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Bottom half


The View From The Pontoon: Part Two Contd

By: Alex Ramsden
Date: 30/03/2015 (Last updated: 31/01/2018)

THE WIN shocked Jeff Stelling on Gillette Soccer Saturday who bleated and brayed into the camera to tell millions of viewers that 'maybe you should sit down, Grimsby Town are winning'. This joke resulted in the BBC local football show Late Kick Off do a piece on this change of fortunes and at long last, too.

The panning camera that veered over the jubilant Pontoon Stand when the third goal went in is a sight that will last forever. I was in that stand, watching my team win a match for the first time in 5 months.

The relief, the release of pressure and frustration was evident for everyone to see as The Football League Show and that beacon of biased reporting, Look North, both made it a matter for headlines.

At the twenty-sixth attempt, our beloved football club had ended this horrendous string of disastrous results. Onwards and upwards from here on in.

Or, maybe not. There is a big onus on football faith between the supporters of the nation's teams. The Gods of football. These are the deities that grant goals, promotions and riches to the well behaved and dish out relegation, own goals and goalkeeping blunders to the less fortunate. Of course, Grimsby Town comes into the latter category. The rapid decline of the town itself had to have an adverse effect on its populace and it's sports teams. Once a thriving community of fishermen, fishwives and trawler culture, the town was (by 2010) overrun with anti-social behaviour, violence, crime and drugs. Like many towns in the North of England, it had been left to rot by vacuous, tyrannical governing bodies. The fishing industry was ruined by the so-called 'Cod War' with Iceland, Parliament refused to intervene and we were the ones that lost out. Again.

I remember growing up in the Ladysmith Road area of the town and seeing the derelict factories that were on the industrial estate. The former homes of Bluecrest, Bird's Eye and the Yorkshire Electricity Board were all gutted by arsonists and knocked down long after the uncaring fraternity of Government closed them. These empty buildings became a rat run for junkies, thieves and ASBO louts, thus having a detrimental effect on the town and it's decreasing social reputation.

The football team was the glue that held this mass of problems together. It was the shelter from the River Humber's storms, it was the lifeblood of the early morning market traders and the familiar community beacon that separated us from that ridiculous conurbation known as 'Humberside'.

With the side, and the town, trapped in the doldrums and a slick, smug and soporific Tory in Number 10, what on Earth were my generation supposed to have to look forward to?

No jobs. No future. Nobody to listen.

As it happened, this win did not kick-start the Great Escape, or not immediately. A 4-2 away defeat to Crewe followed and then a good point over play-off chasing Morecambe, meaning that we were slowly gaining on fellow strugglers Barnet, Cheltenham and Torquay down at the bottom and putting distance between us and the league's bottom dwellers, Darlington. I was present at the next home game- a tough clash with rejuvenated Bournemouth on the 20th March, 2010.

A decent attendance of over 4,000 people paid to watch this encounter with baited breath. Lose and we were well and truly goners in terms of ever accruing enough points to haul ourselves to safety; win and things were looking brighter. This was a Cherries side that had been in the battle with us the previous season but, with their money troubles no longer casting doubt on the club's very existence, the team and their young, talented manager Eddie Howe, had taken the league by storm and were well-placed in the promotion places with the other heavyweights of the league (Notts County and Rochdale). On paper, the odds of the Mariners winning looked very slim, but games of footy are not won on paper, are they? We got a shock when a disputed goal from Michael Coulson was scored right in front of the travelling fans. It was rumoured, and video evidence later backed up the claims, that Coulson had handled the ball into the goal. Cue the fantastic 'Hand of Cod' jokes that you readers will no doubt have chuckled to yourself at.

This was the kind of lucky break we needed, but as usual, we messed things up when calamity 'keeper Colgan let a tame drive slip under his body and into the back of the net. The groans and gripes were heard from all corners of the ground and Colgan must have wished the ground could swallow him up and beam him away from this embarrassing situation. Never mind, just go for it again. 2-2 with the clock ticking, Woods did the last throw of his dice and brought on loan striker Ashley Chambers, who had earlier complained about a lack of match action, and his pace and skill made the Bournemouth defence edgy and tense.

Nobody in the ground could have been as edgy and tense as I was. This was my first match solo. I came alone, with none of my adhesive friends present and wasn't looking forward to taking the scary walk through Sidney Park on my tod, especially if we were to go on and lose. That always was a dodgy jigger, that park. I didn't fancy myself as a fighter, more of a 'leg it if a kick in the cubes is on the cards'.

Chambers only went and did it!

A last minute volley to secure three precious points on a massive day in both the promotion and relegation races. A 3-2 victory ranked as possibly our second best result of the season so far (a long way behind the Shrewsbury win). The trip through Sidney Park was uneventful and no problems were caused, I even found a quid on the ground so what a fantastic day all in all!

Honestly, no sweeter feeling than seeing your hometown club defeat a team that everyone assumed would batter us, find a quid, have a peaceful journey home and then recall your story to your mates at school on Monday morning.

I was sixteen. I had freedom and I had nothing better to do.

The article continues...

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