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The Hubbert Files: Radio Ga-Ga

By: Andrew Hubbert
Date: 17/01/2008 (Last updated: 03/03/2008)

ON Saturday evening following Town’s 1-0 victory over Wrexham, David Burns suggested on Radio Humberside that they would be making an offer for the commentary of Grimsby’s Johnstone Paint Trophy Regional Final, and the Final itself should they get there. Considering all that has gone on between Grimsby and Humberside (or should that read Fenty and Burns?) over the last year, should the club accept this offer?

On the face of it, probably not. Town have agreed a deal with Compass FM providing what is advertised as exclusive commentary of all games home and away. By then going out and agreeing a separate one-off deal with Humberside, the club might be jeopardising, or at the very least undermining their agreement. The relationship with Humberside is already fragile and one agreement will not instantly remedy that, so it would seem unwise to endanger relations with Compass as well.

Arguably the offer from Humberside seems an attempt to jump on the bandwagon, just as Town are enjoying a mild bit of success. Absence does not seem to have made the heart grow fonder either as Burns remains disliked by nearly all Town fans, whilst he almost seems to take pleasure in making digs at the club. Relations between him and John Fenty are certainly not ideal, worsened by the latter’s decision to take some of his comments on the radio to Ofcom, and this disparity might still stand between any agreement.

Accepting the offer might also make the club seem weak-willed and look as if they have backed down in their dispute with Humberside. Town would look even more stupid if Humberside made an offer for these ties whilst the club are doing well, but eighteen months down the line failed to offer a deal for the Mariner’s commentary if things weren’t going so smoothly on the field.

However, there are many positive aspects of accepting this one-off deal. Compass only covers Grimsby and Immingham, whilst there are many Town fans who do not live in this catchment area, and lets be honest, not everyone is going to be able to make it to Morecambe away on Tuesday night in February, particularly with less than a thousand tickets available. Neither can all fans tune into Humberside, but their reception goes a lot further. This is perhaps Town’s most anticipated match since reaching the Play-Off final nearly two years ago and coverage by Humberside might just get a bit more support for the club and at the very least some extra cash. With a good result in the first leg heightened by further media coverage, it might even inspire a few more to take a trip to Blundell Park the following week.

Moreover, most Town fans would rather listen to John Tondeur and George Kerr over Compass’ duo of Dave and Scott, who despite improvements since the beginning of the season, and their enthusiasm, they don’t seem to know what is going on half the time. John Tondeur is well-liked by all the Town fans and currently listening to him on the radio, he seems lost and underused as he is restricted to the occasional report. The coverage provided by Humberside on the whole is also a lot better. They stick to football and don’t cut to annoying adverts or a Cliff Richard song at half time. However irritating Dave Burns might be, at least he has some character and is interested in football, neither of which can be said for any of Compass’ resident DJs.

In terms of the clubs relationship with Radio Humberside, a deal like this could be just what is needed to repair the rift. In fairness, now that the station no longer have commentary, and given the current occupation of higher divisions by Hull and Scunthorpe, they are under no obligation to continue reports on the club. Nevertheless, they have at least attempted to provide some coverage for Grimsby fans. Of course, the coverage they receive is a lot less than that enjoyed by Hull and Scunthorpe, but without player interviews and live commentary, it is pretty hard to fill this vacuum.

So what should the club do? There are certainly risks in accepting the offer with regards to damaging the relationship with Compass FM. However, in my opinion, if we have the opportunity then we might as well swallow our pride, take the money and hopefully go some way to repairing the relationship with Humberside. There is currently a lot of optimism around the club and hopefully this can translate to positive thinking, with attempts to reconcile old differences and look to the future. If Town wish to get further public exposure and get more people interested in the club, particularly with a new stadium on the horizon, then they need to be in the media spotlight. Humberside can offer more publicity, because of their greater listenership in the area than Compass FM. Therefore, accepting the offer from Radio Humberside would be a positive move and step in the right direction for Grimsby, both in the long-term and the short-term.

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