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Walking With the Angels - The Brian Clough Story


Peacemaker7

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21st March 1935

Joseph Clough held his newborn son in his arms. He was an ugly bundle of flesh and bone, like all babies, and his father despaired of what would become of him. This wasnt his first child, and it wouldnt be his last, although he wished to god it would be. Another screaming mouth to feed. Joseph look long into the baby's eyes, wondering what possible hope there could be for this child, his child's future.

Would he be an astronaut and walk on the moon? A pilot of a great intercontinental aircraft? Would he be a bus driver, a train driver or a dustman? No-one knew, and no-one really cared. In the great scheme of things, what possible difference did the life of one person make.

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21st March 1935

Joseph Clough held his newborn son in his arms. He was an ugly bundle of flesh and bone, like all babies, and his father despaired of what would become of him. This wasnt his first child, and it wouldnt be his last, although he wished to god it would be. Another screaming mouth to feed. Joseph look long into the baby's eyes, wondering what possible hope there could be for this child, his child's future.

Would he be an astronaut and walk on the moon? A pilot of a great intercontinental aircraft? Would he be a bus driver, a train driver or a dustman? No-one knew, and no-one really cared. In the great scheme of things, what possible difference did the life of one person make.

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20th September 2004

The light was fading as consciousness was lost, and very soon the footballing world would be mourning the loss of a legend. Brian Clough may well have been the greatest English manager of his generation, but to the people gathered round his death bed, he was much much more than a mere sporting personality, and the tears that were shed here were far more personal than those that would be shed around the world.

The light, which had faded to darkness, slowly came into view again, and Clough could feel himself rising, floating above his body. His family, the people he had loved were all gathered there weeping. He wanted to reach out to them, to comfort them, but he could not. He was no longer of this world, his time had come to depart and go where the living could not tread.

He'd had a good, successful life. He could have no complaints as he once more faded from conscious reality in the place that is oblivion. Brian Clough, legendary footballing genious, was gone forever from the physical realm. Unlike most people who died in the world, Clough would never be forgotten.

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The After Life

But look hereClough was almost screaming, I dont even believe in God. I dont want to go to Heaven, I dont want to go to Hell. I want to not exist. Thats the way it is, the way it should be. Anything else is just damn stupid

Moses, who was on gate duty that week, what with St Peter being away on holiday, sighed again. Parting the red sea had been much easier, and less hassle than explaining things. It wasnt always like this, most of the dead just accepted it, but there were always one or two who put up a struggle.

Now, now Brian. The very fact you're here must surely prove that there is an after life, and that this is where you are supposed to be. There's no point in arguing.

Cloughie, still mumbling and muttering, reluctantly followed Moses to a nice little cloud and sat down beside his Harp.

You'll like it here Moses assured him and hurriedly left. He wouldnt have to see that soul ever again, and his stint here would be over tomorrow and he could get back to the partying.

Clough though did not like it here. If this was Heaven, then he wished he had gone to Hell. It was draughty here, the TV only had one channel, on which God made his pronouncements all the time, and his Harp didnt work. Clough had been outspoken whilst alive, and he wasnt going to sit here quietly forever and take it. And he didnt.

The wheels of motion in eternity do, by their very nature turn slowly. Clough moaned to everyone and everything he met. His moaning met with some success. He was given a new Harp, a better cloud to live on, a set of wings. But despite this he still found something to moan about. Eventually, after three millenia, his moaning cut through all the red tape and he was finally granted an interview with God.

Now wook hewe God said, Make it quick, I havent got awl day to waste with twivial compwaints you know. I have a univewse to ignowe.

I frankly dont give a damn what you're doing. Clough faced up to the creator of the universe. I dont like it here, and I dont want to be here. If I have to be dead, fair enough, but I dont want to exist anymore. You're god, you can make me dissapear.

Its simpwy not possible[/b] God informed him.

But you're God, you're almighty, you can do anything

That isnt weally twue God picked up a small silver box, and took a pinch of snuff. Even I am wimited by the was of physics you know. Once I have cweated a cweatuwe, I cannot uncweate them. Now, be off with you, I have much wowk to do.

But Clough didnt leave the presence of the Almighty. He waited and waited, until finally God said, Awe you stiwl hewe? I thought I towld you to weave? You awe becoming fwightfully annowying you know.

I'm not leaving till you fulfil my wequest. ernm request. Clough said stubbornly.

This is most tiwesome. Vewy well. I cannot meet youw wequest, but I will fow now send you back to Eawth. I weally an too tiwed to bothew.

And in a flash Brian Clough found himself back in a room he knew. But it wasnt quite where he might have expected.........

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Hartlepool

This was an office he knew. Sure it looked different, a fresh coat of paint, a new desk but this was where his managerial career had begun all those years ago. He was back at where he had begun. Yet somehow, this wasnt what he had expected. If he had expected anything, it was to cease existing. If not that, then to be brought back as himself, his weak and feeble body lying in hospital until he accepted the 'wisdom' of God.

Yet he was here. He was still, and this was what amazed him, 69 years old. But his body felt perfect. At least as perfect as it had for as long as he could remember. Medical tests later confirmed that he had the physique of a 25 year old, although his mind, his appearance was still that of 69.

The media had been amazed, not just at his recovery from illness, but at the very fact that he had gone back into football management. Clough, never one to be silenced, had felt confused and dazed, but if this was Gods idea of a joke, it was going to backfire. Brian Clough was not going to be the butt of anyone's jokes. If this was what it was going to be, then so be it. Clough would simply get on with the only thing he knew. Being successful.

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The Squad 2004-2005

If there was one thing Clough wasnt known for, it was subtlety. Although the Hartlepool squad was fairly small, nevertheless it was clear that some of these players were simply not good enough. Twelve players were called into Clough's office and told quite simply, You're all sh-it. Bugger off

Also on the way out were Darren Craddock to Hearts for £20,000 and Andy Jordan to Gateshead for £3,000. Joel Kitamirike, Simon Downer, Tom Williamson and Matthew Turner all came in on frees, whilst £3,000 was spent to bring Nottingham Forest reserve keeper Barry Roche to the club. The squad remained small, but Clough remained confident he could still perform miracles.

The Squad

Goalkeepers

Barry Roche (22) Ireland £3,000 signing from Nottm Forest, he becomes the number one choice between the sticks. Will never be a brilliant keeper, but should do for the time being.

Jim Provett (21) England He's not very good, but he's all we have.

Dimitrios Konstantopoulos (25) Greece Poor. Thats the best you can say about a player few people will be having on the back of their shirts.

Defence

Michael Barron (29) England He's not very good, is he?

Jack Ross (28) Scotland He's also not very good.

Hugh Roberston (29) Scotland Decent enough left back.

John Brackstone (19) England One of the youngsters who escaped the 'cull'. Doesnt mean hes any use though.

Joel Kitamirike (20) England Former Chelsea player, picked up on a free.

