood, for example, finished fourth in the table and their last home gate was 701; other clubs had just over 1,000. Next season, of course, we’ll welcome Chesterfield and its going to be a toss up between Morecambe and Barnet for the second spot. Of interest will be games against Salford City but what a trek to Havant and Waterlooville. We sure get them!!
"Most visiting clubs seem to have one thing in common – they appear to have 6 feet 3 inch centre halves"

Let’s also hope that we can be free of serious injuries next season. This was something else that affected Pools. Ryan Donaldson was, of course, no stranger to Pools having been brought in on loan from Newcastle by Mick Wadsworth. Let’s hope he can stay free of injury next season. He might have something to offer. At least any injured players might be able to recuperate in Raj’s Care Homes!! Anyway, enjoy the close season – and give Raj a vote of confidence by renewing season tickets.

Lastly, of course, the FA are getting an £800m windfall from selling Wembley Stadium to a Yankee geezer by the name of Shahid Kahn who owns the NFL team Jacksonville Jaguars. Word has it that the FA plan to spend the money on improving facilities at grass roots level. Don’t bank on it – the FA may yet find some way of buggering things up.

A Different League

BILLY'S CONTRACT sees what we avoided

Having little or nothing better to do last Thursday*, well that's a bit of a white lie as I could have finished the decorating, tidied out the garage, washed the car, or perhaps returned the faulty garden sprayer to Lidl, had the chance to carry out some revision for a forthcoming exam or perhaps made a belated start on The Band of Brothers DVD box set which I was given six Christmases ago. Instead, however, I decided to take in the rescheduled derby match between Spennymoor and Darlington 1860.

Spenny's ground, for those not familiar with it, is pretty much surrounded by housing on all sides. As they were expecting a large crowd for this fixture, The Moors' website urged fans not to upset their near neighbours by blocking their drives and causing mayhem in the terraced streets by instead parking in the town centre or in the leisure centre car parks. I later discovered that the people who run the leisure centre are not entirely happy with this non-negotiated arrangement for obvious reasons.

As I left the leisure centre car park I asked a passing lady if she could tell me where the ground was located. Sucking in a deep intake of breath, a bit in like that of a motor mechanic who is about to give you a quote on replacing the gearbox, or even a lightbulb on a French car, she told me that the ground was over the other side of town. She said this as if she was talking about Manhattan not Spennymoor. She kindly gave me directions and warned me that it would be a nightmare getting parked. She nearly passed out when I told her I was going to walk. Returning to my car after the match, I timed the walk from the ground at just over eight minutes.

I made my way up Durham Road and I once again asked a local who was about to go into one of the pubs if I was on the right course for The Brewery Field. He obviously thought that I was a Loid who was not familar with the area. I gave him a flash of the Pools logo on my polo shirt and the first thing he asked me was if I knew Tommy What's-his-name*, a Pools fan who hails from Spenny. To which I replied that I did. With that he started to give me directions to the ground but half way through them he said "I'll walk down to the ground with you and have a drink in the Tavern instead." On the way his pal, a disaffected, or should I say disinfected, ex-Sunderland season-ticket holder, joined us and told me that he now supported his home town club instead and much preferred the craic and the banter on the terraces in the non-league scene than the so called professional leagues.

The Tavern is the nearest pub to the ground and would seem to be the Spenny fans' local. It turns out that some of their bar staff man the turnstiles on match days. Raj Singh take note. Having supposedly trekked from one end of the town to the other via the Khyber pass I felt that I was worthy of a pint and popped in.

Who was the first person that I bumped into but Tommy What's-his-name***. I was surprised to see that there were almost as many Darlo fans as Spenny fans in the Tavern. There was no police presence and no bouncers on the doors and best of all there was no trouble. Which is the way it should be.

It later occurred to me that both teams play in similar black and white strips and as such each set of supporters probably could not distinguish who was friend or who was foe. I was expecting both sets of fans to be walking to the match hand in hand which was nearly the case as both Loids and Moors mingled with each other on the way to the ground. All very genteel.

