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Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
Oh for a Goal!
By: Chris Smith
GLYNN, Gary and I let our hearts rule our heads today and decided to make the journey over the Peak District.
It was a fairly upbeat group given we had little expectations and we had our prearranged "leave at three nil" unless it was extremely early in the game, in which case we would morbidly stay on to watch the unfolding clattering. In fact, quite a bit of the last few seasons has been like this. Could the nine one defeat by Arsenal be surpassed? I missed Hartlepool away but I've seen us ship six and seven before now. Glynn did go to the eight one game, I was spared by being in Lanzarote, otherwise I'd've gone to chalk the ground off.
A lucky escape, but karma seems to dictate I could be in on our ultimate relegation as a balance to all the good times I've been privileged to be part of. Our driver, Gary, always reminds us on the journey that we can turn back at any time, and one day we might just call his bluff. Macclesfield normally equals s*** game, zero football, although we have fond memories of winning two one there in February 2008 when Clarke (!) and North scored two cracking goals between them. The only team I can think of that has scored less against us than Macclesfield in our sojourn at this level is Barnet and they're quickly making up for lost time.
I'd contacted the club on Friday afternoon as I had no intention of paying £18 to sit in a barn with several sides missing as we did at short notice in the corresponding fixture last season. Macclesfield assured me that terracing would be available when I pointed out I hadn't appreciated being fleeced for an extra £8 on my last visit. I don't mind choosing to go there if it’s raining but I don't like expecting to pay a set amount and then having no choice in paying more. It must be worse for those on a tight budget and for me it is a matter of principle.
MTFC realised I was taking some convincing that this sleight of hand wouldn't be repeated, stating that they expected 450 or so Mariners, in which case they wouldn't be able to accommodate in the seats anyway. Good job we have a better away support than most then. Not that it looked it at about five minutes to three when I doubt there were a thousand in the ground. The Macclesfield programme makes for interesting reading. At home to Barnet they had less than 1,000 home supporters. They were outnumbered two to one by Port vale fans at another. No wonder they're skint as a home fan was telling us in the Railway View pub that was running a beer festival for the RATS (Real Ale Tw**s) among us, naming no names.
Viz did a superb piss-take of these characters a few months ago, depicting the bushy bearded, lentil eating cardigan wearers (complete with spray on dandruff) in one cartoon, and a fair few of the customers fitted this profile.
As for the Hot Pot on offer, it didn't seem to offer the same value as Betty Turpin’s. What’s that? Coronation Street not real? Of course I'm gullible; I've been watching this lot for thirty years. I honestly don't know why I go in these places as I always compare the beer strength to White Lightning and then tut in mock disgust at the weakness of 6% ale.
Back to the football and an added bonus was a Macclesfield fanzine and their preview of the game said of Grimsby "...on other days they really are cack in the extreme" although thankfully their predicted score of 3 1 didn't come to pass, more by good fortune than anything else. The rest was a good funny read with their ire reserved for Altrincham fans. Not many clubs put a fanzine together nowadays so this was a good collect.
As the game kicked off it looked as though about 250 to 300 hardy souls may have made the trip and although the small group around the drum tried to make some noise, I'd be surprised if anyone heard them at the other end and got the feeling most of us were waiting to be inspired by events on the pitch. Unbelievably, Town had three efforts in the first fifteen minutes with one pulling a good save off the home keeper. Ak-Ak, which sounds like a cat coughing up a hairball, had a goal disallowed though I don't know why although there didn't seem to be any dissent over it. At least the curtailed pogo celebrations warmed us up. After a promising start with Town having that rarity of shots on target, Macclesfield came into the game and showed us how dodgy our defence really is. On a number of occasions, they managed to get the ball down to the by-line and put in a ball which would evade every Grimsby player and thankfully theirs as well. Macclesfield did have a free kick which was beautifully struck and hit the post and really deserved a goal.
Other teams normally act on these wake-up calls, but we continued to live dangerously. A few of us thought that Macclesfield’s appeal was correct that the ball had crossed the line after Colgan looked to have saved late after yet more confusion in our penalty area. Thankfully the referee didn't give it and whatever the rights and wrongs of that we heartily abused their number eleven with the "w*** w*** w***" chant. Their number three joined him on the ridicule list later in the game. The best let off though was the ball in that had four Macclesfield players waiting for it with three managing to miss, all unmarked and with our goal at their mercy. "It’s a good job you're s***!" was the most appropriate response from our terrace.