Simon Downer (22) England Just because we signed him doesnt mean he's any use.

Michael Nelson (21) England Could be decent. Probably wont be.

Mark Tinkler (29) England Actually isnt too bad a player.

Daniel Fox (18) England The best of the kids, he actually does seem to be a half decent player.

Gavin Strachan (25) Scotland With those ears, you'd think he'd be able to fly.

Matthew Turner (22) England Another signing. Another poor player.

Matty Robson (19) England Not very good really.

Richie Humphreys (26) England Average at best.

Darrell Clarke (26) England Pretty crap tbh.

Tom Williamson (19) England Could be decent.

Forwards

Adam Boyd (22) England Isnt very good.

Joel Porter (25) England Worse than Boyd.

Eifion Williams (26) Wales Debatable.

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July/August 2004

Clough didnt have long to wait to get stuck into his first match, a preseason friendly at Orient. Adam Boyd grabbed the only goal, and Daniel Fox put in an outstanding performance and there was a lot of reason to be pleased. Of course, it was early days, and draws with Partick and Ipswich were followed by 1-0 loss to Cambridge which if nothing else showed that the side was still needing a lot of work done to it. The final warm up game was a nice and easy 5-0 triumph over Hyde, and then it was on to the real thing.

A run of draws against Swindon, Luton and Blackpool was finally ended with a 2-0 defeat in Milton Keynes, and the side just didnt seem to be clicking. The League Cup 1st round at home to Tranmere finally provided Clough with his first competitive win back in charge, but the last game of August saw yet another draw, at home to Stockport, and things were not quite looking as they might have done. People were starting to wonder if Clough was not simply now too old to be successful....

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September/October 2004

Struggling to get results on the pitch, the transfer market seemed the obvious place to go. Wigan reserve midfielder Mike Flynn and Plymouth reserve midfielder Steve Adams were both brought in for £6000 each. Mozambique striker To will arrive in January from Jomo Cosmos for a £5000 fee after being granted a work permit.

On the pitch though, things were still not going quite as Clough would have wanted as September began with a goalless draw at Peterborough, the 8th draw in 10 league matches. At home to Walsall the draws were finally turned into a win in a dramatic match. Daniel Fox missed a 3rd minute penalty before opening the scoring on twenty three minutes, and in the second half a player from either side was red carded. Richie Humphrey's added a second in injury time and the win was secured.

In the League Cup, Stoke City proved to be too strong as they overwhelmed us 3-1 and that was that competition over and done with for this season. Another draw, 0-0, followed at home to Brentford, before a pretty poor 2-1 loss at Morecambe in the LDV trophy. More draws followed with Port Vale and then Barnsley, before finally things seemed to click in a great 3-0 win over Bournemouth, with goals from Williams, Strachan and Flynn.

Thoughts of the corner being turned though were soon dispelled as the month ended with draws against Chesterfield and Colchester. The team end October in a decent enough 12th place, but it could be a whole lot better and you can guarantee Clough will not be happy with so many draws.

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

| Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 1st | | Oldham | | 13 | 10 | 2 | 1 | 20 | 2 | +18 | 32 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 2nd | | Bristol C | | 13 | 9 | 3 | 1 | 21 | 10 | +11 | 30 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 3rd | | Hull | | 13 | 9 | 2 | 2 | 23 | 9 | +14 | 29 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 4th | | Sheff Wed | | 13 | 7 | 3 | 3 | 22 | 12 | +10 | 24 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 5th | | Bradford City | | 13 | 8 | 0 | 5 | 19 | 20 | -1 | 24 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 6th | | Walsall | | 13 | 7 | 2 | 4 | 17 | 15 | +2 | 23 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 7th | | Brentford | | 13 | 6 | 4 | 3 | 23 | 18 | +5 | 22 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 8th | | Blackpool | | 13 | 5 | 5 | 3 | 26 | 18 | +8 | 20 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 9th | | Colchester | | 13 | 5 | 3 | 5 | 23 | 19 | +4 | 18 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 10th | | Luton | | 13 | 4 | 6 | 3 | 16 | 12 | +4 | 18 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 11th | | Torquay | | 13 | 4 | 6 | 3 | 21 | 18 | +3 | 18 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 12th | | Hartlepool | | 13 | 2 | 10 | 1 | 11 | 8 | +3 | 16 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 13th | | Swindon | | 13 | 4 | 4 | 5 | 16 | 15 | +1 | 16 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 14th | | MK Dons | | 13 | 4 | 4 | 5 | 17 | 18 | -1 | 16 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 15th | | Tranmere | | 13 | 5 | 1 | 7 | 13 | 17 | -4 | 16 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 16th | | Chesterfield | | 13 | 4 | 3 | 6 | 16 | 21 | -5 | 15 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 17th | | Doncaster | | 13 | 4 | 2 | 7 | 18 | 20 | -2 | 14 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 18th | | Port Vale | | 13 | 3 | 4 | 6 | 13 | 18 | -5 | 13 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 19th | | Stockport | | 13 | 3 | 3 | 7 | 14 | 23 | -9 | 12 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 20th | | Huddersfield | | 13 | 3 | 3 | 7 | 10 | 21 | -11 | 12 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 21st | | Bournemouth | | 13 | 3 | 2 | 8 | 13 | 20 | -7 | 11 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 22nd | | Wrexham | | 13 | 3 | 1 | 9 | 17 | 29 | -12 | 10 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 23rd | | Peterborough | | 13 | 1 | 6 | 6 | 5 | 16 | -11 | 9 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 24th | | Barnsley | | 13 | 2 | 3 | 8 | 9 | 24 | -15 | 9 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| | | | | | | | | | | | |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

</pre>

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November/December 2004

But things did not get any better. November started with a 2-0 loss at Doncastor, followed by a rather surprising draw at home to Oldham. Ok so it wasnt really all that surprising to be honest. With a trip to Dagenham in the 1st round of the FA Cup, surely this was a match Hartlepool could win, but after 50 minutes it was 1-1 and you could almost feel the frustrations of the away support. Eifion Williams grabbed what turned out to be the winner, and Sheffield Wedensday would be the next opponents.

A draw with Huddersfield was followed by losses to Torquay and Bristol City and it was becoming more and more clear that Hartlepool were not going to get promoted icon_rolleyes.gif And yet at home to Wednesday in the cup, it was almost like watching a different team as goals from Boyd, Flynn and Porter saw Hartlepool ease to a 3-1 win, and 3rd round trip to Leicester would be their reward.

Back in the League, yet another draw at Tranmere was followed by a very good win away to Bradford City, but once more this was to prove a false dawn as the year ended with draws against Sheffield Wednesday and Luton. Lying 19th in the table, things could surely only get better for the ageing Clough.

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January/February2005

Juanuary arrived and so did Tó, or to give him his full name, Helton Samo Cuhna. The 24 year old has 14 caps for Mazambique and big things are expeced from him. With things looking none to hot in the league, Clough felt the need to turn to the transfer market once more. First though, he would need to sell and Richie Humphreys was offloaded to Coventry for £130,000 while Matthew Turner, who only arrived in the summer went to Brighton for £50,000.

