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Mentioned Part 33

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 26/10/2001

Home > Features > Mentioned > Mentioned #33


"No disrespect to the likes of Grimsby..."

friday 26rd october

When I Lived Far Away From The Rest Of The World

By Will Salt

Until the mid-1990s, I lived in Grimsby, on the coast of Lincolnshire. When I knew I would be moving away, I went round the town, the local villages, and the neighbouring town of Cleethorpes, to try and take some photographs which expressed the way I felt about the place.

For some reason, I sometimes still miss living there, even though it was flat, low, dull, grey, semi-derelict, and so on. Compared to the rest of England, it is one of the most deprived areas, and one of the ones with the lowest rates of pay. If you live there, it starts to seem like one of the most remote too.

The town does not store its history well. When people are forgotten, their gravestones are smashed and used to decorate the town's public parks.

Historically, it was created by shipping and machinery. The river on which the town stands was blocked with forts --- grey, man-made islands --- and lined with concrete bunkers to stop the enemy piercing into the country's soft underbelly.

Today, the country's food supplies are defended by giant, white warehouses filled with ice. Meanwhile, the docks, railyards and past memorials are abandoned and ignored as much as they can be. Instead, history is remembered in a sanitised way, full of dates, names and battles.

It is a very historic county. Five hundred years ago it was filled with grand abbeys, their gothic and romanesque doorways impressing all visitors with their size and opulence. Today of, course, they have all been destroyed.

When people arrive by train, they are faced with a barrage of dull, low buildings, the train rumbling and blocking every second street. Everywhere, there are secret signs to say: you are here.

They are unnecessary, though, because you can see where you are. The town is surrounded by flat marshland, flat to the horizon. A rise of ten feet is a prominant hill.

Few people open their eyes when they walk round the town. They never see just what it looks like. At nights, they go drinking along the seafront, whose appearence is equally a mystery.

Even when the weather is good, the beach does not look promising. It is flat, brown, muddy, and littered with pieces of coal washed off of the decks of passing ships. When the tide comes in and hides the beach, pipe valves open and spew the contents of town drains into the tea-coloured water. For most of the year, the seafront feels swaddled in mist or cloud.

However long you have spent here, you will always sometime feel the desire to leave.

The pictures which accompany the article can be seen here

Spotted by Jonathan Parkes.

"I did not walk away" by Gordon Strachan

From The Observer

It has been three weeks since I left Coventry City. I've been away, had a break abroad and now I'm back, going to games again and ready to talk about what happened for the first time.

First of all, those who know me will appreciate why it is important for me to point out that I did not resign. People who have worked with me throughout my career will realise that the animosity towards me from some sections of the Coventry crowd since last season, far from having a negative effect on me, proved a major source of motivation. To an extent, their campaign to drive me out made me determined not to give in.

Even after the 1-0 home defeat by Grimsby, when the attitude of the crowd towards me became more antagonistic than ever, I was determined not to allow that type of criticism to push me out of the club. I am told that there were reports - broadcast on Richard Littlejohn's Radio 5 Live show on the Saturday night - that I had announced my resignation to some of the directors immediately after the game. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I thought there was plenty of time for Coventry to make our presence felt at the other end of the table - just one or two wins was all we needed to transform ourselves. That was still my stance on Sunday morning, when we were back at the training ground to prepare for our Worthington Cup tie against Peterborough on the Tuesday.

My wife, Lesley, and I had my parents staying with us that weekend - they were down from Scotland for the christening of our first grandchild the previous week - and one indication of my business-as-usual attitude was that I took my father to the ground with me. However, when Bryan Richardson arrived, I knew that this was going to be a rather different training day to all the others.

Moreover, when Bryan and I discussed the situation, I had to acknowledge that because of the crowd's attitude towards me, and the disgruntled atmosphere in which our team had to play their football as a result, my presence as manager could be said to have become a hindrance.

