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|Grimsby for Life!|
Insania Darlingtonia Part 3
By: Andrew Doherty
ANDY drove us to the ground. 'It could be a nightmare' he proclaimed, as we walked to the ground. Hang on, we could do without confidence-sapping statements like this. There could be a strong element of realism here though.
Andy had explained that he had 'done his time' - yes, supporting Town is like a prison sentence, but there's no end to it - and he now only goes occasionally. I asked Fran about this. Me: Do you come regular2?
F: I used to
Me: Why did you stop?
F: I got married ... (pause) ... she used to come but she got fed up because it was too cold.
Perhaps GTFC supporters should issue their other halves with a warning like they have on cigarettes, alerting them to the fact that supporting a team like ours involves interminable suffering and hardship at every level. I've been very lucky myself in this respect as my wife Sam doesn't chafe and indeed has embraced the culture. Even her limits were tested when her hands went blue at Crystal Palace and the day she got wet in the open away end at Plough Lane. She still remembers Sealand Road, when the Chester City chairman decided not to replace the locks and toilet rolls in the ladies as a punishment for those who used them. Strangely, she hasn't always appreciated the life-enriching benefits of these experiences as I would.
After a quick pint in the ground (actually not so quick because they ran out of beer, sparking a mini revolt), we took our seats in the John Smiths stand. The 'No John Smiths Stand' would have been more appropriate. Revis once again marvelled at the 'big fat bar code' building to our left.
'Best view of the ground here, mate', the kindly gentleman to my right informed me. 'Even the groundsman sits on this row'. By the time we'd finished, we'd exchanged life histories and other relevant information. He'd even mischievously tried to fix me up romantically, as if there wasn't enough romance already at Blundell Park. A lovely man (from the East End of London, incidentally) who has done his time by having a season ticket for eternal suffering since 1987.
The scoreboard, sponsored by 'Hobson's, the Fish Choice' urged us to buy the 2004/5 DVD highlights. That shouldn't take too long to watch.
The teams were announced. Revis revelled in the exotic sounding Jean Paul Kamudimba Kalala, 'the man who changed his name'. CafÃ©eacute; culture and exotic sounding players in Grimsby - it's a strange world we live in. Revis preferred to call him Kalalalala. True to Humbo's prediction, the Town team looked strong. It's always strange at the first game of the season (for me, anyway) because you don't know the players or what their weaknesses and strengths might be. Humbo gave me a good run down. Merlin and I remembered Steve Mildenhall fondly from his Swindon days and were very pleased to see him as our goalie.
The man next to Humbo scoffed fish and chips indifferently as the teams came out and the game started. Town had the wind behind them, which gave the impetus to big, pointless heaves up the other end. The first cry of 'it's rubbish' was heard after two minutes. Reddy then had a cross blocked, the ball came back down the field, and Crane made an uncultured clearance. 'There's a good wind up there', I heard behind me, but this message hadn't got through to the Town players. We saw determination from Macca, wastage from Parky, Gritton and Reddy, and a forceful tackle from Bolland. There was plenty of bustle out there but the Darlo defence wasn't really threatened. Then on 13 minutes Parky controlled the ball well in midfield, and flicked it over the top to Reddy who hit a good shot on target. The goalie saved it well and brilliantly tipped Reddy's follow up past the post. This led to speculation what would have happened if:
(a) Reddy had volleyed it. Answer: he would have balloooned it over the bar, or
(b) It had been Matt Tees instead of Michael Reddy. Answer: his personal charisma would have made this question academic.
0-0 it remained, and not long after the above trickle of excitement the impressive Bolland put in a fierce low shot which was well saved.
On 18 minutes Newey got a yellow card for a mistimed tackle. In spite of this and a misplaced long ball or two, I thought Newey looked dangerous. On 24 minutes he got past the defence and floated a good left-footed cross in, resulting in a corner to Town. Nothing came of it. A minute or so later, Reddy went off on a run and beat the Darlington defence for pace before realising he had no-one to pass to. Worryingly, he looked tired out. Injured, perhaps?
The tide was coming in and two cargo ships were on the horizon, as Town gave Darlo to much space and almost paid the price as the Darlo number 10 had a free shot. Mildy saved well. Bolland cut out a dangerous chance a minute later with a good tackle. A tangle involving Crane and a resultant scramble led to a Darlo corner. Darlo were coming into the game now and were stringing some passes together, something which was beyond the woeful Mariners. On 32 minutes Crofty tried to put Reddy through but the wind took it. Were we asking too much of Michael Reddy?
Town showed no invention, unlike Darlington who on 37 minutes showed some good discipline and skill, the move finally breaking down when their number 7 Wainwright was unable to latch onto a nice through ball from the no 9 Wijnhard. Town counter attacked, but a good build up from Newey on 39 minutes finished with a poor cross. On 41 Crane heaved it upfield from his own half and beyond the goal line. This summed up Town's ineptitude. The crowd was getting restless now. The game was degenerating into the noctambulant grimness to which we have become accustomed over the years. Humbo made the comment that he'd heard that doctors in the area were prescribing season tickets to those who needed to avoid excitement. Everyone was taking their medicine in different ways. One man was screaming manically, while the rest of us sat stoically and suffered in silence. After a Darlo diving exhibition, two minutes' additional time was announced. The crowd groaned. 'Can't we have one minute or less' pleaded a fellow sufferer. There was still time for a near suicidal back pass, but the Darlo number 10 failed to take advantage in part thanks to the efforts of Mildy and a frantic Town defence. The referee blew for half time. 0-0.
Never mind the Tactics Truck, this was Tactics Deficiency more like. Town's method (I refuse to call it tactics) involved no passing, just direct balls up front which bypassed the midfield. No account was being taken of the wind, which is hardly an unusual feature in these parts. Mutterings of 'Shambles' and 'It can't get any worse' were overheard during the half time break. To lift the gloom, at least those of in the John Smith's saw a vice nice blue DFDS Tor Line boat serenely roll by on its way to offloading its cargo.
2Southerners note that this is nothing to do with coffee or burgers, but correct grammatical usage for these parts.
The article continues in Part 4
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