Terrace Thoughts 20, 01/03/2019

Wasn’t it great to read the news about the MOU between Grimsby Town FC and the Mariners Trust? A few words from John Fenty, the owner of Grimsby Town resonated……….

“We are more than happy to cement our relationship with the Mariners Trust….

“The club is nothing without its fans and having a high level of engagement with them can only be good for the future of the club.”

Got me back to thinking about communication between our own club and HUST (and the other supporter groups) – what went on at the most recent Fans’ Forum? Was it recorded in anyway and, if so, will the minutes be made public? I know that I’ve asked this before – and I will probably return to this topic at some point in the future (memory permitting – or if Mr Maguire or someone releases some form of communication) – but it would be good to know if there is any meaningful dialogue going on.

It’s possibly an age thing but I love reading minutes a year or so after the event and asking ‘what happened to that?’ or ‘did you ever do that?’ Having said that, I hope that I never get to the point where I trawl through social media forums from a year or so ago to make the point that ‘I told you so’ or ‘you got that wrong’. Age is a terrible thing: I really do dread birthdays and the years now pass so quickly and, you know, at my age you only need four hours’ sleep. Aye, four times a day though.

A few folk have commented on my memories in recent Terrace Thoughts of the good old days at Pools – some folk suggesting that we’ve never had any ‘good days’: to which I must simply say that it is all relative – and others have suggested that I must always have worn ‘rose-tinted’ glasses to have such fond memories of the likes of Wayne Goldthorpe, Roy Hogan and Paul Staff! Memories are like opinions – they are personal and always subject to change. And what makes us long for the good old days? A bad memory.

Anyway my memory is working today and so I know that folk from one of our colonies will today be celebrating St David’s Day. Ignoring what happened in Cardiff last week when we were getting beaten by Bromley FC, I’ve never been a great fan of our neighbours and it is with some pain that I look back at our performances over the years against Welsh clubs who have managed to join the English Football Leagues….

Swansea City – I still have the shakes about the 1977/78 season and the aggregate 12-0 mauling and overall they’ve beaten us 20 times, drawn with us on 10 occasions and we have mustered a paltry 10 wins.

Cardiff City – my memories of their visiting hordes are colourful (that’s me being diplomatic) and we let them beat us on 9 occasions, drew 5 matches and won the grand total of 4. I can’t mention Cardiff without a quick word about Neil Warnock – not the fastest or most skilful of wingers, he actually won the player of the year award at Pools (playing under Len Ashurst) during his short stay at Fortress Vic. My memory (yes, back to that failing asset) was that he was a fixture at Pools for some years, but he actually only played for us 69 times, scoring 7 goals.

Wrexham – I’ve made numerous references to the recent history of this once proud club in previous Terrace Thoughts and have waxed lyrical about their Trust – but on the pitch, oh dear oh dear – we’ve managed 39 wins, 17 draws and have lost on 47 occasions. I had my rose tinted memory glasses on in Terrace Thoughts 3 on 2 November 2018 when I covered the 5-1 win on 18 December 2004. Happy days? The good old days?

We next play the Dragons on 23 March and the club has announced a reduction in ticket prices for this game as a thank you to all supporters for their backing in this same fixture last season – the ‘Save Pools Day’. Nice one!

Newport County – lost 20, drawn 13 and won 11 – awful, but the memories of 6 May 2017 (despite the two late goals from Devante Rodney against Doncaster Rovers) are still too painful. And seeing their money spinning efforts in the FA Cup is verging on brutal. Let’s move on.

Chester City? Is it in Wales? Well the pitch is. Lost 44, drawn 23 and a meagre 34 wins!

The youngest Ashton daughter regularly stops her Father in mid ‘what have the Welsh done for us’ rant with a one word answer: Eifion. Eifion Wyn Williams joined Pools from Torquay United for £30,000 in 2002 and went on to play for us on 263 occasions (including 40 from the bench), notching a respectable 63 goals – including those two wonder goals at Darlington on 25 March 2007 (many folk forget the third goal – from Andy Monkhouse). He should not have been released in the summer of 2007 (he went on to finish his career with Wrexham) and does prove that some good has come out of Wales.

And, in a way, Joe Joe Allon came to Pools from Wales…….

Anyway, what is this day that our Pagan neighbours celebrate? Saint David’s Day is the feast day of Saint David, the patron saint of Wales, and falls on 1 March, the date of Saint David’s death in 589 AD. The feast has been regularly celebrated since the canonisation of David in the 12th century (by Pope Callixtus II), though it is not a national holiday in the UK.

Traditional festivities include wearing daffodils and leeks, recognised symbols of Wales and Saint David respectively, eating traditional Welsh food including cawl and Welsh rarebit, and women wearing traditional Welsh dress. An increasing number of cities and towns across Wales including Cardiff, Swansea and Aberystwyth also put on parades throughout the day.

What is cawl? Best described as a thick soup based on lamb or beef with leeks, potatoes, swedes and carrots; to me it looks like a poor stew.

Anyway, can you imagine a group walking through, say, Blackhall, celebrating the death of, say, someone called Arthur, wearing tulips and cabbages? No! With the women folk wearing big black hats, white aprons and long red dresses?

