The eternal carnival that is being a Grimsby Town supporter rolled into Oldham town. The town itself is like walking through the Grange or the East Marsh so a lot of us would’ve felt right at home amongst the grit and the grime- that’s not having a go, the similarities were many and not very subtle between this part of Greater Manchester and our own Great Grimsby.
In the blue corner were the Latics, down on their luck and seemingly about to chuck their manager and half the players, an owner who expects too much and a club that have been on the slide since I was born in the early nineties. In the black and white corner were the Mariners, looking to bounce back from being given a lesson in football by Crewe a week earlier.
There's no colour and no sound, gotta get out of this satellite town.
Should be quite straight-forward this? Of course not. Matches are not worn on paper, unfortunately. We started horrifically. In front of the largest away following in League Two over the weekend, Oldham scurried and hurried as we squirmed and wormed around, barely stringing a series of passes together. We looked like we’d been on the piss the night before, Whitehouse and Hendrie guilty of not having their heads in the game and we, inevitably, went behind. That’s every league game this season since the opening day that Town have gone a goal down. We just can’t seem to score first.
More mix-ups and mistakes saw us looking disjointed and disappointing. The sparkly, springy play seen against the likes of Bradford and Vale looked light years away as Oldham dribbled, we bibbled, and they looked dangerous with every attack.
Half-time came and the rumour was that the ground had run out of beer and pies. What sort of Northern football ground doesn’t stock up on the bare essentials? Cue lots of stern-looking Townites, twisting their melons at the horrorshow first-half.
We were sat up in the nosebleeds of the Chaddy End until some enterprising fans made a dash for the cordoned off section of the stand, loads followed in a glorious triumph of away fan warfare. "We’re Grimsby Town, we sit where we want" rang out into the calm Greater Manchester air.
We had no fear of falling.
Oh look, there’s a hoof and hope. Oh look, there’s a blind stab at the football. Oh look, the comments from the crowd are getting more and more aggressive. 2-0. Obviously. Oldham pushed us into our own penalty box and scored another easy goal. Another completely avoidable goal. Which I missed. I couldn’t tell you who scored because some lad in a bright pink Town top waved his arms up right at the moment and I missed it.
Anyway, Cook began to show flashes of inspiration as the Mariners marauded. A shot on target- 70 odd minutes in- and we finally looked a football team. Far too late.
Cook fired home a fizzing frazzler as the Latics looked lethargic, not used to being in winning positions. We had something to cheer. They had something to fear. Football really can make you shed a tear.
We flew forward now, tails up and taking no prisoners. Why do we wait until we’re a couple of goals down before we start to play football? Frustration FC. Come on Jolley, give their heads a wobble and get them in the game from the word GO.
A corner comes in. Goal. Ludvig Ohman nets his highly-anticipated first Town goal. The big Swede got his big swede onto the end of the whistling whack and walloped a well-directed wig-flick beyond the despairing ‘keeper for 2-2. Two good attacks. Two goals. Why did we not start the game in this fashion? It shows what we need to do, it’s fair enough being difficult to beat and not knowing when we are beaten but, please, we beg, score a bloody goal first!
We could even have won it at the end. Macca made a save at 2-1 that turned out to be a complete game-changer. It’s not a place or a ground that I particularly want to visit again. Their fans were rubbish, quiet and apart from a few hardy souls behind their goal, the stadium rattled to the sound of the East Coast. Oldham fans should be embarrassed that they were outsung by the visiting team’s support.
In the circumstances, it’s a point gained. However, they are a side that haven’t won at home, were 21st in the table and are seemingly sliding slowly towards becoming a non-league club. We looked beaten. How on Earth did that last ten minutes happen?
Let us sit and ponder on what could be. It is better to remain silent and be thought of as a fool, than to open your mouth and have all doubt removed. That is a phrase that describes Grimsby Town FCs recent history like no other. Every season preview I seem to say the same: “if the team can click then we could have a good time.”
We have seen about as much entertainment as we would have if we all sat in a row, staring at a freshly-painted grey wall and waited for the excess droplets to drip slowly towards the floor in a very visual display of gravity in full flow. Literally watching paint dry. If the team can show more consistency and play how they did in the 5-2 win over Tranmere or the first-half of the August draw with the Gimps last campaign then we could see some real fun.
