Coasting Along


BILLY'S CONTRACT




A lad I know recently told me that supporting the Borer was a bit like being on a roller coaster ride. I said in comparison the Hartlepool United roller coaster ride makes the Borer's look like the Mad Mouse that was in Seaton's amusement park back in the seventies.

Ours is a ride that you cannot get off, set on an unstable structure with a carriage that has only two wheels no brakes or any seat belts and a corroded safety bar.

In a two week period we have seen Pools needlessly crash out of the FA cup to Gillingham owing to a moment of absolute madness (Stupidity more like) by the hand of Carl which has cost the club £35k in much needed prize money. Was he fined? I think not.

Even the post match comments from Matthew Bates in the Mail are worth a second or third glance just for the entertainment value alone. Had Bates said that Carl was doing his impression of Scott Loach punching the ball out for a corner it could not have been funnier. “He won’t know himself what has gone through his head, it was a sickener at the death for us and for him. It was a moment of madness. But he has held his hands up in the dressing room and we move on."

Holding his hands up in the dressing room was the least of his problems.

A few days later we have the Dover-gate affair. Liam Noble is dropped by Bates for the game because of an alleged altercation with some of his team mates involving food take aways on the team coach. I have heard several different versions of the 'hearsay' of the incident nd if any of them have a shred of truth about them it would seriously put into question not only of the professionalism of a number of senior players within the squad but that of the manager for allowing it to happen and that of the club itself. If that is the case they should take a good look at themselves and recall how the supporters and fans from across the country contributed to the survival of the club and paid their wages. Talk about biting the hand that feeds you. Were any of the players apart from Noble disciplined or punished? Again I think not. The manager in my mind did not not emerge with any credit whatsoever after this episode.

The only thing that was not verified regarding these rumours was what type of fast food it actually was: Indian, Mucky Macdonalds, a Chinese or KFC? The smart money is on the Pizza. Hopefully they were not supplied by Matthew Bates' restaurant in Stockton.

I feel that it was a great opportunity lost that the clubs official weekly video 'Away the lads' did not feature all the antics on the team coach on the way to Dover. It would have made a great stocking filler for Christmas and earned vital revenue for the club in video sales as well as getting product placement revenue for the fast food featured.

You can say what you like about our uncle Ken but I once saw a code of practice in a handbook issued to the young players of the club that either he or IOR had put together. As far as I know every player had to sign up to it. In short it read along the lines 'Not to let yourself down or embarrass the club in any way. Remember you are representing Hartlepool United F.C.as well as the town of Hartlepool.' I don't think that would be a bad idea to have this reprinted, and laminated and pinned up on to the Home's team dressing room wall as well.

The least said about the result against Dover the better. A total embarrassment. Losing to a team that had only won two games all season.

The Roller coaster ride continues with fans either falling off or jumping off the cart...

The next match, against Fylde, did not see any improvement and as ever Pools played at home as if they were the away team with the inevitable, predictable, seen-it-all-before ending.

When Pools were awarded a late penalty in that match I am sure that I heard Bates praying that Liam Noble would miss it to quell his popularity. To add insult to injury Pools' crowd of 1,750 was almost half the normal attendance and the lowest at the Vic in twenty years.

The following day before it came off the rails altogether, Raj threw Matthew Bates off the roller coaster.
"If, as Hignett claimed, Mark Kitching was tired, it only echoes what many on the terraces have voiced about the fitness levels of the players at the club."

Speculation that Craig Hignett had been waiting in the wings to fill Bates shoes are thankfully unfounded as he ruled himself out of the job both verbally and then later in his caretaker manager's role thanks to his dire substitution in the 88th minute against Dagenham.
In truth there is no need for him to put himself up for the managers job. Why should he? In his current role he has a modicum of job security. compare that to any number of managers who have been shown the door marked exit in recent years years and I know which job I would prefer if I had a mortgage to pay. Hignett is a friend of the chairman and surely it would have an impact on their relationship if Raj were put into a position whereby, at some stage he would have to relieve him of his managerial duties.

Against Dagenham it would be fair to say that Craig Hignett's side played much better than we had seen Pools play in several months. Lots of pluses. Until the latter stages of the game we mostly played ball to feet and had two men on the half way line when we defending corners. Albeit we did not score from open play Pools created more chances than they had in several games put together and should have been out of sight before the ref blew the final whistle. More encouraging was that we did not defend deep once we had took the lead. All positives then, until, out of nowhere came Hignett's disastrous substitution. In the 88th minute Conor Newton on for Mark Kitching, who on the day probably had his best game ever in Pools colours. Unless Kitching was injured it has got to be the worst substitution that I have ever witnessed in any football match.

As we all know, within seconds of Kitching leaving the pitch Newton gets skinned resulting in a Dagenham goal. A minute later owing to his lack of pace Newton gives us a repeat performance with the same outcome. Conor Newton is not a full back and should not have been put in that position. The manager later claimed that the Kitching was tired. However with only a few minutes left he should have instructed Luke James to drop deeper to give him some cover.

I have a lot of respect for Hignett but, like Magnay, he should have held his hands up and been man enough to take it on the chin and accept that it was his responsibility and his mistake instead of blaming the player in the media for his own faux pas. If, as Hignett claimed, Mark Kitching was tired, it only echoes what many on the terraces have voiced about the fitness levels of the players at the club. In pre-season a couple of them looked positively tubby.

It is noticeable in the latter stages of many games, whether Pools are playing part-time or full-time sides (and I include Kidsgrove Athletic here), that Pools look off the pace and are generally given a right old run around in the last quarter which is perhaps the reason why they concede so many late goals. This is embarrassing as, after all, Hartlepool United are a professional football club and their fitness levels should be exemplary. I am surprised that Matthew Bates was not taken to task by the director of football over this issue. The fans could see it so why couldn't the management, directors and backroom staff?

Raj and Hignett are hoping to have a new manager in-situ before the Maidenhead game. Fingers crossed that he (or she!) will have previous experience of dodgy roller coasters ...Awallll aboard!(said in an American accent)

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