Showing posts from February, 2019

Money Money Money...


The one thing about supporting Pools is that there is never a dull moment. Tell a lie, come to think of it there have been a fair few gloomy days as well as ...weeks...months and years.

First we hear is that Richard Money has decided that he no longer wants to be the manager of Hartlepool United. This road to Damascus moment apparently occurred two days into the job when the realisation of the scale of the task undertaken must have hit home. This before a ball had even been kicked under his tenure. Then discussions with the Pools hierarchy with a view to a job swop/change and being moved upstairs in some capacity or other, not connected with the playing side of things. I wager that the job description must have read something like "Experienced coach/Manager required for struggling non-league football club." Not for someone who is looking for employment above the ground floor.

Something must have been said very early doors as stated in the last edition of M.B. It was very strange to see Craig Hignett, Director of Football, in his track suit warming up the squad prior to kick offs on several occasions and then spending the rest of these matches in the dug out alongside The Money man.

What I fail to understand is why Richard Money applied for the job in the first place. He he must have known what he was walking into, having thoroughly carried out detailed research on Pools, allegedly having watched every match video ...which surely would have deterred the most enthusiastic of applicants. Collectively the CEO, the director of football and the owner of the club were all blown away with his interview and afterwards Money himself said that he knew in his blood, when he heard that Pools had gone non-league, that one day he would manage them. Talk about selling yourself and ticking all the right boxes; he should have been in the Dragons Den. I am sure Lee Bradbury is having a little chuckle to himself.
"I am sure Lee Bradbury is having a little chuckle to himself."

On the downside, you have to look at Raj's track record of appointing managers. At Darlington, Colin Todd and Steve Staunton, both big names who had played at the highest level for the top teams in the Premiership, were ultimately failures as managers. Oh and we can add Matthew Bates to that list.

I would be very surprised if the interviewing panel, as a matter of concern, had, prior to his appointment not asked Richard Money or his former club Solihull, the circumstances and reasoning behind him walking away from the West Midland outfit.

I was going to write a piece for M.B about the positives of Richard Money, and his breath of fresh air attitude of telling it how it really is:
Too many central defenders at the club.
Too many midfield players of the same type.
In all his footballing life he had never seen the ball passed backwards so much by one team (Nicky Featherstone stand up and take a bow ...or a back pass.)
Very few players could run forward with the ball.
An alarming lack of height throughout the team and the lack of a battling midfielder who can tackle.
He also hinted, but could not say a lot in case it affected the morale of the players alluded to, that a fair few of them will be shown the door marked exit at the end of the season.

I could not argue with a word of any of that.

He also quite rightly stated that in future this club will no longer be a rest home for injury prone players who were coming to the end of their careers for a last pay day. Can't fault the man.

That aside he was a man of many contradictions. We should not play three at the back. The following match - three at back. After the embarrassing defeat at Gateshead he was quoted as saying that Pools were the better team on the day. Not from where I was sat were they. Then we are told that we need to bring youth into the squad. Shortly afterwards the experienced 31 year old Michael Raynes is signed (and rightly so and needed.) And on it went.

My problem with Money (apart from the fact that I can't hold on to it) was that he did not seem to have much time for the best prospect and one of the few decent footballers at the club, Peter Kioso, who hardly got a game under his brief reign. As soon as Craig Hignett became manager Kioso was installed back into the first team starting XI. A case of if your face fits.

Out of the blue came the announcement that Money was effectively swapping roles with Craig Hignett, but not as Director of Football but as someone who was going to look at the club's infrastructure, which no one, even from outside, would disagree needs delving into.

Hignett as we all know was desperate to get back into management, having put in for the Gateshead job last season, so with this switch he will be in his element. How this will impact on his relationship with Raj Singh, if and when there comes a time when his friend has to sack him? It is indeed a tough call.

I was still getting my head round the whole Richard Money affair when I saw the headline in the Northern Echo with the word "Exclusive" reading "Richard Money Exits Hartlepool."

I immediately checked out the Mail website but nothing was forthcoming until nearly five hours later, when we saw a more low key reserved headline (obviously they had not being given the exclusive by the club and did not have all the facts to hand and actually quoted the Northern Echo) that Richard Money nears the exit door. So reading between the lines he had still not departed the club at this point.

With that I accessed the Latest news section on the HUFC website where the headline heralded: "Women roar back to form at Wallsend" (Noisy beggars). No mention of Richard Money. Interestingly, and very Kremlin-like, at first glance it looks as if any photographs/video interviews or anything to do with Richard Money has been removed from the site which suggests he has left or is leaving the club. However nearly twenty fours after the Echo's exclusive, it was also interesting to note that there had been no further mention of his departure pending or otherwise on the club's web page.