In the way came 21 year old left back Alan Morgan from Blackburn (£6k), 24 year old midfielder Jon Paul McGovern from Sheffield Wednesday (£10k), 24 year old Northern Ireland International forward Andy Smith from Preston (£12k), who claimed that he would soon teach the Hartlepool fans a thing or two about football. Matthew Clarke, a 24 year old central defender arrived from Darlington for £9k, and finally Cypriot internation midfielder Marinos Satsias from APOEL for £16k.

Only Tó made his debut in the new years game against Luton, and an impressive one it was as he fired in a hattrick in a 3-1 win, and it seemed the Hartlepool support had a new hero. Adam Boyd who had been given the chance of a run thanks to Clough switching to two strikers, hit the only goal of a 1-1 draw away at Hull. Next up was the FA Cup Third round match away to Championship leaders Leicester city. Just under 27,000 provided gate reciepts of around £300k which was very welcome, and Tó provided the only goal as Hartlepool caused a famous upset and would now be at home to Scunthorpe in round 4.

Draws over MK Dons and Blackpool were the order of the day, before a quite remarkable FA Cup tie. By the hour mark, Hartlepool had raced to a 3-1 lead and things were looking rosey before a Matthew Clarke own goal let Scunthorpe back in, and eight minutes later, as Clough shouted in frustration, the tie was level. Just three minutes later though, Clarke made amends for his error as he scored what turned out to be the winner, and a trip to Elland Road, Leeds was the reward.

The new signings were certainly looking to make a difference, as 2-0 wins were achieved over Walsall and Peterborough, with Tó gaining a brace in the later match. A 2-2 draw at home to Port Vale was followed by two excellent 4-0 wins on the road at Stockport and Brentford and you could almost hear the sighs of relief around the town as the threat of relegation started to ease.

At home to Barnsley, the run was now an incredible 15 matches unbeaten in all competitions. It had to end eventually, and so it did as Barnsley won out 2-0. In Leeds, despite a brave effort, a 23rd minute seth Johnson goal was enough to to put Hartlepool out, but another 27,000 crowd brought in around another £300k and so in financial terms at least the run had been a huge success.

February ended with 2-0 wins over Chesterfield and Colchester that saw Clough's revamped side rise to 11th in the table, and indeed only five points off the play-offs. It seemed the old Clough magic was finally starting to work.......

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

| Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 1st | | Sheff Wed | | 36 | 21 | 9 | 6 | 73 | 35 | +38 | 72 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 2nd | | Hull | | 36 | 19 | 12 | 5 | 57 | 26 | +31 | 69 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 3rd | | Luton | | 36 | 16 | 14 | 6 | 58 | 37 | +21 | 62 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 4th | | Bristol C | | 36 | 17 | 8 | 11 | 55 | 52 | +3 | 59 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 5th | | Oldham | | 35 | 15 | 13 | 7 | 43 | 24 | +19 | 58 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 6th | | Tranmere | | 34 | 16 | 6 | 12 | 44 | 36 | +8 | 54 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 7th | | Torquay | | 36 | 13 | 14 | 9 | 56 | 55 | +1 | 53 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 8th | | Port Vale | | 36 | 13 | 12 | 11 | 48 | 46 | +2 | 51 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 9th | | Doncaster | | 36 | 13 | 11 | 12 | 50 | 43 | +7 | 50 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 10th | | Chesterfield | | 36 | 13 | 11 | 12 | 45 | 48 | -3 | 50 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 11th | | Hartlepool | | 35 | 10 | 19 | 6 | 44 | 29 | +15 | 49 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 12th | | Blackpool | | 36 | 11 | 16 | 9 | 56 | 43 | +13 | 49 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 13th | | Brentford | | 36 | 13 | 10 | 13 | 52 | 58 | -6 | 49 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 14th | | Swindon | | 35 | 12 | 11 | 12 | 54 | 51 | +3 | 47 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 15th | | Stockport | | 36 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 46 | 52 | -6 | 45 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 16th | | Walsall | | 36 | 12 | 9 | 15 | 40 | 50 | -10 | 45 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 17th | | Colchester | | 36 | 11 | 10 | 15 | 52 | 54 | -2 | 43 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 18th | | Bradford City | | 36 | 12 | 6 | 18 | 47 | 61 | -14 | 42 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 19th | | MK Dons | | 36 | 9 | 11 | 16 | 37 | 50 | -13 | 38 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 20th | | Peterborough | | 36 | 8 | 14 | 14 | 30 | 45 | -15 | 38 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 21st | | Huddersfield | | 36 | 9 | 10 | 17 | 40 | 60 | -20 | 37 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 22nd | | Wrexham | | 36 | 9 | 8 | 19 | 40 | 68 | -28 | 35 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 23rd | | Barnsley | | 36 | 8 | 10 | 18 | 32 | 52 | -20 | 34 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 24th | | Bournemouth | | 35 | 5 | 10 | 20 | 31 | 55 | -24 | 25 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| | | | | | | | | | | | |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

</pre>

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March/April 2005

Wins over Bournemouth and Doncaster pushed Hartlepool into the brink of the play offs, which in reality was quite a remarkable come back. Too many draws though was still a problem as four of the next five matches ended level, and only a loss to Bristol City interupted the flow. With matches running out, the play off hopes although still alive, were fading again.

A 1-0 win over fellow play-off chasers Tranmere re-kindled the Hartlepool supporters hopes, and Bradford City were seen off by 2-1. But there was bad news for the fans, who had seen their side just edge into 6th place ahead of Blackpool. Their last two matches were against the top 2 teams, Sheffield Wednesday away, and Champions Hull City at home. After a goalless first half, Andy Smith, who had been pretty dire so far, sent Hartlepool into a 66th minute lead in Sheffield, and an own goal from Graeme Lee in injury time assured them of a very vital win. With Blackpool only drawing, it would just take a draw at home to Hull to clinch that 6th spot. Not surprisingly, a draw it was as the match ended goalless.

Hartlepool's 24th draw of the season had seen them clinch what at one point had looked like a quite impossible play off place and now they stood just three games away from promotion.

