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Dean Sinclair
Dean Sinclair

The View From The Pontoon: Part Two

By: Alex Ramsden
Date: 30/03/2015

CONTINUING our trip down memory lane, circa 2010, the loan capture of midfielder Dean Sinclair from Charlton to play alongside captivating wingers Coulson and Devitt was one of the best things Neil Woods did for the club, and let's face it, there's hardly a long list.

Sinclair brought confidence and craft into the lethargic midfield and his link-up play with Peter Sweeney showed that had the club started the season playing this way, the relegation threat would be lessened.

The 27th of February, 2010 saw the club lose to Dagenham and Redbridge in a game that saw them play as if they didn't even care. Gutless. Heartless. Clueless. This was the first time that Neil Woods was rankled by his side's apparent disregard for the fans and the club. He snapped up Ashley Chambers, again on loan, and young Hull City 'keeper Mark Oxley joined as cover for the error-prone Nick Colgan. Woods was moulding a team that he believed was capable of winning a football match, at the 25th attempt, and to avoid relegation.

A 2-0 defeat to non-league Bath City in the FA Cup earlier in the season had been the lowest point in a decade of decline. From hosting the likes of Nottingham Forest and Ipswich Town, this side had become the also-rans of lower league football and the laughing stock of the Football League. Twenty-five matches without tasting victory, an unwanted club record, six shy of equalling the all-time record, far too many times we had drawn the game instead of having that added bit of desire and gone on to win it. I am sure that had we gone down with a fight, then it wouldn't have been as hard to take. It was very hard to take so maybe that's just me. I would have preferred us to go all out in order to turn a 2-2 draw into a 3-2 win.

Attack, attack, attack.

Ok, so it blows up in your face and you lose on the counter but you tried. Nothing beats effort, desire and drive. Teams are relegated when you have just one of these things lacking, in 2010 the Mariners were missing all three.

Which brings us to Saturday 6th March, 2010. The sudden death of former player Keith Alexander the week before had shocked the sport.

Football was irrelevant.

Alexander had been a pioneer of black football coaches and had led Lincoln City to the play-offs in every single one of his seasons in charge before jumping a sinking ship and had ended up at Macclesfield via spells at Bury and Peterborough United. He was remembered fondly by the Mariners for his two season spell in the late eighties, where his long legs motored past opposition defenders as if they weren't even there before finishing with aplomb.

RIP Big Keith, you will be missed.

This sad news brought more significance to the home game with play-off hopefuls Shrewsbury Town. The first match after his death seemed an omen. With the smiling face of Big Keith in the hearts and minds of every player, coach and fan nationwide then surely we couldn't let him down. What happened in the next hour and a half almost changed everything forever.

Goaaaaaaaaaaal, this was unreal. This team on a 25 match winless run had been awarded and converted a penalty kick to make the score Grimsby Town 3-0 Shrewsbury Town. Dean Sinclair had hit two goals as we ended our horror run in stunning fashion. I was chuffed to bits for Neil Woods, finally earning his first win as a manager. It seemed that Big Keith had indeed looked down on us and all the praying, belief and hope had paid off as we put in a fantastic performance in front of our own fans. The Mariners were back in business!

A great solo goal from Jean Louis Akpa Akpro had also helped cap off a resounding success, one that brought the feel good factor back to these depressed shores. We thought this could change everything; this win was the result of a significant improvement in the quality of football, something that Woods and his raft of temporary transfers had to be proud of.

The article continues...

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