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F**k All, and Plenty of it
By: Chris Smith
ISN’T the start of the new season and the prospect of more misery that’s doing my head in but that mindless optimism that creeps in as it did last year. Last year, we’d just gubbed Winterton 12 1 and sure we’d signed some good players, 750 of us went down to Cheltenham, where the feel good factor lasted about 50 minutes. A week later, and we’d suffered two four nil clatterings.
I saw us win at Bury in August and at home to Hereford in September and er, that was it. I went to Rochdale and was so sickened, I called time on away games. We won the next three. Seeing the writing on the wall, I’d booked to miss the end of the season. I signed off with the 3-0 defeat against Torquay. I bet you are hoping I say I’ve given up on them. They certainly haven’t saved their best performances for me. Sigh.
I missed the World Cup. Thankfully. I couldn’t get the enthusiasm to watch it. I was holidaying in Turkey and managed to lose myself in the woods surrounding the hotel whilst trying to get back for the USA game (against my better judgement). I arrived relieved at my hotel (and about 7lb lighter in sweat) to just miss the England goal. After a further ten minutes, I had that gnawing ache which told me I was going to waste another 90 minutes of my life which wouldn’t be refunded. I forecast it’d be the low point of my week away and it was. I’d rather have been wandering around lost again. Sure enough, a s*** "performance" which was perfectly summed up by the Turkish barman ("f***ing rubbish!")
I didn’t need to toss a coin the following Friday. It was no contest and I went to a local AA meeting, emerging unsurprised to hear we had stuffed Algeria nil apiece. I say "we" but I see myself as disenfranchised as an England fan. The players have no passion and the days of Grimsby players being possible full caps as per the mid 1980s are long gone. That isn’t an exaggeration. We were almost a top flight side.
I was working for the Slovenia game and the afternoon of the Germany match was hot and sunny so I snoozed in the garden, waking only to look up the latest disaster on my mobile. The truth is that I knew how the game was going as I hadn’t heard a single four yearly, false hysteria roar all afternoon from the so called local football pundits who’ve probably never been near Donny Rovers’ ground in their Liverpool/Man United sad supporter lifetimes. Part timed t*ssers trying to muscle in on my game.
One Town fan I know took three weeks off to watch the World Cup and was beaten back to work after two. I saw him at Gainsborough looking a bit rueful. I had nothing to be smug about last year but I’m glad I didn’t expend any energy watching even more turgid football and listening in the background to the only sound more annoying than a chav’s mobile at full volume. Oh, and Scunts breathing for that matter.
Anyway, I’ve enjoyed the break from it all as you probably gathered if you’re still awake and reading this. I saw a young Town team win at Winterton and the other Friday I was enticed by the Lincolnshire Cup game to BP at a fiver. I think I enjoyed the match more than any other home game last season. Hearing the Pontoon singing was a first at such a tie in my experience. The last time I saw us play the Gimps/Chimps/Pimps in this competition was 1982 and we were stuffed 4 0 at home if I remember correctly with salt rubbed into the wounds when a bus distributed the remains of a cloudburst from the road to a pavement via me whilst I trudged home. I think we’d played Scunny on the Saturday and we’d taken a football special there. Those were the days.
What I remember about this seasons offering was that I desperately wanted us to win it. As I feverishly muttered Keeganisms about how much I’d love it, Town romped on and a far bigger scoreline than 4 2 was deserved. Before the game ended, the old madness had descended and an away trip to Scunny was on.
That was a good following at the old tin shed. I really wanted us to win as well and we certainly deserved to. I just wanted to throw an absolute manie at the front of the hut and let the locals know just how much I’d enjoy turning them over. After all, I’d already seen as many home wins as I’d seen all season. Time to chalk up another away win as well. Call me sad, but I’ve always wanted to see Town win EVERY competition they enter. Winning is a good habit.
I enjoyed the "tired ‘cos it’s bedtime, you’re getting tired ‘cos it’s bedtime" chant. I would, because I started it. The "Conference team, Premier fans" chant is class. Even if I didn’t start it. Any chant which ridicules opposing fans whilst lauding ourselves is the business. And yes, I can behave like this as I’m only 48.
I should mention Gainsborough away where another healthy following of saddoes/fans were in attendance. I invited Phil Barnes to join in "If you hate Mike Newell…" which he did. The funniest moment was when the injured Town player finally stopped groaning and uttered "F***ing Barnesey the c***" which got a laugh off the referee and his so called team mates. It broke the tension as I was concerned he was going to give birth at one point.
Halifax was next after Scunny and my fifth pre-season game, which wasn’t bad as I was away for the first two weeks of it. They’ve made a good job of their ground and have enjoyed their first promotion since leaving the league. I was quite impressed with the town itself and went in the Pump Room for shelter and had a chat with the parents of one of Town’s new signings who’d travelled up from Coventry. Do they know what they are letting themselves in for? Anyway, the game wasn’t much to write about but I now have two away wins and a home win to my name which equals my haul from last season (including friendlies). Do I retire now, unbeaten in games in normal time?
How do I think we’ll do this season? Last year, despite the hype, I would have been happy with mid table. It turns out that was too hopeful for a side with the agility of crippled crustaceans with a Largactil habit. I think we look fitter and certainly had purpose in the Lincolnshire Cup games. The jury is out with me. I would hope for a play off place but it is a big ask and will depend on our start. Automatic promotion would be a tremendous achievement and one I realistically think beyond us. I’m happy to be proved wrong though. Unlike the Football League itself, slow starts don’t tend to be forgiven at this level. If we won more than we lost, that would be progress. I suppose after last season, I’ll take anything.
A lad I know spent time in a local nick and was told by a prison officer on arrival that he was going to get "f*** all and plenty of it". That is the message we need to send to teams coming to BP this season. After all, it is all we’ve had for years. Why not share it?
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