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

| Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 1st | C | Hull | | 46 | 26 | 14 | 6 | 78 | 33 | +45 | 92 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 2nd | P | Sheff Wed | | 46 | 26 | 11 | 9 | 88 | 47 | +41 | 89 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 3rd | Pl | Luton | | 46 | 19 | 20 | 7 | 72 | 48 | +24 | 77 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 4th | Pl | Bristol C | | 46 | 22 | 8 | 16 | 68 | 67 | +1 | 74 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 5th | Pl | Tranmere | | 46 | 22 | 7 | 17 | 66 | 49 | +17 | 73 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 6th | Pl | Hartlepool | | 46 | 15 | 24 | 7 | 58 | 36 | +22 | 69 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 7th | | Blackpool | | 46 | 16 | 20 | 10 | 72 | 52 | +20 | 68 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 8th | | Swindon | | 46 | 18 | 13 | 15 | 73 | 61 | +12 | 67 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 9th | | Chesterfield | | 46 | 18 | 13 | 15 | 58 | 59 | -1 | 67 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 10th | | Oldham | | 46 | 16 | 18 | 12 | 48 | 37 | +11 | 66 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 11th | | Doncaster | | 46 | 16 | 14 | 16 | 61 | 56 | +5 | 62 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 12th | | Stockport | | 46 | 15 | 15 | 16 | 59 | 64 | -5 | 60 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 13th | | Brentford | | 46 | 15 | 14 | 17 | 66 | 79 | -13 | 59 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 14th | | Barnsley | | 46 | 15 | 13 | 18 | 54 | 58 | -4 | 58 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 15th | | Torquay | | 46 | 14 | 16 | 16 | 68 | 78 | -10 | 58 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 16th | | Bradford City | | 46 | 17 | 7 | 22 | 64 | 75 | -11 | 58 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 17th | | Colchester | | 46 | 15 | 12 | 19 | 67 | 69 | -2 | 57 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 18th | | Port Vale | | 46 | 14 | 13 | 19 | 56 | 65 | -9 | 55 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 19th | | MK Dons | | 46 | 13 | 13 | 20 | 48 | 64 | -16 | 52 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 20th | | Walsall | | 46 | 13 | 12 | 21 | 48 | 67 | -19 | 51 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 21st | R | Peterborough | | 46 | 12 | 14 | 20 | 42 | 62 | -20 | 50 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 22nd | R | Huddersfield | | 46 | 11 | 14 | 21 | 52 | 78 | -26 | 47 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 23rd | R | Wrexham | | 46 | 11 | 11 | 24 | 51 | 85 | -34 | 44 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 24th | R | Bournemouth | | 46 | 9 | 12 | 25 | 44 | 72 | -28 | 39 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| | | | | | | | | | | | |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

</pre>

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May/June 2005

The Semi Final of the League One Play offs would see us play Luton, the side Tó had made his debut against. He hasd hit a hattrick in that match, and incredibly, this time he was to better that as he scored four. It seems Tó likes playing against Luton. Further goals from Strachan and Flynn gave Hartlepool an amazing 6-1 1st leg win, which Clough said was, 'Not too bad really'. A 1-0 loss in Luton wasnt of course enough for them, and in the final Hartlepool's opponents would be Bristol City.

City had won both the meetings in the League, but in Cardiff in front of 40,000 people it was a whole different ball game. A Mickey Bell own goal after just four minutes seem to deflate the Bristol side as a brace from Tó and another from Flynn sent Hartlepool in at the break 4-0 up. The second half was a non event, and even though Barry Roche threw the ball into the net with two minutes to play - his second own goal of the season - it was way to late and after flirting with relegation, Hartlepool had ended up being promoted. Arent the play offs a great idea!

With £1M to spend, thanks in the main to the great FA Cup run, Clough will no doubt strengthen a squad that having struggled for so long, will surely find the higher division a bridge way too far. Of course, thats always assuming Clough stays and doesnt bugger off to, oh lets see, Derby icon_wink.gif

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The Squad 2005-2006

During the summer there were a few changes to the squad line up, mainly on the way in. Jim Provett had left in March to Hull for £14,000, and in the summer Konstantopoulos, Darrell Clarke and Tinkler had all been allowed to leave, their contracts having expired and not being good enough to be granted a new one. Michael Barron was sold to Scunthorpe for £3000.

Goalkeepers

Barry Roche (23) had had a decent enough season, but he would have to fight for his place with the arrival in the summer of 24 year old Cypriot keeper Constantinos Koumas from APOEL for £150,000. Twenty six year old Swede, Ola Tidman had arrived from Sheffield Wednesday in March as a replacement for Provett, but has yet to make his debut.

Defence

The right back slot was filled adequately by Joel Kitamirike, with Jack Ross proving a reasonably decent back up along with the departed Barron. During the summer, 28 year old Mark McGregor was brought in from Blackpool for £50,000 to add some depth.

Hugh Robertson had held the left back spot for most of the season, and had been a key figure in the promotion push. Alan Morgan, signed in January and John Brackstone had back up him adequately when needed and no new signings were deemed nessecary for this position.

The centre of the defence had perhaps been one of the weaker areas of the team. Matthew Clarke had done fairly well, but Simon Downer, Chris Westwood and Michael Nelson had seemed to struggle at times. Mark McGregor could of course now play here, and the signing of 31 year old Ian Pearce for £24,000 from Fulham was sure to add the needed experience that would hopefully help keep the club up.

Midfield

The role in front of the back four was filled in well by both Cypriot Marinos Satias and Steven Adams depending on who was fit and both players were deemed good enough for the coming season.

Further forward, youngster Daniel Fox had done exceptionally well, and Mike Flynn had contrinuted 9 goals. Gavin Strachan had been adequate, but Tom Williamson's appearances had been few and far between. In the summer three new midfielders arrived in the shape of Cypriot duo [/b] Kyriakos Koursaros[/b] (26) from AEL for £100k, and Giorgos Georgiou (27) from Paphos for £75k, along with Andora's Richard Imbernon Rios (30) for a fee of £18,000 from Sant Julia.

Jon Paul McGovern and Matty Robson no longer seemed to fit the style Clough wanted and they could leave if bids came in.

Forwards

Mozambiquean Tó had proven a revelation up front, and its true that his 22 goals from 26 games went a long way to securing the promotion. Neither Adam Boyd with 7 goals from 27 matches nor Andy Smith with four goals from 16 matches had proven decent partners for Tó and so 21 year old Spaniard Cristian was brought in from Barcelona for £170,000. He seemed a player who would delight the fans and they couldnt wait to see how he went beside To.

Australian Joel Porter remains at the club, but he is another who simply isnt good enough and will play little part in Clough's plans.

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Yeah, I've even got an Aussie icon_wink.gif

The Cypriots must be overrated tbh, and the Andorran, well he does actually look a decent player but I couldnt resist the novelty value icon_biggrin.gif

For the record, 13 English, 5 Scots, 4 Cypriots, and 1 each from Andorra, Australia, Spain, Mozambique, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Sweden and Wales.

Quite a wee selection!

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July/August 2005

July saw four preseason challenge games line up against mixed opposition. Premiership Birmingham were first up and a decent peformance saw the match end in a 1-1 draw, Daniel Fox getting the Hartlepool goal. New signing Cristian showed his promise with the only goal in a 1-0 win at League Two side Scunthorpe, and then another draw at home to Premiership opposition in the shape of Newcastle, a match that ended goalless. Tó and Cristian were both on target in the final match 3-0 win over League One side Coventry and another new signing, Giorgos Georgiou was also on target. The preseason had certainly been successful and the Hartlepool support had a lot more hope about the season ahead now.

