by Scott Thornberry - 24th September 2009
Being unable to make travel plans that were convenient and also affordable to go to Stuttgart, I had to watch the Rangers game on TV.
The first half performance suggested that my decision to stay at home was probably the correct one, but then my luck changed.
Still smarting from Ibrox’s poor running on Tuesday and the resultant financial loss, the bank balance needed boosting.
So an interest bet on Bougherra on goal minutes on the spreads seemed a good shout.
Not as loud as the shout that erupted from my armchair after 77 minutes when “Magic” nearly bust the net.
Funds replenished but more importantly Rangers set themselves up for the remaining Champions League games.
After a tentative start against Motherwell, Jerome Rothen showed glimpses of his class in Germany and promises to supply an endless stream of crosses for the forwards to latch onto.
As usual, the Hartlepool press conference was lively. Chris Turner is a straightforward guy who never ducks an issue.
After the Wycombe game, he passed comment about the reaction of some fans towards himself and his players.
I followed this subject up and you can listen to Chris’s thoughts on my site.
I am never surprised by the supposed knowledge of football fans who think they always know better than the professionals.
I am firmly behind CT and the squad he is building at the club.
Realistically, it is difficult to compete against the division’s big boys but it would be a darn site easier with the fans on board.
The After Dinner Speaking season is back in full swing leading up to Christmas.
The recession has hit this market heavily as many organisations are holding back on arranging events as they are unsure as to whether they can sell the tickets.
It’s one of those catch 22 situations - you need to raise money but are worried that if ticket sales are not great, you might struggle to cover costs.
In reality, a well managed event is never going to lose money and even if profits are not as great as you would have hoped, a good night out helps raise everybody’s spirits.
At this time of the year, the diary is usually full with bookings up to the year end, but more and more people are leaving finalising arrangements to the last minute.
Two new bookings in the last two days for November prove this point.
If anyone wants to discuss putting on a fundraising event, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Smokies Hotel in Oldham was the venue for Chadderton Park FC’s Sportsman’s Dinner. I was working with comedy impressionist Leslie Gibson - top act, his Kevin Webster impersonations are quality.
The evening was hosted by Bury FC’s commercial manager, Peter Young, and it was an excellent night. There was also a very good audience who dug deep to raise funds for their numerous junior teams.
After a late night, it was an early morning drive back home, then off to the Boro v West Brom game.
Before that, I watched the first half of Kilmarnock v Rangers on TV.
I had gone to the corresponding fixture last season and I think everyone expected a similar comfortable victory.
What happened next was a sign of things for the day ahead.
For the third away league game running, Rangers had a player sent off. I joked about the handicap system after the Hearts game but now I think that Scottish refs have latched on to the idea.
My reffing colleagues over the border certainly don’t take any prisoners and the card count mounted by the minute.
Mendes was perhaps unfortunate to pick up his first yellow but having already been booked, he should have known better than to jump into another challenge.
Rangers were poor and were fortunate to get away with a point.
Things went from bad to worse as throughout the afternoon, it materialised that Hartlepool had lost their unbeaten away record and conceded three penalties into the bargain.
News that Darlington had lost again against unbeaten table toppers Bournemouth was no great surprise. The only surprise was the very attractive odds available at just a shade under evens for a Bournemouth victory.
I take no satisfaction in seeing any of our sides beaten, but this was a money printing exercise just too good to miss.
So to the debacle that was Boro v West Brom.
Even after a lifetime of being let down following the Boro, I should have known better. However, foolishly, I just did not see this coming.
Boro were awful, West Brom were good and the end result was an absolute hammering.
Post-match, Baggies manager Roberto Di Matteo did a brilliant impersonation of Jack Dee - Leslie Gibson would have been so proud. I would hate to see what he is like when they lose.
He was a journalist’s nightmare, with short responses to any questions and soon everyone knew that it was pointless asking him anything. It was the shortest press conference I have ever attended.
Gareth Southgate was more forthcoming and you can hear his honest, no excuses comments here.
