Why I love relegation

Hartlepool United nut Matt Gardner insists that his side's drop back to League Two is the best thing that could have happened...

It's hard to convince any football fan that relegation can sometimes be more of a blessing than a burden.

But back from the brink after three years of disillusionment and indifference towards my hometown club, I've finally become a committed Hartlepool United supporter once again. We were, after a torrid 2012/13 campaign, relegated from League One back to the basement - and with confidence I can say I'm one of the very few fans in the Football League more devoted to their team because of it.

Pools are back where they belong with the Chesterfields, Cheltenhams and Torquays of the bottom tier. After last year's antics most Monkey Hangers wouldn't disagree, though many feel we could have hung on and challenged for mid-table (or better) once more.

But I'm celebrating our relegation because, for the first time in three years, I feel like a '˜real'™ fan again. There are plenty of other reasons too, but these were put on the backburner when the Football League reminded all Poolies that we're back in our rightful place.

Scheduled as part of its big birthday in a few weeks' time, Hartlepool will open their season with a trip to famed Lancastrian underperformers Rochdale - the 137th tie between the two teams and most-played match between current league members. And that already gives us as many positive stories as last year. In February, we made headlines after beating Notts County 2-1 with goals from Peter Hartley and James Poole (thankfully something other than Jeff Stelling to talk about).

Hartlepool and Rochdale share the dubious honour of playing the most seasons in the Football League without ever reaching either of the top two tiers - that'™s 85 campaigns and counting.

Back in the late '90s and early 2000s, Pools were the big fish in a small pond. We were going up against the likes of Walsall, Shrewsbury and Carlisle United though, so it wasn't hard to look good. The irony of those three teams now being a regular part of League One fixtures is not forgotten but neither are other memories; a 7-1 demolition of Swansea at Victoria Park and 4-0 win over Hull despite being down to 10 men at a riotous Boothferry Park. You know where both will be playing come August.

The blue and white stripes were once feared by all. Travelling teams were once wary of our unbeaten home league run for over a year. The north-eastern Iron Curtain remined for almost the entirety of 2003 but for a 2-1 defeat by Barnsley on December 26 - our last home game of the year.

Still, after years of coming close in the play-offs, in 2003 we were finally promoted behind Rushden & Diamonds. Fans disassociated themselves with Rochdale and we started chasing the dream instead.

Looking back now it was more like chasing the dragon but it was good while it lasted. Pools went on to capture hearts and minds outside the town with back-to-back promotion campaigns and play-off final appearance against Sheffield Wednesday. Around 17,000 fans made the trip to Cardiff, only to lose 4-2 in dubious circumstances.

The future's so bright, you gotta wear shades...

From there things fell apart. We soon dropped back into League Two and, despite rising again at the first time of asking we finished second best again behind Walsall. A few years later and the odd high-profile cup win against Stoke or West Brom and, well, here we are back in the basement. It all went so quickly.

But while looking at those who went on ahead we got an insight into the terror that could have befallen Pools' possible success and second consecutive promotion. Fellow small-town clubs Scunthorpe, Bury and Southend United all made the second tier but each had their Icarus moments and we will be playing all three next season. Stockport County, who also made the trip to the second tier, are now a Conference North side.

For the average Hartlepool fan it's easier to understand the negative examples of success because of where we're from. Our great rivals Darlington - once pairing up with Pools to create the fourth-most staged derby in the country - are now in the Evo-Stik League Division One North following financial troubles. Even that town has 100,000 inhabitants to support the club (Hartlepool has 93,000).

Scarborough, meanwhile, completely disappeared from the league in 2007. Further afield, FC Halifax Town returned to the Conference National with a play-off run last season (I remember a Hartlepool win at an incomplete and all-but-abandoned Shay in 2003) after financial troubles forced them to re-form in 2008/09.