On that evening's BBC News they said, playing it safe like the Mail, that unconfirmed reports were stating that Richard Money had left Hartlepool United. At this point it looks as if it is a case of going, going but not quite gone, ...and perhaps staying on a bit longer than expected.

If I were in his shoes I would be too embarrassed to seek a pay-off, if one indeed is being sought. At the very beginning I would have held my hand up and said "look I am very sorry I have wasted my own and everybody's else's time but after mulling the situation over this is not the job for me, please cancel my contract and I'll be off. Cheerio." (...and there he was. Gone.)

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Managing to Make Us a Laughing Stock


Just when things were appearing to get back to normal at the Super Six Stadium we have a couple of weeks when it turns into Russ Abbot's Mad House.

We have a manager who has come and gone to be replaced by a Director of Football who didn't want to be manager a few weeks ago. The manager threatening to go upstairs in a job switch but thankfully walking away from the club. He should not have had the option, As soon as we realised he was not fit for purpose and he was going around telling everybody he did not want to be here he just have had a size 10 up his arris and sent on his way,

Of course this would be admitting we had made another piss-poor managerial appointment but there again the whole world knows that. I am sure Raj Singh has the good of the club at heart but he is presiding over a complete shambles.
"The four new signings look promising, especially the striker Nicke Kabamba, who is what we have been looking for all season."

Most of the football world would have got the message if they had bothered to watch the televised game at Harrogate. Now if ten years ago someone had told you we would be playing Harrogate in a league match you would have said they were having a laugh. But no, we took them on with the hosts in a higher league position than us and we were a complete embarrassment.

What we did see was Xavi, wearing the captain's armband. put in the worst midfield performance ever from a player in a Hartlepool shirt. For their second goal he tried to set up their attacker for a strike on goal and his second attempt in our own penalty area was hammered into our net before the keeper could move. The fat lad was immediately substituted but for the next game he retained his place in our non-existent midfield, which simply beggars belief.

Paddy McLaughlin is sent out on loan to York, while Conor Newton and Lewis Hawkins have been deemed surplus to requirements and can go to anybody who wants them. Don't expect a queue outside the ground then.

The four new signings look promising, especially the striker Nicke Kabamba, who is what we have been looking for all season. We need to sign him up to a permanent deal before we lose him. The centre-back Michael Raynes is a massive player for this division, a huge improvement on Carl Magnay and Myles Anderson, neither of whom is up to standard .A massive cull of these mediocre players is needed and it will be interesting to see who does it.

It is still unclear whether Craig Hignett is going to be a long-term appointment as manager or whether a new man will be brought in with Hignett reverting to his director of football role. Although what a National League team needs a director of football for is unclear. We are Hartlepool not bloody Liverpool as Tommy Widdrington used to say. The last time Hartlepool appointed one was when Kenneth Hodcroft went for a Director of Sport. And gave us a bozo who couldn't direct his own piss down a urinal.

If we were looking to appoint a permanent new manage,r Darrell Clarke is still looking for a job. This is s guy who has taken teams out of the National League and Division Two. Someone with a love of Pools who would relish the challenge and not be a bit reluctant to take on the job as the present incumbent appears to be.

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A Touch of the Two Harolds


Former Prime Minister Harold Wilson once famously said, ‘A week’s a long time in politics.’ His penultimate predecessor, Harold Macmillan, described the most important thing in politics as ‘events’. Well, over the past few days, both quotations can be twisted to Pools.

First, we had the televised game at Harrogate Town when Pools were taken to the cleaners. It was an abject performance which left us all wondering whether a relegation fight was on the cards again. What also left us wondering was who was in charge? Both Richard Money and Craig Hignett were in the dugout but this was resolved a few days later when Craig Hignett was placed in charge of first team affairs with Money undertaking an undefined role. As we go to print there’s suggestions that Money will be on his way out completely.

And so to Saturday’s game against Braintree. I had a sense of foreboding as too often in the past we’d made clubs in the bottom four play like Barcelona. We stuck to the task and the performance raised morale. Three loan signings we made – was this Richard Money? – certainly made a big contribution to the victory. Hopefully, we’ll get stability in defence with Michael Raynes who seems to be adopting a leadership role. As soon as he signed, I got in touch with a pal of mine who is a season ticket holder at Crewe. His verdict was that Raynes is a very powerful header of the ball with plenty of experience - but with a habit of giving goals away. Of course, plenty has been said about Nicke Kabamba and a goal in each of the league games shows his worth. Let’s hope he can be of some help to Luke James as he lays the ball off. And I’m sure Luke Molyneux will also make a good contribution. For me, Peter Kioso turned in a fantastic performance against Braintree and he would always be first on my team sheet. It did look as though Kioso might be out of favour with Money but thankfully Craig Hignett has restored him to the starting line up rather than having him idling his time away on the bench.
"Hopefully, we’ll get stability in defence with Michael Raynes who seems to be adopting a leadership role"

