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"Official" Services

Almost in the Cart

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 18/10/2010

HAVE you ever tried buying a ticket on line using the club’s web site? I hadn't, but incentivised by the prospect of paying £4 less than on the gate, I set about buying two tickets for the Southport game. Two tickets were duly added to the "cart".

This was displayed on the left of the screen - so far, so good. I proceeded to the next step: "Your cart is empty". I returned and re-entered 2 tickets. It now showed 4 tickets. I amended it to 2. I went the next step again: "Your cart is empty". At the suggestion of my wife Celine, I tried entered details in the voucher code section - same result. Four attempts later, it worked. I was now allowed to enter my details: "You are already registered. If you cannot remember your password, please click on forgot password". I don't remember ever registering, let alone the password - more evidence of my seniority - but the problem was more fundamental. There was nowhere on the screen to register a forgotten password. I logged out. Back to square one. I went through the ticket order - "your cart is empty" scenario, and after a few attempts and a fictitious voucher code (rejected), I arrived again at the registration bit. I registered under a different e-mail address. Got to the end: "We will send you your log-in and password". Ha, we're getting there. Had to log out to get log-in details. No problem. The cart was once more mysteriously empty after ordering the tickets. Several attempts and another rejected voucher code later, got in and proudly signed in with my new log-in and password: "Please enter correct log-in and/or password". Steam was now coming out of my ears. Celine suggested that I rang the ticket office instead. It was now 6.30pm and they were closed but this was immaterial. This was no longer about ordering two tickets, watching Grimsby Town, or supporting the lads. This was about beating the bloody system. Celine wisely left the room as I swung into action once more. I carefully checked my log-in and password. I tried again ... and again ... and again. "Your cart is empty". "Please enter correct log-in and/or password". "Your cart is empty". "Please enter correct log-in and/or password". To cut a long story short I decided to decided to edit, copy and paste my log-in details and lo, 75 minutes after I began the process, it worked. I was overwhelmed with joy. I had order number 380. Had 379 people gone through this process previously? That’s 28,500 minutes, plus the time you're wasting reading this. If you are one of the 379, I take my hat off to you. Call me a technophobe if you like (ok, you can do it twice or three times over if you like), but I managed to beat the system. Andrew Doherty 1, Grimsby Town FC Web Site 0.

But what was the point? It wasn't as if they were going to run out of seats at Blundell Park. I mentioned this to Big Tony, who helpfully pointed out that I'd spent 15 minutes less than the match itself was going to last. On the balance of probability I was probably going to endure the same level of torture, in fact I'd probably just had 75 minutes of solid entertainment compared to the game itself. At least I'd battled, as I would expect our Mighty Mariners to do, and ground out a result. I'd also saved 8 quid and had a day in Cleethorpes to look forward to so I was happy. This is significant.

Now let’s talk about Southport. I'm old enough to remember seeing them in the league. I'm not of such an age as to forget the score though. It was October 1971 and we lost 0 - 1. McMenemy’s men slipped up for the second home game running but it all turned out well in the end and we gloriously took the fourth division championship 7 months later. Southport wore all gold as I recall. The future is gold, the future is Southport. Apparently not, because they've been out of the league for years. I have to admit that I still look at League 2, the League Cup, the Johnstone Paints trophy scores and the Football League programme and we're not there any more. So today is a day for those bordering on admission to the Blundell Park wing of the Nostalgia and Trauma Department.

My worldly-wise daughter once commented on the experience of spending an afternoon at BP: "You sit in the cold and you watch rubbish". It was bright and cold today. I'd promised this to Celine as if it were a real treat. There was now the other half of my daughter’s equation to be satisfied.

We took our places in the Pontoon. As Southport warmed up in their yellow and black tops, I recalled a connection, as one does when one becomes unhinged. Some years ago I met a lovely guy called Eddie Moss. Eddie was a winger for Southport in the 60s and once played at Blundell Park. Sadly, he had to retire early from the game because of back problems, which were thought to have been brought on when as a boy he had to carry coal from the back yard to his house. How times have changes. Earlier I walked past someone I recognised as I walked into the ground. He was introduced to the crowd as ... Kevin Drinkell. Christ, he’s changed in the 20 or so years since I last saw him. Great player, nice man. "We could do with you in the team now", someone shouted. Hopefully the current crop might be better than a retired 50 year old, good as he was. With Grimsby you never know though.