I’m frustrated by flattery, disappointed by dross and underwhelmed by underachievement. Michael Jolley has a group of players that look half decent on paper, when they step onto the Morecambe pitch on Saturday, they need to show it. Ever since the end of Russell Slade, I’ve been saying that the Mariners are going to do bits. I don’t wanna be seen to be of a distrustful nature so I need Hess, Clifton, Macca and the rest to do the business and prove me right. Who doesn’t like being proven right?
In terms of the summer window, is there any danger of signing another defender, MJ? With a takeover looking more like a fakeover, we have been distracted by the prospect of the downfall of Emperor Fenty to realise that the coaching staff have built a useful-looking group of Grimsbyites. If we can keep Elliott Whitehouse fit then he could run the show along the passing lynchpin of Jake Hessenthaler. We need a sharp James Hanson and Matt Green to do what we have seemingly forgotten to do- put the ball in the net.
There is quality throughout. Our new Captain Marvel, Lord McKeown of Morrisons will lead by example. The adopted Grimbarian is used to keeping us in matches (at times in the past two seasons, he’s kept us in the division) and with leaders emerging in Hendrie and our Super Swede Ludvig Ohman, there is, finally, a steel and drive to the black and white army.
I’m sure that the first fixture that anyone feasted their eyes on was Scunny home and away. It’s been a while since the Men of Iron have been languishing in the lower reaches of the league system with us, the ‘noisy neighbours’ and with the added incentive of their new manager being Paul ‘He Cupped His Ears At Wembley’ Hurst, it just makes the derby a bit more daunting, a bit more dodgy and a lot more dynamic.
The key to any football club's success is the support of its hardcore fanbase (we take a lot of away fans to the corners of the country, although I'm sure some Leeds fans will read this and, as we all know, they would take more). We are very fortunate to have some of the finest fans walking the planet. The optimism and positivity radiates from crowd to pitch more than you'd imagine, swap the boos for woooos and the jeers for 'better luck next time, my dears' and we're on the road to recovery. A simple statement. We're all Town, aren't we.
But, before all that we have some absolute slogs to slink away to (Plymouth, Exeter, Crawley, Carlisle are all MILES away) and as usual, I expect the barmy 100 to be eating up the rail tracks, hunting down the motorways and singing and dancing all the way there and back again. We have a great fanbase. This is something our ‘Stadium Manager’ doesn’t seem to appreciate. But enough of the pitter patter, we have the little matter of a visit from Bradford City in the first home game of the season. The bobbies are busy getting their babble out about Bradford coming to cause trouble. So, let’s kick off early. That’s the solution. And absolutely nothing more needs to be said about that.
I had a dream, a very lucid and lurid one, it went something like this: It is Easter, Grimsby Town are fighting for a play-off place and Emperor Fenty has announced the take-over is more than just a teenage girl make-over, it’s actually of substance. Harry Clifton has played for Wales and Macca is in the Ireland squad, Whitehouse is the assist king of the division and the new stadium at Freeman Street has been announced. The rain has stopped. Boris has long gone. Lincoln have already been relegated and Hollyoaks has been indefinitely cancelled. It is a glorious time. A brave new world. Then I wake up and realise that we still live in Tory-stuffed, League Two mid-table mediocrity with no hope of a Brexit conclusion or for the resurrection of Joe Strummer to make new music. The bubble bursts.
If we can take any steps towards making this dream a reality then it starts with backing the boys. Support the team, not the regime. Pack the park and create the spark. Think of another sentence that rhymes and send me it in the comments.
There was a time when I fell out of love with the game, but the fact that I have raging butterflies making progress through my intestines tells me that, like a true love, football never leaves you. It doesn’t love you back but you acknowledge the emotion within. Grimsby Town could finish anywhere between 10th and 16th this season (I’m sick of embarrassing myself with bold predictions of success) and that just means that we’re going to be entertained, frustrated, dejected, emotionally destroyed, happy, angry, vocal and engaging in the usual banter up and down Blighty for the next eight and a bit months.
I cannot wait.
Up the Mariners.
Liam Gallagher’s nasal tones swept across the Pontoon, for the first time anyone can remember, the speakers were actually working inside the ground. No more muffled announcements or mumbling chart music.
Is it my imaginayyyyyyyshyyyyun, or have we finally found something worth working for?
