by Scott Thornberry - 30th September 2009
Before setting off for Scotland, I had my usual scan of the message boards.
At Darlington on the darlouncovered site, there are still mixed emotions regarding Colin Todd.
On the vitalhartlepool site, I read with interest some of the derogatory comments about me and the article that I write that appears on the site.
Criticism is something that I got used to as a referee, and when starting working in local radio, it was the same.
Initially, when joining Alpha Radio as an ex-referee and Boro supporter, I was an easy target for comments of an unsavoury nature.
Whilst obviously not being everyone’s cup of tea, the fans gradually started to appreciate that the publicity that I created for the club and its supporters was positive, as most areas of the media choose to ignore anyone other than the biggest clubs in the region.
Likewise, a good number of Poolies have stayed loyal to my shows and have contributed regularly.
Many who post on message boards have shown their immaturity by making childish comments but the remainder are loyal fans who merely give their opinions.
Well, I will continue to give mine. You may not like them but I have a programme on local radio that is there for Hartlepool fans to talk about their team.
Like my columns, you don’t have to read them so you can choose to turn off or not even bother to turn on.
However, this apathy does not help the local station in your area, which is trying to give air time to your team.
Then it was off to Scotland.
A leisurely drive to Dumfries soon saw us parked 100 yards from the turnstiles, with free street parking as well.
Queens had bumped up their prices for this one to a massive £18 from the normal £15 for an unobstructed view seat in the Galloway News Stand.
It is a refreshing change to watch football without being ripped off for tickets, parking etc.
Arriving in Dumfries at five o’clock, we saw the town closing down and someone commented that they take the pavements in at 5pm!
We passed a few pubs as we checked the town out but finally decided on the Cavens Arms. It was not a difficult choice to make, given its pedigree.
Host Gary and Sylvia, the waitress, looked after us and a mixture of QotS, Rangers and travelling football supporters from south of the border. It seems that not only Ken and I were venturing for their football fix at Palmerston Park.
A steak burger with complimentary onion rings from the award winning pub set us up nicely for the short walk to the ground.
From the outside, it looks ramshackle. One end is condemned, whilst there is a small main stand that was inhabited by the old fashioned rattle-waving locals.
There is a large standing end behind the other goal for the noisy enthusiastic home support and the seated stand that ran the length of the pitch was for the Bears.
Unlike in England, Rangers - through a mixture of an attempt to get some form and limited squad numbers - fielded virtually their first choice starting eleven and the atmosphere was tremendous, with a full house.
Rangers controlled the first half hour but were very fortunate to take the lead when a through ball saw Boyd, who was at least a couple of yards offside, play in Naismith for the opener. Boyd later blotted his copy-book with a pathetic dive to attempt to win a penalty - all he won was a deserved yellow card. From this point on, QotS came to life and for the majority of the game, they created the better chances.
Indeed, a massive sigh of relief was heaved when sub Nacho Novo cleverly put Rangers two up.
No-one in the ground could begrudge the Doonhamers their added time consolation - well, apart from me who had backed the Gers to win by two or more goals!!
Five minutes after the final whistle, I was in the car and Kenny was back in the Coronation for 11.30pm and last orders.
It is away to Dundee in the next round and another new ground and another mid-week adventure to look forward to.
As usual, Hartlepool’s press conference was lively.
Pools boss Chris Turner is a true football man and after the official stuff, he often talks about the events of the week, refs etc.
I wish at times the fans who knock him could see this side of the man whose enthusiasm and knowledge for the game is immense.
You can catch up with some of his interview here.
The news from the Darlo press conference was more interesting though. Colin Todd had declined to speak to the press and had nominated Steve Foster to do the honours.
Coincidence maybe, but perhaps adding fuel to the fire of speculation surrounding his future. I wish I had been there.
A busy weekend started with my regular breakfast slots on both Alpha and Radio Hartlepool, then it was off to Liverpool.
My first speaking event of the weekend was at the Holiday Inn in the city.
The Dinner was a fundraiser for Woolton FC, a set-up that runs 42 teams from kids as young as four years of age!!
I was the speaker with a Q&A session with Everton legend Neville Southall and comedy impressionist Mark Langley.
Rav and the boys in Liverpool do a great job raising funds for the kids and I am sure that their funds were pumped up considerably after this event.
My speaking engagements meant that I could take a game in on Saturday afternoon as I was due to be in Stoke in the evening.
As luck would have it, Boro were playing at Coventry, so for the second time this season, I made for the Ricoh Arena, hoping that this time I would not be mistaken for Graham Poll.
Having watched the Boro get trashed 5-0 by West Brom, you would imagine that matters could not get worse.
Well, at the end of the game, along with over 1,600 travelling Boro fans, I realised that they could.
2-0 up with a quarter of an hour to go, we declared, took off Adam Johnson and quite clearly thought that the points were in the bag.
Even their consolation goal did not bother me as I had backed 2-1 for the Great North Air Ambulance charity bet.
At least a daft couple of quid on Sean St. Ledger for the first goalscorer slightly eased the pain.
It was typical Boro and the late equaliser felt like defeat rather than a decent point on the road.
At least Hartlepool won at home at last and even Darlo picked up a point on the road.
News was breaking though that Toddy had gone.
Rangers NIL had completed their third successive goalless league draw and the prospects of Sevilla and Celtic in the next week were starting to appear daunting.
A quick dash from Coventry to Stoke saw me arrive at Wolstanton Social Club for their football team's annual fundraising dinner.
I was working with my old mate, comedian Ged Stone.
It was a good audience and for once an early finish, so it was back to the hotel in time for last orders and some of the football on TV.
Emails were flying about and DFC announced a fairly amicable parting of company with Colin Todd. This did surprise me, especially when SSN announced that Todd had claimed via the LMA that he had been sacked.
As I suggested last week, a compensation claim is likely.
More news out of Darlington announced that Liddle and Maddo had been installed as temporary managers. What has happened to Dean Windass?
Putting it all into context, I called in on the way home to see my old mate Mark Halsey. A shaven head and considerable weight loss suggested that his cancer was taking its toll.
But Mark’s a fighter and more than any other result this season, this is one that I am praying comes good.
THE WEEK AHEAD
Tuesday sees me off to Ibrox to watch Rangers' first home game in the Champions League against Seville. Recent Rangers form suggests that this will be a very difficult game.
Walter Smith will probably revert to his usual European style of playing one up front at home. It has proven effective in the past but not the most entertaining.
Still, a good night in Glasgow usually makes up for it.
Friday night, I am speaking in Leeds and then it is back home for the Darlington game on Saturday before a quick dash down to Lincoln for another Dinner engagement.
It’s then back home for a few hours kip before another drive up to Glasgow for the lunchtime Old Firm clash. Life is never boring.
The next Phone in show will be on air on Saturday 24th October after Hartlepool v Tranmere Rovers 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".
Don’t forget, there will be the chance to win tickets for Hartlepool’s next home game.
Enjoy your week.