Queens Park Rangers were the first side to come to Victoria Park as the Championship got underway, and goals from Tó and Rios saw Clough's side get the season off to a flying start. Away at Reading, a geat match in which Tó added another two goals, Mike Flynn was also on target in a hard fought 3-2 win for Hartlepool. At home to West Ham, and it was inevitable that the side would draw eventually, and this was to be it. Giorgious Georgiou got his first competitive goal in a decent enough 1-1 draw.

In Brighton, Tó added another brace as the bigger clubs started to take notice and bids of £1.5M were being rejected by Clough as not being enough. Cristian was also on target as he started to settle, and the 3-0 win was a warning to the rest of the division that Hartlepool were going to be a team to be reckoned with. Cristian was to get the only goal in a 1-0 win at Swindon in the League Cup 1st round, a match which went to extra time.

Another draw, at home to Stoke with Tó on target once more, was followed by the first defeat of the season at Sunderland. Cristian was the Hartlepool scorer in a 2-1 defeat, and at the end of August Clough's side lie an excellent 7th with six games played. Of course there is still a long way to go, but the signs are good that Hartlepool might not after all be fighing a relegation battle.

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by LeedsUnitedFan2:

Just a question, how did you die on Sept 20, 2004 and re-appear in the manager's office some 2 months earlier? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Ah, someone who doesn't know about The Green Machineâ„¢

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<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by LeedsUnitedFan2:

Just a question, how did you die on Sept 20, 2004 and re-appear in the manager's office some 2 months earlier? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Its elemental hypo-technical spatial-chronological physics.

And what Flips said icon_wink.gif

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September/October 2005

Having made a decent enough start, it was important for Clough's ego, and his reputation, to keep it going. He had no intentions of staying at Hartlepool until he died again. September though wasnt too start to well with a 0-0 draw at home to Gillingham being followed by a 2-1 loss Sheffield United. Those results meant it was now four games since Clough had seen his Hartlepool side win.

The run though ended with an excellent League Cup 2nd round triumph at Premiership West Brom. Cristian the hero with a brace in a hard fought 2-1 win. Yet the win in the Cup was soon forgotten on the back of four successive defeats to Blackburn, Plymouth, Hull and Preston and things were starting to look bleak at the side slipped down to towards the relegation zone.

A superb 4-0 win over Derby, with a Tó hattrick was followed by another Premiership scalp in the League Cup as Charlton were seen off by 2-1, but the month was to end in more despair with a 4-2 loss at Fulham. With Joe Kinnear moving to Charlton, and so leaving the Nottm Forest job vacant, Clough immediately sent off his application and awaits a reply.

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

| Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 1st | | Fulham | | 15 | 12 | 1 | 2 | 34 | 12 | +22 | 37 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 2nd | | Blackburn | | 15 | 11 | 2 | 2 | 27 | 9 | +18 | 35 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 3rd | | West Ham | | 15 | 9 | 3 | 3 | 29 | 15 | +14 | 30 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 4th | | Sheff Utd | | 15 | 7 | 6 | 2 | 19 | 8 | +11 | 27 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 5th | | Ipswich | | 15 | 7 | 4 | 4 | 28 | 23 | +5 | 25 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 6th | | Hull | | 15 | 5 | 7 | 3 | 19 | 15 | +4 | 22 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 7th | | Stoke | | 15 | 5 | 7 | 3 | 15 | 14 | +1 | 22 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 8th | | Gillingham | | 15 | 5 | 6 | 4 | 19 | 17 | +2 | 21 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 9th | | Burnley | | 15 | 5 | 6 | 4 | 17 | 16 | +1 | 21 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 10th | | Q.P.R. | | 15 | 5 | 6 | 4 | 16 | 17 | -1 | 21 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 11th | | Plymouth | | 15 | 6 | 3 | 6 | 18 | 22 | -4 | 21 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 12th | | Reading | | 15 | 5 | 5 | 5 | 19 | 18 | +1 | 20 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 13th | | Watford | | 15 | 5 | 5 | 5 | 18 | 21 | -3 | 20 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 14th | | Portsmouth | | 15 | 5 | 4 | 6 | 19 | 19 | 0 | 19 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 15th | | Rotherham | | 15 | 5 | 4 | 6 | 15 | 16 | -1 | 19 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 16th | | Leeds | | 15 | 4 | 6 | 5 | 14 | 13 | +1 | 18 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 17th | | Nottm Forest | | 15 | 4 | 4 | 7 | 19 | 25 | -6 | 16 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 18th | | Hartlepool | | 15 | 4 | 3 | 8 | 21 | 21 | 0 | 15 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 19th | | Derby | | 15 | 3 | 6 | 6 | 16 | 22 | -6 | 15 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 20th | | Sheff Wed | | 15 | 3 | 5 | 7 | 15 | 21 | -6 | 14 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 21st | | Sunderland | | 15 | 3 | 5 | 7 | 16 | 29 | -13 | 14 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 22nd | | Brighton | | 15 | 3 | 3 | 9 | 17 | 28 | -11 | 12 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 23rd | | Crewe | | 15 | 1 | 7 | 7 | 16 | 30 | -14 | 10 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 24th | | Preston | | 15 | 1 | 6 | 8 | 15 | 30 | -15 | 9 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| | | | | | | | | | | | |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

</pre>

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November/December 2005

The Nottm Forest board didnt want Clough back. It seems they had read the Challenge rules and expected him to go down the proper road. Morons.

The up and downs continued, defeat at Crewe by 2-1, a good 1-0 away win over Watford and then another loss to Fulham, this time in the League Cup 4th round to end that run. Another defeat, ironicallay enough at Nottingham, and it was reallty becoming a yo-yo season. At least though the defeats were narrow and so it seemed the squad wasnt that far away from making a push for the Premiership.

An excellent 1-0 win at Rotherham, was followed by a 3-0 drubbing of Sheffield Wednesday and then 1-0 win over Burnley. Pattern that seemed to be emerging was that when Tó was in the mood we would win, when he wasnt or was injured, we would lose. His sixteen goals in 18 league games kind of told the story on its own.

A no score draw with Portsmouth was followed by a 2-0 win over QPR that would prove to be the last win of 2005 for Hartlepool. Three sucessive defeats to end the season, including a 3-0 drubbing at Leeds after they too had turned down Clough's advances, and as we enter the new year the team lie in a reasonable 13th place. The season can still go either way really.

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January/February 2006

Leeds became vacant near the start of January, as their poor form saw the board lose patience and of course Clough applied, but recieved another knockback. And then, near the middle of February, Bolton moved to appoint George Burley as manager, and the Derby job became available. Clough once more sent off his CV but once more he was unsuccessful. He would have to wait at Hartlepool for a while longer it seemed.

