League Two Form Guide
Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
|Flying the Flag!|
Up the Borough!
By: Chris Smith
IT would have been a shame to waste a perfectly good Saturday just because Town were without a game and a quick scan of the fixtures earlier in the week had shown that Grimsby Borough were playing at Brodsworth Welfare who ply their trade in Woodlands near Doncaster.
I've seen Borough a few times over the years. I can see why they are called the Wilderness Boys when I consider I have seen them play home games at the College and Brigg to name but two of their grounds. One match was a 4 1 win against Yorkshire Main where the side event was watching Borough volunteers trying to get £2 out of the tightwads watching through the railings on Hereford Avenue. We'd managed to catch this game following a goalless draw at home to Lincoln City a few hours earlier. No prizes for guessing what was the most entertaining game...
I was also delighted at that match to see a programme was available and a professional effort for the level of the game which I recall was the Central Midlands League covering Steps 7 and 8 of the pyramid.
I'm always impressed to see the amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to set up and maintain an amateur club. To just mention a few of the responsibilities, someone has to register the players, train, pay officials on matchdays, produce a programme and pay rent to ground owners. Given the small crowds, sponsorship is a must and in such straitened times, persuading businesses to part with brass is a challenge. Not as difficult as parting it from the terminally tight on Hereford Avenue though...
I've seen Borough at a few away games including a last minute winner at Hatfield Main in a promotion campaign, Appleby Frodingham and Hemsworth Miner’s Welfare. Hatfield play at Dunscroft with a well appointed social club adjacent whilst App Frod benefit from the Corus Sports Ground. Hemsworth have a community centre with ground attached as a result of FA funding.
Brodsworth is the reality of football where funding hasn't been available and demonstrates the difficulties of trying to be an asset to a community whilst being a target for vandalism much as the entire community was targeted by Thatcher and her cronies 25 years ago. They have been the whipping boys for a number of seasons now and entered the game against Borough with a point to their name after sixteen matches following relegation from the NCEL Premier Division. Having looked around the ground, you could forgive the volunteers at the club for just giving up. You could think the same of Borough with their attempts to get a permanent home and all credit for keeping the club going. And we think we have problems at BP!
Actually locating Brodsworth’s ground is difficult. I was running a bit late and asked Gary to get a programme for me as an earlier arrival. As it was, he'd walked by the entrance on Welfare Road where what appeared to be the main gate was closed off (complaints from residents about parking although the streets didn't seem to be that full of cars). We managed to find the way in and paid £4 to the lad operating the gate and an extra £1 for the programme in advance as it hadn't arrived at that point.
I don't normally throw myself on the mercy of football catering but circumstances dictated I had to today and there was a fair cheap selection and a fridge with a choice of tinnies to replace the old bar. A smattering of supporters was in the ground and we spoke to a few of the Borough fans. One lad had been a regular home and away fan of Town before deciding that it was too expensive. His last home match was a 4-0 defeat by Darlington. A young lad with him had been to the Cup game against Tamworth and does watch the Mariners but Borough have first call on his affections. Perhaps it is easier to feel you are a part of a smaller club. Either way, they are enjoying the experience. Their enthusiasm reminds me of my first season as a Town fan.
Brodsworth tried to take the game to Borough initially, but it didn't take long for the Grimsby side to establish superiority with some near misses and a bit of wayward finishing before they took the lead in the 19th minute through Lee Stephenson. This could have been the second goal had the crossbar not saved the home side earlier. The standard of play from Borough was surprisingly high even for a regular attendee at Level 6 games and we warmed to watching a Grimsby team play fluent passing football and competing for everything on the pitch.
Brodsworth were obviously outclassed, but credit must go to them for never giving up. The only real surprise was that the tally wasn't added to until Nathan Ireland scored, nodding in just before half time (or so it looked to me-I always get a call when something is about to happen at a game). Welfare hadn't really offered anything at this point and it was game over. In fact, Borough could have been out of sight by now as their incisive and beautifully weighted passing shredded the home team.
Half Time Welfare 0 Borough 2
We had a chat to three other Mariners who'd come along and the shared opinion was that Borough could have given the Mariners a game on the performance to date. I might be able to travel over from Donny for their first home game at Bradley and the standard of play certainly deserves more spectators. Unfortunately, playing at Barton means home support is limited at the moment.
I had asked earlier what standard the ground was going to be as far as the pyramid goes and was told "Conference standard" although this was obviously said tongue in cheek when a list of further work required was added. Nevertheless, there will be bars at the complex with Sky Sports showing and some limited cover at the ground. Sounds like a good community asset, so use it!
Of course, we wouldn't be Town fans without discussing arrangements for Hayes away next weekend and three out of the five of us will be there!
The second half kicked off with Borough again on the offensive and a lovely move finished by Matthew Oswin just a few minutes later made it 3-0. This led to a display of exhibition football which we had the best view of from the stand. A number of delightfully weighted balls split the Brodsworth defence time and again to fall to a Borough player breaking behind them. Had it not been for some profligate finishing, Borough could have achieved double figures. It was Buckleyesque (Mark 1), I can think of no higher accolade.
One such break through midfield led to a Borough player rounding the keeper and just taking the ball too far before hitting the side netting. It really did deserve a goal. It wasn't for lack of trying that another goal didn't arrive until two minutes from time with Ricky Creer slotting home after managing what Town players can't, namely winning in a one on one situation. We made a bit of noise at this time having previously treated (if that’s the right word) some Borough supporters to "I would rather follow Borough than the Town" which Gary and I have sung in splendid isolation in the Upper Findus during particularly dire defeats.
As one of the group of three Town fans behind us said, it’s nice to see a Grimsby team win away and not concede. In fact a short rendition of "Jingle Bells" was heard. Whilst we awaited a bus back to Donny, Gary and I worked out that the "Pigbag" tune can be worked to "Der der der der der Grimsby Borough!" It’s got potential...
Man of the match for me was Lee Stephenson who I understand is an ex Townie and it was nice to be asked our opinion by a young Borough fan. Fan democracy in action! Every player was a credit and fair play to the Brodsworth players who might have been unhappy with each other at times but didn't give up. They had forced a good save from the Borough keeper with just a few minutes to go.
Full time: Welfare 0 Borough 4
I like the look of the Grimsby Borough hats/polo shirts so that’s a temptation. Sadly, I didn't manage to get a programme on the day but the matchday secretary will post these out to us which is a decent gesture. Overall, a very enjoyable afternoon out.
Thanks to Rona Simons, the Grimsby Borough chairperson, for allowing me to crib player details from their professional looking (and up to date!) web site. I'm not the best at picking out players and the lack of a programme made identification difficult.
One thing I did pick out was the On Loan sponsorship on the back of the Borough shirts. That reminds me of our players last season!
Brodsworth have one point from seventeen games and have scored six and conceded sixty three. Borough move up to seventh with twenty seven points from seventeen games. They've only played four home games so far and have won six and drawn two of their thirteen away, scoring twenty seven and conceding twenty three. It’s certainly not dull.
I'd certainly recommend a trip to Bradley to watch Grimsby Borough. I understand it'll be a modest £5 and you may be pleasantly surprised by what you see. I know they were pleased with the extra support yesterday and you will be assured of a warm welcome as we have been.
UTM and UTB!
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