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Showing posts from October, 2020



New Signings


BILLY'S CONTRACT



How is it that whenever Pools sign a new player his press release photo is always taken seated, mid-way up the Cyril Knowles stand, face quarter turned to the camera with a Pools scarf strung around his neck? 

I am convinced that the seat which is used for the pose has been replaced at least a couple of dozen times from the amount of new and loan signings' backsides that have sat on it for the photo shoot. It must get worn out very quickly. Either that or it is marked as reserved with red and white barrier tape surrounding it as well as flashing beacons and marked 'Exclusively for new signings only.' 

It would make a welcome change if the club could come up with some other alternative than the standard pose. The 'stance' which really annoys me is that of a footballer wearing his new club's shirt but being still in his jeans and wearing a watch. Worse still, is a player in full playing kit but still wearing his watch.

My alternative poses would be to have a new player in day to day situations such as:
    
- Filling his car up with fuel at Morrisons,
    
- Coming out of Greggs with a steak bake in one hand and club scarf in the other, 
    
- Leaving a newsagent with his Pools dut worn at a rakish angle whilst viewing the centre page of Playboy, which is in fact concealing an edition of the Railway Modeller magazine. 

A great publicity shot would be a bewildered-looking player with nose glued to Verrills' frontage viewing their closing times. 

It has to be said that Claudio Ofusu  recently broke the mould as, after putting pen to paper, and the obligatory photoshoot in the Cyril Knowles stand, we find him on the Victoria Park pitch along with Tony Sweeney holding a scarf between them in mid-air at near enough the outdoor social distance of 1.5 metres away from each other. Please Pools, more of this. 

Talking of which, what do we make of our new signings? Liddle, Shelton and Timi Odusina we all know about and it was certain as far back as last season that they would be joining the club. All good additions. Gary Liddle to my mind should be club captain.
"The 'stance' which really annoys me is that of a footballer wearing his new club's shirt but being still in his jeans and wearing a watch."

Most of the other signings are unfamiliar names. David Challinor has gone on record as saying that Josh MacDonald is a player who 'excites'. Mason Bloomfield and Tom Crawford, Challinor knows from their days with him at Fylde. In my view if they are good enough for Mr Challinor they are good enough for me.

Claudio Ofusu from what I have seen in pre-season videos looks to have pace, puts himself about and has an eye for goal. Dave Parkhouse, on loan from Sheffield United, has an impressive goal scoring record at Derry City and hopefully he can carry that into the National League. 

I think that the pick of the bunch is left back David Ferguson - a position that really has not been filled since the days of Hugh Robertson. My Darlo-supporting mate really rates him. He has nearly 200 games under his belt and, unlike his predecessor Mark Kitching, can defend as well as having an eye for goal. I stand to be corrected but I think he also had eleven assists last season with York.

The majority of Dave Challinor's signings are in the 22-24 age group and, with the exception of Shelton and Ferguson, are all over six foot tall, Bloomfield being six foot three. Another plus is that the bulk of these signings have played and are familiar with National League football so with the added height, pace and youth, let's hope some of them have acquired the nous to con referees, cheat, feign injury as well as time waste, because, along with skill and flair, these attributes are a must to get Pools out of this horrible league.

One signing I am unsure of is that of Rhys Oates. Obviously Challinor will know all about him what with Morecambe being up the coast from Fylde but players as well as managers returning to their old stamping grounds tends to have a poor record of success. Nobody can argue that in his previous tenure with Pools that Rhys Oates gave his all and worked hard, but that is about it. His goal scoring record of 25 goals in 175 matches is far from prolific. He spent a fair part of his time at Morecambe either out injured, on the subs' bench or being subbed. The one thing I have noticed watching pre-season videos is that he has bulked out somewhat. I really hope the lad does well; perhaps National League might be his level.

Dave Challinor said he would like to bring in a further three players. A proven goals scorer must be high on the list of priorities as well as a player who is constantly in the referee's ear.

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Prune Juice...


GREAT GRANDAD SHOUTY



In 2015, the former Chairman of Tottenham Hotspur, Alan Sugar, said of the Premier League's £5.1bn television deal that it was like prune juice - going in at one end and out of the other. Well, things haven't changed, have they?

