With no apologies I am going to bang on about communication again this week!

You might recall that much of Terrace Thoughts 20 (1 March 2019) was comprised of a rant questioning what ‘we’ve’ ever got out of Wales/ the Welsh. I mentioned Eifion Williams and Joe Allon (who came to Pools via Swansea City) but, outside of these two Poolie legends, I was pretty dismissive of all things Welsh and, in particular, Pools in Wales.

Well, my thanks to Steve Wiles for his communication: “I thought the 2-0 win at Swansea to gain our first ever promotion was worth a mention!” Steve signed himself off as ‘One of the Swansea 16’.

This is the sort of communication I respect – simple, to the point (it put me right in my place), and it brought something new to my attention – from less than twenty words I learnt something – what/ who was the Swansea 16 and, yes, I should have mentioned that glorious match!

The final months of the 1967/ 68 season were typical Pools – first they lost Ernie Pythian (Played 148 games for Pools, notching 65 times between 1965 and 1968) to South African club Southern Suburbs – despite offers from various English clubs and after an apparent falling out with Gus McLean, a large signing-on fee persuaded Ernie to move so far South! That season Pythian had scored 11 goals in 32 league games as Pools pushed for promotion.

Pools had to play seven games during the month of April – and they beat Exeter (H), Notts County (A), York City (H), Workington (H), York City (A), Chester (A) and Chesterfield (H). A 100% return moving the boys to fourth place and a promotion spot with three games to play. The first game in May saw a scoreless draw at Exeter and Pools dropping to fifth with two to play – both matches against Swansea Town FC – a club which later changed its name to Swansea City.

6 May 1968 and goals from Bobby Cummings and Wilson Hepplewhitein front of 16 visiting fans – saw Pools secure promotion with a game to spare. I wasn’t aware of this stunning fact – Pools’ first promotion was secured in front of only 16 fans! And Steve Wiles was there!

I won’t ask how old Steve was that day – I was ten and I don’t need anyone to remind me of my old age. I have a bladder to do that for me.

Five days later and Pools again beat Swansea Town – this time in front of 11,011 fans – a disappointing attendance given that 11,399 saw goals from Bobby Cummings and Wilson Hepplewhite beat Chesterfield on 26 April. Anyway, goals from John McGovern and Cliff Wright saw off Swansea on that final day and Pools were up into Division 3.

What a season that was – 20 clean sheets – 16 consecutive league games without defeat – and those seven wins on the trot in April…………..

Nostalgia – the file that smooths the rough edges from the good old days.

And so the club then changed its name, plans were put forward for what would eventually be the Mill House Stand, John McGovern was sold, no new players other than Ron Young from Hull City were recruited, we lost 7-0 at Reading before the end of the first month in Division 3 and didn’t register a win until 16 September (against Watford). Yes, good old Pools – relegation beckoned and despite a run of only two defeats in the last thirteen games, Pools returned to Division 4 a year after escaping.

I’ve also had a communication (slap on the wrist?) from HUST President Eddie Kyle via HUST Chairman Richard Ward – in Terrace Thoughts 19 (22 February 2019) I talked about Willington FC and mentioned connections with Pools through certain ex-managers – but hadn’t managed to connect any ex-players. Well, again, I’ve been corrected by the President – Tony McAndrew (the ex-Boro player who played for Pools in 1989 and managed the reserves in 1992) played for Willington after Boro went bust in 1986! And I’m also told that Peter Creamer (Played 66 games for Pools, scoring 3 between 1976 and 1978) played for Willington. So apologies to both Tony and Peter!

Now, continuing on the subject of communication…………

1. I’ve commented several times about the apparent lack of any reporting of the Fans Forum and so I applaud the release of the minutes of most recent Forum (29 January 2019) as prepared by Richard Ward – I encourage everyone to read these on the HUST website. Will there be another meeting? Why didn’t Mr Maguire publish these and why the long delay? Respect to Pauline McSweenie for the direct questions.  Personally I’m not sure who some of those attending were representing – perhaps this could be explained in the next set of minutes? If you have any questions that you think should be asked, why not ask Richard to raise them via the HUST Members Forum? Looking at the level of communications between other clubs and their fans, we clearly still have a long way to go………

2. Now on the subject of Richard Ward, whilst he has shown some support for HUCSF’s H’Angus Hotshots (see either the HUFC website or HUST Facebook) which is commendable, we see his two year old son wearing a Barcelona shirt – simply unacceptable and the possible cause of lasting emotional damage. Richard, not only as Chair, but as a decent human being, you simply must do better. I expect to see the boy in a Pools shirt by the end of Saturday (celebrating the win over Dover Athletic).

3. HUST has set up a Members Forum – I encourage everyone to use this platform to communicate in a constructive and positive manner.

4. The Gateshead FC website carries a series of replies (dated 1 March 2019) from owner Ranjan Varghese to questions raised by fan Michael Scully – I’ll let you draw your own conclusions – I needed to wipe the wet from behind my ears.

