Mr. Hartley comes home

Date: 7th January 2023

(Photo: HomesofFootball)

This week’s second blog from our Donald.

Mr. Hartley comes home

The ice is beginning to melt on the car park as the long Mercedes is drawing into the gate. It’s a special day up here in Aberdeen as the conquering hero is due to return after an odyssey and the man tasked to see him into his cabin has arrived to make sure it is not all a dream.

For the car park has not been what it always was – a money spinner.

Picture the scene…

Just outside the Granite City in a wee cove, there is a thriving community and in amongst it is Mr. Moorhouse. By all accounts, a good man, a man of some means and he means to make this place work.

And his North East empire, built on the back of his father’s plans for his community has thrived. There is a dynasty building as Mr. Moorhouse looks to his son to carry things on BUT the pinnacle of his Empire, the Jewel in the Crown, just seven whole months ago was this wee, unassuming and quiet piece of concrete that had been built into one that would rival the greatest and the best in Edinburgh, Glasgow or even in Aberdeen itself…

His trajectory was on the up and then came the blow.

Having been caretaker and steward at this car park for around 4 years, the man in charge of this little piece of gold dust, Mr. Hartley left for the lure of England.

Oh, thought Mr. Moorhouse, it happens often with smaller places like ours. People get a taste of some success and then get the desire in their bellies for bigger, more spaces to manage, being part of a larger organisation and the wretched golden chalice of being in something like the NCP.

Mr. Hartley did, after all have some pedigree having managed in Alloa and then Dundee with some success. It made him an attractive man to be courted for the cove.

It all makes Mr. Moorhouse slightly sick in the stomach, the desire in some managers for riches beyond his community, but he would not stand in Mr. Hartley’s way. If that was what he wanted, then there was not a car park big enough that would have held Mr. Hartley and not anything that would have stopped Mr. Moorhouse from allowing him the chance.

But the tarmac is not always more profitable on the other side and Mr. Hartley is back.

Now out of his car and wandering around his car park, Mr. Moorhouse is looking at the chipped dreams and the sullen edifice left after Mr. McIntyre had tended it. Don’t get him wrong Mr. McIntyre was a nice enough man. He was decent and hard working but the success that was asked for was never forthcoming. It was not a profitable time for either Mr. McIntyre or for Mr. Moorhouse. Locals criticised and he supposed nobody was ever going to say anything other than it was better when Mr. Hartley was in charge.

The fact was that nothing was as good as when Mr. Hartley was in charge – the doomsayers were right.

Such reminiscences were interrupted by a wee guy walking across the car park eating some crisps in one hand whilst trying to wheel his bike with the other. About 10 or 11 years old, Mr. Moorhouse thought as he approached and munching away, the wee laddie stops to survey the car, Mr. Moorhouse and the landscape.

Without any introduction, the wee lad spoke.

“This the day then?”

Stunned for a moment at the boldness and the nature of the question Mr. Moorhouse hesitates before the young lad continues, “is it true that Mr. Hartley is back the day? My dad says that other bloke was totally useless.”

Mr. Moorhouse decides it is his worthwhile not defending Mr. McIntyre but concentrating on the positives as the young sage, warmed up to his audience is not to be stopped.

“In fact, my dad says he was a complete and utter useless p…”

Mr. Moorhouse is about to intervene when there is a noise behind him, which stops the youthful commentary, and the bearded figure of the car park messiah has arrived.

Mr. Hartley, the man who went to Hartlepool, but it didn’t work out. Mr. Hartley, the man who was responsible for not once but twice winning national titles for this very car park. Mr. Hartley, the man who according to Mr. Moorhouse, “is the right man in place to take us forward,” is standing right in front of Mr. Moorhouse and a wee tearaway.

One look from Mr. Hartley is enough for the tearaway to drop his crisps, mount his bike and cycle like the devil himself was on his tail.

Mr. Hartley surveys the whole arena of his kingdom and does something few people ever see. He smiles. Mr. Moorhouse smiles with him. They look at each other and stop smiling.

Mr. Moorhouse speaks. He says, “no joke, this is a tough ask. You know our ambition, you know the place, and you know this needs to be seamless. But you were also available. So, let’s not get caught up on sentiment. Make this place somewhere we can stay where we are and build further. I want the top leagues.”

Mr. Hartley, used to big jobs and tough tasks smirks. He says, “no bones about it, I’m delighted to be back. It feels like a homecoming and now I just can’t wait to get started. It is a big challenge; I know how difficult. Our task will be to remain well clear of trouble.”

Before getting back into his car, Mr. Moorhouse fixes Mr. Hartley with a stare of his own, before warning, “it’s now your task, to remain well clear of trouble.”

And with that normality is returned to the cove and Mr. Moorhouse leaves…


Whilst the author, asserts his right to this as an original piece of work there is no evidence that Keith Moorhouse or Paul Hartley have ever met in a car park, unless you know differently, so this is clearly a piece of fiction.

The fact is that during the month, Cove Rangers sacked Jim McIntyre, and the man who led them to two promotions, then left to manage Hartlepool and had been out a job since September Paul Hartley, got invited back. In a BBC interview, both were quoted thus, “I feel we have the right man in place to take us forward,” said chairman Keith Moorhouse. “As a club, we know Paul and how he works, and given his availability, this decision makes sense for both parties. He understands Cove Rangers and shares our ambitions and given how well he worked with the players before, I am hoping the transition will be seamless.”

“I’m delighted to be back,” said Hartley. “It feels like a homecoming and now I just can’t wait to get started. Now it is all about staying in the Championship. It is a big challenge; I know how difficult the division is. There are teams fighting for their lives and our task will be to remain well clear of trouble.” Time and, of course, results shall tell…

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