Making memories. Match report: Grimsby 4-3 Barnet

Once upon a time my match reports used to be written after actually attending the match. Then, due to the pandemic, they became match reports based on what I watched online.

Now, they’re nothing more than an account of how I experienced the match 70 miles away, with no visuals and, for the best part of this afternoon, no commentary either — just fleeting glances at my Twitter feed as I struggled to persuade my three-year-old son to cycle a couple of hundred yards back to our house from the local train station, rather than be carried, because daddy has a bad back.

I don’t have a bad back; I’m just weak. But he doesn’t need to know that yet.

I see a lot of Town fans take their really young kids to matches and think, ‘how the hell do you do that?’ I can’t hope to keep my lad in the same spot for more than two minutes.

His interest in sport, for now, is limited, despite the TV being jammed on the football and cricket channels at home. As an out-and-out left-footer, he doesn’t yet understand his potential value in football but, don’t you worry, I’ll be letting him know about it soon enough.

A mate of mine had actually travelled across from Cleethorpes to spend the day with us. I’d not seen him since January 2020 so it was good to catch up. We were at home when I heard us take the lead on the wireless.

We chatted away while the TV played out Ben & Hollie’s Little Kingdom and we totally missed the bit when Barnet equalised. As my ears tuned back into the football frequency, I heard the visitors take the lead.

As the start of the second half approached, we left the house to walk down to the station where my mate caught his train home. Just as we said our goodbyes and he turned to board, he told me it was now 3-1, like some kind of sick parting shot.

Really? Oh god. Barnet are meant to be a bit crap, are they not? That’s that, then.

I lost the next few minutes dealing with my son who was sulking like a football fan who’d been told his team had thrown their early lead away and were now losing 3-1. I can’t actually remember what he was sulking about (it doesn’t have to be about anything, I’ve learnt) but, when I next checked Twitter, I saw we had pulled a goal back.

The fact that it was a penalty, and that Barnet had a man sent off in the incident, didn’t register. I refreshed my feed and it was almost as if my wishful thinking had translated into reality. There it was — the equaliser!

The journey home seemed to take forever, which included my lad performing a spectacular and totally unintended stunt on his bike when the stabilisers hit a kerb and threw him round 360 degrees, yet he remained seated throughout. You almost wanted him to walk off, head down and arms aloft, accepting the rapturous applause of the couple walking past us on the opposite side of the road, but instead there were a few tears through shock.

At least I believe it was shock. Maybe they were tears of joy — he wouldn’t be able to pull that stunt again, even if he tried.

Back in our quiet cul-de-sac I tuned into the online commentary as we entered six minutes of injury time. I followed my son around as he traded his bike in for his scooter. That’s when I heard Town win a free kick and John Tondeur insist that ‘Hunt must surely fancy a strike from here’.

Ah, the noise of the crowd! I didn’t need the commentary to confirm it. I leapt up in the air, threw a few limbs and exclaimed in a way that had the noise bouncing off the houses all around us.

Startled and confused at first, my son joined in — despite not really knowing what had happened. He was full of joy too, running round in circles, throwing himself onto the grass verges in celebration while also asking, “Daddy, what happened?”

I told him Grimsby Town had scored. His eyes lit up and, for probably the first time — even if he was just excited because I was excited — there seemed to be a bit of connection there between my son and my football club.

Alex Hunt won’t forget it, I’m sure — but he should also know that it was more than just his first professional goal; it created a special moment that I could enjoy with my son, even though we weren’t there to see it.

And it’ll live long in our memories, too.

Getting clean: The detox begins.

Well, that’s that, then. Grimsby Town are non-league. Again.

There’s a lot to process after last night’s 3-2 defeat at Exeter, which made the Greatest of Great Escapes mathematically impossible.

There was the manner of defeat to deal with — and then there was the manner of Radio Humberside’s coverage, which had to conduct emotionally-charged (and even tearful) interviews over a phone because they refused to send a reporter to the game.

