NEALE Cooper was just about to announce he was fed up of hard luck stories, when the ultimate sign of a change came around.

After watching his side thump Swindon, Cooper, stood on the Victoria Park pitch, was hit by a seagull emptying its load from above.

They say it's a sign of good luck and perhaps Pool had already enjoyed a slice of it after Swindon twice hit the bar.

This was Pool's 14th home win of the season and Cooper admitted: "It was excellent from the word go. I said some harsh words to the players in the last couple of days and I've never been like that in the changing room for a long time.

"In the past, we've had to do it, but I told them on Friday it was time for them to stand up and be counted.

"In training on Friday I tried three different teams and three different options. I never told them the team beforehand, I wanted them to mull over it and think if they would be playing.

"Prior to the game we all had a goot chat and I named the starting 11 and told them it was up to those boys to start performing again.

"OK, we had the hard luck stories against Hull and Tranmere, two games in which we didn't come out with anything, but they've gone now.

"I told the players that it was up to them to go out and perform. If not, I have a lot of other boys waiting to come in who would normally be an automatic pick.

"I said right, there's the 11 and we went over things before the game. We've only got a few games to go and we have to perform - we cannot hang about now.

"If they don't perform, they would be on the bench and maybe not even there, but in the stands watching.

"If players get a chance they have to take it and I got the reaction I wanted.''

And Cooper was delighted to see his midfield get the better of the visitors, who arrived at Victoria Park aiming for the play-offs.

He said: "We started the game well, were very tight in the middle of the park. They had Sammy Igoe who is a good player sitting in the hole, but I thought Ben (Clark) handled him well.

"Tony Sweeney was back to normal, he made some great runs forward like he can.

"Ritchie (Humphreys) was a big threat, positive going forward and Thomas Butler was fantastic, he's a very lively player.

"He is something totally different to what we have. The crowd took to him, he is their type of player, very exciting.

"Ritchie isn't a natural winger, he can play across the midfield and we thought Butler would have some joy on the other side so they swapped over and it worked well.

"Thomas has played a couple of reserve games now and you can see the difference in him. He played 30 minutes or so against Huddersfield and I just thought 'let's go with him, give him a chance'."

* Cooper revealed that Mark Tinkler is likely to undergo summer surgery to cure an Achilles tendon problem.

Read more about Hartlepool here.