Cheltenham are a bogey team of ours. A team that love to stick the boot in- literally- and are generally considered hoofball hopers in these parts. Let’s get physical.
Jolley kept faith with our travelling strikeforce, Thomas and Cook, to give us the bite we needed up top. Personally, John Welsh would’ve relished the opportunity to get stuck into some of the burly Robins that had rocked up to Cleethorpes looking for a bit of knuckle.
Early doors, Hess was running the show again. He’s one of the best midfield players I’ve seen at BP in a long, long while. If he can add goals and leadership then we could have, dare I say it, a Disley Mark II on our books. Only without the emotion of Wembley or the free meals in Steels, obviously.
Cheltenham chased and chafed, leaving marks behind as they swan-dived to ground under the challenge of the particles of sand wafting over the ground. Another team in the Lincoln mould- kick you about for 90 minutes and go down to win free-kicks at every opportunity. It’s almost as if Barry Fry and John Beck are back at the helm of lower-league clubs. Hoof. Scuff. Kick. Stamp.
I can’t remember Macca having anything to do, really. Our James in his jaffa jersey, a spectator of the Most Tedious Show on Earth. Our rhythm and sprite was quashed by the Crazy Gang tactics of Mike Duff’s men. It was a game of few chances, few sparkling moments but with frequent examples of people being nudged back to consciousness. Still, rather this than the Ponce Parade of the Premier League where elite clubs moan about their millions and their players hobble off the pitch with a sore throat.
There was some grappling and hassling from the robust Robins. Thomas scurried through into the area and was clotheslined down by a brute Cheltenham player. The whistling referee, Trevor Kettle, getting a lot of stick about his age and eyesight, signalled penalty. At last, a chance to put the ball in the net because we ain’t gonna do that playing a team set-up for an old-fashioned draw.
Wes Thomas, who missed his last spot-kick, made sure with a weeping wibbler that dribbled beyond Flinders and sent the half-asleep Blundell Park into half-time ahead.
The second half arrived after watching a young lad pull off some fine saves in goal during the half-time entertainment.
We were shooting towards the paltry congregation of away fans, the ball miles away from my view. Not that I missed anything. The visitors kicked and tricked and licked as boots flew in. This is the fourth tier of English football and our pretty passing and sudden vibrancy cannot work against anti-football. Lincoln City are stealing a promotion out of playing that way and it’s not for the likes of us. We are Grimsby, we play on the floor.
Time was ticking away, slipping away, the dusk beginning to settle the day. Town tried to take down this torrent of troubling terribleness but couldn’t find a second goal. Oh well, the team that attempted to actually play the sport as it should be prevailed narrowly.
It’s after results like this that confidence grows. Four wins out of four for the improving Mariners, however, we’ve done this before over Christmas and were shown up to still be frustratingly inconsistent. Jolley, you’re the one. For now, we’re on a roll.
What odds on a win against the fake football club from MK1? Well, Mariners faces were set to stunned as Town put in a glorious rear-guard performance to douse the flames of injustice and defeat the Franchise.
Early signs were not good, a diabolical referee invoking ire from the Lower and from the pontoon, arms raised and expletives shouted towards the inept officials. Fouls from MK went unpunished. If a Town player fell off the subs bench then the ref was blowing. He whistled, we cried. They wasted free-kicks, we laughed.
Jake Hessenthaler ran the show, shackling Mk midfielders and causing a nuisance as he sprayed the ball towards Thomas-Cook, our strikeforce. Embleton scrabbled around, flanked by the impressive Hendrie and the departing Fox to give us a gilt-edged attacking flair not seen in 2019. We usually score one goal a month and so it was, Thomas flicking his head at a wibbling cross to deceive Nicholls and silence the smugly quiet Franchise fans. They’re fake, and they know they are.
Agard ran through with Davis in tow. The Town defender took a bite, then another, then hauled himself at the feet of Agard, conceding a foul. A definite foul. The ref then pulled out the red card, much to the shock of everyone in the ground. It was a yellow. It was a free-kick. But another sending off? No chance. Jolley jumped and Limbrick lipped towards the deaf ears of the officials.
1-0 up at half-time but down to ten. Typical Town.
