Pools legend Brian Honour returns with another Blog as he gives his thoughts on the feelgood factor around the Club, his hopes for the future and the impact of the home crowd.
Hello everyone and welcome to my latest Blog here on the Official Website.
I have to say that I am really encouraged by the way things are going with the Club at the moment, even though we fell to defeat at Eastleigh last weekend.
I think the Wrexham game the week before was a good example of how far we have come. We have been performing well and picking up decent results and even in the games we’ve lost, the reports are that we have played well and created plenty of chances.
Going in to that Wrexham fixture I felt that was the big test of how much progress we’ve made and I just thought we looked in full control from the first minute. I know we only won the game 1-0 but we just looked like a proper, strong team that is capable of challenging.
I watched the Away The Lads video on YouTube from the game at Eastleigh and it was interesting to see some of the things Craig Hignett said to the players in the pre-match meeting – and I think he’s spot on in his assessment. We have been hoping to win for too long now and we should be getting to the stage where we go in to games expecting to win instead.
It’s similar to what Alan Murray used to say to us during the 1990/91 promotion campaign. He would remind us how confident we were and what good players we had in the squad and would insist that the staff all expected us to win every game.
Confidence breeds confidence and I know we aren’t going to go up and or down this season but it’s important we finish the season well to give the fans something to get hold of going in to the summer and then towards pre-season.
I can only comment on the home games but I’ve seen more or less every team now. We’ve drawn with Orient and probably should have won and beaten Wrexham – so there are the current top two teams in the division, so it shows you we aren’t a million miles off.
We need to keep ticking over now and building on the feelgood factor around the team and the Club in general, and especially with the fans because there is an excellent vibe around so it’s important we carry that through to the summer.
Have we got anything to fear going in to 2019/20? Not from the evidence I have seen from our own team in recent weeks and seeing the opposition week in and week out. The Higgy appointment was crucial for me, and probably should have happened a bit sooner. The team seems to reflect his personality – it’s bubbly, hard-working and they don’t look like they’re frightened to make a mistake anymore.
Take Nicky Featherstone, for example. He’s brilliant when he’s on the ball and we have to get it to him as much as possible. When things aren’t going well the fans have got at him in a little bit. However, you can see he’s brimming with confidence again under Higgy and he makes us tick – he’s a very good footballer and he’s being managed very well.
The fans have upped their game as well and in the Wrexham game they genuinely were the 12th man because the noise coming from that North West corner of The Neale Cooper Stand was amazing. I commented to Pools fans I saw after the game and in the weeks since that it was probably the best atmosphere for a game since we were in the Football League.
People may dismiss the notion that fans can impact on the game – but they really can because that was just fanatical support that game, it was ultra-style backing. It genuinely felt like Wrexham were playing against 12 men with the noise, the singing and the bashing of the drum. It was different class.
I know we’re floating along until the end of the season now and I haven’t ever been a lover of end of season games with nothing to play for – having said that, I think my nerves have had enough of the Great Escapes and relegation battles of recent years!
However, the players who are in the squad now have a responsibility to the fans to keep on performing because they’re paying their wages. As well as that, there will be lads who are trying to earn a new contract so they will have to keep playing until the final whistle on the last day.
This is a great Football Club to play for, from a players’ point of view. If I was a player I would want to be signing for Hartlepool United at the moment so that’s the motivation for our lads to keep on giving their all until the last kick.
You know that I am ever the optimist, but I do genuinely feel like we’re going places and next year could be our year. I don’t want to put pressure on anyone but the way things are going in terms of the stabilisation off the pitch hopefully gives us the platform to drive on.
We’re not hearing those stories of unpaid bills and winding-up orders anymore and that kind of negativity in the Boardroom quickly spreads to the pitch. Just look back at our most erratic periods of form over the years and it probably reflects what is going on behind the scenes.
Now we look as though we have a proper base for success again and I, for one, am already looking forward to the next chapter in the Club’s history.
Never Say Die!