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Insania Darlingtonia

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 22/08/2005

MY boss at work once told me that I needed to attenuate my outcomes. In spite of spending my formative years developing my appreciation of Tetleys and general knowledge of life in the Harvest Moon and the Nottingham, I don't remember this one cropping up.

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Lucky that he didn't drop this one in the harsh wastelands of the fish docks, where action verbs spring to mind to confront this show of hostility. I have clearly been down south too long and to my great shame met the comment with an inane grin. Upon seeking clarification, I learned that I was being exhorted to shut up. Since then, people from foreign parts1 have been telling me the same thing.

Less analysis, more concise, gritty realism perhaps. So it crossed my mind in advance that this match report should perhaps read as follows:

'I went to Grimsby. It was windy. We lost 1-0'.

This sums up the normal state of affairs, don't you think, and certainly covers my experience of home games last season, including the capitulation to Darlington. It was during this trip that I was exposed to Darlo's fine citizenry and an explanation from my daughter Revis on the 'Crazy Frog' ringtone, which was providing the Darlingtonians with enterainment. As Andy Humbo solemnly informed me when I mentioned it, 'you've got to know your ring tones these days, mate'. None of this negative karma was going to stop me, Revis (10) and Merlin (15) from eagerly wanting to head off from Basingstoke (who wouldn't) for another orgy of atrocious suffering as our heroic Mariners were due to lock horns with Darlington again at Camp Blundell. As we tied down the final stages of our campaign to meet, the sage Humbo reminded me that a draw, a win and a postponement for a waterlogged pitch meant that we were unbeaten in the league so far. From my experience, any cause for optimism such as this was merely a precursor of gloom and despair. Who remembers losing successive home games to Crewe (2-3) and Southport (0-1) in 1971 during our Championship season? But Humbo pressed home his point by naming three decent players in the current Town side. Three! For the record, they were Rob Jones, Gary Cohen and returnee Gary Croft. I hadn't seen Cohen, but I have to say I was impressed with Rob Jones when I saw him last year. Plenty of authority. I also have good memories of Crofty from his early years, so you never know ....

Although I've been watching football (in the loosest sense) for many years, I've always found August a strange month. Folks are optimistic about the season ahead, for a start. There's none of the excitement at jockeying for mid-table mediocrity or relief at climbing above the relegation zone. It's bizarre to share a train with happy holidaymakers on their way to Meggies while we perform our missionary duties. The frostbitten kingdom of Grimesthorpe is without doubt best enjoyed between October and February, not in August. But obligations have to be fulfilled and part of the Doherty family set off in unwarranted expectation, no doubt to turn to abject despair. I can only speculate that my eldest son Deej suffered the trauma of being a Hull City supporter in previous life, as he once again scorned the opportunity to come and stayed at home. A wise and sensible young man, at least in this life.

'Do we have to change at Newark? The glue factory smells horrid' protested Merlin. Some people would regard this as olfactory industrial scenery, but not Merlin. Indeed, most people would describe it as very smelly. Newark's blend of fresh air and glue makes for a veritable pot pourri. Now I always thought that a pot pourri was nice, except that literally translated from the French, it means 'rotten pot'. Cunning folk, the French. They must know about Newark. O the excitement laid on by the nice train companies, as we wondered whether we were going to make our connection. Were we going to win the golden opportunity to smell the rotten glue before trundling along funereally through Lincoln and Market Rasen to the Land of Haddock and Haslet? The alternative was almost death itself ....Doncaster.

Who says the trains don't run on time? OK, most people. In this case the plan worked, and Death by Doncaster was mercifully avoided. The Train Manager exhorted us to alight at Newark so that we could catch our train to the Promised Land. 'Why do we have to alight?' exclaimed Revis. 'It sounds like setting something on fire'. I explained that this is railwayspeak. At this moment I had a vision of hordes of German and Japanese tourists setting themselves alight. The French wouldn't because they don't follow instructions. Belgians would need written authorisation first. The rest of us would just get off the train, which in fact is what we did.

1 definition: not from North East Lincolnshire

The article continues in Part 2

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