Showing posts from December, 2020

Exile View


I'm reading Lenny Johnrose's book and he speaks highly of his time at Pools. What does strike me so far about his playing career (I'm up to where he is at Burnley), is the general behaviour of managers and coaches. If Priti Patel's behaviour was called bullying, I'm not sure what their behaviour would be called but she is a pussycat compared to the majority of them. I cannot believe it is still like that and those dinosaurs are no longer in the game.

Pools have made a reasonable start to the season, except for the debacle against Torquay. Our home form has been atrocious for years and it can't be put down to the crowd being on the players' backs this season. The lack of a goal scorer (I can't call them strikers, though they do seem to have withdrawn their labour!) is apparent and needs to be solved very quickly if we want to do anything in this league. I cannot believe anyone at the club had seen Parkhouse play before we signed him. Mind you I do not like the idea of one player playing up front on his own. Whoever plays there does not get any support at all.

"I do not like the idea of one player playing up front on his own. Whoever plays there does not get any support at all"

There was an interesting article about Challinor's first year and one of his earlier quotes was about the lack of leaders at the club. He repeated that after the Torquay game, yet he is the one who made Donaldson captain and plays him every game without fail. I don't understand how he gets a game and he does not appear to be captain material.

I think we have signed too many players from lower leagues and other teams' Under 23s. We don't have enough players with experience of this division and we struggle physically against a lot of sides. However, if we can get a goal scorer of some use, we might be able to sneak in to the play-offs. Wishful thinking?

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Plane to See


Now that dark nights are upon us, and prompted by my mate,  I thought that in order to keep mind and body alert, I would task myself with building a model aircraft. 1/48 scale.

With that idea in mind my first port of call was Boyes in Billingham who. to my surprise, had been cleaned out of every type of model kit, be it aircraft or armoured vehicle. The shelves were bare. I recently read in the press that Hornby, who now own Airfix, had to ramp up production of Spitfire kits on a scale not seen since the Second World War in order to cope with demand.

In the same article, it also stated that Hornby had made their first profit in years and a handsome one it was at that on the back of the Covid pandemic, based on young and old saddos alike wanting to construct their kits.

Disappointed, I then took myself off to the City of Kulture, to the Stockton Modeller which, for those who are not familiar with it, is based in Stockton. Before reaching the model aircraft section of this splendid emporium one has to pass through the various brands of electric train sets and accessories, all types of Scalextric racing car sets as well as remote controlled aircraft, cars and tanks. Honest to God I felt like a kid in a toy shop. (Was that one really worth the wait?)
"Hornby, who now own Airfix, had to ramp up production of Spitfire kits on a scale not seen since the Second World War in order to cope with demand"

Having arrived in the aircraft aisle, which kit should I choose from such a large selection? My first choice, a Stuka dive bomber was disappointingly not on the shelf. When I drew this to the attention of the proprietor he was most surprised. I skipped the Spitfire and the Lancaster bomber as my mate, who was urging me in the first place to buy a kit, already had these.

Then I came upon a Messerschmitt 109 which looked the business. Before taking it to the till, I quickly opened the box to take note of which colour paints I would require. It turned out that the cost of the paint would be considerably more than that of the kit itself and along with not having any swastika tail fin decals it found its way back onto the shelf. After much deliberation between the De Havilland Mosquito and the Bristol Beaufighter night fighter I opted for the latter, for the simple reason that being a night fighter it would only require one tin of matt black paint.

A few days after I purchased the model I was having a quick look at its contents to give me an idea of the timescale required to put it together. To my horror I noticed something so stomach-churning that it would not allow me to keep this model aircraft in my home and made me put the contents back into the box sharpish, resolving to return the kit, Covid permitting, back to its place of purchase with immediate effect. 

Dear reader, why you think that this model Bristol Beaufighter is being returned to its place of purchase?

Please put a tick beside one of the following and send your answers into Monkey Business. The first ten readers with the correct answers will be entitled to a season's free subscription to view Monkey Business on-line.

1 The price (£25.99)
2 The mid-fuselage canopy spoils the look of the aircraft
3 Tamiya, the model manufacturer, is a Japanese company whose European head office is in Germany
4 I would have preferred the torpedo bomber version of the Beaufighter rather than the night fighter version
5 The aircraft's markings
6 There was no adhesive cement included with the kit

(For those of you doing this for fun, the answer is number five.)