There was a bit of activity on the transfer market, as Wolves made bid worth £2.5M for Tó in mid January, which was reluctantly accepted and the player moved on. A few weeks later in early February, Blackburn made a £750k bid for Cristian and he too was off to pastures new. Those departures left the side short handed in attacking options and it was to Cyprus that Clough turned once more. 23 year old Giorgios Nicolaou arrived from Omonia for an £825k fee, whilst 22 year old Stathis Aloneftis came in also from Omonia for a slightly higher fee of £1M. The Hartlepool support, heartbroken at seeing their strikeforce depart, were not overjoyed at their replacements.

The year started on the pitch as the old one had ended, with a defeat. This time, in London to West Ham by 2-1. And it was to London the side returned for their FA Cup tie with Premiership leaders Arsenal. This would be Tó's last match as Hartlepool player before his move to Wolves and with just fourteen minutes gone he stunned the Highbury crowd as he sent his side into an early lead. Arsenal were struggling to find their feer, and by half time Hartlepool were still ahead. Order was finally restored though when Edu pulled the home side level on 54 minutes, but the expected Arsenal goal rush never came. Sixteen minutes from time, as the match looked to be heading to a replay, the Tó appeared to be held back in the Arsenal box and the referee immediately pointed to the spot. It was Tó himself who stepped up to blast the ball home and Hartlepool had pulled of the result of the tournament. Well, nearly. Walsall had gone to Old Trafford and beaten Manchester United.

The draw for the Fourth round would take Clough's side back to Premiership opposition in the shape of Bolton, and ironically enough this would Burley's first match in charge. Before that though, a 1-1 draw was the order of the day at home to Brighton, and then it was off to Bolton. There was to be no fairly tale today though as the Premiership side ran out 3-1 winners.

Defeats to Stoke and Sunderland were followed by goalless draws with Gillingham and Sheffield United. As the side was slipping and sliding away, Clough decided to switch back to the 4-3-2-1 that hasdnt been overly successful last season, and new signing Aloneftis grabbed his first goal in a very good 1-0 win at 3rd placed Blackburn. The win seemed to inspire Clough's men, and Andy Smith in particular was enjoying finally getting a run in the side as he hit a brace in the 4-0 win over Preston and another one in the 3-1 win over Plymouth.

With 12 matches left to play, Hartlepool find themselves in 13th place, twelve points adrift of a play-off spot and eleven points clear of relegation. A safe mid table spot looks a decent bet now.

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March/April/May 2006

Although was still an outside chance of another late surge to the play off, it simply wasnt going to happen. March started with a 1-0 loss at Hull, and the results continued to be mixed. We didnt put any sort of run together as we would win or lose a couple then lose or win a couple with some draws thrown in, and our final placing was to be a highly respectable 12th.

There was a little bit of transfer activity as keeper Koumas was stolen by Sheffield Wednesday for his minimum fee release clause of £170k and Alan Morgan went to Hull for £120k. Former Rangers keeper Graeme Smith, who had been signed in December from Southend would now get his chance and Liam Chilvers, who isnt very good came in from Colchester as a panick buy to cover left back. With Derby being relegated, it remains to be seen if they will sack their new man and come to their senses and appoint Clough.

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

| Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 1st | C | Fulham | | 46 | 33 | 7 | 6 | 95 | 35 | +60 | 106 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 2nd | P | West Ham | | 46 | 29 | 5 | 12 | 87 | 43 | +44 | 92 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 3rd | Pl | Reading | | 46 | 23 | 15 | 8 | 77 | 42 | +35 | 84 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 4th | Pl | Stoke | | 46 | 22 | 17 | 7 | 61 | 40 | +21 | 83 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 5th | Pl | Blackburn | | 46 | 21 | 10 | 15 | 68 | 56 | +12 | 73 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 6th | Pl | Ipswich | | 46 | 20 | 12 | 14 | 76 | 65 | +11 | 72 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 7th | | Portsmouth | | 46 | 20 | 12 | 14 | 67 | 58 | +9 | 72 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 8th | | Q.P.R. | | 46 | 18 | 16 | 12 | 58 | 51 | +7 | 70 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 9th | | Leeds | | 46 | 18 | 13 | 15 | 58 | 48 | +10 | 67 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 10th | | Watford | | 46 | 18 | 10 | 18 | 69 | 64 | +5 | 64 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 11th | | Sheff Utd | | 46 | 17 | 13 | 16 | 53 | 51 | +2 | 64 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 12th | | Hartlepool | | 46 | 17 | 10 | 19 | 62 | 51 | +11 | 61 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 13th | | Rotherham | | 46 | 14 | 16 | 16 | 46 | 52 | -6 | 58 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 14th | | Hull | | 46 | 13 | 19 | 14 | 48 | 59 | -11 | 58 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 15th | | Nottm Forest | | 46 | 14 | 15 | 17 | 49 | 52 | -3 | 57 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 16th | | Plymouth | | 46 | 14 | 14 | 18 | 46 | 60 | -14 | 56 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 17th | | Burnley | | 46 | 11 | 18 | 17 | 53 | 67 | -14 | 51 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 18th | | Sunderland | | 46 | 13 | 11 | 22 | 46 | 75 | -29 | 50 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 19th | | Brighton | | 46 | 12 | 13 | 21 | 56 | 81 | -25 | 49 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 20th | | Gillingham | | 46 | 10 | 16 | 20 | 43 | 60 | -17 | 46 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 21st | | Sheff Wed | | 46 | 11 | 12 | 23 | 47 | 65 | -18 | 45 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 22nd | R | Crewe | | 46 | 10 | 13 | 23 | 55 | 80 | -25 | 43 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 23rd | R | Derby | | 46 | 8 | 15 | 23 | 48 | 80 | -32 | 39 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 24th | R | Preston | | 46 | 7 | 16 | 23 | 51 | 84 | -33 | 37 |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| | | | | | | | | | | | |

| -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

</pre>

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The Squad 2006-2007

More transfer activity in the summer as Clough looked to secure a squad that could gain the side promotion to the Premiership. With a decent transfer budget of £2.4M the ageing legend set about picking up out of contract and transfer listed bargains and was able to secure one or two exciting players.

Three players left the club as Giorgos Georgiou went to Millwall for £170k, Michael Nelson went to Doncaster for £35,000 and Adam Boyd departed to Coventry for £65,000.

The Keepers

Graeme Smith, 23 year old former Scots U-21 international had arrived quietly in December and towards the end of the season he was the first choice keeper. His place though will be under threat by the arrival of 21 year old Paul Harrison from Liverpool for a fee of £220,000. The youngster looks to be a great prospect, even if the Premiership club had transfer listed him. Irishman Barry Roche (24) also remains at the club as the third choice.

The Defensive Line

29 year old Mark McGregor did a decent enough job at right back last season, with 22 year old Joel Kitamirike proving an adequate back up. The arrival in the summer though of 24 year old Nothern Ireland international Chris Baird, picked up out of contract, put a lot of pressure on the other two and Baird is almost certain to start as first choice.

