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13/09 Hartlepool Part 2

By: Tony Butcher
Date: 13/09/2003

OTHER small moments where Town almost broke through, but crosses were too high, or passes erring. Barnard curled a 30 yard free kick in a lovely little arc straight into the goalkeeper’s midriff. In contrast, Hartlepool had a shot, which was ever so nice for them, after about 10 minutes.

Home > 2003-2004 Season > Reports > Hartlepool (a)

Hartlepool United 8 Grimsby Town 1
12 Sep 2003, Nationwide League Division 2

And they should have scored. A free kick, out near the left hand corner of the penalty area was curled over, over and beyond the last defender and the far post. Tinkler wallowed in and volleyed over the stand from about five yards out. Gleeful Grimbarians enquired as to the whereabouts of his walking aid, for Tinkler has more than a tinge of grey in his hair. He never told them, by the way. That’s his little secret.

So far, so-so, but nothing to worry ourselves about unduly.

Just after the quarter hour Gabbiadini shielded the ball from Crowe about 30 yards out way off to the right. Crowe tried to nick the ball away, but the Tubby Terror of Townpast crumpled. A soft, daft free kick and a stupid decision by the referee to book Crowe. The free kick was looped up high towards the near post and several Town players seemed to converge on the ball with no Hartlepool player near. The ball appeared to hang up on the wind (what wind?) and the unmarked GROVES headed firmly into the top right hand corner. Nothing more need be said about that.

From the kick off Town faffed about, looking sorry for themselves. Or rather I should say the defence did, for Crane and Ford ponced about tapping the ball to each other and the ball was eventually lost with an aimless pass upfield. The Town defence held a line on the edge of the penalty area, and the ball was dinked over the top, towards the right corner of the box, for Gabbiadini to run onto. Ford got there first, was nudged off the ball, stumbled and fatman was away. Ford recovered and tippy-toed after him. Then Gabbiadini felt something, somewhere and all his bones dissolved. The referee stared at his linesman for several seconds before awarding a penalty. Ford was not booked, though there was a humdinger of an argument between Gabbiadini, Crane and Campbell, with Groves and Barnard adding some considered views, after sucking a thoughtful pipe. ROBINSON trundled forward, stuttered, and placed the ball into the left hand side of the goal as Davison crumbled to his right.

From the kick off Hockless was flattened by Williams with an awful late sliding tackle as the ball was dinked up the touchline. A Jack Lester special, if ever there was one. Williams only received a yellow card and it was clear that the excuse was already there in the minds of several of the experienced Town players. They were acting as though they were being cheated by opponents and referee, concentrating on the next moan. Sometime later Rowan was booked for a similar offence but, as it’s Rowan, we know it was because he is rubbish at tackling, not through any demonic will to crush a grape, or ankle. After a couple of minutes of harrumphing and general flappery Town settle down a bit, with the occasional passing movement. From one such moment Campbell drifted past a midfielder and surged forward and, when about 25 yards out, pinged a shot a couple of feet over the bar. Hartlepool were, you will not be surprised to learn, quite excited and pleased by events. Their players perked up and ran around even more, as they too could see the collapsing soufflé at the heart of the defence. Gabbiadini also knew the referee was falling for his falling. He’s not stupid, even if officials are.

Croweyellow card
Rowangoalyellow card


Nimmo61 mins
Soames76 mins


Scott Mathieson


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Near the half hour Town attacked and there was a huge lumping clearance back upfield. The ball bounced once on the Town right and Barnard (yep, that’s right Barnard on the right) stood underneath the plummeting plastic. Gabbiadini ran forward, launched himself at the Welsh wanderer and did a double piked Lutz with twist. Free kick, so obviously a free kick, thank you Mr Referee. Huh? To Hartlepool? About 25 yards out, just to the right of centre. STRACHAN loped up, lofted the ball over the wall and curled it into the top right hand corner. Hats off for the strike, metaphorical knives out for the decision. It was beginning to dawn on some that the game was possibly beyond saving and that events had conspired against Town. The clues were there. How would the players react?

Two minutes later Hartlepool finally scored a "proper" goal, though even that was delivered to them like a deluxe pizza with extra cheese topping. Crane and Ford continued their comedy double act with a Chuckle Brothers routine "to you, to me, to you, to Hartlepool", near the right hand touchline. It may be six steps from Kevin Bacon, but with Crane and Ford you’re never more than four passes from a Hartlepool goal. Crane eventually swiped the ball up the touchline directly to an opponent. The ball was quickly switched out to their right, with Barnard still sat on the bench at the San Siro. Corporal Jones re-appeared and the comic twist is that we don’t like it up ‘em. The ball was lofted to the far post where Crowe, or rather a holographic approximation of Jason Crowe, appeared to be near the ball. Crowe backtracked, leapt pathetically and allowed HUMPHREYS to collect the ball on his chest, nuddle, nurdle and thwack the ball low into the bottom left hand corner from about 6 yards out.

There is nothing positive to say about the rest of the half, which was just 15 minutes of partying and Hollywood showboating by the now cockahoop Terminators from Teeside. At will Gabbiadini, Robinson and Humphreys waltzed, sambaed and foxtrotted through the cardboard cut out figures representing the Grimsby Town Football Club notional back four. Davison was finally called upon to make a save when Gabbiadini outpaced Ford (please, stop laughing at that unlikely scenario, it happened before our very eyes playmates) and was facing the forlorn stopper, 6 yards out just wide of the left hand post. Davison blocked well, with a rueful, sheepish smile from Gabbiadini. At times it looked as though the Hartlepool players were so embarrassed they did not really want to score any more. Just yet. Their manager did and was furious at any slackening or anyone showing off their skills. A minute before half time a cross shot flashed a couple of feet wide of Davison’s left hand post. And that was the end of something: apparently, it was a half of football.

Half time: Hartlepool United 4 Grimsby Town 0

It was all very odd, for despite losing 4-0, it didn’t feel quite like some of the disasters of the past. It wasn’t as if the whole team were rotten, collectively and individually, or that Hartlepool had peppered the Town goal. But there was always the feeling that when they attacked they were going to score. Great play by them or rotten defending? Really, it depends what you want to believe, for Hartlepool were organised, committed and capable of passing to each other regularly. Their strikers had a nice balance of flab and fluff, and were the best team we’d played so far this season, but they weren’t great, just good. So in summary...oh no, it’s still only half time, isn’t it? Gulp.

Stu's Half Time Toilet Talk

"Take away the goals and this has 0-0 written all over it".
"I taught Hockless how to play the theme from Hill Street Blues".
"All our defensive chickens are laying eggs at the same time".
"Am I the plastic Uri Geller?".
"If we leave now we could get back before the pubs close"

The report continues in the Second Half.

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