The scariest moment, of course, in the Braintree match came in added time when the opposition were awarded a corner. Bloody hell, was my reaction as their goalie went up; they’re going to equalise or get a penalty amongst all the chaos. Thankfully that didn’t happen and we breathed again. There was some talk of those shysters at FIFA outlawing goalkeepers coming up in the dying minutes. Lay off, it can be exciting or nervy depending on who you support. FIFA have taken enough fun out of the game so belt up.

The other talking point about the Braintee game was the appearance of our first lady referee. Rebecca Welch certainly put in a very competent performance and two reactions from Poolies were typical : “We’ll have her every week” and “I hardly noticed her which shows how good she was”. Bless the lady!

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Green Green Grass of Home


In the space of one footballing week I have seen three, maybe four things that should be banned never mind being allowed in the confines of a football ground.

1 Artificial pitches The game against Harrogate was the first time I witnessed 'professional' football played on an artificial surface and despite many people, particularly the Yanks, enthusing and telling us all how much this technology has advanced compared to when I used I play on a similar surface back in the late 80s at the Tilery in Stockton, all I can say it has improved though very, very marginally.

The ball, as in days of yore, moved very quickly on the surface and on several occasions normal passes looked as if they had been over-hit and the ball ran out. The bounce of the ball was not natural at all. You could actually see the Pools players struggling to control or trap the ball ...err, come to think of it, that might be down to their limited ability rather than the playing surface. What was most peculiar, almost laughable was that prior to kick off certain areas of the pitch had sprinklers in use. Prior to the second half Harrogate had them turned on, soaking the area around Pools' penalty box, I guess to make the ball run even quicker. For me artificial surfaces make for artificial football and should all, as a matter of priority, be dug up ...or should I say pulled up!

2 Thermal clothing Despite a heavy police presence the next two offences were committed at Blackwell Meadows on the evening of the Durham Challenge Cup match with Darlo. Granted it was a nippy night but 1883 took to the field of play wearing more warm clothing than some of the spectators had on. Chris Turner once rightly said that no footballer, with the exception of goalkeepers, should be allowed to wear gloves and to my mind, in fairness you can add caps to that ensemble but not of the thermal variety.

There is nothing worse in my mind than seeing a player wearing a short-sleeved football shirt being worn over a long-sleeved base layer top of a different colour. Luke James springs to mind, who sometimes wears a white base layer under his short-sleeved top. When wearing the red away top, from a distance it looks as if he is playing for Arsenal and when wearing the home top he looks like an ice cream salesman. Though, it has to be said, a very quick one.
"artificial surfaces make for artificial football and should all, as a matter of priority, be dug up"
In my view any player who insist on wearing a base layer shirt should wear a long sleeved football shirt over it and with the base layer preferably being a similar colour as the club shirt.

3 Drums Thermals aside, the most annoying thing at the Darlo match was the little drummer boy knocking seven bells out of his percussion. He has been at it for years and would be better suited belting out his instrument of torture on the Crumlin Rd in Belfast with the Orange Order during the marching season rather than performing to the few in the Tin Shed. Although they left it late in the day, I will always be eternally grateful to Messrs Hawkins and Hawkes who brought an abrupt close to his one-man performance with two late strikes of their own which themselves probably deserved ...a roll on the drum!

I had intended to have number four listed but thought better of it.
...Well, seeing as you asked:

4 Women referees I have to say that the home game against Braintree was the first time that I witnessed such a person in action. I did not notice her at all for the first few minutes until one of my mates passed comment along the lines of 'I thought that she was going to her pocket for a yellow but it turned out it was her compact that she brought out'. In the not too distant past, irrespective of her performance and capabilities, a female referee would have drawn derision from many on the terraces just for their own gratification alone. Whilst like many level headed people, think that political correctness has gone right off the Richter scale along with the Me Too, the millennial and snowflake generations, some good has come out of it. Overall It was good to see her get, and earn the respect of the majority of the crowd (and players?) and it has got to be said that she performed a lot better than many of her male counterparts who we have seen at the Vic in recent seasons. I did wonder what sort of reaction she would have drawn if she'd had a bad game herself or made some controversial decisions and how the crowd would have then reacted. In time we will no doubt see.

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A Tale of Two Tickets


As we set off for the derby match against Harrogate my mate asks me to check if I had my ticket with me. "Yes of Cour..."