There is no doubt that it had become increasingly difficult for the players to relax; and what worried Bryan and myself was that, even if Coventry immediately went on a good run with me in charge, it might only need one or two bad results for fans to turn on me again and lead us back into the same catch-22 situation.

The importance of the mood of the fans in relation to team performances has been emphasised countless times by the number of teams who have suddenly improved as a result of managerial changes. Coventry's results since Roland Nilsson stepped into my shoes, as caretaker- manager, have provided the latest example. I think a great deal of Roland and it goes without saying that I wish him - and all my Coventry friends - the best of luck.

If Roland gets the job permanently, he can count himself fortunate to work with a chairman like Bryan. It says much about the relationship that we have established that Bryan came over to my house for tea last week. When our professional link ended that Sunday morning, he seemed even more upset about my departure than I was.

To escape the media attention in the Midlands (and the countless phone calls), the first thing Lesley and I did when we arrived home that Sunday was to pack our bags and head for my parents' home in Edinburgh. On Tuesday, we got even further away from it all by going on a week's holiday in Tenerife. One factor that did much to lift me was the number of calls of support and encouragement I received from players and managers on my mobile. The time away also helped me to rationalise my experience as a manager and put things in perspective.

That initial reaction to get away was to keep a low profile and give myself the scope to properly come to terms with the decision. Having done this, I've been out and about at football grounds again. I've been paying at the turnstile to get into matches, like everyone else, and sitting with the fans.

When Lesley and I went to the match between Rushden & Diamonds and Cheltenham last Saturday - my first visit to an English game since leaving Coventry - I felt uncomfortable about the nearby spectators having recognised me. For our next match, North- ampton against Blackpool, on Tuesday, I reckoned the best way to avoid this would be to wear a tammy to cover my red hair. But I really needed one to cover my face. Lesley heard someone say: 'Look at that guy's nose, isn't it Gordon Strachan?'

Being an out-of-work manager has had its funny side and there are a lots of things to smile about - including the knowledge that I stood my ground for so long against those fans whose desire to see the back of me was expressed in the most extreme manner. Added to that, I had more support from my chairman than I feel I'm ever likely to get anywhere else. Above all, I'm confident that I'm capable of success elsewhere.

Somehow, I'm even learning to be philosophical towards the representative of the company from which I had been leasing my car phoning me - just two days after my departure - to ask for the vehicle back. He told me that although the agreement had another month to run, he did not want me 'putting miles on the clock'.

Being a manager has always been likened to that of repeatedly changing horses on a merry-go-round. This is particularly true now in view of the extent to which the game has changed financially. The reality for managers is that, with the vast majority of clubs struggling to generate enough income to keep their best players, the chances of any of us achieving prolonged success with one club have become more limited than ever.

Someone suggested to me that he felt I had been at Coventry for too long; that to enhance my career, the ideal cut-off point for me would have been the end of the season before last. I can find plenty of reasons to disagree, but I can see his point. That season, we finished fourteenth in the Premiership, and were regarded as one of the country's most exciting sides. For me, all it needed to take us the next step was to improve the defence. But then we lost two of our key attacking players, Robbie Keane and Gary McAllister, so we were almost back to square one.

There is a big difference between being a coach and a manager and I must admit that coaching is the part of the job I enjoy most. I got a lot of satisfaction in seeing players I worked with move on to bigger things. I still remember the pleasure I got out of Dion Dublin's improvement at Coventry, and being the one to break the news about his first England squad call-up to him.

I also have to admit that, on the managerial side, my decisions last season were not as sound as they had been previously. However, I believe that my standard of management was acceptable for 80 per cent of my time in the Premiership, and that I have no reason to doubt my ability to do well in the position of manager if or when I am in it again.

A Little Respect

From the Daily Telegraph

Stockport and Grimsby may be rated among the poor relations of Division One, but they have often combined a knack of doing rather better than expected.

At the moment things are not going quite as well as either would wish: Stockport still await their first League victory while, in leaking 11 goals in four games, Grimsby have rather undermined a good start to the season.

Spotted by Grim Rob.

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