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Question of the Week

Will Paul Hurst stay at Grimsby?



Mecca Revisited Part 3

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 11/07/2004

ENTERING the Theatre of Abject Misery, I looked up at the impressive Findus stand, another important part of my youth.

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Actually, it’s not the Findus stand any more, it used to be before it became the John Smith stand. The Findus stand seems more appropriate somehow.

As with all change though, I was very suspicious when the wooden rust bucket that was the Barratt’s stand was knocked down to make way for the Findus stand. I think my affinity with the new stand started when standing at the front one day, and the wind blew down all the panels behind me. You can’t ask for more entertainment as a teenager in Cleethorpes. There certainly wasn’t any on the pitch. The game in question was a 0-0 draw vs Luton (sad to relate that I double checked this stat in Merlin’s Football Records book). There were no Feasts of Football in those days either.

We took our seats and said hello to the man and his son sitting next to us. This prompted a 10 minute solid moan from the man about the seating arrangements, in spite of the fact that it was close to kick off and there were 30 spare seats around us. I should explain that having a good moan is part of the bonding process, as we were now soul mates and shared our mutual misery for the next couple of hours.

I looked around at me at the best view in football. Beyond the stand and the railway a DFDS Tor Line rumbled along the River Humber. Seeing the ships go by was Sam’s consolation when she used to come with me and the game got utterly dire, except for the day it hailed and you could hardly see the pitch, let alone the river (QPR, won 2-0).

I looked at the signs around the ground. ‘Hobsons - the Fish Choice’ (where else do you get half decent fish, let alone a choice). 96.9 Viking FM. ‘Jevvo is God’ - referring to the fact that Phil Jevons is a player of considerable repute, well you would be if you score 4 against Barnsley. Anyway, it was time now for the spectacle to begin.

The Game. I’ll put this mathematically. Football is a game of two halves. This game wasn’t symmetrical. The first half was terrible. The second half was beyond terrible.

First Half. Grimsby fiddled around at the beginning, while Bournemouth gave the impression they didn’t know what they were doing there. After an intricate passing movement, in which the ball nearly went out of play twice, Jevons passed across the face of the goal for Jonny Rowan to slot the ball home amidst a non existent Bournemouth defence.

Bournemouth missed a couple of glorious chances, while Grimsby impressively demonstrated their ability to pass the ball to (a) open space, (b) the opposition and (c) someone in the crowd.

It was now heaving it down with rain, but at least one person was happy - the referee, who clearly has a fetish for luminous yellow cards, and was very keen to show it. This had the effect of everyone being frightened to make a tackle.

30 minutes gone, and there was a large shriek from Revis to my right. Had I fallen asleep? Had Grimsby swept from one end of the field to the other in a slick three man passing move, and Jevvo was bearing down on goal with only the keeper to beat? Let’s not be daft. In fact Revis had put a gobstopper (they’re called something posher and more politically correct these days, but I can’t remember what it is) in her mouth, to discover contrary to expectation that it was a re-hot chilli firebrand version. Parental decision time. ‘Spit it out, Revis’ ‘Merlin, share your sweets with Revis and I’ll sort you out afterwards’. Momentary excitement over. Back to the languid ball punting exercise.

Nothing else happened of note before half time, but at least there was reason for undue optimism as Town were 1-0 up.

Second Half. The second half was noteworthy for its qualities of Shakesperian antithesis. Actually, that’s cobblers. It is true to say that while Bournemouth were passing the ball crisply as they had done in the first half before heinously missing simple chances in front of goal (an element of comedy here), the tragically unmighty Mariners seemed to be playing on a different pitch. Town’s players were getting stuck in the mud and passing the ball 50% of the required distance. Perhaps someone should give them navigation lessons. The exceptions were the demi-god Jevvo who battled and battled with not inconsiderable skill and no support whatsoever, and our on loan debutant goalie Alan Fettis, who at one point made a world class save after the umpteenth defensive blunder and Bournemouth offensive strike. In amongst all this drama, Grimsby managed to score a second, truly spectacular goal ! Unfortunately it was at the wrong end as another loanee Paul Warhurst stabbed a Bournemouth cross unstoppably past Fettis. 1-1. 15 minutes of nail-biting agony and torture followed as Grimsby contrived to lose the game. But Bournemouth weren’t up to the task and 1-1 it remained. We left the ground, utterly frustrated in accordance with the traditions of football.

‘Who needs girls when there’s cricket?’. In case you don’t recognise it, this is a line from the film of Jerome.K Jerome’s extremely English book ‘Three Men in a Boat’. I was reminded of this as we headed back towards Cleethorpes station, and called in at one of the multitude of fish and chip shops. Who needs kebabs when there’s haddock? Grimsby haddock and chips. £3-20 worth of succulent culinary excellence, plus a free and friendly exchange of banter with the woman in the shop. We got on the 1722 train from Cleethorpes and tucked in as we started our journey back to the land of Miserable Gits. Once the fine fayre was finished, Merlin played on his gameboy and Revis listened to her Hammerfall CD while I read the programme, before engaging in conversation with a Bournemouth supporter and a fellow Mariner on the performance of our teams.

On arrival at Doncaster, there was time to pick up a Green Un (I’m sure the Green Un used to be pink) so that I could catch up on the day’s results and read all about Sheffield sodding Wednesday. The GNER train to London was late, so it meant that a few people, including ourselves, had to get across London quickly on arrival to make our connections. For some, weekday commuter training was put to good use as three people tried to shove me out of their way in their haste. It always surprises me that Ruby League isn’t more popular in London than it is. All the pushing is just an extension of commuting, I’d have thought. We managed to make our connection, but not before some plonker tried to shove me out of the way on Waterloo station. I didn’t care really - the children were OK, and in any case we’d been to Grimsby and he hadn’t. I should add, in case you were wondering, that Grimsby also has its share of plonkers and far worse, but why do 80% of people in London seem to be like this?

In summary, we’d had a nice day and we saw a lousy game of football. Pretty much to plan, really. After my failed promise following the QPR game, this time I’ve put my money where my mouth is and have bought tickets for me and Merlin to see those magnificent Mighty Mariners play at Swindon. It’ll be agony. I can’t wait.

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