But possibly the most galling thing about last night is this:

The team that got relegated at Exeter is not the team that deserved to get relegated.

Sadly, many of those who are responsible, including former ‘manager’ and professional prat Ian Holloway, are no longer at the club.

Obviously there’s one key player who remains. But hopefully not for long.

Of course, there can be no arguments that we deserve to go down. It’s been a lousy season. A truly horrible, forgettable one.

In terms of points-per-game, there may be little to separate Hurst from Holloway — but that is to overlook the work he has done to build a team that has restored some pride in what has been a largely hopeless campaign.

He is not immune from criticism and has, for sure, made a few mistakes along the way. But that’s gonna happen when you’re forced to basically re-build a squad, mid-season.

“Player A, meet Player B. Now play like you’ve always played together. And hurry up, we haven’t got much time. Players C, D and E, I hope you were listening.”

The likes of Giles Coke and Lenell John-Lewis have brought a committed and workmanlike attitude that was so desperately missing.

Elliott Hewitt and Harry Clifton found another gear. Rollin Menayese and Jay Matete have been excellent loans.

No more darts tournaments. No more misshapen balls. No more weird post-match comments about mud being on the mud.

The temptation is to think of today as a low point. But the low point was months ago.

We’re already on the up. Okay, we’ve got to drop down to a shambolic league whose governance has been seriously called into question first, but hey — you can’t make an omelette without breaking the morale of the fans, as they say.

But the takeover edges closer. We know who our manager will be next season. We know we’ll get a hard-working team of pros.

We’ll be allowed to actually go to games.

No one wants relegation. But if it’s a consequence of the detox we’ve so desperately needed to rid ourselves of an addiction forced upon us by a power-rich tyrant, then so be it.

Delaying the inevitable. Match report: Oldham 1-2 Grimsby

I was mentally prepared to accept relegation yesterday, and we couldn’t even do that. In victory, Grimsby Town still manage to disappoint me.

Our victory at Oldham — one of the dozens of sides to have established themselves as a Grimsby bogie team during the John Fenty era — is surely only delaying the inevitable.

But it did mean social media was a happier place in the evening, rather than the depressing post mortem that would’ve surely seen hundreds of us dissect the season and all come to the same logical conclusion:

John Fenty and Ian Holloway are a pair of little shits.

It’s the Grimsby version of Godwin’s law. Instead of protracted online conversations ending with some reference to Hitler, ours end with Fenty.

I was one of the few thousand that made the effort to be at Burton in 2010 when our football club, and its fans, stooped to new lows. I felt a lot of things that day, but a general sense of ‘meh’ wasn’t one of them.

Yet that’s how I felt yesterday ahead of kick-off. It’s odd, because you’d think I’d be fucking livid. After all, getting relegated to non-league once is painful; twice would be unbearable.

But the writing had been on the wall for a long time — since pre-season in fact. Pre-season; what’s one of those? Exactly.

In attempting to keep our best player at the club, the board, in all its wisdom, offered him less money than he was already on.

Clearly, due to the lack of any sort of planning, the board felt the season wouldn’t conclude. Just when you thought no one else couldn’t be any more short-sighted than our ramshackle collection of suited gits, Ian Holloway asks us to hold his beer.

That man should not be a football manager.

We start losing lots, Fenty courts a convicted property fraudster, the takeover is back on, then it’s off, then Holloway says he’s not leaving, then he leaves, then the takeover’s back on again, then it’s off again…

Paul Hurst returns to the club, we still can’t win, then we finally win one, then we lose more, then we just seem to draw every game we play.

One of our players headbutts another of our players — that old chestnut.

The truth is, I didn’t want to pay £10 to watch iFollow and witness our relegation confirmed. There, I said it.

I’m glad those who did bother to pay £10 and risk witnessing the worst got some sort of reward.

I’ve called this article a match report, which is ambitious if you think about the fact that I neither watched nor listened to a second of the action.