"Whoa Whoa, Whoa, just hold your horses there a minute. Did you say derby match v Harrogate? Come on, you cannot be serious, it is no more a derby match than when we play the plastic Geordies from the Heed." I am surprised that Sky TV did not have the match billed as Betty's v Greggs. The very worst I was expecting was the famed Betty's boot boys throwing stale scones at us and Poolies chanting back "You can stick your sherry trifles up your..."

The plan was to get to the ground early and sample some of the pies and pasties (not Betty's) that were on offer as they had favourable reviews among the football community. This plan went out the window very quickly, as unbeknown to me the Bride had put up some scran for us and we ended up having a picnic on the 6th level of the multi storey car park next to the railway station. I am sure if one went to the 10th storey of the car park they would have got a panoramic view of Betty's fabled baps.

For the foodies amongst you our platter consisted of Argentinian corned beef made from the finest of Pampas-reared and grazed dead cow sandwiched nicely in between two slices of a Hull-, or possibly  Stockton-baked Warburton bun.

This was washed down courtesy of a flask of Yorkshire tea. Others enjoyed Harrogate sparkling water which surprisingly originated from Harrogate. Our sweet consisted of sticky toffee err mmm Mars bar (well it was very hot in the car) which hailed from Slough and was out of this world. Savoury was a bag of crisps from Leicester. I really must stop buying their products as apart from Gary Lineker getting up my nose big style, is the fact that Walkers /Pepsi closed down their crisp factory in Peterlee with massive job losses. If that was not bad enough, courtesy of Paul McCartney, Heather Mills bought the factory and it is now churning out vegan food. Not having a go at any vegans out there but I can't stand veg.

What a waste of a crisp factory.

Whilst enjoying our culinary delights I looked out over the railway lines and noticed that the bus station was sited next to the entrance of the railway station. I had never seen the like. Yes, I know, I know we have a bus train interchange in Hartlepool but not one that's full of buses going here there and everywhere. I recently learned that Hartlepool Borough Council charges each bus operator four English pounds each time a bus pulls into our interchange. Little wonder the Council make sixteen pounds a day and there is not a bus to be seen.

Owing to our dallying longer than expected in our salubrious surroundings,we had not noticed the time slip and there was only half an hour before kick off and we only had a rough idea where the ground was located. With that the Bride quickly threw the Nottingham lace tablecloth, the candelabra, the best silver and Royal Doulton china (made in China) into the back of our Hartlepool four-wheeled tractor commonly known in the trade as a Hyundai.

We asked several locals where the ground was and they hadn't a clue. If we had followed the directions one lady gave us, God bless her, we would have ended up in Ilkley.

Thankfully a couple of lads passing by put us right and told us to cut through this ginnel - what a brilliant word (it is the same a a Wynd.) and then across the Stray. A very pleasant walk if we had not been is so much of a hurry.
"I am surprised that Sky TV did not have the match billed as Betty's v Greggs"

All set to go into the ground with ten minutes to spare when my mate, the lad who had asked me if I'd remembered to bring my ticket, pulled out his ticket which read "Darlington v Hartlepool, Durham Challenge Cup." After going through his pockets and wallet, there was no sign of the Harrogate ticket which he realised he had left it at home.

Funny how your mind goes into gear in a crisis.

I said we would go to the nearby pub and watch the game on the telly (okay for me as I wasn't driving!)

No, he said it's your ticket.

I suggested we toss a coin for it. No again.

I went to see a steward and he suggested explaining our predicament to the ticket office who might be sympathetic and look favourably upon us.

Just as I finished talking to him I got chatting to the lovely Bernadette (sadly, her dad is a right ne'er do well), who suggested that my mate gets someone at home to photograph the ticket and send it to his mobile phone so he could present it at the turnstile or ticket office. (Here's me thinking that I would have to get the photo developed at Boots and the match would be well over by then.) Turns out my pal had already gone down the same route in getting a photo sent to him. He came running over to me with said photo on his phone, at the same time as this random Poolie asked me if I needed a ticket as he had one to spare.

Where did he appear from?

"How much?"

"You can have it mate."

Fair play to the lad, there are some good people about. Afterwards I got to thinking that if I had been stood four feet away in any other direction I would have missed him.

I am not going to give a match report as

1) I can't go through that again.
2) I am sure you that you all witnessed the horror show that should have been screened after the 9pm watershed.
3) I can't go through all that again.

All I will say is that a couple of days earlier, I had gone to see the excellent Laurel and Hardy film and our two most senior outfield players on the day could have taken their parts with ease as they were bigger clowns.

The pair of them should be the first names on Money's free transfer list at the end of the season. If Featherstone gets another game for Pools I will be staggered.

