‘King Ronnie’ prepares to walk on water as Pools eye survival

Manager Ronnie Moore at the final whistle as Hartlepool ran out 1-0 winners against AFC Wimbledon. (Picture: Frank Reid)
Manager Ronnie Moore at the final whistle as Hartlepool ran out 1-0 winners against AFC Wimbledon. (Picture: Frank Reid)
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WHEN Ronnie Moore looks at the current list of teams fighting to avoid relegation from League Two, a wry smile is never far away.

His own club, Hartlepool United, being pitted in the mix is merely part of the story. There are subplots aplenty, certainly as far as the former Rotherham United manager is concerned.

Moore has already achieved a minor miracle in pulling Pools out of the bottom two and if they can successfully complete their survival job after a calamitous first half of 2014-15, it would prove a ‘Great Escape’ mission that the late Steve McQueen would have been proud of.

It would also bestow Moore with the ‘King Ronnie’ moniker in Hartlepool as well as Rotherham and allow him to indulge in a spot of schadenfreude, too.

In terms of Pool’s last five fixtures, there are a couple of intriguing ones to spice-up the pot.

Pools visit York City on Saturday, with Moore one of the early contenders to throw his hat into the ring to be the successor to Nigel Worthington when he left the Minstermen on October 13, only for Russ Wilcox to be appointed just two days later.

York still have work to do to secure their divisional status and avoid the ignominy of a second relegation from the Football League.

As do Carlisle United, who Pools visit on a potentially fateful final day of the season, with Moore interviewed for the vacant Cumbrians post in September –only to lose out to Keith Curle.

Last but not least, there is the presence of Tranmere Rovers – who sacked him last April for a breach of betting rules – deep in the relegation dogfight.

Alongside the Millers, Rovers are the club who tugged at Moore’s heartstrings the most, having managed, played and coached the Wirral outfit, with his bond with supporters, like with those at Rotherham, a strong one.

As it stands, it is Tranmere who find themselves in the drop zone and not Hartlepool and if that situation remains the same come season’s end, many in Moore’s shoes would be entitled not to shed too many tears.

Moore said: “It is funny how it all works out.

“York had already decided they weren’t interviewing for their job and Russ went in straightaway, while I had an interview at Carlisle, but that didn’t work out.

“Tranmere are involved as well and when you look since they gave me the sack, they have been relegated from League One and could go out of the league in two years. So I think their chairman made the right decision there...

“That Tranmere thing will always be a thing in my mind. Not for the supporters, who were absolutely fantastic with me over the years and I have good friends there.

“I don’t want to see Tranmere go down. But if it has to be us or them, I am employed at this present time at Hartlepool. But it would not give me any satisfaction; the only satisfaction I would get would be with one person...

“We were out of the relegation zone when I got suspended. I think deep down, he’ll realise that he made the wrong decision. It was farcical what happened.”

Pools were seemingly sunk without a trace when Moore, out of work for eight months after being sacked by Tranmere, answered the call of the stricken north-easterners in December.

They had not won a league game in over two months and were propping up the table, seven points adrift of safety.

What has happened since has been remarkable, with Pools, who will be backed by 2,000 fans at Bootham Crescent this weekend, picking up 13 points from a possible 15 ahead of Monday’s unlucky loss to high-flying Southend, their first defeat in six matches.

Despite the setback, Pools can reflect on a stunning turnaround after looking down and out, with their recent run deservedly earning Moore a manager-of-the- month nomination for March.

After some dark days away from the game he loves in the second half of last year, Moore is desperate to justify the faith shown by Hartlepool, where he ironically clinched his first promotion with Rotherham in April, 2000.

Moore said: “If we stay up, it will have to be the best achievement in my football career, if you look at where we were.

“At Rotherham, we had two back-to-back promotions, which was fantastic. But I said when I came in here that if I can get us out of this, I will probably be able to walk over the North Sea!

“When I came in, we drew our first two games and that took us to 10 points adrift and then there was the goal difference.

“It’s been a remarkable turnaround. We sold the York tickets in three or four hours, which was unreal.

“The York game is massive. They will know they are going to get a game and that we are going to have a real following there.

“If we can beat them, it will put us in a right position.

“I felt for the supporters when I came in; we still had 3,500 through the gates and we were rock bottom with all the dross performed on the pitch.

“It would be a fairytale if we did it. We want a happy ending and it’s in our hands.”