Gareth was no doubt readying himself for the inevitable fans’ backlash. Some have just been waiting for the slip up to happen so they can sharpen their knives and the result and performance has played into their hands.
At least a few drinks and a very good meal at Gary Gill’s Chadwick’s in Maltby numbed the pain on what had been a disastrous day.
A day of watching football in front of the TV beckoned - the second half of Killie v Rangers (yes I am a glutten for punishment), MotD, the Football League Show, United v City, Chelsea v Spurs and MotD 2. Heaven.
But before then, I did my regular Sunday morning link with Patto on Alpha Radio.
Before doing so, I checked out Darlo Uncovered, half expecting to see something about the managerial situation at the club.
The previous day, I had heard that all was not well. It may have been rumour but it did come from people who are quite well connected.
I still maintain that Colin Todd deserves time and what has happened on the pitch was very likely to have happened given the circumstances he had inherited.
Instead, I read the Chairman’s article, which put the record straight on a few other rumours.
Good on you Raj, your honesty is refreshing, albeit not what some fans might want to hear.
Survival is the name of the game and looking at the League table, it will not take that much to get away from the bottom. That being said, at present, the signs are not looking good.
The afternoon’s games were certainly entertaining and provoked much debate.
I was requested to voice my opinions on both the United v City and Chelsea v Spurs games on Talksport on Monday morning and on BBC Five Live on Monday evening.
Matters arsing from both of these games are covered in greater detail in this week’s Villain of the Week and League of Injustice articles.
Having watched a lot of Scottish football, as well as English football, this season, the most glaring point is that of the differing tolerance levels employed by officials in each country.
The Scottish guys are far stricter and penalise much more and appear to issue a lot more cards than their English counterparts.
I don’t think the clubs in England, nor the media, would tolerate such a high card count.
I would say though that the Scots are far more consistent, so whilst sending’s off and suspensions may be far more prevalent, consistency is far greater.
I am sure my facts may be swayed by seeing Rangers players being sent off each week though!!
On Monday, I met a young lady who I may be getting rather used to in the future. Sarah is to be my co-presenter for a brand new show that will be starting in the North-East in the near future. More news about that soon.
Tuesday saw the offer from Sky Sports News to attend the Hull City v Everton Carling Cup tie.
The following night, the plan was to take part in a time keeping exercise to show how refs stop and start the game. All this is on the back of Mark Hughes’s rant. Watching Rangers play in Dumfries appealed more.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Wednesday evening sees my first trip to Palmerston Park, the home of the Doonhammers, to watch Queen of the South entertain Rangers in the CIS Cup.
I am going north with my old mate Kenny Hall. Older Boro fans will remember the “Mad Vicar”, who later went on to become mayor of Middlesbrough before “Robo-Cop” Ray Mallon took over.
Kenny offered to take me in the Lambretta. I suggested I drive. Those days on the back of a scooter are in the past for me, especially for 130 miles. It was bad enough in the old days going to the Coatham Bowl in Redcar on a Friday night!!
We used to drive there, leave the bike, have a drink, then catch the last 263 home.
We always got some funny looks getting on the bus with our crash helmets. Mind you, they came in handy when you were busting for a slash by Grangetown!!
I am on the road with dinners this weekend - Liverpool on Friday night and Stoke on Saturday. The geography of these bookings means that I will not be hosting my Phone-in show or going to Hartlepool’s game at home to Wycombe, but I will be able to go to the Ricoh Arena on Saturday afternoon to watch Boro play Coventry City.
On Tuesday it’s JPT action at Victoria Park, with Hartlepool entertaining Grimsby Town.
Les & Ian will be hosting the next Phone-in show, which will be on air on Saturday 26th September after Hartlepool v Walsall on Radio Hartlepool. The show will be on 102.4FM from 5-6pm.
So Poolies will have the chance to get their views off their chests immediately after the game.
You can ring me on 01429 275111, contact me to let me know your views by email, or text me on 60300 starting your message off with "hart".