“I think there has been enough time for the dust to settle”
Hartlepool fan Grant-Scott Johnson shares his thoughts ahead of Dave Challinor’s first trip back to his old stomping ground
Friday 2 December 2022
Dear County fans, Stopfordians, and any Hartlepool fans joining us today (well, those who aren’t brandishing pitchforks anyway), a very warm welcome to your Friday edition of The Scarf My Father Wore. As our 12 Days of (County) Christmas feature started yesterday, our usual weekend build-up is taking place a day later than usual. So today sees our pre-match chinwag with an opposing fan, with The Lower League Look host Grant-Scott Johnson sharing his thoughts ahead of Dave Challinor’s return to the north-east, and tomorrow you’ll have your regular match preview courtesy of our County correspondents. I’ll make sure that’s up early doors to give those heading to County Durham something to read on the coach.
Congratulations to Christopher Waters who was the first winner in our December prize giveaway yesterday. There’s a special bath bomb heading his way, courtesy of Wicked Blessings.
To give all subscribers a fair chance, each winner will be chosen by a random number generator, which you can watch live on Twitter (@countyscarf). Today’s winner will be chosen at around 9pm after tonight’s World Cup games, with a tasty bottle of Rum & Reggae from Rum Barn up for grabs.
Today’s edition is sponsored by The Site Supply Company. A big thank you to Steve Cree. Check out hivis.net if you need any workwear or high visibility clothing, and get 10% off all orders with the code TSMFW.
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Some of your fans set fire to a flag of Dave Challinor when he left the club last year. You're not going to be playing silly buggers again on Saturday are you?
I think there will be a lot of vocal hostility towards him, but I think there has been enough time for the dust to settle and a lot of our fans just appreciate what he has done for the club. I certainly do.
You’re currently bottom of League Two. What’s gone wrong so far this season?
Paul Hartley. I could go on for hours about him, and have done on The Lower League Look. Liked to play a back three; only had three centre-backs on the books. Recruited incredibly poorly, the squad is so unbalanced. He was tactically inept, didn’t know how to train the players, didn’t believe in the GPS vests that every other club uses - because of this our players couldn’t see out 90 minutes. The man was fucking useless and I feel sorry for any future club he manages. I live in Falkirk, where he’s also managed, and I got a lot of “I told you so” from my mates up here because he did the same to them. Most places I go, there isn’t a lot of love for Paul Hartley.
What’s your owner like?
I’ll be civil here. Raj Singh is very frugal and likes to see the club run at a profit, but I don’t feel that he puts as much into the club as he should. He did save us from the brink of folding after a total calamity of a previous owner, but I think he has taken us as far as he can and we desperately need more investment.
Why’s it so cold every time we play at Hartlepool? Like not just a bit cold, but abnormally cold?
Because we’re on the north-east coast! We like to use that to our advantage.
Who should we watch out for on Saturday?
Josh Umerah. The man is a beast! Genuinely up there with the best strikers in the league and with a good team round him I think he would be unstoppable. Honourable mention for Mo Sylla - he doesn’t stop running in the midfield.
What’s your thoughts on Stockport County?
Stockport are a great family club who have been out of the EFL for far too long. I’m glad to have them back in the league.
Tell us something about Hartlepool the town we might not know?
Stuart Drummond, the original person who was our mascot H’Angus the Monkey, once ran for Major of Hartlepool with the campaign ‘Free bananas for school children’ - he was elected three times.
Best memory following Hartlepool?
The 2005 League One play-off final at the Millennium Stadium against Sheffield Wednesday. [Jon Daly scored for Hartlepool.] What a day! Sadly it wasn’t meant to be and I can’t help but think how different our club would be today if there hasn’t been such a poor refereeing decision that ultimately cost us promotion to the Championship.
And the worst?
Worst has to be relegation to the National League in 2017. Being at the last game of the season against Doncaster when we went down was awful. Even though we won 2-1, with Devante Rodney being the potential hero, other results didn’t go our way. There wasn’t a dry eye in the Vic that day.
Prediction for Saturday?
It’s a tough one is this and I can only see two outcomes. Challinor is going to want to get back to winning ways after your loss against Orient and restart that good run - where better to do it than the ground where he achieved the most difficult thing in his career in getting us promoted via the play-offs (sorry, but Stockport winning the league wasn’t difficult with the players and budget you had). On the other hand, our fans are going to be hostile, and the players who played under Challinor will want to prove a point. I think it’ll either be 2-1 to us or 3-0 to you - two wildly different predictions I know!
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The 12 Days of (County) Christmas!
Yesterday, I chose the memorable West Ham replay from 1996-97 as the first of my 12 best County festive memories to share with you. For today’s offering, we only have to fast forward eight days. We’d already received an incredible Christmas present courtesy of Iain Dowie, but Boxing Day provided another treat for the 1,217 County fans at Wrexham, as Dave Jones’ men fought back from 2-0 down to win 3-2. Enjoy today’s video!
I was only 12 so I didn’t celebrate our success in north Wales with a bottle of rum, but if I had (Jesus, these links are getting worse), I’d have definitely bought a tasty bottle of Rum & Reggae from Rum Barn.
That’s the prize one of our subscribers will win tonight, courtesy of Rum Barn, who are dedicated to finding and sourcing unique artisan rums not found on the high street.
Click here for further details, as well as the full range of items in our Christmas Gift Guide.
Matt Walker ‘eats’ the World Cup
🇺🇾 No 11 - Uruguay (Cantinho do Goias) 🇺🇾
“Cantinho do Goias is a Latin hang-out popular with Uruguayans. But the voices were mainly Portuguese in this welcoming Stockwell eatery. Picanha, a meaty cut, and feijao, the brown bean, are Brazilian specialities also found in Uruguay. I won't be eating much after these platters!”
One of my favourite football books is Matt Walker’s Europe United, in which the author and Fulham fan spends a whole season taking in a game in all 55 UEFA countries. Well he’s back with another fun challenge, to experience Qatar 2022 in restaurants and bars across London which represent all 32 competing nations. Matt has kindly allowed me to use his photos and I’ll bring you one each day, giving you a tasty flavour of the World Cup, in more ways than one.
The only Christmas gift guide you need this year
23 sleeps to go! The Scarf My Father Wore have curated a beautiful Christmas gift guide this year, from independent businesses across the UK. Check the guide each day, with new items constantly being added. And don’t forget, we’re giving away every single item in our December prize giveaway, you just have to be a subscriber to win!