At left back, 31 year old Scot Hugh Robertson had another decent enough season, with late season signing Liam Chilvers (24) failing to get a look in. Clough though was always looking to improve this position and the arrival of 22 year old Adam Green at £400,000 from Fulham has gone down well with the Hartlepool squad.

The centre of defence is possibly the weakest area of the team. 32 year old Ian Pearce has been outstanding its true, but finding a partner was not easy. Chris Westwood (29), Matthew Clark (25) or Simon Downer (24), although competant enough players have failed to really stand out. The acquisitions of 20 year old Mark Jones from Charlton for £190k and 22 year old Portuguese U-21 international Nuno Morais from Chelsea for £130k should certainly improve this area of the team and both these players are also capable of playing in midfield if required.

The Middle of the Park

The midfield five, since Clough switched back to his 4-3-2-1 is possibly the strongest area of the side. Marinos Satsias (30) had an excellent season and most of the other midfielders could also say the same. Steve Adams (25), Daniel Fox (20), Kyriakos Koursaros (27), Gavin Strachan (27), Richard Imbernon Rios (31) the Hartlepool fans player of the year, Mike Flynn (25), and Tom Williamson (21) have all played well enough when selected, but even so Clough could no resist some of the players who became available to him in the summer.

Jonathan Greening (27), former England under 21 international arrived from West Brom for £800,000. Youngster Kieran Richardson (21) from Manchester United for £525,000. And the capture of the summer, 23 year old Rohan Rickets who had left Tottenham on a bosman. All three players are highly talented and the Hartlepool fans have been left drooling at the prospect.

Attacking People

With only one actual striking place, there is a fair competition. New signing, Scot Tom McManus (25), picked up on a free and Stathis Aloneftis (23) at least have the advantage of being able to play from deep in the midfield, although competition there being so fierce that isnt much of a comfort. Andy Smith (25) finally started to make a bit of an impression towards the end of last season, but Giorgos Nicolaou (24) has so far been a bit of a flop.

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July/August/September 2006

With the quality brought in over the summer, a lot was expected of the Hartlepool side. The preseason games would be an early indication of whether that expectation was valid, and there were mixed results. 0-0 draws with Nantes and Stockport, comfortable wins over Kingstonian and Southend. Not really a lot was revealed then from those matches.

The first couple of months of the season though were to go well, with ex Hibs man Tom McManus playing integral role and indeed he was to win the September Player of the Month. Along woth Kieran Richardson picking up the young player award also in September, it was the first such awards since Clough had taken over. Only two defeats in the League, at West Brom and Nottm Forest saw Hartlepool sit 3rd at the end of September with a game in hand.

The 3rd round of the League Cup was reached thanks to a penalty shoot put win over Leeds, Clough's men having come back from 2-0 down, and then an easy 4-1 triumph over Scunthorpe to set up a 3rd round meeting with Hull. Its been a good start, and if the form continues, the Premiership beckons.

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

| Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 1st | | West Brom | | 11 | 8 | 2 | 1 | 23 | 3 | +20 | 26 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 2nd | | Wolves | | 11 | 7 | 3 | 1 | 20 | 7 | +13 | 24 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 3rd | | Hartlepool | | 10 | 7 | 1 | 2 | 22 | 8 | +14 | 22 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 4th | | Q.P.R. | | 11 | 6 | 3 | 2 | 18 | 9 | +9 | 21 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 5th | | Hull | | 11 | 6 | 2 | 3 | 15 | 8 | +7 | 20 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 6th | | Sheff Wed | | 10 | 6 | 2 | 2 | 13 | 6 | +7 | 20 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 7th | | Portsmouth | | 11 | 6 | 2 | 3 | 17 | 12 | +5 | 20 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 8th | | Leeds | | 11 | 6 | 0 | 5 | 17 | 12 | +5 | 18 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 9th | | Sheff Utd | | 11 | 5 | 3 | 3 | 10 | 7 | +3 | 18 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 10th | | Blackburn | | 11 | 4 | 4 | 3 | 17 | 11 | +6 | 16 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 11th | | Plymouth | | 11 | 4 | 4 | 3 | 17 | 11 | +6 | 16 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 12th | | Stoke | | 11 | 4 | 4 | 3 | 13 | 14 | -1 | 16 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 13th | | Sunderland | | 11 | 4 | 4 | 3 | 10 | 11 | -1 | 16 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 14th | | Nottm Forest | | 11 | 4 | 2 | 5 | 17 | 15 | +2 | 14 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 15th | | Ipswich | | 11 | 4 | 2 | 5 | 15 | 20 | -5 | 14 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 16th | | Rotherham | | 11 | 3 | 3 | 5 | 9 | 15 | -6 | 12 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 17th | | Crystal Palace | | 11 | 3 | 2 | 6 | 8 | 14 | -6 | 11 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 18th | | Gillingham | | 11 | 3 | 2 | 6 | 10 | 21 | -11 | 11 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 19th | | Brighton | | 11 | 3 | 1 | 7 | 13 | 24 | -11 | 10 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 20th | | Watford | | 11 | 2 | 3 | 6 | 12 | 21 | -9 | 9 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 21st | | Millwall | | 11 | 1 | 5 | 5 | 13 | 21 | -8 | 8 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 22nd | | Cardiff | | 11 | 2 | 2 | 7 | 9 | 18 | -9 | 8 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 23rd | | Burnley | | 11 | 2 | 2 | 7 | 8 | 19 | -11 | 8 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 24th | | Port Vale | | 11 | 1 | 2 | 8 | 4 | 23 | -19 | 5 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| | | | | | | | | | | | |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

</pre>

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October/November/December 2006

The Nottingham Forest and Leeds United jobs again became vacant during this period, but once more neither club was interested in re-appointing Clough. The manager though was not overly unhappy as things were going reasonably well at Hartlepool and there was a good chance they could gain promotion. The League Cup though would not be coming to Victoria Park, after a 2-1 defeat in the 4th round as Premiership Fulham.

In the League, things were going well. Although there were the odd blips, defeats to QPR, Hull and table topping West Brom, these were more than offset by some spectacular wins. 5-0 triumphs over Port Vale and Plymouth, 5-1 over Sheffield Wednesday, 6-1 over Leeds and a couple of 4-1's. Tom McManus was continuing to do well, his 22 League goals so far already a new Hartlepool record. McManus had also added the December player of the month to his earleir September award, and Steve Adams had picked up the same award in November.

With just over half the league season gone, Hartlepool sit in an excellent 2nd place. Although the Championship title looks to be going to West Brom, the other automatic promotion spot is a distinct possibility, and it would seem that a play off spot is the worst the side can achieve now. And if they do go up, perhaps certain club directors will start to realise what they're missing.

