Well, for the third week running I’m going to start with Swansea Town/ City………….and a thank you to those folk who have joined the Swansea 16 dialogue.

Mr Maguire, do you read this? If so why not invite all of the Swansea 16 to the Salford City match? Entertain them in a box? Maybe invite one or two of that promotion winning squad? A nice touch by the club to recognise the long term devotion/ commitment of some of the supporters?  A thank you to these guys to reflect the club’s appreciation to all travelling fans? I’m sure that (HUST chair) Richard Ward will help you contact these guys (subject to the vagaries of GDPR and other such bureaucratic nonsense). How about it Mr Maguire?

Celebration scenes in the Hartlepool United changing room following the successful 1968 promotion campaign. Promotion was secured in front of just 16 Pools fans.
Image courtesy of Northern Daily Mail.
Some of the ‘Swansea 16’ with Pools promotion star Tony Parry.
Image courtesy of Hartlepool United Football Club.

Richard – I trust that your son is now proudly wearing a Pools shirt and that Barcelona (fake) shirt is being used as a duster?

And back to Swansea and the feedback from Terrace Thoughts 21 – thanks to Ronnie Chambers for reminding me about George Smith (1977-80; 100 appearances and two goals) who joined Pools from Swansea. Now I hadn’t forgotten about George – I’d forgotten that he’d joined us from Swansea (after playing for Barrow, Portsmouth, Middlesbrough and Cardiff). I remember George’s relatively short spell with the Borer as, back in those days (as a form of punishment of some sort) my father used to take me to Ayresome Park (he played 74 times between 1969 and 1971 – and now I’m really showing my age!!). I remember a hard tackling midfielder at the Borer, with an eye for the long pass forwards, and George as a dependable right back at Pools – a guy who would never retreat.

Aye, George Smith – great player and yes, I’m showing my age again. And Mr Chambers, I don’t know how you feel about old age, but in my case I didn’t even see it coming. It hit me from the rear.

After coaching at Pools George had a period in charge of Gateshead FC – and this, regrettably, gets me back to an issue which I have touched on countless times in the last few months – that being the stability and future (or otherwise) of Gateshead FC. You may recall that last week I had to wipe away the wet from behind my ears after reading the statement from the owner. Unbelievable Jeff.

I talked at some length last week (and in many previous issues of Terrace Thoughts) about the shambles that is Gateshead OFF the pitch – respect to what remains of the Gateshead playing squad for the way in which they are staying so close to the play offs. Not making a big issue of this, but how come their players can perform against a background of uncertainty when some of ours couldn’t?

The recent announcement that Gateshead FC is up for sale for £1 was somewhat disingenuous – add to the £1 the £200,000 bond and all the unpaid liabilities and surely you start looking at a high six figure sum to just kick start a recovery programme? And hasn’t the club been for sale for some months?

And who would put in a significant sum given the painfully low crowds? I hope I’m wrong but I see this story having a sad ending and that makes me reflect on our own situation. Yes, it is much better than a year ago and Raj seems to be making some funds available – but, I still worry about the loss of revenue this Summer and our reliance on a guy with no great connections with the club (other than the dosh that he has ‘loaned’). So we (by which I mean HUST) must continue to raise money in case something goes wrong – a situation that none of us want (and I include Raj in that ‘us’), but you need a plan B. And that plan B will need lots of cash. So HUST needs to focus on this (as well as its amazing work with the likes of the Motor Neurone Disease Association).

A last point on Gateshead – a big shout out to Ben Clark (2004-2010; 162 appearances and 6 goals) – a classy defender then midfielder at Pools, I’ll always have fond memories of his involvement in ‘the Durham nightclub incident’. If it happened; and even if it didn’t; as it was a great tale. Anyway, he’s done a seemingly magnificent job since Steve Watson left for York City; could Ben be a future Pools manager?

Actually another last point about Gateshead – no, not the cancellation of The Legends fund raising match (Mr Maguire, how about stealing this idea?) – no, their last few home attendances have been 531, 1,228 and 665; our attendance against Dover last week was 3,431. Makes you think? How can they survive (who would buy that income stream)? All the same, how low can we go before Raj says ta-ra? Time for HUST to start shaking those tins……

Now a quick mention for Bolton Wanderers. I’ve been tracking their plight for some months and it was great to see them beat Millwall last weekend (shame about the home defeat on Tuesday though) – again, interesting to see a team win when they’ve not been paid. Funny how some teams can’t perform against a background of off-field uncertainty. At least it looks like Ken Anderson might finally be selling BWFC and there is a chance of a better future for The Trotters – and again it makes us appreciate what Raj is doing for us.

And another club which has featured in past Terrace Thoughts is Blackpool – and it looks like their nightmare is finally over – and respect to all of those who have fought (or have put their hands in their pockets to support the fight) the Oystons – the tenacity of the Blackpool Supporters Trust was simply incredible.