“I didn’t go today Burnsy but…”

All I know is from what I saw on Twitter. Town started slowly, went behind in the first half, equalised early in the second through the much-maligned Matt Green and won it at the end with an outstanding strike from Jay Matete.

There’s your match report.

Looking at the League 2 table tonight, a defeat would have pretty much sent us down, barring an outrageous goal difference swing. We live to fight another day.

I recently watched the 10-part HBO series The Terror. It’s an excellent watch, if you like your TV programmes to be as bleak as your football team’s season, and I couldn’t help thinking about its narrative, and the parallels it shares with Town’s 2020/21 campaign.

This next bit contains spoilers — although, if you know anything about Sir John Franklin’s expedition to discover the North West Passage in the mid-19th century, you’ll be aware that it doesn’t end well.

You have the apply named Sir John — the dangerously arrogant leader of the expedition — captaining two ships into an ice pack, which traps them there for longer than the crew can bear.

You know this story doesn’t end well, yet you can’t help but watch. You’re sort of paralysed into witnessing some fairly horrific events play out.

You feel empathy for many of the crew members, but not John, who gets his leg bitten off by some kind of polar bear monster and then dumped down a fire hole while still semi-conscious.

Apparently, the writers drafted an alternative ending where John survives and gets £2.5m for wrecking the ships, and the final scene was him perched on the edge of his snooker table, warming his feet in front of the fire place looking smug.

But that would have been silly.

House of Payne. Match report: Bradford 1-0 Grimsby

If we were 13th and drifting aimlessly in the comfort of mid-table mediocrity, there might have been something about Stefan Payne’s head-buttery to laugh about.

As it is, we’re on the brink of relegation to non-league for the second time in a little over a decade, and just when you think our football club has discovered every conceivable way to disappoint its fans through incompetence, ineptitude or embarrassment, up steps a cannon looser than Gavin Gunning to drive that nail into our Football League coffin.

When we get relegated — and, let’s be honest, there’s no ‘if’ about it any more — it’ll be for reasons so multitudinous that no one blog post or even Cod Almighty feature could summarise succinctly enough for a non-Town fan to truly understand.

We won’t be relegated on Payne’s head-butt alone, but it was a moment of madness in a bizarre season that all of us, including manager Paul Hurst, want to see the back of.

Like the head-butt itself, nothing much has made sense. The total absence of pre-season; releasing our better players and replacing them with a raft of non-league signings; the infamous darts tournament that broke covid rules and incurred a fine that basically took a large chunk out of the money the fans raised when we had legitimate worries about the year ahead.

Ian Holloway’s increasingly erratic post-match interviews; John Fenty’s collusion with a known fraudster; the club statements published at midnight. Bilel Mohsni.

I could go on.

Another thing that just doesn’t make sense is that we’re far more competitive and hard to beat under Hurst than we ever were under Holloway, yet Holloway holds the upper hand in terms of points and victories.

It seems every game we play comes with a hard luck story. From the biased ref at Salford to the injury time goal at Carlisle, we have a mountain of cases in which we can confidently claim that we were the better side, we deserved the three points… but we only got one.

No referee is giving us a break and no team is gifting us silly goals (Barrow seem to be hogging that good fortune). We have to work extra hard for every break we can get, and then one lapse of concentration does for us.

I still have nightmares of that defeat at Newport. Played them off the park first half in which they had a man sent off. They sneak a goal early in the second and that was the game gone.

Today was one of the best performances I’ve seen us put in with 10 men, but it means nothing now. We lost a game we controlled for large spells and so we remain bottom of the league.

I’m no mathematician but I reckon we need to win at least four of our remaining six games to stand any chance of staying up. I’m also no psychic but, given we’ve only won two games in 2021, I don’t see it happening.

The good news right now is off the field, with the consortium’s takeover looking likely to happen following a general meeting in just over three weeks’ time.

Today, though, Bradford were just another team that didn’t have to be at their best or play particularly well to beat us.