The second half saw MK push forward, leaving us camped in our own half. Tisdale must have told his troops to try and beat Ludvig Ohman, the black and white brick and wall, made from the finest Swedish flat-pack available. He was simply unbeatable. MK swarmed into the rock-solid back four (or five, or six, whatever we were playing today) but were left frustrated.
If you can find a way past Fortress Blundell Park (Mansfield and Macc excepted) then, you’ll be a man, my son. The team from the Bucks tried and tried, skying shots and scuffing crosses as frustration built around them. I said that Paul Tisdale was the best manager in the league from his exploits at Exeter City but, on this evidence, his MK team are letting him and his dapper cravat down.
A town attack! Sub Hall-Johnson wheeling away down the flank, only to put the brakes on and let the defender clean up. Oh, Reece. More conviction and it could have been two-nil, game over. The sky was dropping into deep purple, a rainy and bitter seaside evening shaping up. Thomas had a shot clawed over by the desperate Nicholls.
The fans edged forwards, begging the shocking ref to blow his whistle. 5 minutes added on. Oh, good. We concede late goals enough. Not this time, though. Ohman and Whitmore whacking and smacking any loose ball right into the Cleethorpes air. Have it. Hoof. The fake football club in their garish strip were chased away from the East Coast by the granite-efficient Grimsby defence.
The Desperate Dons did not look like promotion contenders on this evidence. For us, that was just fine ‘n’ Dandy. A good win and a morale-booster as well.
Credit Hess who was exceptional and Jolley for getting his subs spot on. I hope the Jolley Out Brigade have returned under the rocks where they live.
Derby day descended on a biting early afternoon in Cathedral City. In the purple corner, Grimsby Town, the horde of Viking invaders dropping into Lincoln with victory in mind. In the red and white corner, the Impish league-leaders looking to get one over on their more famous neighbours. A right, royal rumble in the rusty rebirth of New Year.
Last time out, Lincoln fluked a penalty to pinch an undeserved point and revenge was on the cards for Jolley and co. The early signs were not looking good after Akinde went down under a challenge from the slight breeze and McCartan muddled in the middle, hassled by Hess and wriggling free to win a corner. A half-hearted clearance, twelve minutes on the backwards clock of Sincil Bank, saw Toffolo hoof one home to give the Lincolnite the lead.
Akinde continued to scrabble and wobble around, for being a big unit of a lad, he certainly gets done over by any wafting litter that he thinks may have been a Mariners boot. The shots flew in- from one set of supporters to the other- and the cycle of ‘you’re shit’ and ‘you’re fake’ punctuated the perishing chill.
Just before half-time, it’s that man again, Akinde went in heavily with an elbow, Town fans up on their feet, jeering and sneering. The referee, Mike Dean of the Premier League, ignored the hollering and harrumphing from behind the goal and the lucky Akinde stayed on the pitch. The boos rang and the booze began to hang as the whistler walked off. 1-0 down, not to worry. This is a Grimsby side that come back to earn points.
Manager of the Month refused to budge, sending the same eleven out to try and play their pretty, intricate passages as lumps of Lincoln, languid and false, huffed and hoofed in Cowley-esque fashion. The kind of football to make you fall asleep had somehow worked and they were on top of the league. Cardwell and Thomas tried, and failed, to get the better of Eardley and ‘keeper Smith as the defensive drawbridge was downed on our strikeforce. Attack, attack, attack. Nothing doing in the derby day shoeing.
Imps sang songs about being the Greatest Team in the Land and the Pride of Lincolnshire. Okay then, it must be great being better than the fifteen retired people who live in North Hykeham to be honest.
Chances were at a premium, a ball darted through towards their goal. Town fans waited, Lincoln anticipation baited, nerves grated. Macca...Macca? Oh and our hero custodian, in his custard jersey, cleaned out Danny Rowe and Dean delved into his pocket to pull out the red card. Jimmy Mac off, Mariners fans foaming and fuming at the injustice. I’ve since seen the highlights back and he really does steam into him, like a good old-fashioned Vinnie Jones tackle.
That felt like the final curtain. A goal down plus a man down against a side as robust and (some might say, one that cheats so blatantly…but let’s keep that opinion to ourselves. Oops.) solid as Lincoln equals defeat. 9650 people crammed into Plastic Fans HQ to watch a load of old rubbish on a Saturday afternoon. I love it. It was derby day.