The report that Manchester City have churned out £65m for the Benfica centre half, Ruben Dias, beggars belief. You could put it another way. When former Prime Minister James Callaghan returned from an overseas trip in 1979 to be confronted by rubbish piling up in the streets, he reportedly said 'Crisis? What Crisis?' And you may think that's the message from most boardrooms in the bog-standard Premier League.


The transfer system was always justified by the former Secretary of the Football League, Alan Hardaker, on the grounds that it allowed money to circulate throughout the game and provide a lifeline to smaller clubs like Pools. In other words, it was a classic case of free market economics where there was a trickle down from the rich to the poor. Sadly, that doesn't apply these days, when most of the big money transfers are for overseas players (with benefits to agents) so the money doesn't stay in the English game.
"It is, of course, in the EFL and the National League that we have the genuine crisis."

It is, of course, in the EFL and the National League that we have the genuine crisis. At this time last year, Poolies were speculating as to how we'd started and what prospects lay in wait. It's in the EFL and NL where directors and players are on tenterhooks. Ok, it seems that the EFL will get some sort of a bail-out from the Premier League, but that won't last long if restrictions run through till the end of March. Its not a good future. As the Harrogate Town manager Simon Weaver told the Daily Mirror, "Clubs like ours rely on fans. We had to take wage cuts and furlough people, but it papered over the cracks. Clubs are on a cliff edge'.

A player from Pools' first opponents, Aldershot Town, told the BBC website "The Premier League is in its own bubble, they are a million miles away from where we are and don't realise the financial situation that a lot of clubs lower down the league might be in."

So, when the season finally gets under way, it will mean a streaming of games and this won't bring in the same money which is generated through the turnstiles. However, we'll be able to see our new signings, of which there have been a number. Although pre-season friendlies have been against weaker teams, they did generate some interest and confidence. At least, there's been nothing to complain about.

Keep the faith!!!

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READY TO GO...


DARREN KNOWLES' TASH



Well, the new season is almost here and we're ready to see if our beloved Pools can make it out of the National League at the fifth time of asking.

If we thought this was bad then maybe we should to look at Wrexham's situation as a comparison. Our National League counterparts fell out of the FL in 2008 and haven't made it back since. So there's definitely some hope out there. 

As I said in my returning column last month, this is Dave Challinor's first real season in charge of Pools as he came midway through the last one. The squad has again changed with DC taking numerous trialists on pre-season to see if they are good enough to be part of his reshaped squad. He's been busy with no less than 10 signings made in the summer (at the time of writing) which goes to show he knew where the squad needed strengthening. Now it's time for this new look squad to make the town proud again and by gosh it's needed.
"The big question is: can we do it this season?"

One player that some will hope can make an impact is Luke Williams if DC offers him a new deal. Luke, it has to be said, has never had the chance to shine due to one injury after another. On his day he can be a world beater, and could be the difference-maker. If he can remain fit, it's like having a new signing on your books. Fingers crossed Luke, you could be our secret weapon in the months ahead.

The big question is: can we do it this season? Putting my realistic head on, I don't think we will win the title at all. But if the team can stay solid at home and pick up points here and there away then a play-off spot is definitely not beyond them. If I have any concerns, then I think the squad depth is a bit on the lightweight side but finances have probably had an impact on this. DC is going to have juggle what he has at his disposal whilst wheeling and dealing in the loan markets. Unfortunately with the gap between the bigger and smaller clubs widening all the time, this is how it is.

So whilst being exiled here in Northern Ireland, I've been also following the fortunes of two former Poolies south of the border, those being Scott Fenwick and Connor Simpson who are at Cork City. Unfortunately at the time of writing, things aren't going well for City as they're bottom of the table. Both strikers haven't found the net either. There's though a third Poolie connection at Turners Cross, City's assistant manager is Joe Gamble who made 61 appearances in Pools colours between January 2010 and July 2011. I'll be keeping you updated on their performances every month...

Well that's it for now. Strap yourselves in Poolies and get ready for another bumpy ride of emotions. Here's hoping that come May 2021, there is going to be cause for celebration, but Pools being Pools... it certainly won't be easy! Pools never do things the simple way, do they?

