Life is Never Dull as a Poolie


DARREN KNOWLES' TASH



So after a long hiatus, must have been nigh on nearly 20 years, I've started to write for MB once more having rediscovered my love of creative writing again. Older readers of MB will remember me as West View Poolie, the kid from Sheffield who came home back to Hartlepool but then went back down to where he came from when things went a bit wrong personally. Well things have changed again since, but I won't bore you with the gory details for sure.

These days to summarise, I can be seen in Northern Ireland. Yep, I've moved again and as far as I know, am the only Pools supporter here. There's your usual Premiership fans in the shape of locals wearing Liverpool, Manchester United jerseys as well as a handful of your Arsenal and Chelsea plus obviously Rangers and Celtic tops in abundance. However you won't be seen alive if you decide to wear hoops in South Belfast as you'll probably get lynched, likewise a Rangers top is not exactly flavour of the times in the West of the city. And we thought we had it intense with Darlo when both of us were in the FL structure.

Football here is mainly semi-professional and of a standard akin to watching a National League North game but it's competitive though. You do have a few teams that are full-time professional outfits such as Larne, Glentoran, Crusaders plus league champions Linfield who play their home games at the National Stadium. Players who aren't full time have daily jobs as teachers etc so it's a proper throw-back indeed. A bit like what we're seeing Pools deal with at the moment. But with home games much cheaper than on the mainland, it's worth watching anyway. Compare that with what you are paying for a matchday ticket at the Vic then all isn't too bad.

That said then, Pools are about to embark on their fourth season in the fifth tier. To some, this is inconcievable but seasons of mis-management both on and off the pitch has contributed to this. No disrespect to some of the newer Poolies but you could sense something like that might happen after the heartache in Cardiff. There's been a few high points and in equal measures, some low points. I'm so happy that Raj (despite his former links down the A66) and Jeff came to the rescue when they did, otherwise the town would have had nothing to show for itself on a sporting level. As usual, players and managers have come and gone like a permanent revolving door but hopefully we now have a manager in place that can start the rebuild which has been a long time coming for sure.
"But with home games much cheaper than on the mainland, it's worth watching anyway. Compare that with what you are paying for a matchday ticket at the Vic then all isn't too bad."

The new season will be Challinor's first full season in charge after coming in last November. Whilst his win ratio isn't great at the moment, I'm sure he will be able to turn this around otherwise I'll be eating a substantial portion of humble pie should anyone want to send it over. He's seemingly recruited well over the summer with the permanent signings of Gary Liddle and Mark Shelton being personal highlights for me. However, the team really needs to hit the ground running from the get go and not give those others a head start on Pools.

If the team can have as few injuries as possible -- I know, easier said than done -- as well as make the Vic a fortress so teams will dread coming up, then that can be a good recipe for success. Chuck in picking up good results away from home and we can have a good season ahead. Fail to deliver and you can be guaranteed that the rumblings again will happen and that's been happening for far too long now. Granted football is indeed a results-based industry, but many a time the panic button has been hit and a full reset is done.

One can hope that this is the season where the phoenix starts to rise from those flames again, and Pools can soon be back where they belong ..in the FL. See you next month and keep the faith!

[Welcome back - Ed]

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