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13/09 Hartlepool 2nd Half

By: Tony Butcher
Date: 13/09/2003

AH, now that’s much better. Town attacked with aplomb, gusto and other fruits of the forest. But not before another wibble, for Davison had to sprint off his line and smother the ball at the feet of Williamson on the left side of the penalty area.

Home > 2003-2004 Season > Reports > Hartlepool (a)

Hartlepool United 8 Grimsby Town 1
12 Sep 2003, Nationwide League Division 2

There was, we must report, a Town defender near. Well, nearer than the shelf stackers at the local ASDA, which was an improvement of sorts.

After two or three minutes Town won the ball in midfield and played those triangles of old, with first time passing, to knock the ball out to the unmarked Hockless. The midget magician flipped the ball first time over the defence right into the flightpath of Boulding, just outside the penalty area to the left of centre. Boulding surged past his marker and scuffed a shot across the face of goal. The goalkeeper scrambled and, egged on by the crowd, ROWAN slid forward at the far post and diverted the ball just inside the right hand upright. The Town fans gave a passable impression (from a distance of at least 50 feet) of normal supporters, delirious at scoring. We were laughing whilst we danced.

There then followed a very strange 10 minutes, in the context of this match, for Town dominated, pulverised, ripped apart and bashed the Hartlepool defence. It even induced that Escape to Victory feeling, "C’mon lads we could still do this". Indeed they could, and it would be appropriate to point out to any lawyers reading this that we never actually specified what "this" was. One touch, bish-bosh, Cas free down the right. He looked up and dinked a cross to just beyond the far post where Boulding rose above his marker and headed into the side netting. Hockless, all trickery and flippery with his feet, teased and pleased with swishing and swaying, leaving defenders on the floor. He had a couple of gallant long range efforts one of which went a yard over the bar and the other a few inches. Cas again, rampaging past his little marker crossed from near the bye-line, the ball looped off a defender and bounced beyond the far post. Hockless ran in and, from just inside the six yards box, headed back across the face of goal. The goalkeeper beaten, the crowd about to rise, suddenly a defender ran across and booted clear. Bummer. It was a bit of a weak header in all truth.

During this brief moment of clarity the only scare was when Davison punched away a long throw straight to Humphreys, about 25 yards out. With Davison way off his line Humphreys wellied a volley toward the top right hand corner. Gabbiadini dived forward, Davison dived at the flabby forward and the ball slipped a couple of feet wide of the right hand post. Wait there’s more Town pressure. Campbell surging, Hockless dazzling, Rowan moving, things happening and positive too. Hockless danced across his marker and played a one-two with Rowan (I think) before slapping an underhit shot towards the goal. The ‘keeper plunged slowly, like a old steam pump, to plop on the bal as it drifted by.

A steadied ship, equilibrium achieved, Hartlepool not having penetrated the Town penalty area for minutes. All much better, much calmer and then hari-kari Ford arrives to lose the day. A punt upfield, the usual run of the mill stuff, that should be no difficulty for a professional footballer. Ford was in front of Robinson and a simple tap back to Davison was bound to follow. The Space Cadet glowed and collapsed, leaving Robinson alone, 30 yards out, with just Davison in front of him. ROBINSON rolled the ball under the sprawling ‘keeper and the Town players shrank by a further three inches.

Croweyellow card
Rowangoalyellow card


Nimmo61 mins
Soames76 mins


Scott Mathieson


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The half continued as if nothing had happened. You know, it was only a game, why change the pattern. Barnard curled a free kick six inches over the bar from a similar position to the one from which he scored against Wycombe. No I don’t mean from Blundell Park, but about 25 yards out, to the right of centre. The Town fans taunted their opposition number with "6-5, we’re gonna win 6-5". Oh and don’t forget that penalty incident, when Cas crossed and a defender lay down on the turf, raised an arm and diverted the ball away with aforementioned limb clearly wombling free. Town still pressed, with Crowe taking the philosophy of "attack being the best form of defence" to its logical conclusion, being a defender who only attacks. Cas seemed bewildered by Crowe’s constant sprinting past him whether he had the ball or not. This left even more space, if that be possible, in which Hartlepoolians could roam free. Now take a wild guess how the next goal was scored? Yep, Crowe absent from duty again. As always, from hum-drum nothingness danger lurked. Groves challenged for a high ball near the half way line. Crowe decided that he should start sprinting past Groves, but he only half cleared, the ball being immediately sent back over him to where Crowe had once been, long, long ago, when Noggin the Nog was at centre back. Humphreys (I think) turned past a giant redwood tree which had inexplicably been planted on the right edge of the Town penalty area. Crane? Get off your horse and drink your milk. This vague Hartlepoolian crossed into the centre and GABBIADINI, a few yards out in the centre, stroked the ball into the net.