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FUNNY OLD GAME




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Rich Man, Poor Man


JANE AUSTEN'S ALLEGRO



I recently read that David Sullivan, West Ham's joint chairman, was a tad unhappy about drawing Everton away in the Carabao Cup, not because of his club's lamentable record against the Toffeemen but because the travel arrangements and overnight stay will cost the Hammers in the region of £50k.

In pre-Covid days with a large income stream coming in, this would have been accepted as the norm. I know that even before the pandemic Pools were looking at cutting some of their overnight stays in the hope of saving a bob or two. Oh how the other half lives.

In the case of the Everton v West Ham fixture I am thinking that West Ham would be coached in to one of the London airports then fly to Manchester and stay in a top hotel. With the addition of the players and subs the entourage would also consist of the management team, directors, physios, masseurs, goal keepers, kit men, media people and a horde of others including the local parish priest.

When you look at that, including travel back to the hotel after an evening match, then the reverse trip the following day back down to that fishing village on the Thames, all in all I think that fifty grand is quite reasonable. Some Premiership clubs take in the region of forty to sixty personnel for an away fixture. Unreal and unnecessary.
"well, why not let them run to the next away ground then?"

If the Hammers, like many other clubs, are strapped for cash they should cut their cloth and look at coach or train travel - if it was good enough for Bobby Moore it should be good enough for these pampered Premiership puppies of today.

The clubs will cry out that these players are highly-primed athletes in the peak of physical condition - well, why not let them run to the next away ground then?

I believe it was Barnet or one of the other clubs in the M25 corridor that travelled by train to Hartlepool last season and because the train was overcrowded the players had to stand for the duration of the journey north. That didn't stop them playing Pools off the park and bringing the three points on the train back home with them.

This got me thinking of Pools' recent pre-season friendly games with our near northern neighbours and the logistics behind them. I would assume the club minibus would transport a few staff as well as the kit to the destination. The players would or should have car-shared to save the expense of a coach trip. That said because of the strange times that we now live in, coach operators could be desperate for business and offer the club a cut-price transport deal. The transport in question could vary of course from a Beamish Museum relic or an old blue AEC Hartlepool (Headland) double decker bus but if it gets you from A to B and on time what else could you want?

Getting back to West Ham and their fellow Premiership neighbours, they all could save a fortune by travelling on the tube. Now that would be funny: watching thick footballers try to negotiate the route to their final destination using the London Underground map. Imagine a post-match interview with Frank Lampard after a good thrashing at Vicarage Road, which might go something like this:

John Motson*:
Frank that was a terrible performance by your team today what do you think went wrong?

Frank Lampard:
I don't know John. On the day some of my players just didn't turn up.

John Motson:
And why do you think that is Frank?

Frank Lampard:
Engineering works at Baker Street perhaps?

John Motson:
But your team were all over the place.

Frank Lampard:
I cannot deny that John: Charing Cross, Oxford Circus and some as far away as Willesden Junction.

In these Covid times let's hope that the Premiership clubs get a reality check and bring themselves back into the real world and appreciate how many clubs in the lower leagues, even in normal times, live a hand-to-mouth existence on a daily basis.

* Apologies. I don't know any of the modern-day football commentators.

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Facing up to Covid-19


ELMO



Those with long memories may remember when Monkey Business did lots of merchanside, all featuring Bizz mascot Mervyn the Monkey - including t-shirts, caps, duts, and even coat hangers (which took 5 hours each to make so we soon dropped them!)

A couple of months back, Alan Essex suggested that Monkey Business ought to do a Mervyn the Monkey face mask. We did a mockup but knocked it on the head as it would involve sewing, need to be in several sizes and generally was too complicated.

However, after a bit more thought we've come up with a different solution, should anyone want to have a go. You simply use our template to draw the Mervyn face onto your own mask with a black fabric marker, although an ordinary thick black felt tip pen should work. And a light- rather than dark-coloured mask which is plain rather than patterned will obviously work better.

Just copy the image, paste it into a Word or similar document and resize it so the stencil will fit your facemask. Then print it onto card and cut round the lines with a craft knife, taking care to avoid cutting through the stencil 'gaps'.