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

| Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 1st | | West Brom | | 26 | 23 | 2 | 1 | 58 | 7 | +51 | 71 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 2nd | | Hartlepool | | 26 | 16 | 5 | 5 | 63 | 23 | +40 | 53 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 3rd | | Q.P.R. | | 26 | 16 | 4 | 6 | 42 | 22 | +20 | 52 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 4th | | Wolves | | 25 | 14 | 6 | 5 | 39 | 18 | +21 | 48 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 5th | | Stoke | | 26 | 12 | 7 | 7 | 34 | 25 | +9 | 43 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 6th | | Nottm Forest | | 26 | 12 | 5 | 9 | 44 | 31 | +13 | 41 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 7th | | Leeds | | 26 | 11 | 6 | 9 | 41 | 37 | +4 | 39 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 8th | | Hull | | 26 | 11 | 5 | 10 | 30 | 29 | +1 | 38 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 9th | | Sunderland | | 26 | 10 | 7 | 9 | 31 | 31 | 0 | 37 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 10th | | Blackburn | | 26 | 7 | 15 | 4 | 35 | 25 | +10 | 36 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 11th | | Rotherham | | 26 | 9 | 8 | 9 | 35 | 32 | +3 | 35 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 12th | | Plymouth | | 26 | 9 | 8 | 9 | 35 | 36 | -1 | 35 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 13th | | Gillingham | | 26 | 10 | 5 | 11 | 35 | 44 | -9 | 35 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 14th | | Sheff Wed | | 26 | 9 | 7 | 10 | 30 | 29 | +1 | 34 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 15th | | Sheff Utd | | 26 | 8 | 10 | 8 | 26 | 29 | -3 | 34 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 16th | | Portsmouth | | 26 | 9 | 6 | 11 | 43 | 42 | +1 | 33 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 17th | | Crystal Palace | | 26 | 8 | 8 | 10 | 24 | 29 | -5 | 32 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 18th | | Ipswich | | 26 | 8 | 8 | 10 | 38 | 44 | -6 | 32 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 19th | | Watford | | 26 | 8 | 7 | 11 | 38 | 44 | -6 | 31 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 20th | | Burnley | | 26 | 9 | 4 | 13 | 31 | 41 | -10 | 31 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 21st | | Brighton | | 26 | 7 | 3 | 16 | 31 | 54 | -23 | 24 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 22nd | | Cardiff | | 26 | 5 | 4 | 17 | 20 | 45 | -25 | 19 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 23rd | | Millwall | | 25 | 4 | 5 | 16 | 24 | 53 | -29 | 17 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 24th | | Port Vale | | 26 | 2 | 3 | 21 | 8 | 65 | -57 | 9 |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| | | | | | | | | | | | |

| -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

</pre>

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Moving on

Having been knocked back by Forest twice, Leeds twice and Derby once already, Clough was not exactly overly confident when he sent off his CV once more to Derby County, who sitting in 5th place in League One, decided that appointing Colin Todd had after all benn a huge mistake, and promptly sacked him.

Apparantly Barnet manager Paul Fairclough was tge hot favourite, with Jan Molby, Leroy Resenoir and Mark Hateley also all linked with the job. No-one even so much as mentioned Brian Clough, so when at a press conference on the 16th of January 2007, the 71 year old was unveiled as the new boss of Derby County, the press were amazed. And a new era had begun.....

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Derby

January/February 2007

Derby sat in 5th place when Clough arrived, hardly what you would call a disasterous performance from the previous manager. With two £15M loans that wouldnt be paid off for many years draining £200k a month the finances might not be expected to be the best. Yet with a current account balance of just over £5M, Clough found himself with a tidy little nest egg of £3M to spend.

That was just as well, as with only fifteen players at the club the squad was at breaking point. It was unsurprising that it was to former club Hartlepool Clough turned and no fewer than nine players were lured away, including both that clubs keepers. A further four players were brought in, at a total cost of £2M, but the sale of right back Shaun Barker nearly covered that as he went to Portsmouth for £1.5M.

Things have started quite well, although the race is on to find a striker before the deadline closes in. After winning nothing with Hartlepool, Clough had only been at Derby two weeks when he picked up the January manager of the month. A run of eight successive wins saw the side rise to the top of the table, although that run ended with a 2-1 loss at Torquay. Its very tight at the top, but there is a feeling Derby will be bouncing straight back to the Championship.

<pre class="ip-ubbcode-code-pre">

| Pos | Inf | Team | | Pld | Won | Drn | Lst | For | Ag | G.D. | Pts |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 1st | | Derby | | 36 | 21 | 7 | 8 | 73 | 39 | +34 | 70 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 2nd | | Swindon | | 35 | 20 | 8 | 7 | 63 | 38 | +25 | 68 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 3rd | | Coventry | | 36 | 20 | 8 | 8 | 65 | 45 | +20 | 68 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 4th | | Swansea | | 36 | 19 | 10 | 7 | 63 | 41 | +22 | 67 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 5th | | Oldham | | 36 | 17 | 12 | 7 | 53 | 39 | +14 | 63 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 6th | | Bristol C | | 36 | 18 | 6 | 12 | 52 | 44 | +8 | 60 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 7th | | Preston | | 36 | 15 | 10 | 11 | 47 | 44 | +3 | 55 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 8th | | Chesterfield | | 36 | 16 | 5 | 15 | 51 | 53 | -2 | 53 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 9th | | Crewe | | 36 | 15 | 6 | 15 | 57 | 52 | +5 | 51 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 10th | | Bradford City | | 36 | 15 | 5 | 16 | 62 | 57 | +5 | 50 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 11th | | Notts Co | | 36 | 13 | 11 | 12 | 48 | 49 | -1 | 50 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 12th | | Doncaster | | 36 | 15 | 4 | 17 | 52 | 52 | 0 | 49 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 13th | | Walsall | | 36 | 14 | 7 | 15 | 53 | 59 | -6 | 49 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 14th | | Barnsley | | 36 | 12 | 12 | 12 | 56 | 52 | +4 | 48 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 15th | | Grimsby | | 36 | 14 | 5 | 17 | 54 | 61 | -7 | 47 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 16th | | Brentford | | 35 | 13 | 5 | 17 | 48 | 56 | -8 | 44 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 17th | | Yeovil | | 36 | 12 | 7 | 17 | 42 | 56 | -14 | 43 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 18th | | Huddersfield | | 36 | 11 | 9 | 16 | 45 | 61 | -16 | 42 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 19th | | Blackpool | | 36 | 10 | 11 | 15 | 47 | 52 | -5 | 41 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 20th | | Colchester | | 36 | 11 | 8 | 17 | 43 | 52 | -9 | 41 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 21st | | Torquay | | 36 | 10 | 9 | 17 | 53 | 60 | -7 | 39 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 22nd | | Stockport | | 36 | 9 | 11 | 16 | 43 | 55 | -12 | 38 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 23rd | | MK Dons | | 36 | 8 | 12 | 16 | 46 | 62 | -16 | 36 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| 24th | | Oxford | | 36 | 5 | 8 | 23 | 31 | 68 | -37 | 23 |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

| | | | | | | | | | | | |

| ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------|

</pre>

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