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07/08 Darlington Part 2

By: Tony Butcher
Date: 08/08/2004

DARLINGTON kicked off towards the Town fans. Woah, woah, woah. Steady on, calm down, a false start. Parkinson was so eager he tackled them before kick-off. We’ll try again shall we.

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

Reynolds Arena

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

Darlington kicked off towards the Town fans and piddled about so long Parkinson slid across and knocked the ball out for a throw in on the half way line. The difference in class between the divisions is noticeable already. The higher up you go in football the further upfield the resulting throw in. Darlington lined up in a formation with men in identical shirts, darn well organised you see. Up front they had Craig Russell, who once played an hour for Town on trial (he was guilty of being worse than Livvo). C’mon, you must remember this, a miss is just a miss, and he missed the ball completely in a friendly against ‘Ull a couple of seasons ago. Oh, and a very large amalgam of flesh and bones called Matt Clarke, who is really a centre half. We thoroughly enjoyed him, even down to his headwear - a headband to keep his short hair out of his eyes. One could be cruel and say he’d have been better off playing in a blindfold. Oh, I just have been.

All of which is just another way of saying not much happened at the start.

I have a vague recollection of some flutterings around the edge of the Town area and a bombly shot that Williams yawned on. Town. Er, yeah, what about them? If you want the condensed version it’s Parky perked, Sestan the Man was a muscular cameo of teasing promise, and Pinault passed. And Williams kicked, and kicked, and kicked, and kicked. Always toward Parkinson’s ears. Ah, Sestanovich, twisting, rolling, rumbling forward from the right touchline, holding off one, two, three defenders before hitting a flat shot from about 20 yards out, very wide. After about 5 minutes Town had what was the beginnings of a passing move which, when I opened my eyes, to my surprise, Mansaram was involved in. Crowe crossed and the ball ended going out for a corner. Pinault curled it in dangerously from the left, bodies fell, the goalkeeper flapped, the referee gave a free kick. Still, it kept us awake as we lazed on a sunny afternoon.

The early forays featured our French fancy, Thomas the Town engine, caressing passes like the ball was a beautiful lady. But it was a bitty match, a lot of humping up, up in the air, possession gained through the errors of opponents, with very little attempt to play from the defence or midfield. If anything, Darlington were the passing team, happiest when the ball was played quickly through the centre, exploiting the narrowness of the Town formation. But eventually you knew the ball would end up near Clarke, so why worry. We were particularly impressed with their ability to lamp the ball out of play when trying to "spread " the ball. A huge, huge pitch, yet they still had the ability to miss their mates by yards. Oh, something happened. Sestanovich, muscling, bustling, flicked free by Parkinson inside the penalty area, way out on the right, smackerooned a spectacular volley safely over the bar. There were even a couple of passes before Parky plopped the ball over the top.

Darlington had a little spell of pressure around the 20 minute mark, with a couple of crosses from their right back. Town’s left was a wibbling wobbler, with Bull unsure of where to stand, Jones not certain of whether to come out towards the ball, or stay back. The result was space for Valentine. One or two of these crosses resulted in minor moments of concern, as the ball bounced off backsides, or when Mansaram missed the ball at the far post and allowed a free header for a defender about 5 yards out, which went a couple of yards wide. Just minor moments. Then a major moment. Darlington were given a free kick about 20 yards out to the left of centre, when Sestanovich touched the hem of a flapping hooped shirt. The ball was rolled down the side of the wall as a hooperman slipped away in the night. The ball was crossed, went through the bewildered legs of the recently employed (or maybe the recent legs of the bewilderingly employed, you choose) to Convery, unmarked five yards out, to the right of centre.



Reddy59 mins
Marcelle82 mins


Ray Olivier
(Sutton Coldfield)


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The goal a-gaping, he leant back and thought of his goal bonus awaiting transfer into his current account. He cleverly steered the ball several yards over the bar, soaking in the adoration of the Town fans, or something similar.