Ultimately, Pools wouldn't have stood a chance at long-term solvency with a Championship run. Our stadium holds under 8,000 fans and, to my memory, we've only filled it a dozen times in the last 15 years. Our wage bill has remained low. Even if we had attracted quality players and more fans, what would we have to deal with? Unfulfilled possibilities of a stadium expansion and maybe the odd home win on a miserable Tuesday night against Barnsley. 

Pools wouldn't have stood a chance at long-term solvency with a Championship run"

Sure, if we had defeated the Owls in the play-off final it would have been exciting to count down the days until early March when it was mathematically impossible for us to survive in the second tier, perhaps a grafted 0-0 draw against Derby County at Pride Park keeping hopes alive for another week.

With that, I'll happily have us become that big fish in a small pond once again. We might face the prospect of games against Fleetwood Town, Burton Albion, Newport County and Mansfield Town next season but we at least have our first '˜derby'™ in six years with York City - who themselves narrowly escaped a drop into the often-bottomless pit that is the Conference. The fans will come back once we start winning again, regardless of opposition.

Any team can beat another in League One, as we found. Seeing Yeovil Town's season after they were promoted against the odds could once again prove to be further reflection of Hartlepool's probable failure in the Championship. It's still a game of chance, though. What's to say League Two won't provide another Stockport moment?

Whatever happens, the nameless Football League executive's interview regarding Hartlepool's opening fixture threw up a quote of truth: that Hartlepool v Rochdale is still one of many 'exciting fixtures in the Football League'. To me, anyway. Even after 136 of them.

1 comment


POKERSTAR88.com Agen Texas Poker Dan Domino Online Indonesia Terpercaya – Gelandang Manchester City, Yaya Toure meyakini bahwa rekan satu timnya, Sergio ‘Kun’ Aguero selevel dengan pemenang Ballon d’Or empat kali, Lionel Messi. Di mana ia telah merasakan bermain bersama kedua pemain asal Argentina tersebut.

Selengkapnya bisa dibaca di : Master Agen Judi Bola Online Terbaik dan Terpercaya di Indonesia

Toure sempat bahu membahu dengan Messi di Barcelona dengan mempersembahkan gelar Liga Champions pada 2009 sebelum hijrah ke Etihad Stadium pada 2010. Sekarang dirinya menjadi partner Aguero, yang mana sedang menjadi penyerang tersebut di Premier League dengan 10 golnya. Taruhan bola hanya di Padipoker.com Agent Judi Poker Situs Poker Online Teraman Dan Terpercaya Indonesia

“Saya sudah bermain dengan Messi dan sekarang bersama Aguero. Dia adalah striker yang fantastis, sulit memilih yang terbaik di antara keduanya tetapi Aguero sangat kuat, pintar, dan cepat,” ungkap Toure kepada Nissan, Kamis (bola pelangi agen bola sbobet ibcbet casino 338a tangkas togel online indonesia terpercaya).

Lebih lanjut, gelandang komplit asal Pantai Gading itu menilai bahwa Olb365.com Agen Judi Bola Online, Agen Judi Casino Online Indonesia Terpercaya memiliki filosofi permainan yang berbeda saat ini jika dibandingkan saat masih dilatih oleh Roberto Mancini. Ia juga menyinggung target tim saat ini.

“Dulu bersama Mancini, kami bermain lebih bertahan dan saat ini bersama Pellegrini kami total menyerang. Setiap pemain memiliki pendapatnya masing-masing, tetapi saat ini dengan Pellegrini, setiap pemain di sini sangat menyukainya,” tambahnya.

“Untuk kami, skenario yang sempurna adalah memenangkan keduanya (Liga Champions dan Premier League) tetapi kami tahu target tersebut sangatlah sulit dan kami akan mencobanya,” tuntas adik dari Agen Ibcbet ini.


Ibcbet Seiring berjalannya periode senja karier, David James malah diterpa krisis finansial. Bekas kiper tim nasional Inggris itu mulai mengalami kebangkrutan. Terpaksa, beberapa barang memorabilia nan berharga masuk daftar lelang.