At this point Rowan was wheeled off and replaced by Liam Nimmo, a much sturdier looking young man who bounded on to much encouragement from the gaggle of juniors seated as close to the exit as possible, Messrs Parker, Ward, Young and Hughes. And from darkness light emerges, for the chink of hope is here. A most encouraging debut. He moved! He didn’t fall over! He passed and linked with Hockless and caused plenty of problems to the defenders, where previously they’d strolled in the moonlight. His first two touches set up half chances for Hockless to cross or shoot. Oh hang on, here they go again. Another attack, another goal. Some more rotten, rotten, disgusting defending from those employed to do so. The ingredients were the same as the other goals. Defender misses tackle, fails to run after a striker, lets ball roll across the face of goal. It was undoubtedly from the left or the right, all agreed on that point, with the majority of fingers being pointed at Darren Barnard, who spent the entire evening pointing infield towards where he though his winger should run. The winger kept running into the spot and, yikes, there was no cover. Anyway, it was scored by WILLIAMS from very close in following a low cross. Again Davison was faultless as the striker was left to his own devices six or seven yards out.

Only 66 minutes had gone, apparently, and some were beginning to lose count, having lost hope many minutes earlier. In dribs and drabs Town fans departed, which is an interesting psychological study - what is the breaking point of a Town fan? If they leave after seven does that mean that they think six conceded is acceptable and that is only the seventh that makes it embarrassing? Why now when they may have been only 24 minutes from History, who can forget 28 January 1931? You ? Exactly! Nimmo nearly scored you know. Campbell tipped the ball through the defence and Nimmo peeled away from his marker a dozen yards out to the left of goal. Unfortunately, the goalkeeper sprinted off his line and hurled himself towards Nimmo as the ball bounced up. A corner followed. Soames then came on for Boulding with about quarter of an hour left.

You will be delighted to know that all this jiggery-pokery didn’t stop Simon Ford from playing his natural game, for he still indulged in some back heels and flicks when he was the last defender. Never fear, the game didn’t enter a period of prolonged torpor, the locals got their moneys worth. With about 10 minutes left Hartlepool were allowed to do as they wished in front of the Town defence, the ball ending up on their right. Barnard closed off the wing with a swivel of his huge hips and showed the attacker the way, and he went where instructed, tipping the ball between Town defenders. Yet again a striker was allowed to turn free inside the penalty area with Ford (I think) the culprit. Ford, Crane, it doesn’t matter which, they were equally culpable all game. Back to our story of derring do with damsels in distress and rampant lionhearted knights saving their honour. The striker crossed low to the near post and ROBINSON, very close to goal, appeared to flip the ball into the net, possibly a back heel, probably not. It was far away in another land. That’s eight isn’t it?

With a just a few minutes left some fine wingery by Hockless resulted in a low cross being pulled back towards Soames, who helped the ball across the penalty area. Nimmo, towards the far post and about 10 yards out, spun and hooked the ball back towards goal, hitting the foot of the post and drifting away from goal. Shame.

And that’s it, surely? Yes, surely, that is it in many respects. A very, very surreal match, for the goals seemed disassociated from the general play. Previously the complaint has been a "lack of protection" for the defence. That was simply not the case here. The individuals in the defensive positions all made serious errors and all looked as though had given up after the third goal. The rest of the team was different, for they were cohesive and organised as an attacking unit. They kept looking back in horror at the shambles behind them. The Town defence was like the spoons on offer at the snack bar to stir the coffee with. Superficially adequate for the task. A spoon, spoon shaped, and hard plastic. All the ingredients were there for a successful spoon/coffee stir. However, when plunged into the hot liquid it simply melted. You can’t blame the stirrer for choosing that spoon when there was no indication that it was so unsound.

Was this the highest shot per goal ratio ever recorded? Eight goals conceded but Hartlepool cannot have had more than a dozen efforts on goal. And the faultless Davison only made one save.

Was it all a dream? What more can I say? It was a freak match, but you don’t want to talk about it. So this is where the story ends. Sleep tight, hope the bugs don’t bite.

Nicko’s Man of the Match

Just so many candidates to choose from, where do I begin? Really only two could hold their head up high, in Argent fashion. Nimmo had a super cameo debut, but overall only one Town player could be secretly pleased with his contribution to road safety. Step forward and on to a step ladder Little Graham Hockless. Now wave to the crowd and accept your certificate with a sheepish smile. Oh, and hum the theme from Hill Street Blues as a mark of respect; Mr Rhodes, your old music teacher, really was watching you.

Official Warning

S Mathieson. He gets 5.00000 for turning up. A couple of decisions, which turned out to be pivotal, were wrong, but overall the game was so strange there wasn’t scope for much moanage.

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