Well, I thoroughly enjoyed last Saturday’s match against Wrexham and thought that we deserved the three points – a strong performance by every member of the team. I was disappointed to read that many Wrexham fans thought that Pools had been poor and our win was down to their boys having (another) bad away day.

Bryan Hughes, the Wrexham manager summed up his team’s display as “tame at best” and that they “weren’t good enough”. He added, in typical manager-speak, We allowed them first half to dictate the play, to get second balls, the striker (Nicke) Kabamba was causing us all sorts of problems, we made them look a better team than what they are. I thought from the sides, some of the stuff that we did, we tried to play a little bit through Kemy (Agustien), we had little spells but on reflection it just wasn’t good enough.”

So I tend to agree with Bryan Hughes – mind, plenty of their fans are not too convinced about him on any level, not just for his after match comments at Fortress Vic.

Someone else that I’ve agreed with during the past week has been the Chairman – his comments on the value of the investment in the Academy have been, in my humble, spot on. What is the point of spending £200,000 (or whatever of personal money)(over and above the EFL funding – which ends this season) on an Academy where, due to our position in the football hierarchy, we are going to lose funding and cannot guarantee any return on youngsters who have been nurtured at great cost?

In the run up to the Wrexham match all of the talk was about seventeen year old Luca Murphy and this week we see talk about sixteen year old Conner Rennison. Conner won’t be 17 until July.

Before last week’s match I was involved in a lively (bar room) debate as to the exact standing of the Academy at present, and what the future should hold. Well, for me, until we get back into the league, I’d prefer to see that £200,000 (or whatever) spent on bringing in some proven players (or the likes of Liam Henderson from Morpeth Town FC) to improve our chances of quickly escaping the Vanarama. Not paying fees; simply covering their payroll and related costs. Or even to go back to having a reserve team…………………

To quote Raj in last Saturday’s programme: “I think I’ve pumped over £200,000 in to the Academy this year and it hasn’t brought any return – so that £200,000 could have been used on paying bills elsewhere within the club.

“A frustration on that front comes with the recent news about young defender Luca Murphy. At one point it looked as though we were going to attract a substantial fee from a Premier League club for the lad, which would have benefitted him and the Club……….when something like that happens, it makes the £200,000plus that you’ve put in to the Academy even harder to swallow and it leaves a nasty taste in the mouth”.

Some folk have been arguing that Pools should have closed the Academy as soon as we dropped out of the league – sure we’d have lost the funding but, from what Raj is saying, it has been costing us a significant sum (in addition to the funded element). A hard lesson – and another example of the crazy world of football. And then you hear about the Premier league clubs wanting to change the rules regarding contracts for their under 18s – to protect their investments! Has the asylum been taken over?

I can’t be well – agreeing with an opposition manager and our Chairman in the same week!

And this gets me to my quick-fire final points:

1. A big Well Done to everyone involved in the Len Johnrose fund raising day – Link. It is good to see HUST continuing to do such good stuff for the wider footballing community.

2. On a similar initiative, but different scale, well done to Sir Alex Ferguson who has donated £405,000 to the NHS as a thank you for saving his life after undergoing brain-saving surgery in May 2018. Ferguson managed to raise the funds by hosting a fundraising event at a Manchester hotel involving the likes of The Proclaimers.

3. John’s football website of the week – Rovers Chat (RoversFans.Com – not to be confused with RoversTalk.Com) – not because there is anything particularly swanky about this Blackburn Rovers related site, but because one particular thread caught my eye – and the contents surprised me. The thread, entitled ‘The cost of ownership. Rovers accounts’ started with the following (from a contributor named ‘Drog’):

“Re: The financial troubles dragging down one of the Football League’s Founder Members, our near neighbours Wanky Wanderers is not a million miles from where we are currently. 

“I’ve just got hold of the annual accounts and whilst no one can defend the damage done by poor management initially at least the owners are (to date) honouring their commitment by continuing to pay for their mistakes. 

“Last year’s trading even though it was a promotion season required the owners to stump up over £14m to chuck into the pot just to keep the club up and running. That’s even though wages were reduced by approx 25% from 22m to 16.8m but unfortunately relegation saw turnover fall by 6m to 9m. Wage to turnover running at 186.7%! Crux of the matter amongst other issues it is that bloody football players are paid too much!

“To all those who want Venkys out at any cost (and there still are a significant number) it might be worth pondering the fact that last season’s average attendance was 12,832 and by making an uninformed ‘guess’ somewhere in the region of 9,000 of those would be ST holders then funding the club in its current state would require each one of those Season Tickets to cost approx £2,000.00 each! Or in other words £85.00 per home match! 

“All in favour of a fan buy out raise your hands.”

Now, putting aside the crude reference to one of my other favourite basket cases (BWFC), this struck me as an interesting change of view on the much derided owners. This was followed by this from ‘Steve W’:

“God we are so screwed when the Venkys decide to bail out……………………..which they surely will when whatever little scam BRFC are to them is no longer of any use to them. Nobody in their right mind is going to take any business on losing this much money.”

And over on RoversTalk a long running thread on the debt owed to the Venkys (and perceived FFP breaches entitled ‘Venky’s Debt’) includes this comment from ‘theodore’:

“Rovers would have folded long ago and cannot sustain these losses a day longer… How much longer are Venky’s willing to sustain these losses?”

To see BWFC and BRFC, both such famous teams from the past, and two clubs who have enjoyed the generosity of wealthy benefactors in recent years, in such dire straits puts our (post-IOR) challenges into some perspective – albeit that they haven’t endured the activities of certain ‘Southern businessmen’ and a manager who was called out by our very own Mr Stelling……..

And it is amazing how the likes of the Venky’s can go from pariah status to virtual saviours!

Yes, just who is running the asylum nowadays?

4. Tenuous Pools link of the week – 16 April sees the re-arranged Northern Premier League Division One East match between Morpeth Town and Pickering Town. So what? I hear you ask. Well, since mid-February the one and only Denny Ingram has been manager of Pickering Town having originally joined as a right-back from Scarborough in 2015.

Denny started off in the Pools youth team and went on to be a regular and reliable defender following his first team debut – which just happened to be in a friendly against Tottenham Hotspur on 14 October 1993. Denny went on to play 249 games for Pools, scoring fourteen goals and was sent off at least four times between 1993 and 1999.

I’m looking forward to seeing Denny prowl along the Craik Park touchline and wonder if he is still as fearsome looking as he was as a seventeen year old defender at Fortress Vic.

Aye, Denny was four months past his seventeenth birthday when he made his first start, and he went on to start thirteen league games in his first season. Will Luca and Conner get that sort of exposure/ opportunity wherever they end up?

Right, given my advancing years I won’t be going to a pub before the Eastleigh match – I don’t drink any more – I get the same effect just standing up fast.

Pip Pip


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