One other strange observation about the match. Nearly 800 Poolies in the away end who when always in number, are very vocal, hardly made a toot all afternoon. Probably they too have been battered into submission.

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The Boys in Blue


Darlo 1 Pools 2 (Durham Challenge Cup)
Tuesday 22 January 2019
Blackwell Meadows

I could not believe that I was making my second trip to Blackwell Meadows in less than six weeks (See last edition of M.B) to see Darlo again but on this occasion it was in the Durham Challenge Cup quarter finals against Pools.

In truth after my previous visit re parking/location etc. I wasn't really that fussed about going but my very persuasive mate said even if it is basically the second tier of both teams playing it was nearly eleven years since the two sides met in any competitive fixture of any sort. So off we set.

It has got to be said that the hierarchy at Darlo probably took the view that this game was a late cash Christmas present or cash cow for the club to capitalise upon a rare visit from their friends up the coast, so much so that there was talk of switching the venue to the Arena.

From up the A689 the whole event was more a very low key affair, not much publicity or build up from the club or in the media itself. Most Poolies I spoke to before and after the game considered it a youth/fringe players match and not worth the effort or the fuel travelling down, and 'getting your kicks from route A66.' which turned out to be the case -  only 139 Poolies turned up for the proceedings. I don't think that the at the food van in the away end, specially brought in for the occasion, they were overly pleased with their takings on the night, having paid for a plot and selling only a handful of burgers.

I notice the permanent price list on the side of the van showed curry and chips priced at £3. However this was over-ridden by a hastily put together price list, written in black ink marker on a scrap of paper and placed on the counter, to inform any potential punter that £4 would be the going rate for the same item.

I managed to stick to my principles of not getting ripped off by this opportunist, but only until half time, when in an effort to warm myself up, I parted with four of my English pounds and tucked in to my curry-soaked chips, and very nice it was too ...and to sod my principles altogether, I nearly went back for seconds!

It was obvious that Darlow were taking this match very seriously as they fielded their first starting eleven and Pools to a certain extent showed willing by putting out 6 players with first team experience in their line including Lewis Hawkins who was obviously being put in the shop window on the night. Probably the reason why he did not celebrate his equalising goal was that he might end up playing regular first team football at Blackwell Meadows?

Even though Pools went behind early in the first half ,owing to a blooper by Ryan Catterick, they, especially Newton and McLaughlin, played the more controlled football and looked a division above technically.

The second half, with the home team kicking towards their fans in the Tin Shed, was a horse of a different colour altogether with Darlo pressing, probing and creating all the chances, hitting the bar and and being backed by a very vociferous crowd throughout, even if some of the chanting was from the 70's. They still got behind their team whenever they won a tackle or had an attempt at goal.

With all due respect it has to be said it was Darlo's and their fans' Cup Final.

Hawkins silenced the crowd eight minutes from time when he equalised with a header - yes, a header. I had never seen him jump previously, let alone seen him head a ball. You could visibly see the Darlo players' heads drop and the ground went silent.

Only seconds, and I mean seconds, after the restart, it was all over as two Darlo defenders conspired to go into self-destruct mode trying to boringly play the ball around the back like Man City/Liverpool do, only for Muir to close them down and the ball fell loose for Hawkes to slot in. If it was quiet before the equalising goal, the ground was now like a morgue. I was expecting tumbleweed to be seen blowing across the pitch.

Probably out of respect to their opponents, or not wanting to spoil their party, or perhaps plain not being bothered, the Pools goal celebrations were low key and muted. The last few minutes saw Pools smartly run down the clock until the ref blew for full time.

Overall you had to feel a little bit sorry for the Loids - still smarting from Eifion Williams' second goal at the Arena all those years ago. You could say that, not unlike Pools, if they had a striker of sorts, the result on the night could have been different. After much reflection, I think not. The reason Darlo lost was that when they took to the field they looked as if they were about to embark on a polar expedition, or worse still, a wander round the Headland on a January night.
"If it was quiet before the equalising goal, the ground was now like a morgue. I was expecting tumbleweed to be seen blowing across the pitch."

Excluding their centre half they all wore base layer shirts under their tops, thick thermal gloves and their stockings were so far pulled up that they were coming over the elastic of the tops of their shorts. I could not swear to it but a couple of them were wearing duts. On the other hand Pools came out wearing short sleeved shirts socks and shorts as if it was a summer's day. Psychologically Pools had won the battle even before a ball had been kicked.

From Darlo's point of view 1,750 went through their turnstiles, their second highest gate of the season (ohh, they must really miss us), only York topping this figure on Boxing Day. Their previous match a few days earlier was against their new derby rivals Spennymoor, which drew a disappointing crowd of just over 1,600. Even with their team pushing for promotion as well as with free buses being provided by the club, only 350 Spenny fans bothered to make the 15 mile trip to the Durham / North Yorkshire border.