We’re having a hard enough time scoring goals without our striker then nutting one of his teammates after the referee had blown for half-time.

With the game just about up, you can just see us benefiting from an outrageous piece of good fortune in a dead rubber, or the ref giving us a penalty for a shirt tug that never happened.

Payne’s head-butt on Filipe Morais probably signals the end of a career at GTFC in which his only achievement will be earning a place alongside Paul Linwood and Richard Brodie in the ‘Most Unliked GTFC Players XI’ that will inevitably be discussed on social media.

Absolute dogger. Match report: Grimsby 0-0 Colchester

Goals win games. Someone should tell our lot that.

If — sorry, when — we get relegated to non-league at the end of this season, it will be thoroughly deserved.

I don’t think you’ll find one Grimsby fan who’s got an imagination vivid enough or even warped enough to concoct a fanciful hard luck story.

Naturally, it’s our failure to be any good that will relegate us, but the lack of goals is the glaringly obvious problem.

That, and not being able to defend.

That’s the on-field story, anyway. What happens on the field is usually dictated by what happens off the field. Let’s not revisit that tale of woe and chronic incompetence today.

It feels like we’ve been saying it all season: beat the teams around us, and we’ll give ourselves a chance.

The phrase has had to be adapted in the last month to ‘beat the teams directly above us’, owing to the way we’ve plummeted to the bottom of the table.

Around us, above us, it makes no odds. There are some dire teams in this division, and Colchester were one of them.

Only one team was in worse form than us before Tuesday’s game at Carlisle, and that was Carlisle.

Colchester have dropped like a stone since the turn of the year, and for the first half at least played like a team bereft of confidence and nervous at the thought of being entangled with us in a relegation scrap.

Town controlled large parts of the opening 45 minutes and should have taken the lead on the stroke of half time, but Lenell John-Lewis somehow managed to guide his two-yard effort onto the top of the bar.

Jay Matete was possibly lucky to escape a red card for a bit of a lunge earlier in the game.

The protestations for the U’s were led, naturally, by football’s biggest vagina, Harry Pell. He’s one of those awful modern-day footballers who spends more time in the referee’s face than he does actually kicking a ball.

In the second half, Pell genuinely believed he deserved a penalty when he fell over his own stupid legs in the box.

In truth, Colchester will probably feel they could have nicked it in the second half.

However, they too looked like they wouldn’t be able to score at a Bags’ Ball. Town were, well, Town. Swapping John-Lewis for Stefan Payne did fuck all, and Jackson came on near the end to prove that we are just as ineffective from long throws as we are at every other facet of the game.

At this rate, we’re going to finish the season with a much lower points total than the bunch of alcoholics that got us relegated to non-league in 2010.

However, in this squad we see no lack of effort. We’re just desperately short of quality.

Our attacking options look a little brighter but still we have no invention in the final third. The ball just appears to be a hot potato for this lot.

You have it. No, you have it. Here, I don’t want it — you have it back. You gonna move for it?

Every time I watch the Mariners it’s an absolute slog. I don’t know if it’s just because we’re shit, or that it’s the fourth division’s style these days, but matches are played like dinnertime games of football at school.

The standard is pretty awful. We could have won that game 1-0 today and I’d still be honest enough to say that there was little to no excitement.

It’s got to the point where you just want this whole nightmare to end. Of course, you don’t want to take relegation now and move on when there’s still a mathematical chance of that miracle escape, but games like today’s only prolong the agony.

Back-to-back draws have left us six points adrift of safety tonight, and our top scorer is a 19-year-old central defender who, even when fit, hasn’t been able to make it into our starting XI recently.

Today was a chance to draw a team super low on confidence closer into the relegation fight.

But that was never going to happen because we can’t put the sodding ball in the sodding net.

24 goals in 33 matches tells its own story.

Stop believing and start accepting. Match report: Grimsby 1-2 Forest Green

There are 45 points to play for, and tonight Grimsby Town sit just five points adrift of safety. But let’s face it, shall we? We’re down.

