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Question of the Week

Will Paul Hurst stay at Grimsby?



Sodden February Part 2

By: Todd Bontoft
Date: 05/02/2001

It is a big problem the state of the playing surface at BP but despite the significant financial pressures of so many home games being postponed, it does not help a team's performance when the season is peppered with lengthy breaks.

With so much at stake and Town battling with eight or nine other clubs it's important to strike up a rhythm and constant interruption cannot help. Sometimes it can work for you and perhaps because the last game against Portsmouth was a victory, Saturday's postponement does not have the same psychological effect than if the game been lost. But it still stopped the side from building on the win.

Against Portsmouth, there was genuine evidence of improving form and an emergence of fighting spirit. The danger lies in a fortnight without a competitive game may see this wane. Earlier in the season some of the postponements allegedly helped by allowing time for players to be brought in on loan and injuries to be healed. Now we have the pressure of February becoming yet another month of only one home game in five.

The backlog may be too much for a small squad such as ours. But just to contradict myself for the umpteenth time, should the Mariners pick up some valuable away points then the situation will be somewhat different. With pressure reduced by a steadied league position and several home games in hand over nearby rivals.

But the pitch's condition will remain a problem, and I can understand the club being reluctant to spent significant amounts of money on a surface with a finite life. So for the next few seasons, despite it being an inconvenience, the pattern of postponements is likely to continue. Moving to the new home will mean a big break from tradition generally but an end to a poorly draining pitch is one tradition we won't miss. I suppose it will be too much to expect that we will get under-soil heating but you can always live in hope. But in all fairness, the pitch nearly always looks immaculate and should the climate desist from the monsoon weather the problem will disappear.

Smiths StandIt's amazing how easy it is to become set in your ways. For all but the last two seasons, since it was built, I have always occupied a seat in the Upper Smiths stand (left). And just like we must see our term out at Blundell Pond with the current drainage difficulties, I fully intended sticking with my location until the arrival of the new stadium. When each and everyone of us has to put on the tortuous frown and get the old grey matter to struggle with where we are going to park our posteriors. Chances are that most of us will adopt a location in a geographically similar spot to where we are now.

So for the last few seasons I have had a 'new' seat. For the previous four/five years, I've been driven mad by a number of the neighbours, all of who have an equal right to be where they are, as do I. Just to the left was a geezer with his boy, aged between ten and 14, who are both clearly lovers of Moan Utd, enough to set the acid stomach off when they arrive reliving the televised morning kick-off. At strategically positioned seats in a radius of two meters sit a series of smokers like a crack air defence unit.

Unfortunately their job is inverse to air defence and provides a concoction of cancer inducing smog, that wouldn't have been out of place in the trenches of the First World War. I remain convinced that it was all a clever plot against yours truly as, no matter which way the wind blew, by the end of the match (assuming no added time) I would have successfully smoked a packet and a half.

What took me over the edge, were the two planks one row forward and three seats to the right, who clearly watched a totally different game. They talk in loud voices all the way through. Stupid stuff, but always critical of the players and never seeming to notice or appreciate that we just happen to be playing another professional team of 11 players often from a club with far greater resources. I remain convinced that when they never really joined the crowd in a round of applause following a good move or piece of skill. In their case it was like an uncontrollable reflex like that of a pack of seals all following an initial clap. They wouldn't have recognised a good player if he had jumped up and given them a Cantona special. God knows what they thought of me!

But at least now that I'm in the Main Stand, with its strict no smoking policy, I can breathe clean air. Fortunately too, there are still plenty of individuals at least as opinionated as me. I wouldn't want it any other way. How boring it would be, but admittedly I'd get less wound up, without the numerous points of view. All I need now is a seat where I can watch some live football, but I suppose the lake side view is not bad and replaces my previous view of the Humber!

Next time I move will be when I am forced to sit somewhere else. I hope it will be to a smoke free section of the new stadium - there are many of us without the requirement to breath in the foul fumes of others - from where I can see a beautifully grassed and well drained playing surface. It's bound to be a brilliant position, really good, and will only have myself to blame if it's not. But what will the neighbours be like. I might find them more objectionable than the ones I've left behind. What if they are screamers and shouters, idiots or nutters, racists or bruisers? Fat or smelly?

Still, it's more important to get that pitch right and not mine!

Todd Bontoft

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