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Trying to Find a Magic Formula


It's been a bit of a topsy-turvy month for Pools since I wrote my last piece. One minute all good, the next minute bad. But then again if you have been a Poolie for over 30 years or so then you'll expect nothing less than this. Pools have the habit of deflating you and elating you in equal measures. They're one of the most inconsistent sides you could ever support and if you can't take it then, well, you're supporting the wrong team.

We left it just after the devastating 0-5 home loss to Torquay United which left a bit of a sour taste in our mouths. Not only did it hurt losing, but the fact that the defeat was so heavy against a promotion rival. Since then we've had one of each in the league but are just a couple of points off third remarkably enough. That goes to show how tight the National League has become and everyone could beat anyone on a given day. Now if we could pick up a maximum haul tonight at Solihull then we could be really be back in the mix.

DC has been busy trying to bolster the squad; perhaps he realised that the team was a bit too light on numbers and when injuries struck we didn't have the quality cover we needed, unlike some teams. Tyler Magloire seems to be a good acquisition from Blackburn; here's hoping we can retain him for the remainder of the campaign to cover our first choice centre halves. "Lidds" (Gary Liddle) has been a massive loss in that position. Joe Bunney, the most recent new face, provides versatility as well as height which adds options. I hope both guys enjoy their time here.

One of the things that does annoy me is the toxicity on social media this season. I don't know if either Raj and DC have access to these forums but some of the comments haven't been pleasant shall we say. You have "fans" bickering with each other as if it was a fight in the school yard. Whatever either RS and DC do, on and off the pitch, doesn't sit right with some of our supporters and that's just not on. We're supposed to be "United", right? Even if things aren't going our way then encourage and try to remain positive. The negativity will be plain to see if it continues, should we be allowed back to watch our blue and white heroes this season. And that's a massive IF. Rant over as far as I'm concerned on this.
"One of the things that does annoy me, is the toxicity on social media this season"

In other news, as you know, the season in the Republic of Ireland has ended for former Poolies Scott Fenwick and Connor Simpson. Both were released after Cork City's relegation, and to be honest you just knew that was going to happen as neither made a real impact at Turners Cross. Whilst Fenwick is looking for a new team, Simpson has joined the phoenix Scarborough club Scarborough Athletic, who play just two divisions below Pools as it stands. Scary biscuits as they say here in NI. If there is any other former Poolie you want me to check up on then get in touch with the Bizz and I'll do my best.

It has to be said that the next few months are going to be oh so crucial and give an indication of where Pools might finish this season. If Pools can start to get some decent home form behind them, a good home record always helps, and pick up points away from home then it can be a season to remember. DC has got a team capable of winning games, of that there's no doubting; we just need to hit a hot streak of form that will leave others trailing in our dust. If we can do that then it can easily be party time in TS24 come the end of May.

I'll be back in 2021 with some more thoughts. Until then, have a safe but enjoyable Christmas and New Year and remember Santa is indeed a Poolie.

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Not Much Klopp


I used to enjoy listening to Jurgen Klopp's erudite post-match interviews. Win, lose or draw he always had a smile on his face. However, of late all that has changed and I wonder if anyone else has noticed that since the beginning of the 2020/21 Premiership campaign Mr Klopp is slowly but surely morphing into Arsรจne Wenger. The smile has gone and all we seem to get from him now is moan, moan moan or an 'I did not see that', with the slightest trace of an Inspector Clouseau accent.

His main beef is with how intense and punishing the Premiership schedule is on his players and, along with Pep Guardiola, is advocating the use of five substitutes, which is baffling in itself as both he and his Manchester City counterpart probably are more economical in their use of substitutes than any other manager in the Premiership - and when they do use them they are usually introduced in the dying minutes of a game that they have won comfortably. Case dismissed.

His latest Teutonic outburst took place after his team had drawn at Brighton when in his post-match interview he jumped down the throat of the Des Kelly of BT, berating him personally for the 12.30 kick-off and the fact that Liverpool's matches always seemed to be screened at lunchtime. To give him his due, Kelly stood his ground on behalf of all the TV companies who broadcast Premiership matches and said that he didn't choose the time the match should be screened but that every timing was agreed by the Premier League and by every club executive around that table and these are the people Klopp should be taking aim at.
"It seems that everyone's favourite German is losing the plot."