This team loses when it deserves to lose, and it loses when it deserves a draw.

I don’t think we’ve actually played well enough in any of our 31 league games this season to claim we’ve deserved all three points. Maybe Cheltenham away, but that’s it.

Our downward trajectory has been so severe that it can’t simply be dismissed as naive, penny-pinching mismanagement. It’s beyond such terms.

I’m only left to assume that those responsible for running our football club since 2004 have had some perverse, deep-rooted and potentially subconscious desire to inflict pain on anyone who has ever felt anything for Grimsby Town.

It’s been that bad.

That day at Wembley in 2016 was all in vain. All of Amond’s 37 goals. Disley’s tears at Braintree. What did they give us, really? Five unspectacular seasons back in the Football League, where we’ve struggled to average a goal a game.

And what’s been our greatest achievement in that time? How many players have we signed? Crucially, how many of them would you want bring back, or wish we’d never let go?

Although it was an improved performance from Town today, against a side in the automatic promotion spots, it was a familiar story.

Bright patches interspersed with ill-discipline. Some measure of control 40 yards out but nothing beyond.

And then, of course, we concede. A whistle-happy ref is given an opportunity to penalise Town, and he does. It’s soft enough to make me angry on any other day, but today I was so resigned I just accepted it.

Town equalising before half time wasn’t in the script. A bit of good fortune, and bad defending, allowed Hanson to score his first league goal for us in over a year. It was the type of goal we usually concede. Maybe our football fortune was changing?

Don’t be silly. Order was restored in boringly predictable fashion midway through the second half.

Unless a charitable Forest Greener was going to whack the ball in his own net, the Mariners weren’t going to get anything from this game.

The full-time stats tell the story: Grimsby had one shot on target all game, and the visitors gift-wrapped it for us.

It was the same story in Tuesday night’s 1-0 home defeat to Leyton Orient. Just one shot on target in 90 minutes, only the visitors on that occasion weren’t so charitable.

Only two shots on target at Harrogate last weekend. Only two against Crawley, albeit we made both of those count.

The more players we use, the worse we get. At no point this season have we been a team; just a collection of individuals thrown together with no time to understand each other, or the club.

They’re just going through the motions. No passion, no pride, no fight.

And who can blame them, really? What have they got to inspire them? Who have they got to motivate them? Grimsby Town will get relegated to non-league for the second time in May and barely any of these players will be around to deal with that consequence.

As I jumped around, breathless, when Arnold scored that third goal at Wembley, I felt a second’s sympathy for the very few genuine Forest Green fans that day. Imagine being forced to play another season in that god-forbidden hell-hole of a league.

Five years on, it looks like we’ll be returning to it, while the vegans look set to climb into League 1.

There may very well be 45 points to play for. But this lot have only managed to pick up eight points from the previous 45, scoring an average of 0.6 goals a game.

That’s why that five-point gap is looking not just improbable, but impossible.

Barely conscious. Match report: Scunthorpe 3-0 Grimsby

This match was billed as one of Grimsby Town’s most important of recent times and we played like it was a kick-about at Sidney Park.

The players looked like they’d spent a day idling around at school and were just looking to mess about for a bit at home time until their parents called them in for their tea.

James McKeown asked whose ball it was, and then we played in the submissive way that people do when they seek parity but know they’re chronically inferior.

And it’s not as if Scunny are any good. At all.

Just under 11 months ago we went down the M180 and beat them with goals from a couple of their former players. They had a man sent off and Kevin van Veen was baited every time he touched the ball.

You actually felt sorry for them. They looked abysmal and offered nothing. Ian Holloway came onto the pitch at full time to applaud the fans, and we all went home happy with the result and felt positive about our future.

Of course, we weren’t to know that a global pandemic would finish the season — just like we weren’t to know that we’d release some of our best players and replace them with non-league punts because our board wasn’t willing to contribute a single penny of its combined wealth during a crisis that threatened our existence.

