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The Naughty Nineties - Part 2

By: Chris Smith
Date: 04/10/2010 (Last updated: 06/10/2010)

TOWN beat Charlton in the next game and then the London Mariners had two away games in a week. Brighton was played on a Tuesday night and we were well beaten 3 0 in front of one of our smaller away followings.

I remember that SWWF were running a campaign complaining about Humberside police’s description of Grimsby supporters which had been circulated to opposing clubs (based largely on Preston away the previous season).

Brighton away was cited by SWWF as an example of more typical support at far flung outposts. The police got our fans’ drinking habits right anyway.

Cap’n Bob Maxwell had supposedly just drowned and comparisons were made as to his sinking and Town’s defence. In fact, making up such mixed headlines became the main side entertainment.

Newcastle away saw us prepared with two for one rail tickets. Sadly, this trip would be the only time I saw us lose at St James Park. The game wasn’t memorable at all but the journey back was. Our train was joined by thirsty Glasgow passengers whose own train had broken down and thankfully we got to the bar before they did, buying all the available lager and cider. We were the most unpopular passengers on the train (not that we gave a s*** by Darlington) but even our supplies couldn’t quite last until Kings Cross. We met some Fulham fans at York who were carrying part of Scarborough’s stand as a souvenir and were to bump into these in subsequent years.

I wasn’t too bothered about talk of a journey delay as I saw Peterborough cathedral come into view a few hours before closing time. However, this turned out to be Lincoln as we had been rerouted. Sweat broke out on my brow (a bit like the detective in Indecent Exposure when Sharon Stone you know what) as the vision of a throw down in London receded. It was still on until a guard remonstrated with a Fulham fan who kept pressing the button stating that the buffet car we had emptied was open. A subsequent assault then led to the police boarding at Grantham and arresting the wrong person.

Never mind, I thought, if I can eke the cans out to one every thirty minutes, I may survive. Surely we can do Peterborough to London in an hour. Yes, if you don’t go through Cambridge. Oh, and Stevenage to London via Hertford f****** North. This remains our journey to hell. We did get a taxi to Big Jim’s motor (courtesy of the railway) before arriving at my place at half two the following morning, nine hours after leaving Newcastle. However, a medicinal dose of Thunderbird saw us calm down.

I’d promised myself I’d never return to Blackpool after the previous season and was true to my word, missing another defeat. Town were also to hit an indifferent spell. We drew at home to Millwall before losing away to Wolves, another great away day in the Great Western. A draw at Swindon was as good as it ever got for us there. Unfortunately, the pubs near the ground weren’t away friendly, especially the County, but at only 45 minutes from Paddington, there were plenty of other opportunities.

Jim Dobbin, who would become famous the following year, was getting on the scoresheet but not against Bristol City who we beat 3 1. A thrashing at Barnsley was followed by draws at Derby and Tranmere. In the latter game, I believe Murray Jones went in goal and didn’t concede, his only contribution to that campaign. We sold him at the end of the season, a decision that has repercussions to this day. The Bees fans have never forgiven us for selling Jones, rated their worst ever player, to them. They regard Heywood as revenge and his vote as player of the year there before joining Town is regarded as a stunt to shift him. They regard the matter as finally closed.

This means that when AB Mark 1 signed Jones and then had to move him on, a chain of events was set in motion which led to us being kicked out the league. And we thought he was a hero then.

Town managed to beat Oxford at home before going to Cambridge who were to finish in the play offs. Cambridge were managed by John Beck whose gamesmanship and ideology made them an easy team to hate. The crawl before the game was always a season highlight but when Dobbin scored to give us a 1 0 win, the game was a highlight as well.

One of Cambridge’s players was typically a cheating gobs****e and we mused on his barnet before coming out with “Did your mother cut your hair?” to a popular Welsh anthem each time he passed by us. I like to think this put him off as it soon caught on. The terrace boogie which greeted the goal still stands out in my mind.

Continued in Part 3

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