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The Kiss of Death
By: Rob Sedgwick
GRIMSBY Town have once again been installed as the Bookies' pre-season favourites to get relegated next season, an annual phenomenon which hardened Mariners fans have become wearily accustomed to.
This year, however, the Mariners' current worse than usual financial problems make the survival game even more problematic than it has been in the past, so perhaps the Bookmakers' pessimism about Town's (as they see it) miniscule prospects of survival in Division One perhaps could be justified for once.
Although a large number of other teams in Division One find themselves in the same or a similar boat to the Mariners, following the shambolic collapse of ITV Digital, personally I suspect that the odds compilers have very little knowledge of Grimsby's current financial woes, and have placed Town bottom of the pile because....well they always do don't they?! We're "Struggling Grimsby" - the antithesis of glamour in a world of multi-million pound players and fashion-conscious teenagers "supporting" big city teams hundreds of miles away from their homes. The bookies can afford to give Grimsby such long odds because very few people outside of NE Lincs would even wish to back them.
Struggling Grimsby could well be replaced by Forgotten Grimsby - "No one's heard of us, we don't care" should be our anthem. I suspect 95% of the UK population couldn't even name in which county Grimsby is located, or even point to it on the map. "Name a Grimsby Player?" would also be a question a good proportion of self-acclaimed football fans would find hard to answer, I fancy.
Despite the annual kiss of death from the Bookmakers, Town have actually only been relegated once in the last eleven seasons, ten of which they have been spent in Division One (or its equivalent). Last season was probably the closest skirmish we have had with relegation, looking doomed until a remarkable run in the last twelve games saw Grimsby clamour to safety and finish in a respectable 19th place.
For what it's worth, the bookies have earmarked Town, Walsall and Rotherham as the three teams most likely to be relegated to Division Two. Unsurprisingly the three teams just relegated from the Promised Land of the Premiership are rated most likely to return from whence they came, along with the Nearly Men from Wolverhampton.
Come August Paul Groves' men will once again set to defy the pundits and try to continue what has been an impressively long spell in the second flight of English football, punctuated by the one glorious promotion season of 1997-98 in Division Two.
Odds of winning the First Division championship.
|Preston N E||12/1|
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