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One of These Days: Port Vale Report

By: Tony Butcher
Date: 17/08/2003

A bright, warm afternoon, by the Cote D’Humber, with around 150 or so Port Vale supporters mingling in the Osmond Stand. I hope they enjoyed the chips that were still hanging on Town fans shoulders. Maybe a little bit of vinegar required by now.

Home > 2003-2004 Season > Reports > Port Vale (a)

Grimsby Town 1 Port Vale 2
16 Aug 2003, Nationwide League Division 2

The Town fans drifted in slowly, a buzz of anticipation absent, with a rather strange air of detachment. Expectant but not hopeful.

The pre-match entertainment was provided by the two club mascots lumbering around the pitch, rubbing themselves against goalposts and indulging in exaggerated hand movements. The Mighty Mariner kept his award winning schtick of pelvic thrusting and wood bothering, whilst the Port Vale mascot ("Boomer" the dog. Be careful how you say that in a vaguely Midland accent) marked out his territory in true canine fashion. Not literally, of course, as that would have caused crowd pandemonium that the police could not have controlled. That’s usually a referee’s function in life. Isn’t it? If only Boomer had donned a policeman’s helmet it would have been the spitting image of Fleegle. How fitting given that the Banana Splits’ deadliest soft rock enemies weren’t Rush, but The Sour Grapes, the current accusation de jour aimed at all travelling Mariners.

Town lined up in a 4-4-2 formation, as shown. In other words, same again Sam. There is still no consensus over Ten Heuvel’s nickname, the latest nomination being Ten Green Bottles. Mmm, still not sure. Ten Days Left? The Shovel? Drooper? Write to your MP, the government must act. Something must be done!

Was that Rowland from Grange Hill in the Pontoon? Great hair, great shirt.

1st half

Town kicked off towards the Osmond Stand with a few passes hither and thither, before Barnard launched a long punt down the left touchline. Sighs all around. Nothing much happened in the first few minutes, Town lumped, Port Vale headed it back. Then a Town corner. Danger! Danger! To Town, as Vale’s electric number 6 headed clear and they broke quickly as Hamilton dallied, waiting for someone else to deal with the ball as it bounced behind his big bonce. Off the sky blue rockets ran, down their left, passes exchanged, Town all of a tizz, with defenders heard, but not seen. Bridge-Wilkinson, 20 yards out, in the centre, saw Davison off his line and dinked a flighty chip. Davison back pedalled, arced his back and superbly tipped the ball over from just under the bar. The resulting corner was of no consequence as Davison, as he did all afternoon, pounded off his line and plucked the ball from the sky.

Another Town corner, more danger. To Town. The ball was cleared, Littlejohn raced away down their left. Yes, that Littlejohn, a pain in the backside to Town for at least three decades, normally with Warnock, hanging around somewhere. Hamilton again was woeful in his efforts, low, slow and thrashing around like an elephant in a toy shop. McPhee took possession in front of the Town back four, who backed off, and slid the ball inside to Bridge-Wilkinson, who took one touch and wellied a screamer from 30 yards. The ball wobbled, wibbled, dipped and swerved towards the top left hand corner. Davison replicated his magnificence save of just a couple of minutes earlier, by leaning back and diverting the ball over the bar. Just.

This was not good. Town had much possession, but kept giving the ball away either by punting aimlessly, or winning a corner. The organisation in defence was almost non-existent, Ford and Crane appeared to be asleep, especially Ford.

Craneyellow card
Andersonred card
Ten Heuvelyellow card


Rowan80 mins
Mansaram72 mins
Groves45 mins


Phil Prosser


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The report continues in Part Two.

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