Rochdale is another club which has featured in recent Terrace Thoughts and I was surprised to see Keith Hill leave them – he seems to have been their manager for ever! Well, he was between 2006 and 2011 and between 2013 and last week! I’ve seen many of their fans talking about him with respect and fond memories – could he be a future Pools manager? And I think that some of the underlying issues at Rochdale include excessive expectations, the harsh realities of how much a club like Rochdale can generate and the hurt of failure after success and……strewth, is this Pools that I’m talking about?

Another club to feature in recent Terrace Thoughts is Grimsby Town – and The Mariners Trust – and it was great to read that HUST have visited representatives of The Mariners Trust. Richard Ward has recently placed an article on this on the HUST website and it is a fascinating read – particularly where Richard talks about the different challenges facing those involved at Grimsby and the situation he and his colleagues face. Come on Mr Maguire, it is you that I’m looking at!

The article not only illustrates the challenges that HUST (and we Pools fans) face, but also the commitment and work being carried out by the HUST board – and whether we agree or not with what they are doing, we should acknowledge and appreciate their hard work.

This trip to Grimsby must have been particularly arduous and I note that Richard (being a polite, well brought-up young man) doesn’t talk about the journey; permit me to fill in the gaps.

John Cooke, vice-chair, will have demanded that he drive. Why? So that he could keep control of the in-car entertainment system (known as a cassette player to we oldies) and to try out his new green corduroy flat cap – specially bought to match his suede driving jacket and brown leather string back gloves. John will have had ‘The Road to Hell’ by Chris Rea on repeat all the way there – and, as a joke, ‘Driving Home for Christmas’ all the way back. John will have gone up to Third at Sappers Corner and will have stayed in that gear all of the way there – and back.

Jo Grylls will have been ‘in the back’ with her collection of Mark Tinkler photographs and the esteemed chairperson will have been in the front, talking to his mother-in-law on his iPhone.

Conversation will have been pretty much restricted to the following, on repeat, for three hours:

“You do go M62 westbound for Cleethorpes, don’t you?”

“By he filled those shorts lovely”

“He doesn’t want another Barcelona shirt”

“This is theeeeeeeeee ROAD TO HELL” (in the style of a Corner Flag Male Voice Choir singer)

“Guys, my tractor goes faster than this”

“OK, so your daughter says that my son can wear a Barcelona shirt and that he’d look good in a Manchester United away strip”

“This is theeeee ROARED TO HELL!”

“Did you know that his middle name was Roland?”

“Please, I implore you, he can’t go to nursery in a Newcastle tracksuit”

The sacrifices made by the Board: thanks guys……….

I’m going to close this week with a quick look at referees. Haven’t we seen some awful refereeing performances this season? And last season!

I read Jeff Winter’s autobiography (Who’s the b****** in the black?) some years ago. I didn’t particularly like the book – he didn’t come across particularly well in my humble opinion – a tad arrogant – ‘I was a great Premier League ref, etc’…Anyway, one point that he made was that, often, the only neutral in the ground is the referee. His point being that they are neither biased or cheats. A fair point (albeit it got me wondering about the linesmen/ women and 4th official – are they not neutral?). And, in fairness, Jeff had a point – the officials are trying their best, in difficult situations, without malice.

Now, going back down memory lane, we have been lucky enough to see some of England’s best referees officiate at Fortress Vic and at some away fixtures. I have a particularly fond memory of Pools playing Boston United on 24 February 2007 – Richie Humphries scored a cracking free-kick on a muddy pitch in filthy weather and we had a celebratory pint or six in the Boston supporters club after the match. Danny McDermid had been the referee (and had put in a decent shift) but the highlight was meeting Uriah Rennie in the bar – putting aside the fact that he was massive (he kick-boxes as a hobby!), and a pretty brilliant referee, what struck me was his love and understanding of the game, the teams and the individual players. A chat with a great bloke which I will cherish as long as my memory works.

I could list lots of great and average referees from the last few decades – but none from the last few years. Where are the good referees? OK, there are some decent ones in the Premier League – but I’m talking about proper, real-world football. And, taking Jeff Winter’s view that they are neutral and without malice, are they simply incompetent? Well intentioned, but useless?

A couple of quick final points:

1. Back to Uriah Rennie – he was the first referee to red card Saint Alan of Shearer – ‘for persistent use of the elbow’. I would welcome the opportunity to buy Sir Uriah a pint for that!

2. Middle age is when your old classmates are so grey and wrinkled that they don’t recognise you. Or they all look like their parents did when you were much younger.

3. John’s football website of the week ………………..Blackpool Supporters Trust – I love the ‘Blackpool Are Back’ scarf (sold out!) and, even though you’d think that everything in the (Blackpool) garden was rosy, the first message which greets you is…..‘Has your membership expired? The Trust relies on your support’. So Poolies – have you renewed your membership of HUST? And how are we all going to help HUST to raise the sort of monies which we don’t want it to need, but you never know…………………?

Pip Pip


1 Comment

  1. Just to let you know the Club have already had some of the Swansea 16 as guests. We were very well looked after on a night match against Leicester. A cracking 2 – 2 draw with Steve Howard scoring two. Unfortunately he was playing for them!

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