Surely Klopp should realise that the early kick-off's are in place to cater for the Middle East and Asian markets where the bulk of the monies are sourced to feed the Greed is Good League's insatiable appetite for money. The £72 million he paid for Virgil Van Dijk and others, along with the new grandstand, did not solely come from Liverpool's gate revenue nor the profits from the club shop.

Looking at the two clubs' forthcoming fixtures, should Pools reach the third round of the FA Trophy, both teams will play eight matches in December.

Wages and resources aside, do you think that Jurgen Klopp would swop places with Dave Challinor. I think not.

It seems that everyone's favourite German is losing the plot.

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Mid-table Mediocrity


From the heady heights at the top of the table we go into December smack bang in the middle of the table in 12th position. Two constants in our inauspicious slide down the table are our captain Donaldson and Xavi, a member of losers in his five seasons at the club with very few highlights. Only manager Dave Challinor could explain why these two are worth their place every week as it is beyond the comprehension of most fans, And the sad fact is, they don't improve or even look like improving week upon week.

What is without question is we are at least two players away from being a play-off challenging team. A Tommy Widdrington-type midfielder with an Ernie Phythian-type striker should be the main items on Challinor's Christmas present list but with the state of the club's finances there appears little chance of getting either.

The four strikers we have currently at the club are certainly not up to it as their lack of goals this season confirms. Mason Bloomfield looks the part with his height and strength but his finishing lets him down. Loanee David Parkhouse for whatever reason hasn't worked out at Pools and should be sent back to his parent club. Joe Grey with few opportunities has shown some promise and given time could do something and would be worth persevering with, which brings us to Rhys Oates who most of us can remember from his first spell at the club. Runs around like a headless chicken but couldn't hit a cow's arse with a banjo. Try him on the wing if we are stuck but otherwise forget him.

I am impressed with Challinor's loan signings of Lewis Cass, Tyler Magloire and goalkeeper Henrich Rivas. All quality players and a big improvement on what we have. In fact I would be tempted to give Magloire a run up front. As Challinor said when he brought him in, he is nearly as quick as Usain Bolt and he took his goal against Yeovil with real aplomb. He is surely a better bet as a striker than we have at the moment and we have two centre backs in Ryan Johnson and Timi Odusina to cover, with Gary Liddle to come back.
"...a play-off space is definitely there for the taking. Whether we have the right players in place remains to be seen"

It's unfortunate that Luke Molyneux has not returned to the form he showed last season because on song he is a real threat. And if we could keep Luke Williams fit and having a good run in the team, it would be a massive boost to our chances.

With the government putting Hartlepool in tier three the chances of fans returning to the Vic anytime soon look remote. If they are going to rely on streaming they really need to look at getting it right. People I know have been paying £9.99 to watch a home match and not seen a minute of it. And an email to the club complaining of it received no reply or refund.

As for the National League, Torquay are having a real good run at the top, including their hammering of Pools, and are looking good for automatic promotion. Notts County also appear to have found a bit of form and I would expect them to be there or thereabouts. Apart from those two there is not much else of any note in the division and a play-off space is definitely there for the taking. Whether we have the right players in place remains to be seen.

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Getting Shirty


The Hartlepool United Remembrance Day kit caused a bit of a stir all round when it was first released, didn't it. Some fans were rightly querying the decision that the poppy was omitted from this season's commemorative shirt. It would seem from reading in the press that the Irish manufacturer of Pools' shirts, O'Neill's, were a little uncomfortable about supplying a shirt adorned with a poppy in case they might understandably upset some sensitive quarters in Ireland.

When approached by the media about the absence of the poppy, both Pools and the manufacturer refused to comment. No smoke without fire, especially as O'Neill's had supplied the club with a poppy shirt for 2019/20 season. A compromise (another word for cop-out or fudge) was agreed between the club, the fans and the shirt manufacturer. it seems. Martin Jesper, the club's (then) acting executive director, announced: "After initial consultation with supporter group representatives it was agreed that this year the club should recognise the 80th anniversary of the Battle of Britain and it seemed appropriate that an RAF fighter jet was represented front and centre of this year’s kit”.
(Sportsbyte, Sunderland)

At St. Pete's Sec Mod, I was tipped to get a grade one for my history project in my GCE exams on my chosen topic, The Battle of Britain. I was devastated however, when the results came through and I had been awarded a grade 2.