Then trace around the cutouts with a pen onto outside surface only of the mask. If your mask is of the Olson type with a seam down the middle, align the seam with the curved lines, which will make the mouth a bit wider. Ink in the marked areas and then ink in the gaps so the face should then look something like the small illustration.

This is purely a suggestion. It is up to you to ensure that any materials used will not compromise the effectiveness of your mask (eg solvent-based markers could adversely affect some man-made materials, and solvents should be allowed to disperse adequately before wearing the mask), and it's probably best to do a dry run on a bit of old cloth first before taking the risk of potentially ruining a mask with some use left in it.

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FUNNY OLD GAME




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Half-time Playlist


SHEDRICK



Some appropriate songs to be played at football grounds during the half-time break: 

Theme from the Magnificent Six

Catch It If You Can

10pm at "The Oasis" 

Bat out of Wuhan

(We’re not going on a) Summer Holiday

You Took the Swab out of my Mouth

Live and Let Die

Something in the Air

You’ll Always Walk Alone

I’m Forever Stuck in Bubbles

Cough Three Times (on the ceiling if you want me)

Tie a Yellow Facemask Round the Old Oak Tree

Don’t Stand So Close to Me

So far Away From Me

At a Distance

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Commercial Break-up


BILLY'S CONTRACT




After a bright start from Pools during the early days of Covid - with their good intentions of not only communicating with their fans on a regular basis but also but also that of the townsfolk - Pools themselves, overnight, seemed to disappear into their own bunker and go into their own self-inflicted shutdown. Not a word and barely a peep.

In retrospect I am beginning to think that Hartlepool United could have made a better fist of things during the Covid pandemic and taken advantage of the crisis rather than battening down the hatches.

Firstly I would have retained the services of Mark Simpson to keep the website updated. Even as I type this, last season's squad picture and pen pictures of individual players, many of whom have long since left the club, are still on view.
"Pools ...seemed to disappear into their own bunker and go into their own self-inflicted shutdown."

Simpson could have done something similar to the excellent Switch of Play interviews as broadcast on YouTube featuring ex-players and managers, which would have kept the fans visiting the site on a regular basis and kept their interest in the club active. I am unsure of the legal side of things but a weekly lottery could have been run on line in order to generate some income. The club shop could have been run online. It doesn't take a genius to fold, pack and take a parcel down to the post office. I am sure the club would like to clear the stocks of last season's products and summer wear to make space for the new range. Darlo for instance already have their new Puma home and away shirts on sale and like many other clubs have logoed face masks available. Are we missing a trick. I fear we are. The Commercial department needs to be more commercial.

It looks inevitable that for the foreseeable future no fans will be allowed to attend football matches. I like the idea which has been put forward of streaming live games for a £5 fee. However in the case of the 1,500 season ticket holders who have already paid their money up front I feel that this fee should waived or at the very least be charged at a nominal £2. as they are effectively paying twice to watch any live home match.

I am unsure of the ins and outs as well as the legality of the possibility of some local advertising being streamed which could be shown at half time. as well as naming any of the match/ball sponsors etc. Again this would be an excellent opportunity to promote matchday lottery tickets on line.

Pools should also benefit by any savings volunteers could make. Granted this will not bring in anywhere near the normal match day revenue but as one supermarket tag line reads "Every little helps" ...and Pools now need all the help they can get, however little.

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FUNNY OLD GAME




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This bit of nostalgia is a spoof Sunderland Football Echo which we printed as a sort of supplement (on pink paper, just like the original) in Bizz no. 68 of February 2004. It recorded Pools' great day out at the Stadium of Light the previous month.


IT WAS CERTAINLY A DAY TO REMEMBER, one to tell the grandchildren about. Our grandfathers told us about Manchester United in ‘S7 - well now it’s our turn.

The day began later than most away match days with Sunderland being even closer than Darlington, and the excitement was building as pubs and clubs throughout the area filled up with blue-and-white kitted fans soaking up the atmosphere and the alcohol before the short trip north. Many coaches had been organised to take them, most for the first time. to the Stadium ofLight. This game had really captured the imagination of the town. and with recently-promoted Pools having won their last away game, and recently-relegated Sunderland having injury problems, there was afeeling that Pools could get something from the game.

