Taking the Wind Out of Their Sails

Match report by BILL THE BIRO

Solihull Moors 0 Pools 1 (National League)
Tuesday 3 March 2020
Damson Park

For the third consecutive year I was looking forward to seeing Pools play at Solihull, not least because we’d won on the previous two visits.

So with it being the nearest club in the National League to where I live, I arranged another footy outing with Shedrick and the man off the telly, to go the 18 miles up to Damson Park. Unfortunately, that was the weekend of Storm Dennis or some such, and despite Solihull’s best efforts and a lot of wishful thinking on their part, I wasn’t surprised to find that the game was called off early on the Saturday morning. It was subsequently rearranged to follow the Notts County and Boreham Wood games, so all three were potential 6-pointers. 

Most people will tell you that Solihull is (assuming they have any idea of where it is at all) a suburb of Birmingham but, as anyone in Solihull will tell you, it's a completely separate town, and definitely not part of Brum ...unless you look at a map! And to prove it, its road name signs are green whereas Brummie ones are white. So there!

The Solihull road I lived in for a year had the border arbitrarily drawn across it a few doors up, so we drank in a pub on the Brummie side, and showed solidarity with Brum by pronouncing it "Solly Ull" rather than the "So Lee Hal" preferred by the stuck-up Silhillians (as they call themselves.) I don't know why 'Silhillian' and 'Solihull' are so different though. Perhaps the place was originally called "Silly Hill"!

It has come to my attention that some Poolies think that on account of it being near to the Jaguar factory, Solihull Moors used to be called Solihull Motors - or even that it still is, but with a silent 't'! Sadly, the truth is that Solihull Borough FC merged with Moor Green FC in 2007 and merged their names - like Rushden and Diamonds a few years back - remember them?

This time Shedrick cried off due to having a virus (not THE virus – or at least I hope not!) so it was only the man off the telly and I who wended our way north. Our trip was carefully scheduled to allow us to have a pint before kickoff in the Moors’ rather nice bar, which is better than you’d find in most Football League grounds – probably because it wouldn’t look nice for very long when subjected to Football League crowds.

Anyway, that plan got changed for several reasons. Firstly the satnav overruled my local knowledge and took us the way it wanted to go, then I counted wrong at one command to ‘take the fourth exit’, and when we got to Damson Park and its car park which we previously had no problem getting in to, a sign said it was full, so we had to drive down the road and park at the end of a long row of cars that had beaten us to it, then walk back to the ground.

Then we went to the away turnstile where (unlike at Boreham Wood on Saturday) you couldn’t pay, so we had to walk down and queue at the ticket office before traipsing back to the away entrance. There we were each fitted with a wristband as used at festivals. We were told it was to do with there having been some crowd trouble at Saturday’s home game with Dover (funny, that!), but we were too busy looking at our watches to ask any more, although we were informed that the ground was segregated so we’d have to use the ‘away’ bar. We never found the away bar, but we wouldn’t have had time to drink a pint anyway. Ah, well!
"We were told it was to do with there having been some crowd trouble at Saturday’s home game with Dover (funny, that!)"

Solihull have had the builders in since we last were at Damson Park and now their home bar is fronted by a full-length grandstand, making the place look a bit more like a Football League ground, although for all I know that nice bar may have been ripped out in the process. I guess we’ll now never know!

So kickoff arrived and Pools’ team was once again unchanged. The first half was fairly even with both sides having their moments, both good and bad. A sloppy pass forward was intercepted but Killip made a good save to redeem the situation. Pools probably edged it early on but Solihull came more into it as half time approached, although neither side really looked like scoring.

We didn't bother trying again to find the bar but had hot drinks from the away refreshment shed. The sugar on the table was in its open ice-cream tub looking distinctly unhygienic and rather grey, so in the dim light the various lumps dotting its surface looked eerily like miniature icebergs. However, needs must, so we ignored any hygiene concerns and helped ourselves.

We then did a tour of the away end looking for anyone we knew, and found Rob Cocker *, who I've been chatting to at away matches for years, and who supports both teams which used to pay at The Victoria Ground, Stoke City and Pools, although he lives in the Potteries.

Pools were on top in the second half, but still without posing much threat to the Solihull goal although Gime, who had a relatively quiet game, fluffed a tap-in chance and Solihull too failed to take several chances and also hit a post. The decider came from sub Aidan Keena, who, having run about for 10 minutes to little effect, found himself with a chance he put away.

The decent turnout of Poolies (and drum) then turned up the volume to see out the game, but in added time they were silenced when Southam-Hales was knocked out cold after a clash of heads, taking a good few minutes to recover.

Overall it was a good team performance and it may be unfair to single anyone out for special praise. So Pools, having collected seven points in ten days from three teams above them, found themselves on the same points as three other teams but unfortunately weren’t one of the two that were in the playoff zone.

It’ll be great if they can keep up the run and overcome the advantage of games in hand that some of the competition have and it certainly makes a change at this time of the year to be nervously looking at the top end of the table rather than the bottom.

* Rob Cocker also gets a mention on the Any Other Business page.

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