Willington, yes.

Seaham possibly.

But never in Blackhall.

The 17th-century diarist Samuel Pepys noted how Welsh celebrations in London for Saint David’s Day would spark wider counter-celebrations amongst their English neighbours: life-sized effigies of Welshmen were symbolically lynched, and by the 18th century the custom had arisen of confectioners producing “taffies” — gingerbread figures baked in the shape of a Welshman riding a goat—on Saint David’s Day.

Come on Greggs! Get those Taffies in the oven and, while we’re waiting for them, let’s all go down to B&Q for some ‘lynching’ rope. They knew how to live in those days! And what’s the betting that I’ll receive some complaints about this non-football ramble? So, let’s get back to football and take a quick look at one of the quirkier of Welsh clubs – Airbus UK.

Airbus UK Broughton Football Club is a football team based in Broughton, Flintshire, Wales. They had their origins as the works team of the Airbus UK aerospace factory where the wings of the Airbus airliner are produced, and are consequently nicknamed The Wingmakers or The Planemakers.

The club was promoted to the Welsh Premier League for the first time in 2004, and play at The Hollingsworth Group Stadium (previously known as The Airfield), Broughton (capacity 1,600, of which 500 are seated); however as their pitch could not be brought up to Welsh Premier League standards in time following their promotion, for their first two games they shared Conwy United’s ground. The Airfield features three unusual retracting floodlights as it is adjacent to an operational runway. In 2014, the grass surface was replaced with a 3G synthetic pitch. At the end of the 2016–17 season the club were relegated to the Cymru Alliance having finished bottom of the league.

Formed in 1946, the club has known several different names as the ownership of the factory has changed over the years. Originally called Vickers-Armstrong, it has variously been named de HavillandsHawker SiddeleyBritish Aerospace, and BAE Systems.

The club’s early years were spent in the Chester & District League and the Wrexham area leagues. The club won the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Division Two title during the 1991–92 season, when they won 28 of their 34 matches and scored 130 goals to finish 19 points ahead of their nearest rival. They then spent four years making steady improvements in their position in the Welsh National League (Wrexham Area) Division One before being promoted to the Welsh National League Premier Division at the end of the 1995–96 season when they were runners-up in Division One. They spent four years in the Premier Division before winning promotion to the Cymru Alliance at the end of the 1999–00 season, when they won 21 of their 30 matches. To coincide with this promotion the club changed its name to Airbus UK.

Once again they spent four seasons in their new league, successively finishing in 11th, 8th, and 5th positions before winning the league title by 19 points in 2003–04 to earn promotion to the top level of Welsh domestic football for the first time.

Airbus’ first season in the Premier League was a torrid time, with the team acquiring only 21 points in the first 32 matches and being in next-to-last position with only a few matches remaining. Their manager, Rob Lythe, who had led them to promotion, resigned in February 2005, citing “not having enough time” to do the job. The Wingmakers eventually avoided relegation in their debut season after a victory over local rivals Connah’s Quay Nomads and a 1–0 defeat at Caersws on the last day.

Airbus made a promising start to their second season in the WPL, reaching the semi-final of the League Cup eventually losing out to TNS Llansantffraid over two legs.

For the start of the 2007–08 season, the club changed its name once more, adding the village name to become “Airbus UK Broughton F.C.”. Owing to UEFA’s rules over sponsorship, when competing in European competition the club is known as “AUK Broughton“.

During their time in the Welsh Premier League, Airbus UK Broughton went from relegation strugglers to a club that challenged regularly for honours. They qualified for Europe for the first time in 2013 as Welsh Premier League runners-up, repeating the feat the following season and appearing in the Europa League for a third consecutive time as third-place finishers in 2015. It makes you wonder what sort of managerial talent there must be in the Welsh leagues…………

In May 2016 the club reached the Welsh Cup final for the first time, losing 2–0 to The New Saints at Wrexham’s Racecourse Ground. They just failed to qualify for Europe again, losing 1–0 in the Play-off final to neighbours Gap Connah’s Quay. A difficult summer saw the majority of players recruited by other Welsh Premier clubs and director of football Andy Preece leaving the club by mutual consent three days before the start of the next campaign, to be replaced by former player Andrew Thomas.

The 2016–17 season produced only five wins and saw first round exits from both the League Cup and Welsh Cup, ending with the Wingmakers finishing in bottom place and being relegated back to the Cymru Alliance ending 13 seasons in the Welsh top flight.

Can you imagine the type of names we could have had if we’d followed a similar history? Ward Jackson United? Heerema United? Bamburgh Castle Residential Developments United? Sea coalers R Us United? 22” Inch Pipe Mill United?  On reflection it is quite pleasing that all we’ve had to contend with is Hartlepools or Hartlepool.

Finally, welcome to Fraser Kerr – from the reactions of many Gateshead fans he will do well for Pools, and is a good piece of business from Messrs Hignett and Singh. Here’s hoping!

Pip Pip

John

1 Comment

  1. I thought the 2- 0 win at Swansea to gain our first ever promotion was worth a mention!

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