Quite a few who went had never even seen Pools play. and the odd few had never even been to a league match before. The trip up the A19 took its toll on many fans, especially when they were stuck in traffic as they neared the ground, with many electing to leave the coaches near the city centre for an impromptu comfort stop, fully prepared to then walk to the ground. The stadium itself was impressive for itself, but also for the seemingly endless crowds of fans heading towards it, in numbers that Pools can only dream of for Victoria Park.

As kickoff approached, the sound of the Poolie hordes singing carried outside and was truly impressive. Then the game got going and 9100 Poolies had a proud 90 minutes. In the end everybody won. Sunderland got through to the next round and also got a huge attendance from what for them was not an attractive tie. Hartlepool got an amazing travelling support and a huge cheque for around £200,000. And the 40,816 spectators enjoyed an absorbing tussle which stayed open right to the end, in which the underdogs were always a threat.
Bill the Biro



Magic and Mackems


POOLPOWER describes a great day for Pools - even though we lost



From the moment the ball was drawn out, away to the Mackems, I thought, we can win that game.

As the game got nearer the results were going our way, apart from the reverse at home to Barnsley, one that I had thought beforehand could end our record rtm of unbeaten games at home. But still a good record all the same - 27 unbeaten at home is a fantastic run at any level of football. Still I was very confident of going to the SOL and getting a result.


Once tickets went on sale it was obvious that we would go up the A19 mob-handed, with initially 12,500 tickets on offer. This was soon revised to 9200, either by police or the Mackems. I think it was the latter as they did not want 12 or 15,000 baying Hartlepool fans upsetting their stars.
"They truly deserved the standing ovation at the end of the game. How many other teams’ fans would have supported them in this way after a defeat?"

Requests for ticket infor- mation were coming thick and fast though tales of Mags fans coming in their hundreds to support the Pool against their deadly rivals were a bit extreme - although there were a lot of Mags who told me on the day that they had come to support the Pool.

Overall I think we added at least 12,500 to the gate with a lot of our fans going in the home turnstiles just to be able to see the game. It was a fantastic achievement for Hartlepool to be involved in the highest crowd of the FA Cup third round Saturday, also to set the record of the biggest away following to visit the SOL in its short history, beating clubs like ManUre and Villa. Shame that the Beeb didn’t appreciate our efforts and only showed about 16 seconds of the game on their “Mis-match of the Day”.

I was at the SOL from about twelve-thirty hoping to shift a few copies of MB and the rest of our merchandise that had been ordered. As I got out of the car I asked the attending Mackem stewards if I could sell my wares at the ground to the Pools fans initially. Afier three radioed messages the answer came back "that will be a negative". That is "No chance" in Mackem talk. I picked up my bag and set off towards the town hoping to catch the Poolie hordes as they walked across the vast car park. I noticed a stall selling Mackem gear and three stands trying to relieve the Pool fans of £2.50 for the privilege of buying a Mackem programme for the game (poor value with little content for the Poolies) I just ambled around there with a handful of Monkey Bizz copies on show. Shortly afler, two guys turned up selling blue and white jester hats at a fiver a go (£1 each at home) and Pools flags (£8.00 a go!). No one chased them away so I stood my ground and did OK.

Fans started to gather at the turnstiles and lots of them came asking for tickets for the away end, as some fans had read in the press that they could pay on the day, only to find out later that was not the case.

Once again a cock-up on tickets which is especially hard on the exiles that have little chance to come on a weekday and queue for tickets. Club’s or police’s fault, either way it is frustrating for those fans coming long distances to find they have not been able to join in with the Poolie throng.

Many settled for a seat in the home end to see our biggest game of the season, until we go to the Wendies again. We could easily have sold 15,000 and if SAFC had cleared their daft lads out of the lefi hand corner we could have filled the whole south end of the ground. As they only had 26,000 for their previous home game we certainly gave them a lift as a very high percentage were attracted by the Pool, as the following home game was back down to 25,000 again. Granted, season ticket holders get first shout but the free-for-all lefl a lot of genuine Pools fans without tickets. Surely with the database system Pools fans should not have had hassle to get tickets, especially exiles. Having said that it was good to see whole families coming to the game together and I hope some of them have caught the bug and will come back. It proved to IOR that if we get the big games the fans will come out and support us.
Earlier as I arrived at the ground I met the legend that is Joe Allon preparing to go and do his stint on Radio Borer. I said to him “Are we going to get a full commentary or two minutes?” His answer was that he did not know but urged all Pools fans to complain in numbers about the amount of airtime we get. The only trouble with that is there are more complainers at the Borer than there are at Pools. I later listened to the recording of Jo Jo at the game and he was awesome - he has that special relationship with Pools that gives him the edge when commenting on our games. That recording should be played before every game and at half time - the passion he showed was magic. Joe was kicking every ball and urging Tinks and Westy on - a far cry from the Allistair Brownlie guy at Borer who takes great delight in adding a foreign accent to his pronunciation of Gaizka Mendieta or Franc Quedrue, he sounds so artificial.

