The Good, the Bad and the Ugly!


Over the past few weeks, the media have carried stories of events that took place during the second decade of the 21st century. So far as Pools go, there’s been plenty to tax the mind. And what a decade!

It began well. The 2009-10 season saw Pools hang on to their League One place on goal difference, a 0-0 draw at Brentford seeing Gillingham dropping down into League Two. 

For the 2010-11 season, Mick Wadsworth took over as manager and Pools finished a creditable 16th. Three things were of note during the Wadsworth reign: Firstly, there was the signing of Nobby Solano – unfortunately, he was past his best and we never saw the best of him. The other signing came when our two goalkeepers (Messrs Flinders and Rafferty) were injured and Mick Wadsworth acquired on loan the services of Blackburn’s third choice keeper, Jake Kean. And what a signing! He must have kept us in a few games – without him, we might have been relegated come the end of the campaign. And so to number three. The last game of the 2010-11 season (30th April 2011) saw Pools take on Bournemouth who needed a point to reach the play-offs. Winning 1-0 going into added time, Bournemouth came unstuck to a goal from an unlikely source, Scott Flinders! Still, we all know where Bournemouth are now. Off the field it was a case of Pools being well run under the stewardship of IOR. Pools fans and Ken Hodcroft always had an ambivalent relationship but the players knew they’d get paid on time and the bills were always paid. I seem to remember Neale Cooper once saying he had to justify the number of times he had to use a paper clip! So things looked good.

"Pools fans and Ken Hodcroft always had an ambivalent relationship but the players knew they’d get paid on time and the bills were always paid."
However, the storm clouds were gathering. The oil industry was struggling and IOR were unable to support the club in the way that they had been. Neale Cooper returned as manager but without that financial support Pools dropped to the bottom of League One and never recovered, being relegated back to League 2. But there was to be no fairy tale of a promotion as there had been under Danny Wilson. Times were bad and IOR sold out to a consortium named TMH (The Monkey Hangers). However, TMH didn’t have the necessary finance and IOR cancelled the sale. One thing that TMH did do, however, was to appoint Ronnie Moore as manager, who, with astute loan signings, was able to prevent Pools from dropping into the National League. Meanwhile, IOR sold out to new owners headed by Gary Coxall.

However, the bad news was delayed and at the end of the 2016/17 season Pools dropped into the National League. This could have been prevented had Coxall not made what was possibly the worst managerial appointment ever in Dave Jones. But things became ugly under Coxall’s leadership in 2018. How near Pools came to going out of business is anyone’s guess. It all culminated in a "Save Pools Day" against Wrexham on Saturday, 20th January 2018. Wrexham supporters almost filled the Rink End and Middlesbrough fans threw their efforts into saving Pools. (I think we even had a bus load of Glasgow Rangers supporters coming down for the game). Poolies and supporters of other clubs dug deep to help the club; important bills were paid and this left things clear for Raj Singh to take over the club, with help from Jeff Stelling. I guess you could write a book on the decade starting in 2011; suffice to say, we’re still going strong and may the next decade bring forth much good.

Sadly, 2018 was to see the death of Neale Cooper and the tributes from Aberdeen and Pools showed the genuine respect in which he was held. He helped to give us our finest hours.

(A crap festive season, wasn’t it?)