I thought that Darlo might have made a much-needed killing financially on having such a large crowd but I reconsidered this thought as we left the ground as I have never seen such a police presence at any match since the 1970s/80s,  when football violence was rife. I counted 20 Police Transit custody vans all in one line, two smaller vans as well as three SUVs.

The short walk back to the car saw me having counted 50 Police officers and I wager there were a good many more scattered round the South Park area and the Darlo end of the ground. Add to that the around two dozen stewards, in the ground outsourced from a company that covers big concert events and the like and that to me looks like one hefty bill for the club if they have to cover these costs. Added to that they lost out on other possible additional income as a prohibition order had been put on the club house, preventing alcohol being sold on the day.

I am not sure how the gate money is shared, but if it is a three-way split between the clubs and the Durham FA I reckon on the gate they would each realise £5k. Even if Darlo got all the gate receipts I doubt very much if that would clear the additional police numbers as I am sure that Durham Constabulary would not be using public money to cover the cost of policing this fixture. I recall when the Loids were in deep trouble Pools offered to play a friendly with them to raise revenue on their behalf but it was a no-goer because of police costs. If that is the case it is tough on our old rivals.

On the plus side, perhaps some of their former fans (4/500 up on the night) might have got a taste for what they saw or what they were missing and will make a return to the terraces.

Strange Days. In a press interview the following day Man of the Match Paddy McLaughlin was saying that he hoped,  based on his performance against Darlington, we might see him back in the next first team starting line up. Little did we (or he?) know that that same day he would be named in York City's starting line up!

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Question Time


Was it Hignett or Money who was responsible for bringing in the four loan players Kabamba, Raynes, Amos and Molyneux?

Who decided Davies should leave the club in Richard Money style? (Good move for Pools on so many levels.)

After having an excellent game against Darlington and being named Pools' Man of the Match, it was reported in the press that Paddy McLaughlin was quoted as saying that he had hoped that he had done enough to be in the running for a place in the first team at the weekend. Less than twelve hours afterwards, it was announced that he had gone out on loan to York. Hignett's decision or Money's?

Davies and Woods having left the club, Paddy McLaughlin loaned out to York, and as I write Cassidy on his way back to Maidstone, all must have reduced the wage bill considerably. Will this cover the cost of the four new loanees that we have brought in and possibly a spare bit of cash for a hopefully decent midfield player to slot in with Noble when he is fit again?

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A Corner Turned?

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Pools 2 Braintree 1 (National League)
Saturday 26 January 2019
Victoria Park

After last week's showing-up on National Television it was odds on that Pools would bounce back - or was it? 

The first half of this game was a continuation of the Harrogate horror. Four changes by the new manager looked to make no difference. On the wireless in the car travelling to the Vic the Tees interview was all about the changes in personnel at the Vic and the job swap between Hignett and Richard Money.

The gist of the interview was that Hignett is far happier in the seat under this administration than the last incumbents running the shop. He states that the debts are paid and there will be no selling off of better players as had happened under the last regime. He said he is not in the job till the end of the season and is in for the long term and planning for the future of the club along with Richard Money who is quite happy to take the job of promoting the club and pushing us forward.

The news from the rumour mill this week was all about the changes, Sweeney to move up to First team duty and Willie Boland to be drafted in as academy manager as the board have ambitious plans to get us back into the Football League. As the Ditchburn said last week, we should have a reserve team to keep players busy and fitter.

One great piece of news this week was Darlo 1 Pools 2 in the Durham Challenge Cup, Pools grabbing two goals in the very late stages of the game snapped up by Hawkins and Hawkes. The Loids are only four points from the drop in their division.
"The lad looks a bit gangly and awkward in style but if he gets goals like this I won’t complain."

Today's game was a rarity - possibly a first for Pools as I do not remember a lady referee taking charge of a game at the Vic. Yes, we have had female linos and a couple of them have swapped sides at half time as they were taking a bit of banter from the Millhouse moaners.

I have to say that apart from the odd blip the lady did ok and was as good as the male referees we have had and probably better than most of them. She booked Kabamba for a challenge which we see let go every on numerous occasions and a voice in the back of the Town End rang out ‘ARRRGHH YER BLACK BITCH’, which was better than the normal bar steward comments we hear on a regular basis.

As I said, the start of the game was poor. We had won the toss and kicked up the slope in the first half and we made hard work of it as the visitors had a shoot-on-sight policy and they went close twice in the first five minutes. Hawkes nearly put Kabamba in with a real nice cross but he was unable to convert it. The visitors almost took the lead with a strong shot that hit the Pools goal post and bounced away but had it been on target Loach would never have got near it.