I left the pub in the company of two other Spenny fans who gave me the ins and outs of their players and who to watch out for. They told me that they were playing catch up on the rest of the league as they had had numerous home matches cancelled owing to the constant waterlogging of their pitch. This meant that they were playing on average three games a week. They had asked if they could play games at Pools, but the league hierarchy would not sanction this for some reason and as such they had to play one of their matches at Harrogate's ground, who in turn charged them £3.5k for the privilege. £8 saw me sat in the main stand, which is not bad price but more expensive than Pools for a senior season ticket. The Popular end is now all-seater, which was part of the league criteria required if Spenny wanted to move up to the National League in the event of their securing promotion.

Just before kick-off an injured David Foley, carrying a 2 litre bottle of water nearly a foot taller than himself, took his seat behind me.

I purchased a programme just to familarise myself with the players' names. I noted that Darlo 1804's leading goal scorer Reece Styche was number 17 and ex-Poolie Phil Turnbull was number 12. Both teams came out and at first I thought that neither of these two players had been selected until I noticed that both teams numbers ran from number one to number eleven and that the players' surnames were not printed on the rear of the shirts. A bit like in the good old days of football. Turned out that Styche was number nine and Turnbull number four. I am guessing that this saves the expense of smaller clubs having to in'vest' in dozens of shirts to 'cover them' for the season.

Talking of football shirts, Darlow 1812 took to the field in a maroon away top which looked very similar to the one Pools had a few seasons back. Rumour has it that 1886's new away shirt for next season is going to be light blue, similar to the one Pools wore between 1993/95 seasons with Camerons name emblazoned across the front. This, it would seem, hasn't gone down too well in some Quaker quarters.

The match started off at a pace with Spenny, kicking downhill, tearing into Darlo 1899 and were a goal up after a couple of minutes. The Moors should have been out of sight by half time with right winger Robbie Ramshaw causing the Quakers all kinds of problems. Talking of being out of sight, in one of the neighbouring gardens adjacent to the ground, near the corner flag of the Spenny popular end, someone had been burning their grass cuttings and the smoke kept drifting over the field of play in various degrees of density. Two security chaps were seen looking over the fence but it looked as if no one was at home and this, along with that lovely smell of burning grass pretty much persisted until the final whistle. Only in non league football!
"Football how it should be played: going forward with pace, with the ball on the deck and with no danger to passing aircraft."

As is the way, against the run of play, Darlo 18/6d grabbed a lifeline when Styche brilliantly turned Spenny's centre half out wide and scored a very good equaliser. Styche is a centre forward with attitude but judging by his celebrations he thinks a lot more of himself than the fans do. Certainly Spenny's anyway.

Second half Darlo 1818 took control and looked more organised with Turnbull pulling the strings and their chunky winger Stephen Thompson started to make his presence felt. He caught the Spenny full back in possession and it was from his resulting cross that the Spenny central defender nodded the ball back to his keeper only to find he was well off his line, resulting in a very soft own goal.

Spenny kept pushing but with having to fulfil so many fixtures per week you could see them tiring before your eyes and in the last twenty minutes Darlo ran the show but without really threatening Spenny's goal and ran out comfortable two one winners. Darlo historically appear to have the Gipsies' curse on Spennymoor and seem to be their bogey team. In their five meetings since the Quakers joined the non-league set up the best The Moors have achieved. despite  being the better team in most of these meetings, is a one all draw. Sadly for the Moors this fixture pile up has done for them as they have missed out on a play off spot.

This match was billed in Spenny's programme as the one that they have been waiting for, but in truth it did not feel like a proper derby match in terms of the game itself or of the atmosphere generated by both sets of fans. A crowd of 1,850 was recorded. 700-plus from Darlington 1872 made the gruelling 15 mile journey, which was about the same number of fans that Pools took to Tranmere for the last away game of the season.

