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Read Jeff Stelling's First Pools Column

18 August 2016

Here's Sky Sports presenter Jeff Stelling's first Pools Programme column - look out for his second in Saturday's issue of The Blue Print.

This article was first published in The Blue Print for our game against Colchester United on Saturday 6th August 2016.

The first day of a new season.  Part of me loves it. Part of me dreads it. The last couple of weeks for me have been spent buried in newspapers and websites working out who the heck has gone where this summer, getting ready for the first Gillette Soccer Saturday of the campaign.

It’s tough enough keeping track of managers - Gary Bowyer’s at Blackpool, their sixth boss in 30 months, while John Sheridan at Notts County will be starting his third job since January.

But keeping tabs on players is tougher than teaching Paul Merson correct grammar (is that correct grammar?).

For many, its 16 new players in, 16 out. Where have they come from? How many have they scored? How is his name pronounced? (Aryan Tajbakhsh at Crawley anyone?)

Do Jack Marriott and Danny Hylton both have clubs so I can use the daft Tommy Travelodge gag when both score? Phew - both at Luton.

I see Yeovil have signed Ryan Hedges. Now if only they could be persuaded to sign Paul Benson too!  

Where are Saturday regulars who crop up every season, like Akinfenwa, Coppinger, Sarcevic, Mackail-Smith and Lewis Alessandra (oh, he’s with us!!!)?

And then next week, the Premier League joins in…

But the fan in me is looking forward to it like a kid at Christmas.

You don’t need me to tell you that Craig did brilliantly last season and I like the mix of players he has brought in. A bit of experience, some of the very best players in the National League and some youngsters with real desire.

It’s a tough start with two relegated sides in the first three league games, and then the EFL Cup game at Preston. The bookies will write us off but I think we can take teams by surprise and get off to a flyer.

I could do with Billy Paynter getting off to a flyer too. I’ve had a bet with one fanatical Poolie that he will get 20 in all comps this season!

One sad note though is the absence as Chief Executive of my mate Russ Green today. Over 14 years, Russ put his heart, his soul and his health into his adopted club. He made decisions – not always popular ones – that helped keep us afloat on more than one occasion. If this season turns out to be the one we all hope it is, we should remember it was Russ who laid the foundations.

Jeff.


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