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29/11 Tranmere 2nd Half

By: Tony Butcher
Date: 30/11/2003

NO changes were made by either team at half time. The game kicked off, then stopped for a couple of minutes as Navarro was squashed by Hamilton.

Home > 2003-2004 Season > Reports > Tranmere (h)

Grimsby Town 0 Tranmere Rovers 1
29 Nov 2003, Nationwide League Division 2

The second half managed to be worse than the first. Town had the ball just as much, but produced even less. Tranmere also managed to do even less attacking. Somehow they managed to do less than nothing, which was still more than Town. A riddle, wrapped up in an enigma? A bit like a Neil Woods dribble, there was much ado about nothing. The crowd somehow was less animated too. I think we all wanted to go home.

Ooh, hang on. Town attacked. McDermott sweeping, surging, striking poses down the right. He crossed low into the area and Barnard, on the centre right near the penalty spot (yes we thought that odd too) curled a right footed shot towards the top left hand corner. The ball managed to crawl over the bar, as Barnard’s fingers crawled through his newly shorn hair. This was around the hour mark. Yes, that’s right, the hour mark. After 15 minutes of nudging and noodling there was a shot. Town’s attacking had been Boulding running into the wall at the end of the yellow brick road. Onoura? Mmm, on the pitch. Anderson and Campbell barely visible.

Tranmere almost had an attack when Dadi, though offside, was allowed to trot on. He didn’t keep the ball in play. Believe me, that was a highlight. Dadi again almost picked Town’s pocket when Crane headed carefully and very softly back to Davison. He was about a foot short of the ball although Davison was unperturbed. Dadi, Dadi look, there’s an aeroplane up in the sky. Or was it a shooting star? Two words you could not place near a Town players name without fear of ridicule today.

After 61 minutes the first "Sort it Grovesie" for a month was heard. A bit like the first cuckoo of spring, isn’t it. Mellon wellied wide, Edwards took out his dust pan and brush and a twitcher pointed out that a Crowe was on the pitch.

Look, nothing really happened. I can’t avoid it, I can’t make things up. Crane missed a free header from a corner. Onoura missed a free header from a cross. In a normal game these would not be worthy of mention, but they suddenly become deeply meaningful in this rotting carcass of a game. Town continued to have the bulk of possession, even playing mainly inside the Tranmere half. But nothing of consequence was happening inside the Tranmere penalty area. With around 20 minutes left a series of Town corners ended with that old Anderson trick. From 25 yards he thundered a shot goalwards. The ball hit a defender’s shins and rebounded back upfield, setting Tranmere up for a counter attack. Onwards and upwards they poured. The ubiquitous and marvellously monikered Mickey Mellon received the ball and several Town defenders respected him as a person, avoiding that social faux pas of invading his personal space. With room to breath he looked up and clipped a high, hanging cross from about 25 yards out, underneath the Stones/Smiths/Findus Stand. The ball drifted towards the penalty spot and Davison took a few steps forward as if to come out and catch it. He stopped, went back into his six yards box as Dadi leapt up and headed goalwards. The ball hit Jones somewhere very close to his left arm, so close that it can only be described as his left arm, and dribbled slowly towards the left hand post. Davison was wrong footed and JONES ran after the ball, slid and hooked it in from about a foot out. If you wish to bemoan ill fortune we could contrast this moment with the so-called "handball" by McDermott last week. If you want to deconstruct Town’s defending, we would raise at least three of our eyebrows towards Hamilton and Crane, who were closest to Jones as he ran up to support Dadi. Whatever, they’d scored, that was it.

Barnardyellow card


Groves79 mins
Cas77 mins
Mansaram84 mins


Kevin Friend


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Those mighty Mariners supporters really got behind the team, calling for Cas and Jevons with the hint of a boo Within a couple of minutes Jevons came on for Anderson, which only half pleased the Anderson baiter at the very back of the Pontoon. Now what formation Town were playing wasn’t clear, as Jevons popped up here, there and everywhere. The ball also popped up here, there and everywhere, but not at the same time. Jevons did flick Boulding through on the left. Boulding just ran into three defenders, he was having one of his headless chicken without a head days. With twelve minutes left Case replaced Hamilton to a huge cheer. Equal parts for Cas coming on and for Hamilton finally being taken off. Still the Town formation was indescribable, blokes up at the other end in pretty Bridget Riley op art patterns. There was a half chance for Jevons when he stooped at the near post and headed way over the bar after Town took a quick free kick on the left.

Ah, Jevons’ moment had come. A free kick to Town, 25 yards out. Expectations high, the Town fans stood ready to acclaim this fallen star. But would it be Barnard, would it be Des, we’d just have to wait and see. Jevons curled it against the shins of the last man in the wall for a corner. Corner wasted. Sit down again, apart from you fickle fans who’d given up and started to walk out with over five minutes left. Another substitution, Mansaram for Onuora and who knows what they were up to down at the Osmond End. Crane was permanently up front, challenging Jevons and Mansaram for every cross. Crosses came in, no headers were won. Passes were flicked on, but Tranmere stood in a row along the edge of the their penalty area, scooping up danger in their yellow plastic bin bags. Ooh! No. A through ball towards the corner of the penalty area, Achterberg out, Achterberg fly kicking, Achterberg missing. The ball squirmed out sideways straight to a defender as Boulding lurked.

Despite all the time wasting, all the substitutions and a two minute delay caused by an injury, just three minutes of added time was allowed. During the first of these, Tranmere broke away down their right, got in behind the Town defence and crossed over Davison to the far post. Dadi, unmarked, stretched and toe ended the ball over the bar from about six yards out. With the last kick of the game Town were given a free kick, 25yards out, in the centre. Cometh the hour, cometh the man, would Jevons justify his white boots? He carefully took aim and curled the ball around the wall towards the bottom left hand corner. The ball arrowed, curled, zoomed, dipped towards the empty net. Suddenly a hand appeared, Achterberg flying solo across the Atlantic to spectacularly, magnificently punch the ball away.

And then the game ended.

Truly a dreadful game, and not just down to the weather. The wind subsided in the second half, to be replaced by thin drizzling rain, so the conditions weren’t that bad in the end. Tranmere strangled the game, and who can blame them for that, denying Town space near goal, they forced Town to be cute, to be clever, or be strong. Town were none of these. A badly misfiring midfield engine didn’t help (are Crowe and Hamilton the Wankel rotary engine of professional football?), but a bone-headed reliance on Boulding’s pace was the main culprit. On the three occasions Town passed and moved they carved Tranmere apart.

Neither side deserved victory, but Tranmere deserved a draw more than Town. Maybe Town need a season of mid-table nothingness to make them angry enough to succeed, or maybe they just need that old Pouton drive in the middle. In the meantime, perhaps Town should play his two rottweilers.

So one step back again on the crazy path towards mediocrity.

Nicko’s Man of the Match

Only two candidates for that fictitious laurel wreath. McDermott tried his best to get the players going, making many a surge down the wing. However, the man of the moment for Town was Michael Edwards, sometimes doing two jobs at once. Without him Tranmere would have scored more. Proactive rather than reactive, what a lucky dip he’s been.

Official Warning

K A Friend. No, his surname is far too easy a fish to fry, and that’s what most Town fans would want to do with him. Went out of his way to annoy the homesters with his indulgence of Achterberg’s time wasting from the off. He was unnecessarily fussy and very quick to blow his whistle. He didn’t ruin a bad game, but didn’t give it a chance to be any better. Why is it that referees in this division make a point of not being homers? They doth protest too much, eh? Score? Well, 4.684 would be an approximation of appropriateness.

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