Leaving the ground I bumped into two more Poolie season-ticket holders, which brought the total up to four on the night. I came to the conclusion that we were all behaving like jealous boy/girlfriends who, after a tempestuous relationship, can't get their exes out of their mind and miss them so badly that they have to spy on them, and this was the scenario with Darlo 1853. We four Poolies just wanted to see who our Ex was playing around with these days. I'm sorry, Spenny, but Darlo 1837 will always forever be ours. Go and get your own derby rivals.

I throughly enjoyed the game and and comparing it to watching Pools and the National League in general was interesting. I have seen Spenny several times under Jason Ainsley's management and they are a joy to watch. Football how it should be played: going forward with pace, with the ball on the deck and with no danger to passing aircraft.

All their players look comfortable on the the ball. When the ball was played side to side from midfield it was done in an attacking motion going forward and arriving in their opponents' half very quickly, unlike Pools where the ball is aimlessly kicked from side to side, slowing the pace down and inevitably going nowhere apart from back to the keeper. Apart from the costly headed backpass resulting in the own goal I cannot recall either side making a direct back pass to their respective keepers. In Spenny's case I could understand why, as their keeper did not exactly inspire much confidence. For the record 1886's keeper was Stephen Pears's son Aynsley. Unlike Pools, when either side won a throw-in they knew how to handle it, which was quickly, players making themselves available and making space for themselves to receive the ball instead of being in Pools mode, standing around like something from Madame Tussaud's.

What I thought was innovative was that, whenever Darlow 1888 won a corner, Spenny put three men up across the half way line and another midway between there and the penalty box, resulting in Darlo having to bring four players back. Essentially this meant that Darlow 1891 were defending the corner they were taking for fear of a breakaway from a clearance. It was literally four on to four.

Another thing that I liked was that there was none of this feigning injury and rolling around on the pitch after the slightest of contact, which is a regular occurrence within the National and the Premier Leagues. From what I have witnessed this season it appears to be a particular trait of many of the southern teams in the National League, in the hope to break up their opponents' rhythm or to run down the clock. I am given to understand that the correct term for this kind of play is "cheating."

The referee was very good but one of his linos looked very young indeed, which drew the attention of one Spenny fan who shouted at him. 'Get back up to your bedroom and finish your homework!' No talking headsets for the officials, just like British Rail back in the day: all flags and whistles.

Would any of the players from these two sides make it into Pools' current first team? Certainly. The two central defenders from either team probably would, but there again that is not saying a lot as most Sunday League central defenders could secure a place in Pools' central back line. The two wingers, Thompson and Ramshaw, looked confident and could beat their men and put in decent crosses for the forwards to feed off, as well as carry out defensive duties and put a tackle in where and when required. Based on this one-off showing, either winger could secure a place in Pools' starting line up.

Spenny also had a blond-haired, ex-Darlo lad, who wore the number four shirt. I did not get his name, but he was everywhere and ran the game. It would take two of our current midfielders to do the work that he did. Playing devil's advocate, would any of the current Pools players get in the Spennymoor side? A few undoubtedly would, but some would do well to make their bench. Darlow 1879 would be a better bet for many of them.

Apart from the chew of getting to Spennymoor itself, anytime I go there the satnav takes me on a different route via Chilton and Kirk Merrington or through Ferryhill or Tudhoe (pronounced Tudda) and I am sure that on one occasion that I passed through Royston Vasey. Having said that, if Pools had gone pop I think that I would be a regular on the terraces at the Brewery Field, or if not, perhaps South Shields. As the Irish say: "The craic was mighty." 

Next up I am going to a wake, which will be held at the Stadium of Light on May 6th. Will the Mackems keep The Wolves from the door? Full report in August's Monkey Business.

* It will be three Thursdays back by the time you read this.
** Not his real name.
*** See above.

Jon Goes to Tranmere

Another Janice and Jon story by SHEDRICK

Janice was going to the garden centre with her friend Mavis, who needed to find a man to trim her overgrown bush. 

