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Happy Times
Happy Times

Happier Days

By: Chris Smith
Date: 01/09/2010

THE 1990/1 season followed my personal favourite and having seen a few seasons where we won more than we lost, my own expectations were that Town would do well. In those pre-internet and mobile phone days, and living away from Grimsby, I wasn't particularly in tune with the mood of BP regulars. Pretty much as today, I wanted to see Town do well but also wanted to have some good days out. This wasn't to pose a problem. In fact the biggest problem was did I tuck my sweater in my jeans or not? Apparently, the former was a dead giveaway that you were a Northerner.

First game up was Preston away on the startlingly late date of 25th August. My brother Tony and I decided to make a weekend of it and went up by car on the Friday evening, staying in nearby Fulwood. These weekends involved as much lager and cider as I could pour down my neck followed by a curry. Funny how I always blamed any roughness the following day on the curry…A hearty breakfast would then be followed by a mega lunchtime sesh with a pub lunch to soak some of it up. It sounds a bit sad now but I was a regular Guardian reader and we'd tackle the cryptic crossword over a groaning table of empties, slotting in the clues with greater ease as our inebriation grew. We probably never sent half the puzzles off after all that effort but it was a ritual.

Going to the ground, it was clear that there had been a fair bit of trouble which continued in Deepdale. I personally decided that bouncing up and down to “Let’s go f****** mental” wasn't such a great idea after a skinful and settled down to watch Neil Woods’ debut along with several thousand other Mariners. Woods bagged a goal as Town easily won 3 1. We met up with some other Town fans at nearby Kirkham but declined the offer of a night out in Blackpool (with minibus included) arranged by Chris Graham, a Scottish Town fan and of “Get into them” fame.

What is your relationship to other B&B guests when you have a cataclysmic hangover and they're all talking about the healthy walks they'll be going on? Thought so, mine isn't too good either. However, one FB later (fat boy’s breakfast) and a few pints in the Midlands that lunchtime and I was ready for a good walk myself. We managed a pub crawl from Chiswick High Road to King Street in Hammersmith.

In keeping with my current track record, I missed the 4 3 win over Wigan and the 4 0 thrashing of Huddersfield, both at home. I don't recall seeing the win at Crewe or draw at home to Bradford. I didn't actually get to that many home games from West London but was starting to enjoy the journeys away with the London Mariners.

Next up was Shrewsbury and a B&B weekend was opted for. Tony and I arrived on Friday afternoon and explored the hostelries that evening followed by the inevitable curry. We were exhibits at breakfast the next morning as the Wrekin hikers and other health freaks scrutinised our condition. It was this scrutiny that made us eat everything we possibly could before killing an hour or so towards opening time. Shrewsbury is a great drinking hole for the real ale fan (such as my brother) and basic swiller (me!)

We bumped into the London Mariners as usual. I can't quite remember if this was the trip to Gay Meadow where one Town fan was sharing his very impressive collection of pornography with anyone who cared to see it. Woods and Watson scored to give us a 2 1 win and to this day, I have never seen us lose in Shrewsbury in about seven trips there. I had to look one score up though in 1982/3 as my only memory of that day was going through Telford station.

Hushed voices greeted our arrival in the dining room the next morning. We still think to this day that they expected us to expire there and then but another hearty breakfast was consumed but sadly not followed by another crawl as I was working that night.

At this point we had five wins and a draw from six matches and this remains the only season I can remember where we were in the top three all season barring one weekend if I recall correctly. Brentford away was next and I anticipated a superb day out as I lived in Hounslow where the club is situated. Brentford still is a paradise for the thirsty fan and we all met in O’Riordans at the top of the High Street. One of the girls at work was a Bees season ticket holder and bragging rights were at stake, although we weren't at the races and lost 1 0.

Town then beat Rotherham and Swansea at home but my next trip was Chester away. Chester were playing at Macclesfield’s Moss Rose whilst the Deva Stadium was built. Having seen this ground over a period of twenty years, I can honestly say it has become even more decrepit than it was then. In typical Town fashion at this time, we went two nil up and coasted before conceding a goal in the last minute before enduring what seemed to be ten minutes injury time. On my first trip back there in 2004, it was sad to see the Star pub had shut down as it did excellent bacon sandwiches to go with the drinking.

I'd come up with the London Mariners and I normally got picked up at East Finchley tube station, a fair old journey from Hounslow Central. Many of these journeys took place against the backdrop of an IRA campaign so we'd have to factor in sudden line and station closures. This meant that on a trouble free day, I'd be very early and would be sat on the kerb finishing off the last of a four pack before Rob Moss turned up. About midday. Well, late anyway.

Talking of Rob, when we were cruising to our win at Chester (until the 89th minute), he said he hoped they would get out of their predicament. Nobody could have foreseen what has happened to them now.

The article continues in Part 2

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