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A Family Day Out - Part 3

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 18/07/2004

WITHOUT further ado, we entered the ground and I went through my pre-match ritual of going to the Gents - nervous tension, clearly, as the game approached.

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While I was doing this, Sam established some useful information while talking to the lady selling lottery tickets.

The John Smith Stand, which had previously been known as the Barratt’s and Findus Stand, had also been known as the Stone’s Bitter Stand. It took four or five people to remember this one. A sort of community* exercise. *note to Southerners. Community involves the interaction of people supporting and communicating with each other to improve the quality of life and well-being. Selfishness, and barging people out of the way do not feature in this activity.

We sat down and I saw a pilot going to the river mouth. Good news for the ship-spotting fraternity. The tide was coming in, and in the absence of goal mouth action, it meant that we would at least have river mouth action as the big ships were piloted towards Grimsby and Immingham. Sam was very pleased.

As the teams warmed up, Sam noticed that Rushden and their supporters were in yellow. ‘I don’t like teams who wear yellow. Huddersfield*’.
*Once again a reference to the ex-boyfriend from Yorkshire. I really must buy him a pint if I meet him for unwittingly improving my stature. Some years previously I’d taken Sam to see Grimsby vs Huddersfield (won 5 - 0), who wore yellow.

As Rushden warmed up, Sam and I noticed that their no 4 had his hair in a mullet style with grey streaks. Me: ‘He’s the substitute’. Sam ‘I’m not surprised, with a hairdo like that’.

Just before kick-off, Sam asked me ‘who’s Jevvo, and why doesn’t he exist?’. This was a reference to the ‘Jevvo is God’ flag on the wall between the Pontoon and the Main Stand. I explained that Jevvo is more of a saviour than a symbol of dubious origin, and he scored four goals against Barnsley.

I’d tried earlier to explain to Revis what a spectacle was, telling her that it was a ‘feast of entertainment’. The torture was now due to start.

First Half. The highlight of the first half was when two DFDS Tor Line Boats when past each other on the river. On the footballing front, both teams were terrible. Town showed a bit more energy in the middle of the half, and as the man next to me said ‘they’ve had some near dos’, even hitting the bar once. Good skill from Rankin, and Jevvo was everywhere as usual. Tony Crane and Mike Edwards proved that they are defenders and can’t pass a ball to save their lives. The last ten minutes was performed in complete silence as if someone had died and we’d forgotten to recognise it at the beginning. The silence matched the stultifying tedium and ineptitude on the pitch. The one consolation for Grimsby was that Rushden were worse. They were far and away the worst, unfittest, overweight team I’d seen for years and posed no threat whatsoever. They hadn’t had a single shot on goal that I could remember. They were very good at writhing on the ground after being tackled, and time-wasting though. Room for optimism, perhaps? I shouldn’t think so. Grimsby are playing. The Doherty family was not exuding enthusiasm or compliments, it has to be said. 0-0.

During half-time, the Butter Boat went by, with all the nice products from Denmark.

Second Half. Rushden were as inept and wheezy as ever, while Grimsby pressed on aimlessly. Hang on a minute .... the ball was crossed and a Rushden defender controlled it with his hand. No penalty. The crowd in the Pontoon End informed us all that the referee, who had clearly been on the same fitness programme as Rushden, spent his time indulging in self-abuse. Revis required more details and asked if she could shout loudly. Sam told her that it wasn’t lady-like. Deej helpfully observed that the self-abuser could benefit from a current offer at SpecSavers. The game hotted up as the Rushden no 11 slipped and fell over while running up to take a corner. The levels of ineptitude had reached epidemic proportions, and 0-0 looked inevitable, when Stuart Campbell ran into the box, and pushed it too far before running into a burly Rushden defender. We should have guessed ... the referee gave a penalty to Grimsby. The John Smith posse, of which I was now part, couldn’t believe it. This was a terrible decision. In spite of a moment of high drama when the the ball blew off the penalty spot before he could take it, King Jevvo coolly slotted the ball in. 80 minutes, to Town. 10 minutes of agony remained. The lumpen Rushden no 16 helped by elbowing Tony Crane in the face and getting sent off. More agony when Town’s sub David Soames broke clear and, not unexpectedly, missed a great chance to score. A minute or two later, Rushden somehow got a direct free kick outside Grimsby’s penalty area. Surely not ... no, the free kick was terrible. A few misplaced passes later, and the final whistle blew ... ecstasy ... relief ... three points. As I stood up, I twisted my leg. Deej suggested that this might count as a sporting injury. It didn’t matter. We had won. Temporary happiness.

And so it was a quick but happy hobble back to Cleethorpes station via the chip shop in order to catch the 1722 back to Doncaster and on to the inglorious south.

As we ate our tea on the train, Revis asked me ‘why are things nicer in Grimsby and Cleethorpes?’ What brilliant insight. I thought about saying something along the lines that the God Jevvo looks after us all but then there’s the issue of whether he exists or not. After all, people don’t score four goals in a game against Barnsley, or do they? After reflection, I told her that unlike down south, people are more considerate about what they do, and how they treat people. And the fish and chips are excellent beyond description.

A few minutes later, Sam piped up ‘It smells horrid, we must be in Scunthorpe’. I was deep into the programme by then. The GNER train was late from Doncaster, which still wasn’t looking beautiful, it has to be said. A good run back to Kings Cross, followed by a tube journey in which a piece of vermin tried to push Sam and Merlin out of the way. Welcome to the south of England. No harm done, fortunately, and we got back to Basingstoke safe and sound .. and three points in the bag.

Three games to go and we’re still in the bottom four. Avoidance of relegation is achievable though. It looks like I’m going to be resigned to watching the rest of the season’s games on Ceefax. It will be agony. I am off work for the Brentford home game though .... hmmm.

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