She thought it unwise to take Jon along so suggested he went into town to watch the football on the big screen TV at the Mill House. Jon preferred the Country Firkin but had been banned from there on account of his bad stutter. 

At that moment Jon received a phone call from Mr Bicklethorpe offering him a free coach ticket to the Pools last game of the season at Tranmere and a match ticket too. 

Mr Bicklethorpe's wife had had to drop out at the last minute on account of her job as assistant dog-catcher. Apparently her boss had just suffered a nasty accident while relieving himself in the alley behind the club. He had been celebrating Pools' double survival with a drink or three, but he had carelessly forgotten to tie up the Rottweiler which he had rescued earlier. 

The coach was leaving in 30 minutes so Jon would have to hurry to the bus-stop. Can you skip a mile in 10 minutes, Jon can. 

The journey was great fun, but first Jon needed a fancy dress costume. The coach attendant, who was calling herself Miss Clippy the Clown, said she had a spare pair of baggy striped dungarees he could borrow, and suggested he changed in the coach toilet. 

As it was very cramped she held the door open for him with one hand, while doing yo-yo tricks with the other. Have you ever tried “walking the dog” with a yo-yo? Jon has. See his black eye. 

They finally arrived in Tranmere. Jon thought it looked a bit like Middlesbrough without the smog, but windier. 

The home fans were surprised to see all the Pools fans in their clown outfits, but not as surprised as the Pools fans were when they won the match and had to put their clown faces on the other way up. 

It was quite late when Jon arrived home. 

“Did you have a nice time?” Janice asked. “Oh yes” said Jon. 

“I managed to get into Miss Clippy’s dungarees. She suggested we did it in the coach toilet where she performed tricks. It was quite a squeeze but I finally managed to get it on, and then everyone on the coach cheered. 

Jon now has two black eyes. Do you know the words to a song with that name? Jon does!

Funny Old Game

Who Cares Wins


I can't help but wonder why Raj Singh has purchased Hartlepool United.

What is in it for him? He can't sell the ground or develop the land around it as The Council own it. He would be unable to make any money with the current crop of players as most of them are not worth anything or indeed saleable. As far as I am aware I don't think that there is a permit even to hold a car boot sale at the ground. So what's in it for Raj?

Then it dawned on me that he is the owner of Prestige Care Homes.

It could be that business is a bit slack at present and he needs to generate some additional income. So in collaboration with HBC, owing to the lack of care homes within the town's borders he is perhaps looking at turning the Vic into a super care home. The beauty of this being that it already has a number of people on the premises who needed care last season and are still resident here and whom Raj could sign up immediately. Scotty Harrison, Conor Newton, Carl Magnay, Nicky Sideways Featherstone and Rhys Oates as well as Jack Munns.

The Raj Vic care home is well equipped to look after those who need specialist long term care such as Luke George,  Ryan Donaldson and Kenton Richardson.

I can see a new tagline on the club crest (with a nod towards the old "The Town's Club" motto) having the words "Hartlepool United - The Caring Club"

Going Through the Motions

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Pools 0 Solihull 2 (National League)
Saturday April 7th 2018
Victoria Park

Once again the long suffering fans of Hartlepool United had to suffer the ignominy of spending ninety-five minutes watching our team go through the motions of avoiding another drop down the divisions. And that on the day that after prolonged contract discussions and three weeks of false starts the club finally announced officially that Hartlepool United had been saved. 

After seeing the last two home games I think some fans are in deep despair after watching the fare served up to us over the crucial end of season games. We take on two bottom teams and get stuffed in both games. Effort does not count, it is goals and points that count.

Are still in danger? The teams below us have played less games and with only two home games left we still have a struggle on our hands. So disheartening. I just want this season to be over so we start afresh next term in whatever division and just hope the new owners have some kind of financial package which will give us a chance to change some of the staff we have at the moment.

