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Can You Blame Bad Luck?

By: Richard Lord
Date: 07/04/2002

THE relegation issues of season 2002/3 look as if they will be resolved on the last day of the campaign, and Grimsby Town are heavily involved.

Home > Features > Can You Blame Bad Luck?

Two from Rotherham, Crewe, Barnsley, Grimsby and Walsall will suffer the dreaded drop to the Second Division

But should it have really come down to the last day? Where did it all go wrong? As paying supporters, you are entitled to lay the blame somewhere and most will look back on results that should have been different.

In the case of Grimsby, we have all blamed it on one thing or another throughout the season. An event in the past where it goes wrong seems a big issue - there and then - but as the year has progressed, the present disputes are the main talking points.

For example, on March 9 the Mariners had a massive six-pointer at home against Walsall. A week earlier Town had demolished play-off hopefuls Crystal Palace 5-2 and Walsall had only won once away from home all season.

A lot rested on that game and when Grimsby went 2-0 up it was going according to plan. Then Bradley Allen was taken off with 15 minutes to go and Coldicott was brought on. Town invited the pressure by Walsall and we relinquished our two-goal lead.

From a possible three points that would have taken us six points clear of Walsall that weekend, we remained just three points ahead after only taking one. The fans are annoyed with the tactical substitution that backfired.

Who, at that point, said: "That substitution has cost us the game, two points and could have ultimately cost us relegation." I, for one, hold my hand up and admit I thought that.

But a month earlier on February 10, the Mariners lost 2-0 at Watford. Who blamed the linesman and referee in that game for "relegating the club"? Remember the incident? We went 2-0 down and with our away record; the game was as good as over.

Before that even, when Robert Taylor was sent off for kicking thin air against Bradford at Blundell Park, who said that Mike Ryan (the referee from the game) had sent this club down?

Going back in time, the dodgy penalty that was given against us at home to Manchester City could have bee a turning point. Up until that point we had held our own and had even hit the post. Were points lost that day?

And what about the last-minute goal Millwall scored to deny us another two points back in November? Five minutes of injury time magically appeared from nowhere and Claridge scored in the fourth to make it 2-2.

Joel McAnuff scored an extremely fortunate last-minute goal against us at Wimbledon to deny us another point there. Over the course of the season we could have picked up so many points - and if we had, we wouldn't be in bother now.

But this is football, these things happen. It's part and parcel of the game and these are the talking points that make the game interesting. Nothing ever goes to plan in this game and I'm sure if you look back over the season you will find equally as many things that have gone for us - but we don't notice them because by nature we only see the negative side. We don't appreciate the good and the fortunate.

Be thankful for the woodwork twice coming to our rescue at Coventry back in September, and of the many own goals we have seen in front of the Pontoon this season. Thank Portsmouth's goalkeeper Kawaguchi for being extremely dodgy against us, and Todd's deflected goal against Palace that got us going. Be thankful for the referee and linesman from the Wimbledon game when we won 6-2 for ordering the penalty to be retaken.

Remember, without these incidents in OUR favour, we may well have already been relegated! It's true what fans and professionals in the game say, it evens itself out over the season.

It's strange that now I never hear: "Mike Ryan's incompetent performance as referee in the Bradford game has contributed to leaving us where we are now," and "if Millwall didn't score that last-minute goal we'd have 49 points instead of 47". We forget what has happened in the past and move on. Whichever way you look at it, we have 47 points and blaming the referee for not giving West Brom the goal when Jordao scored doesn't get you anywhere.

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