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A Trip to Mecca - Part 2

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 08/07/2004

WE entered Mecca and took our seats in the John Smiths Upper. Now I haven’t said anything so far about football. It’s questionable whether there was any. We lost 0 - 1 with the last kick of the match.

Home > Features > 2004 Features > A Trip to Mecca


A friend of mine once came out with the statement that football is ‘Field Theatre’. Well, with some golden exceptions over the years, when you watch the Mighty Mariners, it’s normally Dire Rubbish. Actually it wasn’t a bad game. Loads of missed chances, good goalkeeping, poor defence and a howling gale. Oh, and the chance to put the world to rights with all the people round you in what now seemed like minus 20 wind chill factor. No-one’s impressed at Blundell Park, and it’s great being part of that. You don’t get crap or pretence, just folk speaking their minds. You can’t help but feel part of it (unless you’re an away supporter, I suppose, but I wouldn’t know about that). Come to think of it, I took a Reading supporter with me last year, and he finished up engaging in healthy dialogue with the local populace, including the bloke who wanted sympathy because he’d got a season ticket to ‘watch this rubbish every week’. And you get the invigorating freezing wind.

Afterwards, it was back to the bus stop opposite the Imperial and another 90p spent to get us back to town, and for those who stayed on the bus, to Bradley Crossroads. Now for another North / South comparison. Down South, sharing space with someone in a compartment, coach or whatever is regarded as akin to having a bad smell in the room. Here a nice old boy and retired railwayman and I once again set about putting the world to rights, and by the time we had reached Freshney Place, we had solved all the problems with Grimsby Town FC and the railways. At this point we parted our ways and wished each other well.

We had several minutes to wait and this time was put to very good use. A visit to the ‘Fish and Chik’ on Brighogate was in order. Haddock + chips, a bag of chips for Merlin, and two cans of drink cost £3-50. By my reckoning, that’s £1-70 for haddock and chips. Clearly there’s a price war going on in the world of Grimsby Chip Shops, with mushy peas (or peas puree as they refer to them in parts of Kent) being at the centre, because the chip shop next door was keenly marketing the fact that for an extra 10p, I could have had mushy peas, gravy or curry sauce as well. It’s £4-50 in London for manky cod, chips and a can of drink. Draw your own conclusions.

We went back to the station and got on our train, a two car unit. I had momentary revenge when some QPR supporters got on and bemoaned the frightful odour of fish (they actually put it another way, but this was the gist of it). What were they expecting in Grimsby ? Still, they provided all round entertainment on the beery return crawl to Newark with colourful and good-humoured renditions of songs about a team called Chelsea.

Only 9 minutes in Newark before our GNER train came in to take us back to London .. or not. The bloody thing broke down near Potters Bar, and we arrived two and a half hours late. Having missed any semblance of a connection, the jolly nice GNER people put me and Merlin in a taxi. We eventually got home at 0200 in the morning.

Now here’s the crucial question ? Will Merlin and I be back to visit Mecca and the surrounding area following the inconvenience of a 0-1 home defeat and hours of travelling. You bet we will ! 15 November is already earmarked as the date of our mouth-watering home fixture vs Stockport County. All being well, and provided I’m given day release from the lunatic asylum, we’ll be there to take in the local culture and we’ll be touting as always for the Mighty Mariners.

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