After the two recent games I am not sure that Bates will be in charge next season or whether he should be. Martin Gray was being touted around the ground today but that is hardly looking forward is it?

"I just want this season to be over so we start afresh next term in whatever division"
Today was a miserable performance and the only plus was that today's visitors were a better side than Guiseley. We were so disjointed today, not holding the ball up, passing was bloody awful, never won a header and we could have been hammered in both games not just beaten.

I heard that one of the radio pundits was heavily criticising Loach today, saying he was playing up to the crowd by clapping the fans after the game. I consider that totally unfair on the keeper who has saved us from far more embarrassment over the season. It is not the keeper's fault if your team does not know how to defend any dead ball situation. How many times have we been caught out at the end of games through lack of awareness in our own box?

The visitors had most of the game today, defended well and were quick to counter-attack as we could barely get a move going. We raised our game a little after the break and Hawkes went closest when a long range shot hit the angle of the bar and bounced away. The visitors did the same thing later in the game as they overran us and always looked the more dangerous side.

Just like on Tuesday, when Guiseley pressurised us to win a corner which was slotted home, once again we gifted a visiting team three points with very little resistance.

The pluses:
A great tackle form Magnay to foil an early goal from the visitors.
The Hawkes shot was the only real effort on goal.

The minuses:
Another easy capitulation in a bottom of the league game.
Hawkins is not a full back.
Donnelly should be fit for the next game.
Substitutes did not help at all.
Referee was an absolute joke We have had some jokers but this feller was the pits. Lost the game and gave some of the most bizarre decisions I have ever seen at a football ground. Gone are the days when a ref could use his own judgement, but they really need to crack down on players feigning injury. Players get a kick on the shin and hold their ears as if they had been shot in the head and of course the ref has to stop the game. Too many incidents to list from today as examples.

Funny Old Game

As I Suffered It

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Pools 1 Leyton Orient 0 (National League)
Tuesday April 17th 2018
Victoria Park

It has been a bit like a baby coming, all the effort and slip-ups we have suffered this season came to a climax last night as Pools made our National League position safe with three games in hand.

I was confident right up to the kick off when in the first five minutes the visitors could have had at least a two goal advantage. We were obviously affected by the stress of the situation when we could have been relegated again, we were awful for most of the first half. Players just shoving the ball away in panic. No one player able to hold onto a pass and get our game going, long balls just hoofed up field and snatched up by Orient who just took us apart every time. It was poor shooting that let them down as the approach play was slick, neat and dangerous. It must have been at least twenty minutes before we even had a shot as we just could not get out of our half. We managed to get one corner and Woods, who looked out of sorts, found Cassidy in the box but the effort was blocked. Woods did take a bad knock in the first half but he has not looked that fit for a few games now.

"Laing has his doubters but he was magnificent last night, not only getting the goal but his heading in defence was fantastic."

The Orient side were good in attack but once again the number of times they went to ground in simple challenges was shocking; even later in the game when Pools did pick up a bit you had players at the other end of the pitch going down just to stop the game. The ref was just as bad as any other we have seen in this division; in fact this feller tried to make it all about himself, calling the two captains together midway through the first half to tell them to calm it down. If only these jokers could realise that if they refereed a game evenly and fairly they would not cause so much grief during the game. A push in the back from any player is a foul but apparently if you had a red shirt on last night you were given a free pass.

On a rare sortie Cassidy broke through but collided with the keeper and the chance was lost. Out of the blue we managed a goal which we thought was never going to come when Woods took a free kick and Laing guided it over the Orient keeper into the goal. Shocked and delighted, Pools fans went mental. The way we had played up to that point I honestly thought it was all over for us and we would be slipping down once again. This goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of Orient as they had pegged us back for so long and we cruised to half time.

Woods, who had been booked in the first half and was struggling, did not make it out for the second half and was replaced by Oates who can always take the game to the opposition. His speed was a factor as he chased people down at both ends of the pitch and certainly rattled a few nerves in the Orient defence. I have to say that Laing has his doubters but he was magnificent last night, not only getting the goal but his heading in defence was fantastic. With the visitors attacking the Town End, in the second half he won every ball that was lobbed into the box, He was my man of the match.