Where were you when you were shit was echoing around the terraced streets as Town taunted tinpot- you may have won the battle but you’re still about half a century behind us success and fame-wise. Good riddance to fake football- oh wait, its MK Dons next weekend- and Up The Mariners.
A tight game in the early afternoon of the new year saw Mansfield marginally get past the in-form Mariners.
The Stags are unbeaten away and in fine fettle, they came straight out to test the mettle of Grimsby Town, on a four-match winning streak. Away fans had travelled from deepest Nottinghamshire. They made noise and news as their yellow and blue kit melted into itself. A calm and still afternoon at the seaside saw a depleted defence sent out to tackle a mischievous Mansfield.
The ball bogged in the middle of the pitch, midfield maestros Mellis and Hessenthaler locked in a rutting battle of Stag versus Mariner. The nippy and nifty youngsters from Cleethorpes chased hard but were, inevitably, second best to a side on such an unbeaten run.
The Pontoon Stand was cold (no surprise there) as songs drifted over the pitch from the Findus (that is a surprise). All Town Aren’t We belted out by the faithful as Mansfield mimicked every single away fan in the country with their rendition of ‘Grimsby’s a shithole…’ yet again, we reminded them that they were actually in Cleethorpes.
Anyway, Macca made a fine save which lead to a corner, which lead to a free header from Bishop, which lead to Jimmy Mac furiously booted the ball into the crisp sky and cursing his defence. 1-0. Bishop celebrated as the referee, pretty in pink, began to get on everyone’s nerves by constantly whistling every time a Town player got within ten yards of their opponents.
The boos and jeers echoed throughout, the officials having a baffling day at the office. There were more whistles than a 1970s building site. Embleton embled his way through the middle with Hess and Harry scuffling and shuffling in vain. It wasn’t a bad effort from Town, they were just not not the better side.
Second half came and more ridiculous refereeing saw people up off their seats, red faced and air turning blue as the man in pink was seemingly on the side of the yellows. Jolley and his Amazing Techincolor Dreamcoat couldn’t inspire his team to a fifth win on the bounce. The bubble has not burst. Like I’ve said, they were just the better side.
Woolford wibbled, Pringle popped and Thomas tangled as the Mariners tried desperately to break-down a resolute Mansfield defence. Conrad Logan pulling off a fine save from the impressive Embleton.
Substitute Vernam injected pace into the wings but just couldn’t make his link-up with fellow off-the-bench forward Ahkeem Rose. The superb Krystian Pearce kept the Roses and the Harry’s at bay, much to the home side’s frustration.
Embleton ran through and was tripped. The referee theatrically waved his arms. No penalty. No way. No chance. Fans were up again, hands waving, eyes popping, mouths moving. All the F’s under the seaside sun. The man in the middle was unmoved by such expletives and his generally poor day was capped by another poor decision.
A Mansfield player went down under the exact same kind of challenge and the Whistler waved free-kick. That was a foul that had gone unpunished for one team. It’s one rule for one and a completely different set of rules for Grimsby Town. On three: we always get shit refs…
It’s not the end of the world. Six wins out of seven and a wonderful Christmas time for Jolley and his team. The pain and suffering of September seems light-years away as optimism begins to break through the clouds once more.
Onwards and upwards this new year.
Let’s have a day out in the cup against the big boys.
Up the Mariners.
There is something odd about a 2pm, Sunday kick-off. Grimsby Town in the third round of the FA Cup is almost as odd, rarer than a rump steak that has just sizzled on the grill for a matter of seconds.
Chesterfield away was the ball that greeted us in the draw for round two, a trip to deepest Derbyshire in the late twilight of autumn. The mosaic of matted leaves and a warm welcome from the friendly police awaited over a thousand Mariners.
A breezy, brisk escort to the pub where we were horrified to discover was cash only was observed impeccably. Of course, I’m being sarcastic. It was pure overkill. Not to worry, let’s have a few bevvies and a sing-song together. The bar was cash only. Can we pop out and use the cash machine, Mr Plod? Got it in one, Lucky Jim, of course we can’t. The great unwashed must remain sober and silent.
Anyway, the ProAct looks too good for National North which is where Chesterfield may yet be heading. A once proud club floating around the lower echelons of the third tier with us not so long ago are in a plight of dire straits. Let’s appoint Martin Allen. The serial dinosaur tactician.