Oh, the match? The first period was a half of two halves. Like the weather, Town started brightly and played with confidence. Players visibly supported each other, beating opponents and laying off passes. This was good to see and all credit to boss NW for instilling the confidence. This was particularly noticeable in Bradley Wood, who from his position in left midfield, twice beat players and created chances. The last time I saw him was as a hapless right back in a deflated team. Connell had a decent shot. Wood battled to win a corner. 11 minutes in, Bore struck a shot through a melee of players against the bar and Carlton followed up, but desperate and effective defending led to the ball crashing against the crossbar again and going clear. Southport had the occasional attack but Kempson and Ridley in particular looked solid at the back. On 25 minutes, it all changed. Up until now Southport had relied upon their big central striker McNeil and nothing had materialised. Then, following a corner, Southport’s Blakeman seized on a loose ball on the edge of the box and slammed it through a crowd of players inside the left hand post. O’Donnell in the Town goal was unsighted and had no chance. Grimsby 0, Southport 1. After that it was all Southport. They almost scored again soon after but the diminutive Samuels, who worthwhile contribution so far had been negligible, hooked the ball off the line.

All Southport’s attacks came from the left. As a team of left-footed players, they were being allowed to cut outside and curl dangerous balls in from their preferred side. Town didn't seem to realise this. There were a lot of fouls, which helped Southport as Town’s earlier fluidity was lost. The midfield dropped back and gave Southport space between the half-way line and the penalty box. O’Donnell started confidently but had a spell where he couldn't clear the ball out. It was all going wrong. As the teams went in at half-time, Town were lucky to be 0 - 1 down. Would NW be able to organise this ragged outfit in time for the second half? At least we were going to have the wind behind us as we prepared to see our heroes attack the Pontoon end.

NW did change things round at half-time. Peacock and Hudson came on, replacing Samuels and Carlton. Bore and Wood were switched round. Both moves worked. Bore played with more enthusiasm - is it just me who thinks he’s like a fish out of water as a defensive right back? Wood was more effective as a defender and worked well up the right side in a supporting role. Peacock in particular provided the power and control we were lacking. Hudson was a bit hit and miss but looked like he could unlock the Southport defence at any time. The half was punctuated by yet more fouls, and by the end most of Southport’s players had received a yellow card to match the colour of their shirts. Town attacked from the outset but Southport seemed to be weathering the storm. Something seemed likely to happen though, and on 53 minutes Peacock looped a header over the goalkeeper following a Wood cross. The goal was disallowed as Peacock was adjudged to have pushed the defender. Town pressed on but it was looking increasingly like a nil return. The one bright star was Connell whose skill and work rate were outstanding. Unfortunately there was no-one around to support him most of the time as he battled on his own. It came as no surprise when on 73 minutes, Connell nipped into a gap about 20 yards out and chipped the goalkeeper with a neat header. In spite of good skill, the rest floundered. Southport battled hard. So, the final score remained Grimsby 1, Southport 1.

Verdict: Town simply had no killer punch and were lightweight. On the plus side Wood, Peacock and Ridley deserve honourable mention, but Connell, my Man of the Match, was outstanding. Southport are a robust side with some skilful players. We couldn't match them at times and allowed ourselves to be distracted by all the fouls. Peacock fulfils the Gary "Lumpy" Jones role very well, and provides control and physical support be he can't be expected to play in midfield and attack, and support Connell at the same time. What is clear is that we need another strong Peacock-type player to replace one of our lightweight midfielder and deal with muscular sides like Southport. I'm told that Eagle or Ademeno would add another much-needed dimension. I can't comment as I haven't seen either of them for any length of time. What is clear is that from what I saw today, mid-table beckons.

"Happy Now?" enquires a piece of graffiti in large letters on a wall on the approach to Cleethorpes station. The context is enigmatic but the message is clear. Today was a good day. It’s always good to go to Cleethorpes. We ate well, the walk along the seafront is always great, we had Lincolnshire produce to take back home and the game was enjoyable, if typically frustrating. The journey back was tortuous though. Thanks to pre-planned engineering work, it took 5 hours to get back from Cleethorpes to Biggleswade. We had the choice of travelling back through the post-apocalyptic obscurity of Sheffield or Lincolnshire’s nocturnal nothingness. We chose the latter. But we did get back in time to see football on the TV. It came from another world beyond the homely environment of the Blue Square Premier.

My cart is empty now. I think I'll go and book a ticket for the Eastbourne Borough game. I may be some time ...

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