Despite much counselling and many sleepless nights waking up in a cold sweat, I could not understand how I failed to obtain the top grade. I initially put it down to being unable to spell Measuresmith correctly, but once I read that Martin Jesper had said that the Spitfire was an RAF fighter jet it all became clear to me, as all along I was under the impression that the Spitfire was a propeller driven aircraft and not jet powered. How could I have missed that.
"If indeed the Spitfire had been jet powered, the Battle of Britain would have only lasted a matter of hours"

If indeed the Spitfire had been jet powered, the Battle of Britain would have only lasted a matter of hours. I often wondered why it took so long to drive the Luftwaffe from our skies in the summer of 1940; now I know. A big heartfelt thank you, Mr. Jesper.

When the shirts were unveiled, without the Poppy emblem, two left-wing Republican groups in Ireland (think Monty Python's "People's Front of Judea") made their feelings known to O'Neill's that they were not happy bunnies as by producing and supplying these shirts, even without the Poppy, that they were promoting War and British Imperialism.

I might add that worse was to follow, much, much worse. Upon closer inspection the Spitfire that is featured on the shirt is not the variant that fought in the Battle of Britain. I stand to be corrected but it could be a Mark 5b or a 6 or even a Mark 9 as it has a four bladed propeller and cannons are sited within the wings whereas the Spitfire that fought in the Battle of Britain was a mark 1 with a three bladed propeller and machine guns in the wings in lieu of cannons.

This was a major faux pas by all quarters of those involved in producing the shirt. Surely this should have been researched beforehand and checked before going to print. Still let's be thankful for small mercies as the aircraft featured on the front of the shirt could have been the Red Baron's Fokker DR1 Triplane which, for the record, was also not a jet.

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Back to Your Roots


Here’s the result of my latest journey to the attic, a programme from the away game at Roots Hall in the 1985/86 season.

Pools lost 3-2 to Southend, with Pools' goals by Walker and Borthwick.

A few interesting facts from this match:
Bobby Moore was the Southend manager at the time and Frank Lampard senior (the Chelsea manager's dad) was playing for them.
The changes to the Pools line up printed in the programme were: 2 – Keith Nobbs; 8 – Alan Shoulder; 9 – John Borthwick and 11 – Kevin Dixon.

Note that in those days nobody worried about the away team's details being correct in programmes, since there'd be few away fans to spot any errors - otherwise John Berthwick and Keith Knobbs may have been spelled correctly!

That was, for Pools, a good season, finishing 7th. Unfortunately no play-offs in those distant days.

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Festive Floodlights


This pylon is sitting on top of
 a small LED torch and light
is coming through the thin card
so an inner sleeve may be 
It's that time again, folks. Black Friday has come and gone so it's full steam ahead for Christmas - except that this is going to be a Christmas like no other so we're contributing to that with another Bizz enhancement to your Christmas tree. Instead of a star, angel or fairy, you could have a Pools floodlight pylon up there on top, and even have it lit up.

Like last year's Bizz baubles, it can be printed on an A4 sheet of white card or photo paper, then cut out, folded and stuck as shown, making your Christmas tree a distinctively Poolie one.

You'll need a craft knife (especially to cut out the lamps) or scissors, glue or double-sided tape, and about twenty minutes. 

The floodlight pylon is printed from a PDF file and once cut out and assembled it sits on top of a Christmas tree, and can be made up with or without real lighting.

The lighted version requires the 21 "lamps" to be removed at the cutting-out stage. The lighting can be provided by the end lamp of a string of white LED lamps, or a bunch of several of the lamps taped together like a bunch of flowers.

NOTE that the old filament type of lamps, whether in torches or bunched light strings, must NOT be used as they run hot and so could be a fire hazard. Even LED lamps generate a little heat so test your arrangement for several hours to ensure that it won't overheat.

A brighter alternative would be to use a small LED torch mounted on the tree with the pylon sitting on top of it. Putting aluminium kitchen foil on the rear inner face of the pylon will increase the light output. If the weight of the torch causes the tree sag, a piece of coat-hanger wire taped to the torch and tied at several points to the tree's stem or trunk should do the trick.

Whichever lighting method is used, the lamps should all point upwards and not be directly visible through the holes. If the card is fairly thin, light may shine through it, so in that case make up a card sleeve to go inside the affected areas.

The Festive Floodlights PDF file can be downloaded from HERE.