Kick-off came, cheers turned to fears as the Spireites put a dangerous cross right under the chin of Macca, Fox flapping his fringe at it and seeing it almost sneak beyond the ‘keeper, looking vibrant in his custard-coloured kit. Mariners sang and joked and enjoyed the mild Midlands weather.
Tom Denton, a burly striker in the Grzegorz Lato mould, using his considerable frame to try cause trouble in the Town box, he was marshalled expertly by Captain Collins.
A Town break, Vernam had a shot that sliced sideways off a Spireite and the ref signalled corner. A decent delivery from Pringle, a flick-on at the near post and the Caistor lad Vernam was there to vulture home. Lethal from two yards and the black and white army were a goal to the good.
Visiting fans relaxed, stewards began forming a line in front of us, looking like the World Worst Riverdance tribute. They hi-vizzed and hard-stared as if we were about to break free from the stand and furrow a path into the empty stand to our left.
Second-half started with more Spireite shanking and Town tickling. Embleton beginning to run the show with Hess and Clifton clicking and picking passes. It was nice. We weren’t in the highest gear but there was a sense we were getting the job done.
Curtis Weston had an effort deflected just wide- easily their best chance- and relaxed comfort turned to apprehension once more. You just never know with Town do you?
Collins flicked to the town midfield, Clifton broke free and was released decisively. He accelerated and attempted to slot a cool clipper beyond Callum Burton. Initially thwarted, our Harry was first to the rebound to fire us into round two.
Job done. Nice one. Now, the fun begins again.
Town saw it off for the remaining twenty minutes, Embleton, Pringle and substitute Cardwell all having chances to seal it with a kiss but could only manage a miss.
Full-time whistle. Stewards and police swarming around already. Honestly, you can’t even sneeze too close to the ground now without six Derbyshire coppers asking you what you think you’re doing. The price these fantastic and loyal Grimsby fans have to pay for being loyal away travellers, eh?
I usually get to one away game a season (I don’t get weekends off generally) and this sort of full-scale mission was completely unnecessary. They were everywhere. All the side streets, alleys, jiggers, pubs and some of them might as well have been halfway up the trees that lined the way to the stadium. They’ll be having a debrief about how bloody well they did taming these wild animals and stopping an imminent threat of violence.
Did you see a Chesterfield fan? I don’t think I did. All I could see was truncheons and hats, times a thousand. That’s council tax well spent for the people of Chesterfield. I bet if they got their house burgled, you’d see a copper limp his way there a couple of weeks later. Priorities. Cage us up and send us home.
Still, good spirits as Town fans were once again ushered away.
What a lovely welcome and cheerful goodbye we received. Apparently, freedom of movement has stopped completely in Derbyshire. Very Brexit.
So, onto the draw. Leeds or Hull away. Go on, please. Stick your hand in Gullit and grab us a juicy awayday in bleak January.
Not too bad. A Premier League team, plenty of money in the bank, potential for television, hundreds of Grimbarian gobs descending once more on our nation’s capital.
Back to the grind in Cheltenham on Saturday. Hopefully, the visiting fans are treated with something better than utter contempt.
We have just been discriminated against.
It would be such a cliché to say anything like ‘five star performance’ about Town’s fantastic win on Tuesday night. So, I’m not going to. I look forward to this team growing together, youthful and exuberant after the early struggles of the season. We were wretched but seem to be turning a corner onto the fast lane, instead of slogging along and breaking down on the goalless hard shoulder.
Grit and determination from Mariners after Norwood pounced on a loose ball to beat Macca and put Tranmere 1-0 up. Undeserved.
McKeown made a wonderful save, stopping us going two down. It was a game changer. No doubt.
Undeterred, Town piled forward, putting pressure on the Boys from the Birkenhead. A cross clipped in, straight onto the head of Clifton- bingo!- his first professional goal for his hometown club. He’s one of our own. A bit of come dancing from Clifton as he kissed the badge. Now that’s retro.
We didn’t sit back and kept on plugging away, Vernam and Embleton revving the engines as Hessenthaler hassled, harassed and harangued the hokey-cokey back four of the visitors. Vernam pegged it into the box, slipped in a ball at chest height for Thomas to do his best Maradona impression. What luck, the officials missed it. Red faces from the refs, blue faces from the Wirraliens and Lady Luck smiling down on the shimmering rain in Cleethorpes.
