Wow, I’ve managed to keep a feature running for three games on the bounce. That’s got to be some kind of record. Not quite up there with a -10 goal difference or the number of people who are wondering whether they’ll be able to get a stream for tonight’s game, but it’s impressive for me. Well with no further hesitation, here are the five things you should be discussing before this evening’s cup tie at Hartlepool.
When it comes to thinking up nicknames for rival townsfolk you just can’t beat a bit of popular myth mixed with an ounce of negative stereotyping. My favourite used to be the kai’ed (cow head) reserved for the good people of Westhoughton whose ancestors allegedly freed their prize bovine from the town gates by cutting off its head rather than doing for the metalwork.
As I’ve got older I’ve come to realise that this is such a simple and believable tale that it’s probably repeated umpteen times across the country and beyond. More significantly, it doesn’t quite paint the veritable kai’eds in quite the stupid light that you first think.
Blacksmith “Oi, farmer Giles, your cow’s got its head stuck in my gate again”
Farmer “Go and get the saw, it’ll take a while to get through that metal”
BS “bugger off, it took me two years to make that bloody gate. Why don’t we just take the cow’s head off? We can all have steak for tea, your missus can have those leather keks she’s been after and I can get on with those horseshoes and new plough that you wanted”
Farmer “you’ve got a point there, Mrs Giles, get my axe”
And thus a possibly unjustified nickname is born.
There’s no such get out clause for Hartlepudlians though, if they’d just hung a monkey then maybe, but they tried him as a French spy first. It’s one of those great British stories, not only does it allows us to poke fun at ourselves and our neighbours, but it gets a dig in with the French and is dusted with a healthy sprinkling of casual racism.
Mostly my memories of Hartlepool are FA Cup ones, vague inklings of an early eighties replay are overshadowed by our visit up there in 1988 and the associated banter with a monkey hanger (chemistry?) teacher. We were third division then, just about clinging to the coat tails of the quarter final appearance a couple of years before and getting by on what was left of the team that Harry built (and Bran dismantled). I assume they were in the fourth and not doing that well, certainly doing not well enough for the teacher to be crowing about a giant killing the week after.
How little we knew, eh? Wind on too many years and here are ‘mighty’ Wigan Athletic making the journey to the North East to catch up with old acquaintances. We still know the score enough to know that they’d have probably preferred ‘boro, but still they should be sending blood given our start to proceedings. Likely or not Pools fans and media alike will be buzzing around the possibility of them pulling off a victory. Let them, it’s not like we’ve not been there before.
And whilst we’re talking about the media…
If I was buying a newspaper for anything other than filling ten minutes then chances are that it would be the Guardian. So it makes it a little disappointing that they’re usually one of the first to get a boot in (behind the Mail, which I wouldn’t spend money on if it rebranded itself as the Daily Latic). Not that the thoughts of some junior hack is going to affect how I feel about anything, let alone my football club.
That said, I do get cross when I see someone getting paid for an inexplicable hatchet job that would be best placed in a low rent Wiggin rugby fanzine.
Time to roll up the shutters and circle the wagons methinks. It’s all downhill from here.
Which is pretty much what we all need to do. In the face of adversity, most clubs will come together, develop a siege mentality and sod everyone else. On both past and current evidence, there’s no chance of Latics’ fans managing that but it’s probably important that the team close ranks right now. Ignore the press, ignore any fans that aren’t fully behind them, gather round the manager and get ready to fight.
Caldwell, the Steven variety, spoke on signing about Latics needing to fight to earn the right to play the football they want to, this is something different. What’s needed now is a show of strength and unity, a backing for their manager and their colleagues. There might be some of the team who’d be happy if the never saw another football pitch again, but if I were the first team I’d have been knocking on Bobby’s door yesterday telling him that I wanted to play tonight, that I’ve got something to prove and I want to do it sooner rather than later.
Yeah, I know.
The best football kits are simple, and it’s a good job because that’s what we’re getting with the new away shirt which is plain black with the trimmest of gold trims. I gave up moaning about our shirts a while back but it looks too polo shirty to be a hit with the fans for forty quid, but it looks like it might be alright on the players’ backs, which obviously is the real test, and it has to be better than last year’s effort, hasn’t it.