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Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
Reflections on Bradford - Part 2
By: Chris Smith
Date: 16/02/2010 (Last updated: 12/09/2010)
I DON'T think I was too far out with a guesstimate of 500 or so Town fans which was a great effort considering our total lack of form. Disconsolate drinkers stood in the concourse in no obvious hurry to go upstairs and the atmosphere was noticeably more muted than that produced by the larger following of last season.
Mind you, there was good backing for the Mariners from the off with the home fans extremely quiet. I know from my colleague that there is a certain amount of trepidation within the home fans who are beginning to feel that had it not been for the plight of Town and Darlo, City would be in a relegation scrap. On the evidence of Saturday, they certainly would be.
Having said that, we could have been a few goals down in the first fifteen minutes if City hadn't been so short of confidence. As far as Town went, it was another case of a lightweight attack. As one bloke shouted out in the second half, a point isn't good enough. We need to go out looking to win every game. He put it more forthrightly than me, but a point well made about a point not being enough. It was nice to hear a few join in with us in "We forgot that you were here" on the rare occasion that the Wendy House piped up and "You're just a stand full of children" must have got ten of us going. A good chant though, which I heard as Brentford fans undermined Southampton’s wannabe hoolies at The Dell in the 1990s. The Town drummer made his usual noble effort to keep the singing going. I was looking forward to seeing us score as I wanted to see how on earth you can celebrate a goal carrying a big instrument. I was secretly wondering whether he would end up headbutting the thing when bouncing up and down. It was nice to do the variation of "When the Town go steaming in" with the "Knock knock. Who’s there? Wendy. Wendy who?" intro. That got a dozen going. I've lost my touch at 47 but I’ll still grow old disgracefully.
I didn't know what to make of the game at half time. I couldn't see either team scoring. At one time, that would have been a result, but we are running out of games. I can't believe how crap this division is and yet we are struggling. Talking to some of our regulars, it was interesting to see how many weren't going to be doing games that would have been "no question about it" last season and before. So says the traitor who is disappearing abroad for over three weeks. Before judgement is passed, I always miss the biggest win of the season and managed to lose out on Lincoln and Gillingham at home last season. There is hope for Town. Contributions for my permanent exile to...
Thankfully, in the second half, our best chance which was horribly put wide would have been ruled out for offside anyway. Although we got the odd decent ball in, it wasn't looking like we would score with one up front. Even more alarming was the depth at which we defended which meant that we never got the ball clear and added to the pressure we were put under. There was nobody to ping the ball upfield to so no quick breakaways.
It is the first point I've seen us get there but it isn't enough. The best thing I took out of the match was the fanzine. Although I always get a programme, I can't bear to read about Town in them. There wasn't really that much in the programme but at least it wasn't as littered with printing errors as so many are.
I enjoyed the City Gent (I could have put that better) which provided a couple of hours of absorbing reading on Sunday. What is poignant is the effort being taken for a fundraiser for the Bradford Burns Unit to coincide with the 25 years since the Bradford Fire which I recall seeing live on World of Sport whilst trying to keep up with Town’s score at Crystal Palace. I found that harrowing enough without having the experience of losing loved ones or being permanently scarred physically and/or emotionally. It did make me think of the ripple effect and just how many City fans and their families are affected to this day. To me, this defined the 1980s more than any other event where little did we know it, we took our lives in our hands going to watch a game without even factoring in the hooliganism. I remember reading the Justice Popplewell report when it was published and finally realising how shabbily fans were treated up and down the country. So did many others as crowds sank over the next few seasons.
Other articles of interest were a feature on football in comics and I'm showing my age when I recognise some of the characters. The best feature was Can the Can which was a review of part of the 1972/3 season with the title dedicated to Suzi Quatro’s presence in the charts. She was present in a few of my fantasies as a near teenager as well! Happy days and some excellent writing with plenty of social commentary. Without doubt the best fanzine around and a snip at £2.
Talking of olden days, we had a few reminiscences on the way home. Glynn was recalling how he got on a train at Scunny going to a Town v Millwall home game in the 1970s to find it full of the cheeky chirpy cockernees. Apparently, at Habrough, the sole boarder of the train had the undivided attention of the away fans. Glynn’s thoughts that it was going to kick off were only slightly allayed when the newcomer was made the object of ridicule as they were pointing at him disbelievingly whilst uttering "they still have fackin’ flares up North". Glynn’s bell-bottoms were discarded from that day, having successfully hidden his own attire by cringing against his table. Whilst he set a new fashion in Scunny with straight leg jeans, I could only rue how my own lack of trendiness identified me as a Town fan to a large group of Brighton fans in 1984. I was wearing a donkey jacket about a decade behind the times. It also identified me as an away fan at Millwall. But at least I didn't tuck my jumper into my jeans. Well, not often anyway.
I think this has made me realise one of the sad things about the game today. I can't really think of too much in the last few seasons that I reckon I’ll be relating a few decades down the line. It’s a bit dull on and off the field.
Anyway, I’ll be waving a £20 note at the County fans on Wednesday night. It is all a bit "Chelsea" but they deserve it.
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