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Any More Pies? Darlington Report

By: Tony Butcher
Date: 08/08/2004

AN airless, broilingly hot afternoon as around 6-700 Town fans gazed a gazely gaze at the millions who weren’t there inside the Safecracker Stadium, a symmetrical ovoid shell made of plastic and concrete.

Home > 2004-2005 Season > Reports > Darlington (a)

Reynolds Arena

Darlington 1 Grimsby Town 0
07 Aug 2004, Coca Cola League 2

One road in, one road out: a metaphor for the fourth division? Have Town finished riding the snake, is that the blue bus of the Conference still calling us?

Town warmed up in a routine not dissimilar to last season, although they have abandoned the cone-running. Slade got the players in a circle and tried to explain what was happening to a clearly confused bundle of manhood. He kicked the ball to Macca, who kicked it back, then everyone stopped and put their hands on their hips. Someone scratched their head and Slade ordered them to do press-ups, which half did as the rest watched. It’s early, can we forgive the disorganisation during a pre-match kick-about? Ah-ha, this is better - out came the bibs and a game of seven-a-side inside some cones. Why did Pinault have a green bib whilst everyone else wore blue? Perhaps he’s the designated first-aider; it’ll be in the FA Health & Safety Regulations. Still disorganised, for they ended up playing with two balls at one point.

Town lined up in the official formation, 3-4-3, with just two players in the starting XI who were employed by Town at any point last season. And neither of them were Macca or Stacy. Listen very carefully, I shall say this only one for those who haven’t being paying attention in pre-season: the defence lined up with Whittle on the right, Jones the left and Ramsden in the middle. Crowe played as a right wingish back, with Bull the leftish wingish backish. Sestanovich started on the right up front, with Mansaram on the pitch, sorry, I mean the left. And big Andy P was in the middle. Well, at least his ears are big, if not his legs. So there we are: we have Bullet, but not Mullett on the right, with Hockless back in Grimsby with his back, and probably all other parts of his body too.

Mansaram has a whole new set of tannoy announcers to mangle his name. No-one yet has pronounced it as Darren Footballer, but those typewriting monkeys will get there one day. On a confusing day the confusions piled up like discarded alcopop bottles down Meggies after the schools have broken up. Darlington sported their new kit, black and white hoops, whilst half their few fans sported last season’s kit - black and white stripes. The team we call Town, but don’t yet recognise, ambled around in colours hitherto unseen on Mariners. They had bright yellow bellies and white backsides. And "Mariners (sic) Pie" plastered across their chests. Not literally, that would have perpetuated the stereotype in that hot weather, just the words from our sponsors. A bit of a gift for wags that one, for isn’t mariner’s pie made from flaky fish? And Tony Crane isn’t even in the team.

You try finding a programme seller who is wearing a black and white striped football shirt in a concourse full of Town fans. For those who want to see the manager and players show some kind of connection with themselves and the fans, Russell Slade walked over and applauded us, whilst the players gathered in a huddle before the kick-off. Shall we gloss over the fact that the losers, boozers and Jacuzzi users at the end of last season did that too.

In boxing style Town fans approached the start of a new era:"Let’s get ready to grumble". (It’s called irony, for those with sensitive chins)



Reddy59 mins
Marcelle82 mins


Ray Olivier
(Sutton Coldfield)


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The report continues in Part Two.

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