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A Family Day Out

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 18/07/2004

I was reminded the other week of a passage from Nick Hornby’s excellent book ‘Fever Pitch’, in which he compares going to restaurants with football. He states that if you went to a restaurant and were served up with noxious rubbish (as he puts it), you wouldn’t go back. Football’s not like that.

Home > Features > 2004 Features > A Family Day Out

I went to QPR last week. We lost 0 - 3. Noxious rubbish would be a compliment. We then lost to Blackpool 0 - 2 at home. I didn’t go, and withdrawal symptoms were setting in. I was desperate to go to see the Mariners take on the might of Rushden and Diamonds in a bottom of the table, 6 pointer. The decision was made to go and support the lads. Surprisingly, the family - that’s my wife Sam, and children Deej (14), Merlin (11) and Revis (9) - agreed to come to Mecca and suffer with me.

I must confess to a tinge of excitement about seeing Rushden and Diamonds. Rushden was only one of five league teams I’d never seen. Now I appreciate that this statistic is irrelevant, especially as teams now gain promotion from the Football Conference to Division 3 and there’s the danger of a newly promoted team having to be added to the list. Having said this, we’ll be in Division 3 next year, the way we’re going at the moment. It’s also meaningless in that the teams I’ve seen can’t be compared. I’ve only seen Sunderland once (pre-season friendly in about 1969, lost 0 - 2, Jim Montgomerie in goal) so whilst that’s the Sunderland team I know, I’ve seen Barnsley, Swindon and Walsall on countless occasions, so I don’t know what their representative side or colours would be. The first game I ever saw, back on Saturday September 2nd 1967, was Grimsby vs Walsall (won, 3 - 0). It was magical. From memory, the Grimsby team was Wainman - Worthington - Taylor - Ross - Rathbone (or was it Jobling?) - Cockerill - Collins (not sure about this one) - Wilson - Moore - Rudd - Martin. Heroes, to a man. And their present equivalents are too, even though they’re also languishing at the bottom of the third division - no progress made in 37 years except that division 3 is now called division 2. Yet Grimsby Town FC is like a life support machine. And, yes, I’m a sad statto. Coming back to the present, I think also there’s more to it where Rushden and Diamonds is concerned.

Since November 1st last year, I’ve felt guilty. This was the date when Town were away to Rushden, and I was off work, except that I’d double booked and arranged to take the family to Paris. Instead of going to the game (lost 1 -3), we went to Paris. What sort of mentality was that? Anyway, now was the time to make up for it. I expect Sam was feeling guilty too because she went to a concert on the day that Grimsby played Barnsley this year (won 6 - 1, repeat won 6 - 1), and we had a visitor. Actually, I don’t think that she has been wracking herself with guilt, to be truthful.

We set off on the 0653 train from Basingstoke, almost leaving Revis behind on the platform. Caring father: ‘We don’t want to leave you behind, Revis’. Not so caring Deej: ‘You’re wrong there, dad’. We almost lost Sam at Waterloo, as she strided off towards the Northern Line, no doubt heading off in her mind to buy the pair of goth boots she’d been on about or a few CDs at Resurrection Records in Camden. Like the Mighty Mariners, it was important that we concentrated on the matter in hand. It’s serious today. We’re going to Grimsby for the football. There are relegation issues here.

It is perhaps inevitable that not everyone in the Doherty family was going to be satisfied all the time. As the senior man in the family, I have to take responsibility for those areas of dissatisfaction. My failings today started with (with mitigation):

- GNER’s failure to provide Sam with the advertised ‘Continental Breakfast’. What would you expect on the 0830 from Kings Cross. Perhaps I didn’t win the Nobel Prize for World Sympathy for suggesting that wanting stuff like croissants was namby-pamby and southern. Solid food for solid people, I say. In principle, Sam refused to choose anything else, and begrudged every mouthful of my scrambled egg and Red Leicester cheese in ciabatta, which is about as girlie as it gets. Must try harder. - GNER’s biscuits. Sam wanted to know why, if they were going to have ‘Yorkshire Parkin’ biscuits, they didn’t have other regional delicacies such as Lincoln creams. I once again put my foot in it by pointing out that Lincoln isn’t on the line of route, but agreed with the general point. To her credit, Sam, who originates from Swindon in Wiltshire, hates Yorkshire even more than I do. This appears to go back to an ex boyfriend from Pontefract, who from what I can gather, made me seem charming, positive and go-ahead. She learnt.

The article continues in Part 2

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