Happy New Year to everyone and I hope you all had a great Christmas period.
Although it already seems like a long time ago, it was nice to have a short break and spend some quality time with my children.
Like most parents however, I must admit that by the end of the holidays, I was looking forward to the schools starting again.
That said it was much easier to keep them all occupied this year as they got one Christmas present of which they will never get bored.
After years of the three of them and my wife pleading for a puppy, I finally succumbed and shocked them all of Christmas morning when I brought in a King Charles Spaniel.
I’ve never exactly been a dog lover but I’ve got to say that we are all smitten with our new addition to the family.
One of the things I usually look forward to most over the Christmas period is getting to see two or three Pools’ games in quick succession.
This year, the home fixtures haven’t fallen too kindly for us and there was only the one home game on New Year’s Day against Preston North End.
It went the same way as most of the home games in 2012 and ended with a defeat. In fact, Pools’ only won five of their home games in total in 2012 and only one of those has been this season.
It’s not much fun being a Hartlepool United fan at the moment and I never thought I’d say this but it is even becoming a chore to go to the match every other Saturday when inevitably, it will result in the rest of the weekend being spoiled by the result.
After the club have introduced two consecutive excellent season ticket offers which have really helped to boost the crowds, they have been sadly let down by results on the pitch.
The whys and the wherefores will have been debated in every pub and club throughout the town and everyone will have a different opinion on what’s gone wrong.
The stark fact is that our record run in the third tier of English Football is about to come to an end and we are heading back to League Two with little sign of being able to bounce straight back up again.
A successful football team has a knock-on effect to the town and surrounding areas.
Since IOR has owned Hartlepool United, they have brought the club unprecedented success on the field and we have been spoiled as fans over the last decade or so, culminating in the League One play-off final at Cardiff in 2005.
Off the field the club has also grown and blossomed. They do some excellent work in the community and especially with schools and have cemented themselves as an integral part of the community.
Negotiations over the ownership of the ground have been well documented and I hope the council will support the club in its ambitions for the benefit of everyone.
We have seen some very recent examples of how quickly a football club can fall from grace once it starts to slip in the wrong direction.
Our long time rivals and neighbours, Darlington, even disappeared and are now playing local league football.
I sincerely hope 2012 is not the sign of things to come for Hartlepool United.
Our town needs a professional football club and wants a club that is successful.
To slide down any further than League Two would be catastrophic and I hope the owners have a long- term plan to first steady the ship then set us back on the course we have enjoyed sailing since they have been here.
In the meantime, a few decent wins at the beginning of 2013 will do for starters and give us long suffering fans some renewed optimism. We could certainly do with it.