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Mentioned Part 68
By: Rob Sedgwick
"No disrespect to the likes of Grimsby..."
sunday 20th august
Focus on Grimsby
From the Daily Telegraph
A midweek Carling Cup victory sparked mayhem for the Mariners, but they fell a little flat after conceding a late goal at Boston Utd in the league to let a win slip from their grasp.
Martin Jol, the Tottenham manager. The cawing of seagulls will haunt his sleep; the smell of rotting fish will prompt Pavlovian howls of despair. The Mariners' 1-0 Carling Cup victory over Spurs will be tattooed on his soul.
Took it badly then?
Well, taking on League Two small fry should have been like shooting fish in a barrel for full-strength Spurs. It was humiliation on the Humber instead. The worst he's felt since taking over, carped Jol. He even lost his cool in the dressing room, using language so colourful we are unable to represent it here, even with asterisks.
So, who sunk Spurs?
Jean-Paul Kamudimba Kalala's late volleyed goal was just reward for a fine performance. The Congo international's financial reward for his heroics was rather less illustrious: a win bonus of Â£80 (or 27 portions of haddock and chips).
Grimsby are hardly rolling in it after successive relegations, although they are top of League Two. After possibly their worst-ever season last term, the fans are having a whale of a time. Time for a return to the heady days of Clive Mendonca and Ivano Bonetti.
Others to watch?
If you cut John McDermott he would bleed fish. He has played over 700 games for the Mariners and was given a special award before the Spurs game. Fans are even trying to nominate him for an MBE for services to football.
Perhaps a bit green around the gills after mid-week celebrations, they failed to hook Boston United and had to settle for a 1-1 draw.
Notts County travel to Blundell Park on Tuesday, but more thrillingly for cod-heads, they drew Newcastle in the Carling Cup. Graeme Souness will be pleased.
Spotted by Grim Rob.
The Ancient Mariner
From the Sunday Times (18/09/2005)
Ancient Mariner John McDermott will lead lowly Grimsby against Newcastle, desperate for one more moment of glory.
Small beer to those of a more sophisticated palate, the Carling Cup is happy hour for everybody at Grimsby Town. The supporters queued from 2am to secure tickets for Wednesdayâ€™s third-round tie against Newcastle United, and the Â£130,000 profit they expect to make will ease the clubâ€™s financial worries, but nobody is looking forward to the occasion more than the captain at Blundell Park.
In a competition that offers opportunity to the gameâ€™s lesser lights, John McDermott is what itâ€™s all about. While Manchester United, Arsenal and the like reduce it to an exercise in youth development, the 36-year-old defender is a reminder that one manâ€™s trifle is anotherâ€™s triumph. No player in the land has been so long with one club, and represented them so often, which perhaps explains his commitment to every last whiff of the big time.
The Newcastle match will be his 707th for the club, who are resigned to accepting his retirement at the end of this season. He made his 700th appearance in the previous round, when Tottenham were victims of his farewell tour.
"I thought Spurs would be the last," he says, "but I am looking forward to another big night. When you get to my age, you have to make the most of it, but you only enjoy it if you do well. You donâ€™t want to retire on the back of a five-goal drubbing."
The League Two Mariners have been making waves. In the first round of the Carling Cup, they knocked out Derby County. In the second, a goal by Jean-Paul Kamudimba Kalala did for Spurs. McDermott, though, has the better tale to tell. This is his 20th season at Blundell Park, during which time he has been through 13 changes of manager, four relegations, three promotions and two testimonials. He and the club, stranded between the grimy docks of Grimsby and the slot machines of Cleethorpes, are like a couple of married pensioners who have long since learned to overlook each otherâ€™s shortcomings.
"Even the name, with grim in it, doesnâ€™t do the town any favours," he admits. "The road in is the road out, the first thing that hits you is the docks, and then there is the smell, but when you get to know the area, itâ€™s nice."
Brought up in Middlesbrough, he began training with Grimsby at 14, and made his league debut in 1987. Sunderland, Ipswich Town, Charlton Athletic, Bradford City and Hull City are among those who have tried, and failed, to prise him away. "I could have gone elsewhere and had a better car, and a better house. Some might say I lacked ambition, but I donâ€™t agree. Iâ€™ve experienced promotion and been to Wembley twice."
Time is running out for McDermott, who plans to begin a career in coaching next summer, possibly not with Grimsby. If he is forced to leave behind the fish markets that have been the backdrop to his career, he will be, well, gutted.
"I still think, deep down, that it will never happen, but it will of course. Iâ€™m not one to get emotional, but that day, I probably will. This has been my life."
Spotted by Grim Rob.
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