For those who'd like to make some baubles to go with it, last year's Bizz baubles file can be found HERE. (see the 'Deck the Halls' page in MB185) 

And for those who remember the Hartlepool Corporation Christmas bus, the Bizz models of two of its incarnations are still available by going HERE.

And if you're wondering if there will be a 2021 Bizz calendar, there will, and it will come with MB195, which will be out on Jan 1st. 

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An Off Night

Match report by BILLY'S CONTRACT

Solihull 2 Pools 0 (National League)
Tuesday 01 December 2020
Damson Park

My concerns about Pools at the beginning of the season have not changed one iota, in that if they don't sign themselves a striker of sorts, they could miss out on a play-off spot. This has been highlighted not so much with the chances and half chances not being taken but that there is nobody in the box to take them. 

The manager's problem is 
the same throughout football with the possible exception of the Premiership, that every club wants a regular goal scorer and to have the funds to pay for one. Neither of which Hartlepool United have at the moment. 

At present we haven't got a forward of note who is capable of netting regularly either because they are still learning their trade or are lacking in confidence or both. Ahead of the Solihull match we signed six foot five Joe Bunney, a Peter Crouch look-alike, on a short-term loan. Bunney started his career as a forward and later became a left back, so could be classed as what is known as a utility player.

I presume that Dave Challinor will want him to take up his old duties and play up front. I can see the logic of this; putting someone up front with his height will give options not only in attack but defending corners as well.
"when the ball was pushed forward there was no one to receive it or worse still, no one to hold on to it."

To accommodate Bunney the question is: will Pools change their fluent style of football going forward and keeping the ball on the deck or will we resort to the long ball? Either way, someone needs to be getting on to the end of David Ferguson crosses.

Corners is another area were we are weak. Pools average ten corners a game and and to the best of my limited knowledge we have never scored directly from any of them. Invariably the ball is cleared. With a wee bit of luck this could all change with a 'Bunney in the box.'

Excuse me breaking off as I am going to set up the streaming service for the Solihull game. I am predicting a one all draw. 


Well, I wasn't expecting that. Not so much of the 'Bunney in the box' but the 'funny on the box'. I am of course referring to the referee. Just when I was beginning to think that the standard of refereeing was starting to improve in this dreadful league, this fella proved me wrong. Well before Odusina was sent off, the Solihull match commentator noted that the man in the middle was losing control of the match. He was the worst type of referee that there is, which is one who is equally bad for both sides.

The game had draw written all over it and much like the game at Barnet there was little or no goalmouth action. The dynamic of the game was changed once Odusina got his marching orders. Pools then sat back wanting to play on the break but this did not happen until the last ten minutes of the match, mainly because Pools played too deep and when the ball was pushed forward there was no one to receive it or worse still, no one to hold on to it.

Had Ferguson not been injured, with Bunney taking his place, it might have been a different game with the Bolton loanee playing up front. Who knows?

As it is the time of year to be kind to your fellow man, I am not naming names but if I hadn't seen the team sheet beforehand, there was one player I didn't realise was playing until the 66th minute.

It really must be a frustrating time for the manager.

The only plus of the match was that Solihull charged only £7.50 for the streaming service.

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Any Other Business


Well, Pools' season has well and truly returned to normal, with December finding them half way up the league. Performances, barring the first few, have not really merited a higher placing, and it's now obvious that this squad, almost to a man, can do a few good moves but a lot of poor ones, and without serious replacements, this season is already almost a lost cause for Pools' promotion ambitions.
However, with the uncertainties of Covid-19 and Brexit around, plus the tremendous losses being incurred by clubs, retailers, pubs and workers alike, what happens off the pitch could be as big a concern as what happens on it for the rest of the season at least.

Shedrick tells us that he watched Gazza doing a nice tribute on TV following the death of Diego Maradona, saying that when he met Maradona, he had to speak to him in Italian because "...he disn't speak English and neither dee I!"

The piece about the Remembrance Day shirt struck a chord with me because I recently found something along similar lines.

I was attending a Zoom concert commemorating Remembrance Day, and participants were encouraged to make a donation to the "Royal British Foreign Legion".

So it's not just Pools whose praiseworthy efforts can be let down by getting the smaller details wrong!  

And finally, with the coronavirus still wreaking its havoc, we'd like to wish all our readers the best Christmas holiday period they can have in the circumstances. 

The vaccines now coming on stream will hopefully mean that life will return closer to normal by the end of this football season, which, for most of us would be better than Pools getting promoted ...perhaps!.  

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