We had a bit of luck when a screamer of a cross beat Loach but it skimmed across the goal, touched the underneath of the bar and flew out wide of the goal and was cleared. Once again the visitors hammered us but we withstood the pressure. Hawkes, who was being watched by Peter Beardsley of Newcastle United, did not have his best game but still looks a class above in this team.

Rodney came on for Hawkes and was booked for his first tackle, then was sent off in extra time for another offence but this ref likes a card or two. He even sent off the Orient manager after a conflab with the fourth official. It was like a Paul Daniels magic trick as he went off the pitch and stood in the end of the tunnel that two stewards had partially dragged forward to protect him from the fans. He thought he might get away with it till he was spotted and the two stewards drew the tunnel out then shot it straight back as Edinburgh disappeared while the ref was making his way over to make sure he left the field. This trick probably looked better than it sounds here.

The visitors still looked favourites to get a goal as they came back strong at the ten man Pools side. Against a side like this it was glaringly obvious that it is no good playing Hawkins at fullback. It is not his fault but he wanders into the middle and leaves us exposed down that side. The pluses, apart from the win, were that Newton covered every blade of grass in his effort to collect the points and Loach again made some great blocks.

Lets hope we can send the fans home happy on Saturday with a relaxed game of football and another win which will probably relegate Torquay once again.

Rather Them Than Us

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Pools 1 Torquay 1 (National League)
Saturday April 21st 2018
Victoria Park

It has been a long season, and we have struggled despite being one of the two teams tipped to bounce back. Both Pools and Orient have struggled and it has been very hard to watch at times. So what, we are Poolies; we are used to the never-ending struggle of our club.

In fact today at half time comments were made about how enjoyable the continuing relegation problems of the past were, when we had to wait for our “friends” to come to our aid and vote us back into the league. Seems a life time away now.

As we now languish in the National Conference League we can thank our lucky stars that this season we did not slip even further down the ladder. We still have a team to support and we now have a new owner so we should at least last one more season.

Today's game looked to be a little easy end of season last home game as the visitors were having even worse luck than us, sitting in the bottom four while we were flying high after a couple of results went our way.

I sensed a visible bounce around the Vic as the pressure is off and it showed in the approach of the lads, well at least in the first half. With Magnay and Woods both sidelined we only had one senior player on the bench and a bunch of kids proved the point of how thin our squad has been this season.

The bounce I sensed was there for all to see in the first half as we took the game to them, playing some very good football. The ref lost the plot with two cards shown early on, Newton on four minutes and a Torquay player on nine, I suspect just to even it up as he had made a hash of the Newton booking. Not only had he lost the plot he also lost his soul. OK, a pun as he had to leave the field to change his boots when it looked like one sole was hanging off.

Oates, who still does not look 100% fit made a great run and managed to get a shot in that the keeper blocked. We were playing some quick one-touch football and the visitors were on the rack. We had a bit of luck when a shot from Donaldson was deflected past the keeper and Pools got the early start we needed.

The ref just had to level things up when an attacker backed into Laing and feigned a challenge in the box and the ref pointed to the spot. It is a sad reflection of this division when you see players week in and week out going to ground for the merest touch , which not only riles up the fans but spoils the game as a spectacle. Will we ever get back to watching a fair game of football with two teams battling for honours instead of the pack of cheating barstewards we see turning up week after week?
"Once again the OTHER POOLS TEAM turned out for the second half."

Loach made a great job of stopping the penalty and deservedly so. He blocked  the ball and the rebound was hit wide of the goal. The visitors had the odd success but their shooting was always wide of the mark or Loach, playing a Man-of-the-Match game stopped everything. Munns came on for Newton early in the half as Newton had taken a bad tackle down the Millhouse side for which the Torquay player had been booked. Munns even had a cheeky lob at the goalkeeper, who managed to get half a hand on it and it was cleared.