The Mackem fans as they made their way to the ground took great delight at laughing at the name of our mag, Monkey Business. At least they were taking notice of it. A lot of fans came over and bought one, telling me they had Hartlepool connections and a lot of these fans even said "I hope you win today; we are playing rubbish and not all are happy with the team or manager." Seems Mr. McCarthy has a job on his hands to convert the paying people of Sunderland.

One thing that was fantastic to see was the two mounted policewomen who told the crowd to move off the road as they were bringing another 17 coach loads of Pools fans to the ground, which was on top of the other 17 that had already been brought in. It was brilliant to see such great support.

On entering the stadium I was very impressed until I had to make my way to my seat. Ideal! Yes I was right behind the goal on the end of an aisle but Row 31 is a bloody long way from the pitch side. I got a good view of all of the play but seemed so distant from it all. At least at the Vic if you are shouting encouragement to some errant ref or linesman they can hear you. Give me the Vic any day.

Apart from a few Mackems on the left hand side of us their fans were quiet and we definitely out sung them. Apart from Poom playing out of his skin and the class of Arca we matched if not bettered them all except for one short period after they scored and credit must go to Pools for the fitness to carry the fight to them throughout the game. Fitter and hungrier and it was there for all to see. There was panic in their back four and on their bench as Pool played great attacking football only to be denied at the death. They truly deserved the standing ovation at the end of the game. How many other teams’ fans would have supported them in this way after a defeat?

Even afler the game a lot of Mackems gave us great praise for the way that we played and took the game to them. Pity McCarthy did not show the same respect, not one word of praise for the underdogs who came to the SOL and almost pulled it off. I will excuse him this time as he is probably in a state of shock afler being played off the park for seventy minutes and still going into the next round.

ROCK ON TOMMY MILLER, GO AND GET ’EM!



What others said


some further comments about the game



WELL, WHAT A DAY! What was all the fuss about? Sunderland did a giant killing. I was glad the day had arrived because being a Black Cat living in Blue Monkeyland isn't easy. "Who yer gonna support?" "I hope yer get tonked!" "Wait till we get yer back ’ere." Well they very nearly did and the Cats can consider themselves very fortunate in having "Joolio and Poomio", as well as a good portion of luck. But them Poolies, where did they come from? Nearly 10,000 shouting, chanting, cheering. In the end I was proud of them and hoped they would score and that was the feeling all around me from Sunderland supporters.
I suppose the only consolation if any were needed was that a good payday will boost the Pools funds. So good luck for the rest of the season Hartlepool, your supporters deserve it. Of course I can't win, I still get the comments on how lucky we were and that is absolutely right. But thanks for a good cup tie and a great day out.
Mackemfan The Beech Boy

JUST A WORD about the Sunderland v Hartlepool game. The visitors did all they could to prevent Sunderland from lowering the prices but with both sets of fans against them they lost out when the FA had to intervene. An attendance of over 40,000 showed that the money-grabbing 2nd Division club had it wrong.
Tony Scholes in the Footymad website's review of round three.

THE BIGGEST FA CUP SHOCK over the weekend wasn't at Crewe, but the attendances up and down the country.
The crowds were pretty awful nationwide and virtually every club was well down on what they would surely have expected. Many managers haven't taken the FA Cup as seriously as they might have done in recent years, but you now wonder if that approach is rubbing off on the fans as well.
That surprises me because what are you looking forward to at the start of every season? Being promoted, relegated or finishing mid-table in the League - and having a decent draw and run in the FA Cup.
It would not only be sad if the Cup is losing some of its appeal and romance with supporters, but also potentially deadly to the coffers of struggling clubs.
If the draw is unkind, a club might have to go all the way into the fifth or even sixth round before really cashing in.
Only at Sunderland at the weekend, where some 10,000 Hartlepool fans took to the road for an attractive local derby, did an attendance leap out at you for the right reasons.
The Stoke-on-Trent Sentinel's review of round three.



