Any Other Business

MERVYN THE MONKEY mops up


What a bizarre year!


It's September. The new National League season would ordinarily have begun a month ago. The pre-season training has started and the first friendly has been played. 

The plan is currently that our season will officially start on October 3rd but as yet we have no fixture list and spectator arrangements and the numbers allowed are still up in the air, but lots can happen before that, and any further local lockdowns which can be expected will only wreak more havoc on the lower-league scene. 

So to talk of hopes and aspirations for the new season seems a bit premature at the moment, given the financial picture of all clubs but especially Pools. The new season looks likely now to happen, but whether Pools survive it - by avoiding both relegation and extinction - is perhaps a bit less certain.



Ernie Phythian

Those of us who remember Cloughie's days at the Vic will remember Ernie Phythian, who died a few weeks back.
 

Ernie was a skilful centre-forward who, for a while lit up the Vic and banged in the goals. His partnership as half of a "twin spearhead" with Jimmy Mulvaney was a joy to see. While Jimmy was a non-stop, bundle-it-over-the-line-any-way-you-can powerhouse, Ernie did the slick and graceful stuff. However, with their very different but complementary styles they managed one season to be the two highest league scorers. 

Sadly for us, Ernie left for a new life in South Africa while still relatively young. His death there at the age of 78 will have brought back happy memories of his time with Pools.



...And talking of Cloughie...

We've had a request from Chris Hull, a Pools fan and university senior lecturer in languages who's doing a personal research project on Cloughie's time at Pools.

Chris would be interested if any Poolies have personal recollections of Clough and Taylor and their eighteen months at the Vic, or any photos or albums of newspaper clippings. I'm sure most people who ever came into contact with him would have the odd story or two to tell about Cloughie, and if you have any, Chris would be grateful if you could email him at c.hull@chester.ac.uk.



...And just a decade earlier...

Pools and Gateshead, who play each other shortly, were unwittingly involved in a historic event in November 1955.

These days almost every passenger train is a Diesel or electric multiple unit with a driver's cab at each end and the power units typically under the floors of the coaches, but in the early fifties nearly every train had a steam locomotive pulling it - or sometimes pushing it. Then British Railways decided to produce Diesel multiple units, which were cheaper and easier to run. Most were in 2-coach sets but five 4-coach sets were specially made for the Newcastle-Middlesbrough line, which went via both Gateshead and West Hartlepool and the new service was due to start on November 21st 1955. 

The Saturday before that, Gateshead FC (then, like Pools, in the Third Division North), were due to play Pools at the Vic in the FA Cup first round and in those days of few cars and slow roads, a "football special" train for the Gateshead fans was called for. 

Bearing in mind that the trip covered most of the route that the Diesels would begin serving only two days later, and that they were based close by at Newcastle anyway, someone came up with the idea that, rather than the usual rake of old coaches with any steam engine they could find, they should use two of the new 4-coach Diesel sets joined together, which is what they did. That train is believed to have been the very first 8-coach Diesel multiple unit to work in revenue-earning service in the UK.

Subsequently, similar 8-coach trains comprising two 4-coach sets were the mainstay of the Newcastle-Middlesbrough service for many years.

Those of us who remember the damage done to football specials by hooliganism in the 1960s and 70s will look back on that decision with some amazement -- letting football fans loose on brand-new trains would have been unthinkable by then. But the mid-Fifties was a different era, before football hooliganism was invented!