Once again the OTHER POOLS TEAM turned out for the second half. Once again we back-pedalled after being so much in control in the first half and it was our turn to panic, hoofing the ball away and watching it come straight back again. A good job Loach was on form as he made a fantastic leap to push a ball over the bar with one hand as the screamer was heading for the net.

The saddest sight of the day was to see the lino flagging for a foul down near the dug outs as the young Cunningham, replacing Oates and making his debut, was shown a red card for what looked like his first tackle. The young lad slid in, knocked the ball away and the player fell over him and a red card was brandished. It was a sickening piece of very poor officiating as the visitors surrounded the ref shouting for a card. Everyone was up off the bench and Oates even went onto the pitch trying to get at the ref but fortunately he was restrained. We have had to suffer all season with people like this turning out poor performances and ruing the game of football.

The sad part was this team were there for the taking after such a good start and one fan late in extra time said to me "these buggers are lucky enough to get a bloody draw here." I looked at Sid and asked him where he had been as they already had the draw from having scored after the lad was sent off but it had been coming as we were on the back foot for most of the second half.

I do not like to feel happy when you see a team relegated but sod that! Rather them than us is now going to be my motto, as there is no joy in losing.

Any Other Business


A Happy Ending

Well, who'd have guessed a couple of months ago that Pools would have got out of both of the holes they were in? Not only to survive without going into administration or worse, but also to finish in mid-table obscurity.

All credit to the parties involved. Raj Singh, Jeff Stelling and Matthew Bates may take most of the plaudits but let's not forget the contribution of the unpaid backroom staff, and in fact the players and fans generally who all did their bit when needed to keep things going at a time when some were thinking survival was a lost cause. And those various fans' groups and fund-raisers, some of whom may have not always seen eye to eye with each other, all helped to keep the process on the rails and enabled the eventual outcome.

No doubt next season will again repeat the traditional pattern of expectation followed by disappointment followed by nail-biting, but still being here is the main thing.

Janice and Jon

A couple of us have been involved in bringing "Janice and Jon" to the Bizz this season. It's a spoof on the old Janet and John books from which many of us baby-boomers learned to read. 

And it just so happens that we both know a real Jon, and he now performs in a folk duo with a real Janice, and they are based in the North-East and are making a name for themselves. We've already apologised to them for misappropriating their names, but we came across this video of them, recorded only a few weeks back, playing a tune called "Raj, Raj, Raj" and we thought the coincidence was too great to ignore:

Wherever we Poolies go we are reminded of our allegiance. Here, from a few weeks ago, are a couple. A Chinese takeaway in Exeter seems to have lost one of its letters and a pub near Oxford is warning us to beware of the drop.

Who needs a head of recruitment?

With the controversial record of Paul Watson (Pools' former Head of Recruitment) having gained him little praise, Pools fans might still be  unconvinced as to whether that role needs to exist. 

However former Pools midfielder Darrell Clarke must be convinced because he's poached his erstwhile Pools teammate Tommy Widdrington from that role at Coventry City to do the same at Bristol Rovers. Darrell succeeded Tommy as Salisbury City's manager before moving on to Rovers.


St Pauli are a footy team who play in the second division of the Bundesliga, and here's an item of merchandise which they sell.

It's a bicycle bell. Pools' new brown badge would fit on it a treat. Perhaps Pools could do something similar as part of a range of bike accessories, as their target audience of potential new fans are likely to be into bikes. A Pools puncture repair kit could be good ...but knowing Pools, it wouldn't be.

...And finally

It's time to thank all our contributors for continuing to find things to say throughout a continuously depressing season and to our readers for staying with us in what we all thought were the club's death throes.

So we can all now have a well-deserved break to recover from the stress of the last few months and we'll be back in August, hopefully refreshed and raring to go once again for the 30th season of Monkey Business.