Fanzine to the rescue

HARTLEPOOL FANZINE Monkey Business came to the rescue of a Pools fan on one of the many pub coaches which streamed out of Hartlepool, all packed with Poolies and heading for Sunderland. As the coach was heading north up the A19, he had to take off his glasses to check some match tickets. As he did so, one of the screws came out of his glasses, and a lens fell on the floor of the coach. The lens was retrieved, but not the screw unfortunately, so he was resigned to watching the match with only one eye.

With no tools to hand, there was little alternative. Then several people, at the same time, remembered the bag of Monkey Businesses in the coach, intended for the edification of the good people of Sunderland (or even Hartlepool). Each copy contained two staples. A staple could perhaps be twisted through the screw hole and thus save the day. And that’s exactly What happened, and it worked fine.

The MB was then carefully moved to another pocket of the bag so that it wouldn’t get accidentally sold, it having only the one staple. Sadly, it had disappeared by the end of the afiemoon. So MB wishes to apologise to whoever bought it, but your sacrifice helped a Poolie in his hour of need!

A week later, one of the teeth that bent the staple into place developed a dental abscess, resulting in its owner missing the Peterborough match due to being at the dentist's, so we suggest you don't try this at home!


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Any Other Business

MERVYN THE MONKEY mops up


Well, at last the season is starting (perhaps!)


Given the way Covid-19 keeps taking out individual players (and matches), nobody can actually say until 3pm on Saturday afternoon whether Pools will really be playing Aldershot. So perhaps it's a good thing that the management doesn't have to worry about crowds as well.

The disrupted pre-season must have been a bit irritating for Dave Challinor, but it's been much the same for many other clubs. You have to feel sorry for Brandon United though, stepping in at short notice and getting thumped 12-0.

Who knows what the season will hold with the coronavirus itself and the lack of atmosphere in empty stadiums. Money worries will feature heavily, with those from Covid adding to Pools' longer-term issues, and the Covid/Brexit unemployment means that Pools fans' finances may be too stretched for providing assistance. There are unsettling rumours of several rifts with Raj, fuelling worries that his record at Darlington could be repeating itself at a time when all National League clubs have survival concerns anyway. Worrying times.

Some of the new players give grounds for optimism but, as we say every season, that will probably have waned by the end of the month.



More ex-Poolie exploits 

September proved a good time for some of our old boys. 

Trevor Carson was in goal for Motherwell in their Europa League match in Israel, although not on the winning side.

Nicke Kabamba seems to be on a good scoring run at Kilmarnock at the moment and has been selected to play for the Congolese national side.

Peter Kioso made his first-team debut in Luton's Carabao Cup match against Manchester United and was named as Man-of-the Match.

Perhaps the Vic isn't a graveyard for football careers!



Last month we reprinted an article from 20 years ago

The report of the famous win at Hull may have brought back happy memories, but it brought a response from Sheffield Poolie, about some events that weren't mentioned: 

"Bill the Biro's match report of the game at Hull was very good but he forgot to mention what happened after the final whistle. The police kept us back and prevented anyone from leaving and also lined up on the pitch will all the police dogs they could find. In the meantime Hull 'supporters' on the the large terrace to our left started bombarding us with missiles, including coins and the police did absolutely nothing while we were sitting ducks. A two-pence coin broke a lens in my friend's glasses, which was a bit unfortunate, as he was the driver. I did give him the 2p towards his petrol money after showing it to the very large bobby who was blocking the exit. Even then we were not allowed out."

These comments are all very valid and, had it not been for the great result, the violence  would have been the abiding memory of the match and, having been there myself, I remember similar behaviour outside the ground. However, after all this time none of us now remembers why it was omitted from the original report but we suspect it was probably in order to avoid adding something negative onto the end of a story with a fairytale ending.