Despite any positives we might try to glean from yesterday’s performance, this shout made in jest holds true. Had the home strikers not been as inept as ours, we could have been on the end of a right caning. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it reminds me of last Saturday when we commented that whilst we'd take a point, a half decent team would stuff us.
Having said that, shot of the first half was loan player Coulson belting the ball from distance which the home keeper tipped onto the bar before gathering up the rebound. Our hopes it would bounce behind the line were dashed.
At half time I had to admit that I had found the game more absorbing than several recent ones, if only because we had made some positive contribution to the action. The general feeling however, in our hard bitten band of cynics, was that we were lucky to be on level terms.
The second half was a chance to build on riding our luck, and whilst we started promisingly enough, Town were unable to produce any concerted pressure. The half for Town was a litany of wasted corners and free kicks and the problem of not getting to the second ball, even when we should have been able to. Whether that was hesitancy or just cluelessness, I don't know.
The Town fans’ mysterious ode to Michael Leary was also a revelation to me, finally supplanting the tuneless "Danny Danny North" effort as worst chant ever heard at Town games. The home fans were similarly uninspired, although something was heard from the opposite stand and momentarily from the open terrace to the left. It may have just been a few loud coughs though.
The home side’s ability to cock up was greeted with a sarcastic chant of "you're going down with the Grimsby" to match a missed Macclesfield sitter in the first half which was met with the ironic "It’s just like watching Grimsby". Poor old Forbesy got the "He’s always offside..." chant. Some might say all that is unhelpful, but we'll need all the dark humour we can muster for the coming months. I doubt most Town players heard anything anyway. They were just attempts by fans to entertain their neighbours.
Town did manage to hit the post late on and the rebound flew by us, at one point looking as though it might gather more height and threaten the flight-path into Manchester Airport.
As the game drew to a close, my main concern was that we might concede a late goal, in which case I'd rather we'd been clattered earlier so that I could have been around Sheffield by final whistle. Town duly hung on however, and it was a point gained on the balance of play. For sure, we've hit the woodwork as have the home team. Both have had a "goal" disallowed but Macclesfield had the chances to bury us over the game. It’s now three goalless draws on the road but we will need to win away games given our miserable home form and in retrospect, the last three have been against teams we need to be catching up.
I personally thought the game was okay if only for that never ending optimism that we might steal something in the last minute. At times like this, I almost miss the Valium. To be fair, there was more application than Tuesday and any point is welcome. I'm not mentioning corners being turned (I'd rather they were taken properly). I'll wait until next Saturday and see if we can compete with Dagenham.
Any other positives? I was glad to get a programme (which was also a good read) given that a fan prior to the game also told us that there wasn't one available at an earlier fixture due to (ahem) distribution difficulties which he had taken to mean the printers hadn't been paid. The PA system makes Town’s look positively sci-fi quality in comparison. I didn't understand a word said, reminding us of the Catch the Pigeon programme where the General has an unintelligible rant at the hapless Dick Dastardly. And, as Glynn pointed out, what passes for executive boxes looks like an elongated caff.
Despite this, I'd rather be in their league position. Gary and I were joking a few seasons ago, when in a similar position, that we would be shuffling up to Discount Carpets in the Humber League with our Zimmer frames in 40 years time whilst discussing the prearranged off the previous week at Hornsea. I'm confident that it won't happen if only because Discount Carpets went to the wall (well you'd hope they would, the money you've paid). It looks like hoping there'll still be cheap travel for the sad old fan I'll become and then I can hobble down to Westella and Willerby reserves. If not I'll ask Gary to give me a page on his mobility scooter and we can get leery in some Brough tea room.
Seriously though. Fourteen goals and points in nineteen matches isn't much and that improvement has to happen soon. If we do get players in January, they'll have to bed in. It’s not too late but the longer we go without a win, the more likely it is that we finally bow out.
Up the Mariners.
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