I said after the TV game that Featherstone needed to go and again he made too many daft mistakes and almost cost us a goal again as he fannied about with a ball instead of wellying it clear. I was hoping the Pools players would cut him out of the game as he was a liability.

The combination of Molyneux and Amos look a real threat and if we have both lads on loan till the end of the season they will be a big asset, both of them testing the keeper with drives and it is good to see a Pools team having shots a goal that really look like shots.

A poor challenge by Anderson gave away a free kick just wide of the box and once again the ball hits the wall and the visitors react quicker than Pools and a player made his way behind the wall heading for goal and put a low shot past Loach.

The cry from the Pools fans was to change it as Pools looked very nervy again once they were a goal down. Hignett changed it at the start of the half bringing Luke off the bench for Richardson and it changed the game dramatically. We were now the team on the front foot and the reward came with a cracking cross from Amos and the new boy Kabamba got his second goal in two starts as he crashed a header past the keeper. The lad looks a bit gangly and awkward in style but if he gets goals like this I won’t complain.

Luke James set up the second goal as he left his marker for dead, laid the ball on for Kabamba who was clattered by both a defender and the keeper inside the box and the 'little black bitch' [bless her] pointed to the spot and Josh Hawkes duly put the ball into the back of the net, giving Pools a two one lead. It was a bit of a collapse by the visitors as Pools stepped up their game and they probably showed their true level as there were arguments and fingers being pointed amongst their players.

There was a spirited challenge raised by the visitors as they battered the Rink End goal in the dying minutes; even the goalkeeper was up there to have a shot that was blocked but Pools held out to take a well earned three points and hopefully it's a corner turned for Pools.

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Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Pools 1 Telford 2 (FA Trophy)
Saturday 12 January 2019
Victoria Park

Not so much a sup for the cup more down for the trophy, as the visitors from Shropshire made who were the form team made their first visit to the Vic.

Not sure if we have come across this team before* but one of our party confirmed that this would be the first competitive match between the two. It would not have been too bad if it had been competitive but sadly today's game was far from a contest, more of a capitulation. My notes for the day for the first half read: Won the toss; kicked up the slope the first half; one shot tested the keeper at the base of his post; one shot hit the Smith & Graham sign above the Rink End and that was it.

The visitors were at us from the off and sad to say Pools looked either too casual or lacking in ability to put any pressure on the away side. You might say Telford were lucky for the first goal. Luck had nothing to do with it as a diagonal ball hit high into the box just simply was not cleared and the striker had an easy shot past Loach inside his box with defenders nowhere to be seen.

Pools never looked like they were going to threaten the goal as their approach play was poor and repetitive: wide ball out to Kitching who made his way down the flank and the ball was either taken from him or lost in the melee of tackles. or simply lost in transit as the passing was bloody awful. The usual suspects, turning on the ball and again looking backwards, lost the ball time after time, putting us under pressure and this continued throughout the game.

We could have been three or four nil down in the first half and we would have deserved it; the visitors controlled the game and we were pressured into rushing and we had nothing in the way of what you could call a game plan.

Pools tried to turn it around but had limited success as once again the visitors outplayed us with simple one-touch football that we were never able to match. Two half time substitutions made no difference. Young Danny Amos for me was the Pools star man as, despite his youth, he tried to take the game to them and looked impressive and in a poor game was my Man of the Match.

Luke came close with a smash that hit the underside of the bar and bounced down; he tried to claim that it had gone over the line but the ref would not have it. I was unsighted so have no call on that one. Telford turned up at the other end and made it two with the ball pinging around the Pools goalmouth. The ball was begging to be hit home and it was - two nil to the visitors. Pools did get a consolation goal late in injury time - a header from Anderson - but it was too little, too late.

"We could have been three or four nil down in the first half and we would have deserved it"
A late goal was no consolation to the Pools fans in the 2000 crowd but probably helped the reception they got as they left the field. Last week there had been more anger aimed at the players.

A lot of consternation around the ground about the number of heads on the bench for Pools, Not only the manager and his assistant but also the director of football, who some might say is doing too much directing, or are we just looking for excuses?

It really was an embarrassing performance from Pools and too much for the home fans to take as a lot left long before the end of the game.

The Telford players were applauded off the park by those Pools fans who stayed to the end. The buzz going round at half time was on whether Dickie Dosh would walk after the match as he has previously done, when he could see there was nothing to work with. If that happens, where do we go from here? The answer is Harrogate, so lets hope that is not going to be another showing-up on national television.

* I watched Pools play a pre-season friendly there about ten or fifteen years ago - Ed. 