Kiper berusia 44 tahun yang juga pernah membela SBOBET – Liverpool dan Manchester City itu sedianya masih menyambung kariernya, sebagai pemain sekaligus pelatih di sebuah klub ISL (Indian Super League), Agen Bola Terpercaya.

Akan tetapi gajinya di Agen Bola nampaknya belum bisa menutupi krisis keuangan pribadi sang kiper yang punya 53 caps bersama The Three Lions itu.

Sebagaimana dikutip Taruhan Bola Online Agen Bola, Rabu (5/11/2014), James mendaftarkan sekitar 150 barang untuk dilelang yang sebagian besar merupakan memorabilia berharga sepanjang kariernya.

James memasukkan 150 barang tersebut ke HilcoIndustrial, situs lelang onlineyang berbasis di Kota Napoleon, Ohio Taruhan Bola– Amerika Serikat.

Beberapa barang yang coba dilelangnya adalah sejumlah jersey kiper timnas Inggris yang pernah dipakainya, serta beberapa jersey pemain lawan yang pernah bertukar dengannya.

Ada pula sejumlah jersey klub Premier League yang pernah ditandatangani rekan setimnya, ditambah berbagai barang yang tak ada hubunganya dengan olahraga, macam sepeda klasik Raleigh, sampai sebuah mobil Rajamerah.com situs judi Poker online terbaik terpercaya.

Pulaujudi.com Master Agen Judi Bola Online Terbaik dan Terpercaya di Indonesia – Arsène Wenger kini tak perlu lagi dibikin ribet oleh masalah resleting jaketnya. Problem ini sedianya sepele, tapi kadang membuat nakhoda Arsenalitu kesal setiap kali kesulitan mengancingkan resleting jaket lamanya.

Musim sebelumnya, Sbobet sering terlihat kesulitan, baik saat berdiri di pinggir lapangan, maupun sedang terduduk di bench, hanya untuk mengancingkan resleting jaket Nike-nya (Indomasterbola.com Agen Judi Bola, Taruhan Bola Terbaik dan Terpercaya).

Kerap kali, rekaman Wenger itu bahkan dijadikan candaan dan bahkan pem-bully-an di beragam media sosial.

Tapi kini problem itu sudah terpecahkan. Puma sebagai apparel baru Arsenal musim ini, menyediakan jaket dengan resleting yang lebih inovatif. Kini, Wenger tak lagi harus kerepotan mengancingkan resleting jaket panjangnya hingga ke leher demi menahan udara dingin.

Jaket baru dari JagadPoker.com Agen Texas Poker & Domino Online Indonesia Terpercaya ini sedikit berbeda dalam hal resletingnya. Tak seperti jaket-jaket pada lazimnya, jaket yang disediakan Puma ini punya kait resleting ganda.

Kait bawah untuk menyatukan dua rel resleting, sementara satu kait di atasnya yang saling tersambung dengan kait bawahnya, berguna untuk memudahkan Wenger menaikkan resletingnya.

“Di BOLAWIN88.COM BANDAR TARUHAN AGEN JUDI BOLA CASINO POKER DOMINO BOLATANGKAS DAN TOGEL ONLINE TERPERCAYA INDONESIA, kami tahu bahwa sepakbola tidak bisa diprediksi. Anda harus siap untuk hal apapun, baik itu lawan yang berat maupun cuaca yang buruk,” papar Puma dalam komersial barunya.

“Ada banyak macam hal yang bisa mengubah pertandingan. Jika Anda seorang pelatih, Anda butuh fokus. Anda tak bisa membiarkan apapun memecah fokus Anda, termasuk masalah resleting,” lanjut pernyataan apparel asal JINPOKER.COM Agen Judi Poker Online dan Domino Online Indonesia Terpercaya itu.