Why does it always rain on us?
Up at half-time, Tranmere fans booed the assistants and the man in the middle, they sang songs about Grimsby being an awful place (two things here- firstly, you’re not in Grimsby, you’re in Cleethorpes and second, tell us something we don’t know).
Second half came, the seaside rain dribbling and dripping over the damp fans in the Main Stand. Hope they brought their cagoules. A town corner was delivered beautifully onto the bonce of Whitmore who saw his bullet repelled by their ‘keeper. Another corner, Pringled up and under to a pinball penalty box. Thomas flicked at it, Clifton had a go, I think even Hess entered the mess but it was Harry Davis who poked home through puddled and muddled Tranmere to put us, incredibly, 3-1 up against a play-off chasing team.
My, how the tables had turned. Remember when they waved at us back in 2004? Town fans very rarely forget things like that.
The atmosphere began to crackle as cackling Cleethorpians blew the rain across the Humber, watching and enjoying the tide of Town, ebbing and flowing towards a comprehensive win.
I wanna know, have you ever seen the rain?
And yet, in typical fashion, a bit of messing around on the left side of the pitch saw us lose the ball, allow Mullin the freedom of Blundell Park to smash home another undeserved Rovers goal. Rovers Returning. Macca fumed as his defence daggered each other.
Mitch came on to try and shore up the decks, and, typically Davis was bundled over by a robust challenge. The ref signalled spot-kick. Rose rocked up, ratcheting up the Pontoon orchestra. A frenzy of noise in the whispering chill of early winter. Rose (pen) did what he does best and slammed homw to restore our two-goal lead.
Game over as far as Tranmere were concerned. They may have been singing a chant that sounded a lot like they were repeating ‘Tubeway Army’ over and over again but their friends were by no means electric.
This was the Mariners day. Blundell Park becoming a tough place to visit lately. Jolley’s swashbuckling and swinging style was starting to bear fruit. Hopefully this is the new dawn we’ve been hoping MJ can muster up.
The rain stopped. Tranmere’s defence stopped. A cute passing move saw one-touch tiki-taka deceive the flat-footed visitors. Embleton, capping another impressive display, on the end of the brilliant move to slide home number five. Five goals at home. In one match. The team that scored ONE GOAL IN SEPTEMBER had given a much-fancied side the runaround in a dynamite display of Jolleyan joy.
Thunder only happens when it’s raining.
Bring on Chesterfield in the cup on Sunday. Let’s hope we win through and get one of the big boys- but do not underestimate the plucky non-league teams in the FA Cup.
On a personal note, match reports may be few and far between as work commitments over Christmas means I’ll have to miss a game or two, totally unavoidable. Up the Mariners.
The turn around in fortune continues as Jolley's jolly Mariners beat high-flying Colchester on a deep blue Cleethorpes night.
Floodlit football is always better, always adds to the romance, the slight chill wrapped up in pristine light as the lack and white boys lined up in the same side that had picked up seven points from a possible nine.
Early doors, the wingers whipped and wibbled around, almost having a cutting edge. Something lacking through our dismal September.
There's no colour and no sound, gotta get out of this satellite town.
Keeping faith with MJ looks, touch wood, to have been a good decision at the minute. When the going got tough, he changed things around, took the responsibility and it's worked out just lately. I'm dead pleased for the lad. He talks the talk and his team, this month at least, have begun to walk the walk.
Clifton and Embleton had craft and energy, making the Essex midfielders chase around the centre. The impressive Hall-Johnson finding through balls to Vernam, the youngster feeding Thomas and trying to get Hooper to run more than ten yards.
We had a chance. Vernam wriggled past defenders and fired just over, to the jeers of the 100 odd travelling U's fans.
Our defence went into a famous daydream, danger averted by a flying save from Magic Macca. Colchester showing a mild threat. That's not fair, we were looking the better side.
The ref was having a shocker as usual, giving offside to players running from half way down Imperial Avenue. Thomas fell foul of this faux pas several times as he tried to latch onto the intricate chips and dips from RHJ and the ever impressive young Mackem, Embleton.
Half-time came, went, back out into the breezy seaside evening. Midnight blue skies mixed with shiny, happy people as the teams kicked off again.