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Second Best

Match report by RUNNING MONKEY

Pools 1 Maidstone 2 (National League)
Saturday 5 Lanuary 2019
Victoria Park

After such a great game and result against Gateshead early this week. I, along with a few others, expected the team to raise their game even more today against the second bottom club. 

Especially with the return of Cassidy who had been on loan to the visitors for a good spell and was scoring goals. Rumour was they wanted to keep him but a few fans thought it was bad business by Master Bates to let him go in the first place and than this judgement by him was part of his own downfall at Pools.

Thinking of managers and teams not playing for them, this was highlighted recently by that other team in Manchester where player power ousted the 'special one'. I have this theory that Master Bates had the opposite situation as he should have gone long since, once his lack of ability in the job was exposed. The sad part is he had the Borer mafia at the club on his side and was big pals with senior players who kept their mouths shut and it took one man to stand up and voice his opinion and that man was Noble. Love him or hate him he seems to want to get Pools on the right foot and if it meant arguing with the manager when you think things are not right then he was the man. After the bust up recently on an away trip it was not long before the owners saw the light and gave Master Bates his marching orders.

It looks to me at the moment that Dickie is his own man yet still finding his way around the club. I would suppose he has a former player or two whom he thinks can do a job for us and it is interesting to note he is looking for a winger and a centre forward. OK, Cassidy is back and he did the business - a great goal today. His muted celebration was possibly a reaction to the fact he had just scored against his recent team mates of the last few months.

Pools were a goal down after basically the first attack. It was a good move by the visitors and sloppy defending by Pools after a super crossfield ball out of defence by the visitors' deep cross from the left and a ball was hit low into the box where it was dispatched past Loach with ease.
"there were long periods of the game where we were second best and they looked as if they wanted it more than we did."

There was a fantastic response as Pools hit back in no time after some good football played and Cassidy got his goal with ease as Pools pulled them apart.

Sadly it looked easier for the visitors to pull us apart and a copy-cat second goal saw Pools again at sixes and sevens as the visitors took control of the game. To be honest there were long periods of the game where we were second best and they looked as if they wanted it more than we did. Our passing was poor and they just got right in our face as they battled to take control of the game.

Second half Luke, who was struggling to get clear, had a quiet game but he continually pushed Pools forward and was unlucky when a terrific shot from distance bounced off the bar. We all thought the manager would change it as the system we played was not working and we were struggling to get back on top.

Simon Walton's side were really up for the game, cheered on by about forty fans and were making it hard work for us; they were quick once they got possession where Pools were pedestrian and predictable. The Pools changes did not help us as the visitors finished the strongest.

Once again we saw some poor decisions by the officials, It looks as if time wasting is part of the curriculum at nearly all the clubs in the division as we saw a fair bit of gamesmanship. I have never seen a goalkeeper take so long to take a goal kick and it took the ref eighty five minutes to catch up with the triple throw-in dodge by the visitors, who took turns coming to take a throw then giving the ball to a second and third player to take it; a booking late in the game was too little too late.

It was a typical trait of their shan tan manager but he came and did a job on us today. Shame about the amount of abuse hurled at the team from some fans at the end of the game, who were also shouting for Dickie to go, showing their ignorance.

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Any Other Business


Well, who saw that lot coming? New manager with the right pedigree comes in and everyone's happy. Then it all goes sour and he walks out, all within a few weeks.

OK, some of us were slightly suspicious at the time of his even shorter stay at Solihull, but the whole affair reflects badly on everyone involved in it, as well as the club itself and, like the takeovers of a few years back, suggests that due diligence may have been a bit lacking.

Now that things seem to have calmed down, we luckily find ourselves with a third of a season left to pick up the ten or so points required to avoid relegation, so hopefully that final third will be a bit less worrying and a lot less bizarre than the previous third.

Further to last month's quotation from Stuart Maconie's book "Pies and Prejudice", we have another, also submitted by Wallace & Gromit, this time about a neighbouring large town to Hartlepool.

If you want to find out what had to be closed, you'll have to read the book.

Rumour has it that what triggered the speculation regarding Money leaving the club was some Pools fans having a go at him in a fish and chip shop in Seaton.

Had he instead ventured across to the Headland to Verrills he would not have encountered such hostility, as not only are the people in the Ancient Borough the friendliest in the town but Verrills would have no doubt not been open.

Apparently the sicknote has bizarrely been renamed the fit note - even though its function is to state to what extent a person is NOT fully fit for work!

Billy's Contract suggests that it's much like labelling a linesman as a referee's assistant.

It could have a massive effect on how we speak about players. Over recent seasons Pools have had a fair few players described as sicknotes. Fitnote just won't work in the same way, will it!

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