Hartlepool have sent a warning to Charlton about the ID checks and Loftus Road style searches that away fans can expect there tomorrow and have also emphasised that they take a dim viewing about standing in seated areas, presumably because a lot of the ground appears to be terracing.
One can just imagine the conversation that led to this message in Hartlepool. 'Where is Charlton?' 'Just down the road from Millwall'. 'They'll all be tooled up then.' Yes, with vacuum flasks and rugs to protect them from the breeze off the North Sea. Neverthelesss, in the programme last week the Addickted were warned not to 'give it large' in pubs in the town.
Of course, part of the mentality also arises from the comment made by a Hartlepool fan in 4-4-2 that the team he most wanted to beat this year was one relegated from the Championship. Charlton are still seen as a big scalp whose capture can brighten the season.
I once went to an end=of-season promotion decider at Nene Park between Rushden and Diamonds and Hartlepool, the Irthlingborough side coming out on top. At the end of the match what must have been the whole mounted contingent of Northamptonshire police rode on to the pitch to separate the fans, but there was no hint of trouble.
Hartlepool has an independent mayor, re-elected more than once, who used to be the mascot who wore a monkey suit at games. It was also the constituency of Peter Mandelson, now (for the time being) Lord Mandelson of Hartlepool and Foy (wherever that it is it isn't in Eltham where his grandad lived). It is alleged that during an election campaign one of his aides went into a fish and chip shop in Hartlepool and seeing some mushy peas, said 'Can I have some of your avocado mousse?'
Hartlepool had a relegation battle last season, but have started strongly this year with a 0-0 draw at MK Dons and a victory over Coventry City at the Ricoh in the Carling Cup. 4-4-2 commented that 'they lack the mindset to be consistent and compete in the top half' and forecast a finish in 16th place.
They are said to have a leaky defence, although defender Ben Clark has been a favourite since he joined from Sunderland. Six new signings were made before the first day of training, although the gap left by the departing Michael Nelson will be difficult to fill.
One should also note that gaffer Chris Nelson may look like a big northern lump but he took the club to 7th, 4th and 7th in his last spell in charge. He then went to Sheffield Wednesday, before initially returning to Pools as director of sport (not football, although I am not clear what other sport they play).
This will be a tough match for Charlton, one of the few away fixtures in the third division north rather than south. The days when the players were kepyt fresh by being flown to such games are over. A defeat does not mean relegation or the end of all promotion hopes. I am forecasting a 2-1 victory for the home side.