Salford v Hartlepool, December 4th
Salford v Hartlepool, December 4th 2015 by Billy Zinc.
Having grown up with Ginger hair (and proud of it) I know its pitfalls. Every time sometime happened on our estate neighbours would say to my mum "I didn't recognise everyone but your Billy was there", even though I was always with the same friends, the twins from around the corner and a lad from across the road. Mandron may be suffering from a similar recognition fate, as during the first half of this game, and during previous games, he's been stranded up front with the few chances to get the ball well fluffed, with or without an opposing player being in his vicinity. Given Pools recent performances he's not alone in disappointing fans, but he is most obvious.
My mate arrived home at half time and texted me about the match, I sent this text was at 8:50 pm. "Not the train crash that I had feared. Oates easily best for Pools. Definitely a penalty but the ref was still brave to give it given the way the game has been hyped up. Bates gave them the gift of a free kick for their equaliser. I was happy to go in level, bring on Bingham for the useless Mandron." The "class of 92's" team had seen more of the ball than Hartlepool in the first half, but failed to capitalise on their possession. As Ronnie Moore in his refreshingly honest after match interview put it "Pools didn't turn out until the second half" and after Bingham replaced Mandron. One tackle, from "the bank and bar workers", which appeared to be two footed, on the standing leg of a Pools player would have seen a red card in top league game, but went unpunished and there were several more crunching tackles from "the brave underdogs". I'm no fan of foul play, but I have to confess I did enjoy seeing Duckworth standing his ground during a later tackle, and showing the "part timers" that our lads are wearing football boots as well. Maybe I'm chipped shouldered but the "lorry drivers and fitters" challenges seemed to be almost celebrated by the commentators, while the Duckworth one was condemned. Given the refs unwillingness to control the "over hyped brave hearts" tackles, I wasn't surprised to learn that he was apparently unsighted for the penalty, and an assistant may have flagged for it. Although the "plumbers and pipe fitters" saw most of the ball in the first half, both teams were guilty of kicking the ball into the mercy of the wind, and with "the old timers" being down wind they collected it more often.
The introduction of Bingham in the second half saw a great improvement from Hartlepool, but our greatest failing was then exposed. None of our forwards (should that be plural, as we usually have just the one up field?), know where the goal is. True, "the accountants and book keepers" had a couple of shots saved, but so did Hartlepool. The goal unawareness of our forwards was brilliantly illustrated by the pathetic attempts to head home by the excellent Bingham and the, recently, very disappointing, Fenwick. Even on replay it looked impossible for either to miss the target, but both managed this unlikely achievement. Both teams were again guilty of floating high balls into the mercy of the unpredictable wind again in the second half, and the final result, despite the comments of the "lower division" team's managers, Pinky and Perky, was a fair one.
The match post interviews and commentary focused mainly on the "postmen and tax collectors" of Salford, and their managers Laurel and Hardy, as had the build up, when Pools when given 5 of the 25 minutes, and these mainly showing last year's defeat to non leaguers. The fact that the dynamic duo said that the result felt more like a defeat goes a long way in showing how much the their side and themselves had been hyped up by the media, with Pools expected to be "another brick in the wall" on their march to stardom. Much was said about the home side having bad luck, but on the night lady luck was kind to both sides, two good shots from the "school teachers and caretakers" matched by Pools missing to easy headers and having a powerful shot saved. I didn`t hear anyone complaining about the penalty, which like one of the tackles, could have seen one less "part-timer" lining up against the professionals.
Wouldn't it be refreshing to see a premier league manager coming to an after match interview and giving a honest down to earth summary of his team`s performance as Ronnie Moore did after the draw. In the couple of minutes allotted to him he summed the game up in a nutshell. No shirking the lack of commitment from Pools in the first half and admitting that he, like most Pools supporters were happy that we went into the break all square, and relieved that we are in the bag for the next round draw on Monday night.
The astute reader may have picked up a hint of cynicism towards Salford, which I admit. I truly hate over the top media coverage of so called "under dogs" when non- league sides are pitted against, or even worse, when they beat a league side. Many non-leaguers are financed by richer backers than their league opponents, which was the case with this pairing, and many have league experienced players, as was also the case with this pairing. Just as the BBC and Shearer, and all viewers outside of Hartlepool, wallowed in delight last year at Pools being defeated by some non-leaguers, so it was expected that the experience would be repeated again this year. Even though they play across the road from the studios, the BBC didn't decide to feature this match for any other reason than the real possibility of the lower side winning. I am more than delighted that Pools, to a large extent, spoilt the party.
I'm looking forward to a media free, cold, Tuesday night replay with the north-east wind bringing sleet and rain into the Vic., directly from the north sea.
I forgot to mention that the presenters told of Salford being described in a song by the Pogues as "Dirty Old Town", they neglected to mention that Hartlepool is also mentioned by name by the Pogues in their version of "Working on the Railway" (In 1842, from Hartlepool I moved to Crewe). I recall seeing the Pogues in Las Vegas and being surprised about our town getting a name check.
Both songs were covered by many bands and folk singings.