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Why do we do it?!
Why do we do it?!

Desperate Footballers

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 30/01/2006

‘Who are Grimsby playing?’ enquired my son Merlin. ‘Peterborough United’. ‘OK’. Rushes of blood-surging excitement were conspicuous by their absence in this reply. He’s right. Peterborough suffers from world-beating anonymity. It’s where the action isn’t.

Unless you want stabbings, my friend Mark who lives there tells me. You just can’t get angry about Peterborough. The Nationwide League Division 2 is like that as a whole - boredom incarnate infests Rushden, Northampton, Oxford Retail Park United and Wycombe Industrial Estate Wanderers. Peterborough are known as The Posh. The Dismal, more like. Actually, I did get excited watching Peterborough, but it was in 1968. We drew 2 - 2. Then we beat them 3 -2 towards the end of the 1971/2 glory season. Things have never been better. Still, there was no reason to be upbeat today. We’d just lost to the bottom team Stockport earlier in the week, having been a goal up. That’s the second time this season we’ve lost to Stockport. I declined to read about how our very own Eriksson style spinmeister Mr. Slade was going to talk that one up. Yet dichotomously we are still third in the table. On a personal note, my daughter Revis and I had witnessed 6 consecutive home defeats before today. It’s easy to understand our lack of optimism. Nevertheless Merlin, Revis and I set out from Basingstoke for our dose of dire agony. Devotion was in evidence as Revis wore a colour co-ordinated black top and white trousers and Merlin proudly sported his Youngs-sponsored Town top. Basingstoke to Basingstoke was our pilgimage. But most importantly, via Grimsby.

Travelling with my children is an educational process. I asked if the item round Merlin’s neck was an iPod. ‘No, it’s an MP3. iPods are for chavs, Dad’ announced Revis, disdainfully. Of course. I should have known. I didn’t dare ask what a chav was. Have iPods and chavs hit Europe’s Food Town, I wondered. Displaying counter-knowledge, I observed as we headed northwards that Grantham had once been voted the most boring town in Britain. The children were impressed. There’s some stiff competition out there. The heating wasn’t working on the train. I believe this is called acclimatisation.

Copacabana, San Tropez, Monaco. No, wake up, we were now in Doncaster. Beauty is redefined. ‘The next train at platform 8 will call at Scunthorpe, Barnetby, Grimsby Town and Cleethorpes’. We’re going home now. ‘I can see the tower’ exclaimed Revis joyfully as we wended our way through the wilderness of West Marsh. The Dock Tower stood proud, a symbol of Grimbarian uniqueness and independence. I particularly like the train journey from Grimsby Town to Cleethorpes. Under the flyover between the home of the Telegraph and the Dock Offices, a sign chillingly and appropriately advertised BritIce. Past Riby Square and the former glory of the fish docks, past the Cold Store we know as the Barcode. We arrived in Paradise. A handful of grim-faced tourists got off the train. They were bedecked in overcoats and woolly gloves and hats. They looked lost in apathy. ‘Excuse me, am I in Apathy?’ ‘No, you’re in Cleethorpes’. The cold east wind welcomed us.

We headed across the road to Fantasy World. The children amused themselves deliriously on the Penny Falls. I had arranged to meet my friend Andy Humberstone, now back home and living in Tiverton Street. I rang him. ‘Where are you, mate?’ ‘By the Number 2, feeling a tad cold*’. * for the record, these weren’t the exact words he used.

We had some time before the atrocities were due to begin. We took advantage of being in Europe’s Food Town (remember that one on the shirts?) and went to the Agrah for lunch. At least we weren’t going to go into the mental torture on empty stomachs. Andy and I reminisced and discussed our ever-changing lives which nowadays involve things like olives, croissants and salami. How times change. These foodstuffs would have been regarded as suspiciously foreign by our parents. Apparently we talk funny according to the inhabitants of the other planet. Not on Planet Grimsby we don’t.

Having had a pleasant meal, thanked the staff and put the world to rights, we took a nice breezy walk along the seafront, stopping off for a coffee on the way to the match. Then it was time again to put our coats and hats and gloves back on. ‘You’d think we were going to the North Pole’ observed Andy. Once outside we could appreciate the similarity. We walked along the wall, enjoying the sea and the breeze, and past a Mr.Softee ice-cream van to the home of anti-football. Or were we going to be treated to a feast of footballing magic today?

The report continues in Part Two.

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