New Beginnings


The start of a new era saw Pools throw their gates open to the fans, which proved a great success with almost 500 in the ground to see the team photoshoot and the unveiling of Pools' new strip. Judging by the numbers you would have thought it was the Turin Shroud that was going on display and not a blue and white footy shirt.

Encouraging to see Pools players in
intense training for climbing up the
steps to the Royal Box at Wembley.
As well as bouncy castles for the kids (and some adults too), it was good to see the players mingle with the fans and this can only strengthen the bond between club and supporters. I think the last time the club organised an event of this scale was when Harold Hornsey was in charge, when the new stand, now the Cyril Knowles Stand, was opened for the first time. When the team official team photo had been taken fans were also allowed on the pitch (Not today as it is sacred turf!), to take their own. I have a photo somewhere of my son aged three or four with Keith Houchen and Mick Tait. My son is twenty six in a few weeks time. Frightening.

On the day Mick Tait was wearing that bizarre away shirt, the red one with the white shoulder and slanting light blue and red stripes. Not saying it fits but still got mine. Regarding the new shirt I was hoping for something other than stripes unless it was something along the lines of an Argentina light blue or West Brom navy blue style (Sacrilege! -Ed.) That said, the new shirt is not bad at all though I am not fussed on the white patch on the rear. The away shirt is very smart and in a fit of madness I got the old credit card out and purchased one of each.

"it was good to see the players mingle with the fans and this can only strengthen the bond between club and supporters"
Peter Kioso and Niko Muir, both of
whom have impressed pre-season.
Scotty Loach as always at the back.
The supporters obviously liked the new styles as there was a queue out the door of the club shop. At one point I thought they were giving gold bars away. I got into my feminine side (the bra was really uncomfortable) and I patiently waited three quarters of an hour to get served, counting 43 people ahead of me and almost the same behind. Then I thought what a hypocrite I am. The previous day, there I was queueing in Matalan with only four people in front of me and three tills open and bemoaning the fact that they wouldn't open more tills to speed the process along. I think I waited all of three minutes to get served. I guess it is a case of "there are shops, and there are shops".

Michael Woods asking
for a fan's autograph
The re-engagement with the supporters continued later that evening when Raj Singh and the board and management held a question and answer session at the Corporation Club about how they want to take the club forward after the debacle of the last 18 months. Despite some reservations about Raj after his previous involvement with our neighbours in Darlington, he was very well received and wants to make amends.

The question that got the biggest round of applause on the evening was when Matty Bates was asked about the tactic of leaving one man up front when defending corners, as we have seen in pre-season, is going to be the norm rather than having eleven in the box. In some instances he said that he hopes to have two up front but it will always be a case of horses for courses.

The fans were assured that the remainder of Jack Munns' contract was not fully paid up and a mutual agreement that benefitted Pools and the player was agreed so that he could return closer to his home.

Mark McGuire the (CEO) said, and I would not disagree with him, that one area of the club that needs a massive revamp is the commercial department, which seems to have lost its way and needs to reconnect with businesses in the town and further afield. He mentioned that some advertising hoardings around the ground had remained in place long after the businesses they advertised had ceased their sponsorship. I often wondered about those signs for Bruce Moore's and Bee Lee Coach tours.

All in all a very enjoyable and satisfying day. Let the season commence.

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