Chance! Vernam once again finding space to run into, Hooper listlessly lurching towards goal at the speed of a clapped out old VW Beetle. He needs to up his work rate because there is a decent player there somewhere.
Colchester began to play a bit. The absolute unit that is Nouble steaming towards Hendrie and Collins who, as usual, backed off allowing the centre-forward to move forward to the centre. One of their players, Senior I think, crossed in and a header cannoned off the bar. Danger, danger, high voltage.
The solid Whitmore cleared up before Town went on the attack again. A fantastic move, reminiscent of Brazil 1970 as an inch perfect Isco-esque superball which was missed completely by Colchester and fell nicely to Wes Thomas. The rapid striker accelerated, beating his man before slotting a cool finish beyond Gilmartin to give Town a deserved lead.
On course for ten points from twelve.
On course for four successive clean sheets.
If the rearguard could hold on then it would be a wonderful way to start my birthday week celebrations. Hessenthaler and Welsh were on, shoring up the solid showing. Collins repelled. Whitmore denied. McKeown caught. Hall-Johnson tackled. It was a true team performance with Town actually competing for every header, what a difference a month makes.
Senior blazed high and wide into his own travelling supporters, a roar of appreciation from Mariners all around.
The final whistle ends a wonderful spectacle and an even better result.
Do you believe in life after love?
Bring on Crewe on Saturday, not a place we've had a good recent record at.
What a difference a week makes, as a dynamite performance from Grimsby Town saw them finally win at Blundell Park.
Port Vale, the opposition who last year tried to invade the lower Findus, looked quite poor from the start. They were playing hoof and hope, it was like a highlights reel from Sladeball last season. Vale shanked and scuffed as Town set their stall out early.
A through ball by a Port defender fell into the running path of Wes Thomas who obliged happily, sliding around the goalkeeper to gracefully grab a goal in front of grumbling Stokeite away fans.
Inside one minute, the Mighty Mariners were ahead and as we faced the sun, we cast no shadow.
Tiki-taka by the seaside, the breezy chill cutting through occasional bouts of streaky sunshine. Jolley jostling and gesticulating on the touchline as his team began to dig deep, repelling the veiled Vale threat.
I looked over at the 200 or so Vale fans and wondered if they were about to sink in the slumping seats of the sparse away end. They came, they were quiet, they would never conquer.
Autumn swirling around the Pontoon as every sarcastic remark and jeer towards the referee could be heard, a laughable performance by the man in black in the centre. He was seemingly guessing decisions and Port Vale got away with several chokeslams on Hooper and Thomas, their players falling down faster than Poundworld’s profit margins.
Half-time came, the whistle followed by booming booing towards the officials. They were bad. Flagging up nothing challenges at will but missing the key fact that Vale defenders were auditioning for a place in the next Royal Rumble.
The queue for the toilets was the shortest I’ve seen so far, the hot water was turned off, of course, and the usual mutterings of rage mixed with the usual mutterings of wise analysis.
Now, we’ve had a history of collapsing in the second half. It’s been the horror story of the season so far. Hooper hit the post after a brilliant, creative move instigated by the excellent Hall-Johnson and Embleton. The young Sunderland midfielder was running the show with Clifton alongside him, nibbling and dribbling through a bibbling Vale back-line.
Thomas had everyone chasing his shadow, it was a vintage Mariners showing.
Embleton found Thomas, the unplayable striker involved yet again as a cross fell right at Hooper’s feet. He has his critics but this was the JJ of the back-end of last season, a tap-in that sent the home fans into pure pandemonium. A relief. A release. A real-life rollocking rumble. Last week, we were made to look like Sunday league by a Morecambe side that had not long ago lost 6-0 to the mighty Crewe Alexandra; this week, we were the world-beaters as Vale somehow managed to make Hooper, Rose and Whitmore look like Ballon D’Or nominees.
We could even have scored more.
No buckling this time.
No collapse this time.
MJ and the players got it right this time.
I’ve just seen that Mansfield have chickened out of playing us this weekend, with all of three players on international duty. Remember when we had 4 defenders out injured and still put out a team without crying about it and calling it off.
So, we’ll be back in action later than we thought. Hopefully, the momentum stays and the starting eleven sticks to the tekkers we played against Vale.
I’m relatively hate-free this time.