The Darlington pressure was all self-induced by Town, for no attempt was made to keep possession. Defenders headed when they could have chested, the goalkeeper wellied the ball up to Parky, possession lost every time. Was it ever gained in such circumstances?

Another welly, a Darlo mistake and the ball at Sestanovich’s feet. The Quakers quaked as the colossus strode imperiously forward. Like a collection of dancing Gallimores, they backed off in synchronised unison, allowing Ashley to pass sideways into a huge, huge gap. Fleming awaited the ball. And waited. Some people, tired of waiting, finished off the crossword. Eventually Fleming thwacked a low left-footed shot from the centre, just outside the penalty area. The ball zoomed towards the bottom left hand corner, Russell zoomed to the same spot and saved well.

A minute or so later Town should have scored. A Darlington player tried to be clever on their left touchline, about 10 yards from the half way line. Sestanovich blocked out the sun and blocked the panicking pummel upfield. The ball rebounded down the line and Sestan ran after it. You could hear the hoofbeats pound as he raced across the ground, and the clatter of the wheels as his mind spun round and round. The Town fans rose, awaiting glory for the new hero. He awaited the arrival of the goalkeeper and, from about a dozen yard out and wide of goal, drew back his foot and...several hundred Town fans sat down. The ball was rolling across the open goal towards an unmarked Town Mansaram, who scuffled a shot goalwards. Russell appeared from nowhere and diverted the ball away for a corner. It was an exceptional piece of goalkeeping, but there is no hiding place for the Donny Dazzler. Sestanovich should know by now not to tempt Mansaram with his treacle tarts.

And, again, another nearly moment. Parkinson almost free, but the ball bounced and Liddle pounced, danger trounced. It’s hot, isn’t it? Too right, for as a Darlington player received some treatment for a knock the referee and players sprinted over to the touchline and had a drinks break. It’s just not cricket, or basketball.

OO-la-la, c’est Pinault. He mugged a Darlington midfielder and pinged a perfect pass a full 40 yards right onto Crowe’s big toe. Bullet-boy vroomed forward, cut infield by lifting the ball over the full back and was free inside the box, perhaps 15 yards out. The whole area was denuded of Darlington defenders. Russell was affixed to his line, Crowe ignored the two free Town strikers and lobbed a left foot shot straight at Sam Russell, who caught it underneath the crossbar.

Any other action as we dribbled towards siesta time? Williams got himself in a tither when a Darlington player got to the bye-line on their right and chipped the ball across the face of goal, the ball dipped and bounced a yard beyond the far post. Williams came out and missed a punch, with the ball being headed back to him by a perplexed hoop. And in added time Sestanovich did the Sestanovich thing of holding off a thousand opponents when cutting in from the right before slapping a low fizzer goalwards. The ball nudged along the side netting as it passed Go without collecting £200.

Half time: Darlington 0 Grimsby Town 0

And then it was time for a chocolate-scented water and hot crusty bakes. Overall not too bad; Town looked very dangerous when they managed to get the ball in the opponents’ half, especially through Sestanovich. Parkinson was a pest, Mansaram almost effective, Pinault could pass, and I do recall Fleming being on, or around, the ball at some stage. The defence was generally adequate, with Jones the pick. Whittle spent his time ushering inaccurate Darlington punts out of play for goalkicks. He ushered in falling stages, like the pictures you see on the side of step-ladders with a big red cross over them. No need to call the doctor yet.

Town could have been losing, but should have been winning, but weren’t. Back to some kind of Town-ness already.

Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk

"The steward down there looks like Peter Levy."
"Mansaram is beginning to feel like a bad penny."
"This grounds very nice. It’s empty, it’s friendly, it’s quiet and it has a fine pie stall"
"We’re alright as long as they keep that Clarke on."
"Do you think they’ll add another urinal if they get promoted?"

The report continues in the Second Half.

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