5. Staying with Gateshead FC, during the week when a HMRC winding up order has landed, the ‘Chief Financial Advisor’ Joseph Cala has made some ‘interesting’ statements to the Newcastle Evening Chronicle – these can be followed on the HeedArmy Forum – and I’d also suggest a look at the twitter feed @Cala_FC – my lawyer would be none too chuffed if I repeated any of the amazing suggestions on that thread. This sorry story can also be followed on the HeedArmy thread ‘Ownership/ Boardroom/ Running of the Club’- an astonishing thread which can only make one feel sympathy for our near neighbours – and reflect on the progress made at FortressVic during the past year – yes, more praise for Raj.

6. Gateshead FC have also issued a statement about the HMRC winding up order in which they state that they want to use the £200,000 bond to pay this! Er, doesn’t it have to stay in place until the end of the season – and won’t it then be needed for the next season? Yes, communication is great – when carried out properly and honestly.

7. Website of the week – I spend hours trawling the websites of clubs and trusts and have talked about the likes of DarloUncovered, Bury, Wrexham, Leyton Orient and the HeedArmy in a positive light. This week I came across the Blyth Spartans website (a son in law is playing there in a couple of weeks) and liked the easy directions to watering holes and the ease of use – and so Blyth Spartans win my first Football Website of the Week Accolade! Nice, simple, relevant communication.

And a quick nod in the direction of ‘theoriginalfatcat’ on DarloUncovered for his strapline – Mr Singh said this, “I’m not expecting to get any of the money I’ve already put in. I’m prepared to write it off for the future of the club. I’m not hanging in to make any kind of financial gain in the short or long term – if someone was prepared to come in and take the club off my hands, I’d be more than willing to discuss it.” (Tamworth matchday programme 26 November 2011). And folk have very different interpretations of what happened next.

8. HUST have set up a fund raising day for Lenny Johnrose – one of the classiest players to ever grace the Vic. Lenny has been diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and has gone about dealing with this with great dignity and poise – using his difficulty as a means to raise awareness of MND and to raise monies to fight this terrible disease. HUST are aiming to raise funds for the Len Johnrose Trust and local MND charity – a match involving many of Lenny’s old team mates and a Race Night have been organised – details can be found on the HUST website and tickets for the Race Night can be obtained from HUFC, Floral Factor on Murray Street or from Uncle Ronnie Harnish on 07766545394. Or why not just pop into the Corner Flag before or after the Dover game and leave a decent donation?

9. Roy Kelly of Hartlepool Life makes a great point about the impact of Lenny and I have no hesitation in stealing his words: “Not only did the forward provide a boost to Pools as an attacking force, his arrival proved a ground breaking moment for not just the club but probably the town. It had been two decades since Pools had had a black player in their squad and in that period in between the Vic was, sadly, dogged by racist behaviour from the terraces. Lenny’s signing brought a change in attitude and image and great praise should go to not only the player who became a popular figure, but boss Alan Murray and chairman, Garry Gibson.” Well said Roy.

Respect to Lenny and all at HUST involved in this fund raising initiative.

Now to my new love – as mentioned in Terrace Thoughts 18 (15 February 2019) my heart is being stolen by The Highwaymen of Craik Park! I missed Pools at Sutton and was entertained (along with 650 others) to a 3-0 win over Spalding United and then, on Tuesday, Morpeth Town beat Newcastle United U23s in the semi-final of the Northumberland Senior Cup.

Now an interesting point about Tuesday’s game – whilst the world of football is viewed with an increasing and justifiable cynicism, it was great to see three United first teamers at Craik Park – Jonjo Shelvey, Sean Longstaff and Paul Dummett – three highly paid professionals supporting their young colleagues – and mixing with the Morpeth fans, communicating with them, having photos taken and so on – credit to the three of them.

But could Morpeth Town ever replace Pools for my main affection (affliction?)? Never. Whilst enjoying Morpeth out-class Spalding, my attention was focussed on my IPhone and the excitement reached fever pitch (with the resultant ‘I should have gone’ thoughts) when Luke smashed in the equaliser. So, for me, sadly, I’m a one team romantic…..but I’ll still be flirting with the guys at Craik Park.

Right, I don’t know who said, ‘Growing old is like being increasingly penalised for a crime that you haven’t committed’, but my knees are punishing me and need lubricating ahead of the Dover match – so it is pub time.

Mine’s a pint of Porter.



  1. Firstly Pools secured promotion at Swansea on the Monday night. Second point is an old school mate ,Geoff Wright ,was at that match and at Exeter two days before. Lastly the Steve Wiles U mentioned is an old mate of my brother who is 70/71 and has lived around Sheffield for a number of years.

  2. So the answer is out there – Steve Wiles was just 20 at the time of our first promotion! Of the Swansea 16, 12 of us were at the Exeter game on the Saturday.

    On the Monday, I phoned work to say I was sick, only for my photo to be splashed all over the Northern Echo as we were allowed into the dressing room after the Swansea match. Fortunately my boss was a sports fan, so I was let off as long as the days off counted as holiday. I still live in Sheffield but bumped into the Plant brothers at that cup debacle last season at Morecambe.

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