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The Return of the Gasheads Part 2

By: Andrew Doherty
Date: 14/12/2005

I woke up to see grim and lifeless people outside the train. They had stern and pale faces. I thought it was a nightmare. There was a smell. It was reality. The train had just arrived in Scunthorpe. The sun had gone back to being grey and bleak.

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We passed the sad train spotters at Barnetby, and the overgrown decay of Brocklesby, which was to have been a 19th century centre of activity, indeed the parkway of its day. It was now a wilderness. Excitement was now raised as we entered Great Grimsby, new houses interspersed with the run down buildings and wastelands of West Marsh, all to the backdrop of the Humber bank factories. As we passed close to Cromwell Road, I recalled an advert I had seen for opera at the nearby Auditorium. ‘Do people take their fish and chips with them?’ asked an equally bemused friend who I told about this incursion of culture. I should hope so. This is Grimsby after all.

We continued our Great Rail Journey to Cleethorpes. We slipped through the docklands, the loading bays silent in their historical splendour and sad decay. The line provided a barrier between the terraced houses, the refrigeration plants and the River Humber. ‘We will shortly be arriving in Cleethorpes’ announced the guard. We were now entering a world of fun and candyfloss. But there was of course no sign of any fun. The council had painted the lamp posts though. And there was plenty of wind. The tide was out. The icy cold breeze mixed with the aroma of frying fish and chips. ‘What do the ice cream places do in winter? asked Revis. She answered her own question. ‘People eat them and they freeze to death’. The no 2 Refresh had two glittering signs, incongruously advertising Carling Extra Cold. Tempted as we were it was time to fuel the childrens’ addiction to the Penny Falls. This was as near to excitement as it gets. 50p’s worth of fun. You can’t get much for 50p these days. Brotherly love means giving your sister your last 2p. ‘It was so close’ exclaimed Revis. Another 6p was found in the reserve and the game was over. The children played no more.

Merlin speculated on how many fish and chip shops there were. He counted 9 between Cleethorpes station and the Market Place. We crossed the road and went past Funky Pants. ‘Don’t Walk. Boogie’ said the sign. Perhaps we should have done this in Doncaster. Getting out of the cold seemed more appropriate. Across the road was a newsagents, proudly announcing ’We sell maggots, worms and frozen baits’. For lunch perhaps? Beats plastic-packed sandwiches, paninis and ciabattas. The children weren’t tempted, so we headed to our lunch rendez-vous at the Agrah in Sea View Street with my brother Michael and nephew Matthew, who had escaped from Brigg for the day. I cannot praise the Agrah highly enough. We had a lovely meal. Revis was very pleased with the red rose the nice waiter gave her at the end. We headed back afterwards to the car and turned into Yarra Road. ‘Ah, proper weather’ announced Michael as a force 10 gale hit us in the face. He drove us to Robson Road and we walked from there to Blundell Palace. The river was busy with one cargo shop coming in and three going out, but it was now time for football.

Michael recalled a game at Bristol Rovers, which he listened to the radio. The commentator was Eamon Glendenning. The year was 1957 (December 14th the date, Merlin’s records book tells me). Town won 7 - 0, with Ron Rafferty missing a penalty. The following season Town lost at Bristol Rovers 7 -3 (November 15th, 1958). Exciting times, indeed. My recollections were more pedestrian, although I do recall a 3 -2 home victory in 1968 (Feb 24), to which my father took me as a boy. Then there was 0 - 1 fiasco last month ... but hopefully not today.

The report continues in Part Three.

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