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The Exile Strikes Back!

By: Christopher Laishley
Date: 22/03/2005

HERE I am, Mike Douglas. Not more than seventy miles away from the Hallowed Turf, here I am, striving to do everything in my limited ability for the club I love and follow through the thickest and thinnest of times.

Season Ticket holders for the Mariners are the soil the club is built on, the very stuff that Blundell Park is made of. It shows an undying dedication to the club in this time, when two years ago we were in the heights of the First Division as the never-say-die underdogs. And they will sing their hearts out every time the Mariners step onto the pitch in that never-ending search for three more points. Those of you who live in Grimsby, who follow the team when against the likes of Liverpool and Arsenal, should look at these people and learn something. Because while the support is there in the best of times, who really, REALLY keeps the club going when they are fighting it out?

Only two sets of people: the Loyal's, who strive to get to every game they can, and the true Exiles.

A true Exile can live thousands of miles away, across seas and continents, or they could live next door to Blundell Park. It is not just a question of distance. They would be with the season ticket supporters if they could, standing by them week in, week out, singing as loudly with the same passion. But they can't. Perhaps they can't afford the gate for every game. Perhaps they do live too far to afford it. Perhaps they have to work days that mean they can't attend. But that doesn't mean they don't want to be there, and they will always do everything to see the club through.

I cover two of those things myself. A supporter who has seen the best of the worst, I've finished a degree and am preparing to go back for a second in just over a year's time. To do this I work six days a week, Friday through to Wednesday. That gives me the opportunity to see Town play on a Thursday. Ah. So on average, how many games do I see a season? Not many. But I still continue to support the club from afar, and I will keep doing so.

I've bought shirts, shares, merchandise, and donated the little money I could afford to in order to keep the club going. And I sneak a portable radio into work to listen out for scores (no internet access there, you see!). Overall, I've spent in the region of £400 on the club this season. And how many games have I been to?


Yes, I was able to take a week off work, during which I could visit family and friends down south. Town were playing Cheltenham on Friday night, and although we were still almost 100 miles away, I made the trek to see Town play, knowing we would probably lose. Fate was smiling on me that night with a 3-2 score line that could have gone either way, but ended up being a fantastic win, thanks largely to Michael Reddy. £400 for one game?

Well, that's enough about me. Now the club finds itself in an interesting situation. Slade has forced the club up from its despair and brought about a possibility of promotion to League One. And the next game? A win would see us break some of the gap that separates the mid-table from the promotion chasers. While it would be incredible to achieve, the fact that we CAN make it without breaching realism should be enough to get you going.

All I'm asking is, if you can go, then go. If you can't, but still do what you can to help the club, then no-one can fault you either. As long as you can honestly tell yourself that you do all you can to keep the Mariners rolling in this, one of our darker periods in the club's fantastic history, then you are the stuff that GTFC is made of: a true Loyal or a true Exile. And the club can be proud to call you a fan.

Right, enough of this Americanised-passion, I'll jump off me soapbox and board the first train to Grimsby. See you on Saturday, 'cos I'm not working it this week!

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