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Question of the Week

Should Russell Slade be sacked?

Yes immediately
Give him one more game


Mentioned Part 50

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 05/05/2003

Home > Features > Mentioned > Mentioned #50

& nbsp;

"No disrespect to the likes of Grimsby..."

sunday 05th may

Darren Barnard

From the Rotherham United Supporters Trust

"Still on the playing front, I was somewhat dismayed to hear that Darren Barnard; a long time target of Ronnie Moore's had signed a two-year deal at Grimsby Town. The Mariners have little money to splash out on wages and have even had to re-negotiate payment of £150,000 still owed to Everton for the transfer of Jeavons.

How then were they able to offer the former Barnsley man a deal when we couldn't? Grimsby are probably the poorest club in the entire first division yet they have managed to offer a quality player a decent deal when our club couldn't! Our lack of signings is becoming an embarrassment, especially when the likes of the Mariners are still bringing in new faces. Everyone connected with Rotherham United is agreed on one thing, we must sign some new players, otherwise we'll go down."

Spotted by chockabloke.

Fans suffer as Town flounder

From the Daily Telegraph.

Forget the Reebok and the Stadium of Light. Don't let the San Siro or the Maracana cloud your judgment. Blundell Park, Cleethorpes, is where you find real heroes. Not on the pitch, on the terraces. Unless you've cradled your Bovril in a weather-beaten stand with the wind off the North Sea slapping you around the face like a wet fillet while your team mount yet another survival battle, you haven't felt the primeval throb of English football. Then again - why would you want to?

Grimsby Town - the name alone paints images of rotting fish under a slate-grey sky - were the most unloved club in the Nationwide Division One until Wimbledon developed body odour. It wouldn't be so bad if they played at home now and then. But the Blundell family's unaccountable decision to build the stadium in Cleethorpes has condemned Grimsby to 100 years of football in someone else's parish. They face the unpalatable statistic that there are more fish and chip shops than football fans on the south side of the Humber.

"You can't possibly watch the Mariners on an empty stomach," confided my guide, a fellow journalist who first uncorked his ballpoint on the Grimsby Evening Telegraph before escaping inland. One look at their perilous position with 39 goals conceded in 20 games convinced me he must be right.

We marched, collars upturned, down the battered high street before tucking ourselves into the Pea Bung, a legendary cafe with steamed up windows where they still serve a pot of tea and a plate of bread and butter with the main course. My colleague continued: "We don't win many but we play flowing football." The final battle cry of the no-hopers. I had visions of another coats-for-goalposts extravaganza to match the recent visit of Burnley, who perished by the odd goal in 11.

When Danny Coyne let in the 40th of the season before we'd even sat down, my hopes were temporarily raised. There were 89 minutes to go. A contingent of well-oiled Leicester fans launched into "We love you Leicester, we do", interrupted by "Shut up you total muppets!" from somewhere over my left shoulder. In the distance a cargo of Polish coal sailed through the mist into Immingham docks while a bunch of sodden anglers trudged along the sea wall in a world of their own. This, I thought, is what football's all about.

Grimsby has always been a hard town. Shoved up against the estuary, joined at the hip to the most unglamorous seaside resort outside Siberia where steam trains once discharged thousands of working-class families directly onto the beach. Half a mile away is the pontoon they called Pneumonia Quay because it wrecked the lives of fishermen unloading Faroe Island haddock at three o'clock on freezing winter mornings. By three o'clock on Saturday afternoons most of them would be too drunk to bother with football.

For all that, crowds of 20,000 rejoiced under Shankly in the 50s and McMenemy some years later. On Saturday, a mere sprinkling of 7,310 of low-income, low-expectancy fans drizzled home after another defeat Grimsby could not afford. It was a sorry spectacle all round, lifted only by Muzzy Izzet's bicycle kick goal which sealed Leicester's 2-1 win.

Where do the Mariners go from here? I have an idea. They could take their cue from Tommy Cooper, who once invited the audience to applaud before his next stunt in case he died while performing it. When he saw how unappreciative they were, he decided not to bother. If Grimsby can only sell 7,000 tickets for a big attraction like Leicester City, why bother staying in Division One at all?

Spotted by Dave Jagger.

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