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The Frozen North
By: Andrew Doherty
I GOT up at 5.45am to catch the 0658 train from Cambridge. I was on my way to DN35 for Town v Harrogate. I know it's not a box office draw but I don't care who Town are playing.
It's always a pleasure to be at Blundell Park, well at least until the clock strikes 3pm when it has been known to turn to the proverbial shape of a pear. I realised after I set off that I had forgotten my glasses today so maybe things that I couldn't see would make it better.
It was minus 3C in Cambridge, but it was forecast to be 6C in balmy Cleethorpes so I was confident. Why did I set off so early? Well, to cut a long story short which I'm not very good at doing, the trains are a fiasco. And sure enough Peterborough was messed up but I managed to make a 3 minute connection. It was all going well. I arrived at Doncaster which was even more of a train disaster zone. Trans Pennine Trains - I hesitate to use the word Express - are not known for running but mine was. Somehow they managed to slip the train in between the regiments of Hull Trains Paragon as they are now grandiosely called, Northern Trains and LNER trains which were mostly conspicuous by their absence. I looked out and saw the frost in the fields of North Lincolnshire. It was mildly concerning but the sun was peering through. I knew there was a pitch inspection at 11am.
I arrived in Grimsby Town station just before 11. I bought some pork pies at the indoor market and a lottery ticket - we're luckier in Grimsby, not least for having been born here - and with lots of time before I was due to meet my mate Andy in Cleethorpes, I decided to walk across. I passed the legendary Grime Street, once the street of my car insurer. I turned up one day to find it had moved and there was just a pile of rubble. I checked the state of play. A further pitch inspection was due to take place at 1pm. Everything was ok, then. They don't hold a second inspection without there being a ray of hope, and they wouldn't put supporters to the inconvenience of setting out and then cancelling it. It was a formality. I walked over the bridge towards Freeman Street, struggling to stand up on the slippery pavement. Hardy souls drank tea on the pavements outside Freeman Street market. I bought a haslet and continued on my way across Victor Street, past Sidney Park and along Brereton Avenue. I actually spoke to people who I didn't know. This wouldn't happen in Cambridge. People don't do this sort of thing. We all commented cheerily about the weather and the prospects of receiving no medical care if I fell over, as I looked likely to do. I even met a guy who lived in Azerbaijan who was back in Grimsby for two weeks. Such is the attraction of Grimsby. The sun was out now. I was warm in my thermals, fleeces, long johns and goodness what else. Be prepared and sweat it out if necessary. It's all good for the pitch. I walked past the Chamber of Horrors which is still called Bursar Street Primary School and onto St Peter's Avenue. I bought my sandwich and a sausage roll in that very friendly shop which would win awards for calorific cakes. It came to less than 5 quid. Having invested in another pork pie to take home at the butcher's on St Peter's Avenue - I should mention this was not the Vegan Tour of North East Lincolnshire - I met up with my mate Andy and his wife and we had sensational haddock and chips, and a great catch-up. Andy and Ruth checked their phones. “It's cancelled”. Oh. It was like having the ground being taken from underneath me. In fact I was convinced that was going to happen on my walk from Grimsby to Cleethorpes but I got lucky. Not so lucky now. I called my wife. “Are you ready for the match?” she asked, breezily. “I'm on the 1424 train to Doncaster”. All this is a way of reporting that I went all the way to Cleethorpes, only for the game to be cancelled.
I've found it a struggle to get to home games this year because of train strikes, weather and other reasons, and it's disappointing that the game was cancelled but if it's not safe for players then it's the right decision. I suspect some may complain that it was a late decision, but the way I read it is that every attempt was made to stage the game and it just wasn't possible because the pitch was frozen. My journey had been surprisingly comfortable, I bought some nice produce to take back and enjoy on a future occasion, I met my mate Andy and his wife, I had a nice lunch and met some great people along the way. It was actually a nice day out. Shame there wasn't any football. We now have to look forward to Crawley on Tuesday and hope that we can start the process of climbing back up the table. Hopefully the ground conditions will be more clement than it was here today in the Frozen North.
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