And yet, they insisted Shutes & Co prove they had the funds to get us through any potential hardship. Brazen. 

Scunny are no better now than they were on 7 March 2020. Our victory on that date proved to be another false dawn — a bit like the one we were given when JJ Hooper scored a hat-trick at the tree huggers and we could dream of not being in the bottom half of the fourth division.

Then, as now, we went backwards. Austerity (which is not his real name) tightened his purse strings, and his grip around the neck of the club, to leave us barely conscious. 

And that’s what we got on Saturday; a set of barely-conscious footballers going through the motions, ambling about as if there’s nothing left in their lives to inspire or motivate them. Not even a beer-fuelled darts tournament at a raucous Ally Pall could wake this lot up.

I’ve not really said anything about the players this season as the issues have clearly been at the top (three relegations, and a very possible fourth, tells you everything you need to know about the Fenty era).

Town’s penchant for giving away soft or needless free kicks, and being offside, remained a strong feature of our play — as did defending like donkeys.

Granted, the free kick that led to the opening goal wasn’t a free kick — and Eisa’s strike was special — but everyone knows there are always moments in football you can’t legislate for and yet we responded to this setback by reverting to type.

Heads dropped. A quick glance at each other. A shrug of the shoulders. No words. No galvanising. No leadership.

At one insane point, Matt Green got the wrong side of his marker to bear down on goal, albeit at an angle, but he delayed his strike and gave the defender enough time to get a block in.

We can’t do anything in the final third but as soon as we invite the opposition into our area it’s absolute chaos.

I’m not even sure how Scunthorpe’s second went in — I thought it was an own goal from our debutant loanee Rollin Menayese. But forget soft, it was positively soggy.

No one took charge and no one belted the ball clear when they had half a sniff.

We hoped we might have got a bit of new manager bounce under Hurst, but that didn’t happen. At the very least we thought we could keep us shape? No such football fortune.

This isn’t a dig at Hurst. His half-time triple substitution sort of made a difference, but then how could it not, given the bar had been set lower than Gavin Gunning.

The Iron’s third was probably — marginally — offside, but it says something about Town’s fans when, in a crucial local derby, none of us are even bothering to debate it given its futility. Scunny could’ve scored just once and they’d have been comfortable winners.

I watched the full 90 minutes on iFollow and the match report could be as succinct as this: Scunthorpe, without being at their best — and, let’s be honest, their best ain’t great — scored three goals.

Grimsby, on the other hand? Foul. Offside. Foul. Offside. Oh ffs. Foul. Offside. Come on, ref.

Given the situation, and given what was on the line, it was probably the poorest showing from a Town team in a long while. Well, since that tripe at Tranmere.

And yet Hurst’s post-match interview was probably one of the best. I found myself standing up and applauding him from my dining table at home when he tore into the players and questioned their desire.

When your whole career exists in such a competitive environment, your desire should be the last thing that gets questioned.

The league table doesn’t quite look as disastrous as it could have done, had Southend not lost in the week and then again on Saturday.

Stevenage lost also. And by virtue of not playing, Barrow improved their situation too. Scunthorpe have put distance between themselves and us on a day when we could have gone above them. I don’t believe Bradford are in any genuine danger of going down.

The next two games — away at Barrow and home to Stevenage — have quickly become must-win when a must-not-lose scenario had previously been the minimum requirement.

In terms of quality, this is one of the worst fourth divisions I’ve seen since we began playing in it in 2004. And we’re one of the worst teams in it.

Getting us back into the Football League was hard work. If Hurst keeps us in it from this position, it’ll rank as an even better achievement.

A trudge. Match report: Grimsby 0-0 Southend

A lot was made of the state of the Blundell Park pitch going into this match, but it’s the state of our squad that continues to give us the most concern.

With no new additions in the week, Hurst had the same crop of crap to choose from, minus Morais, Clifton and Rose, who were all nursing injuries.

Spokes and Hewitt in the centre of midfield is about as inspiring as the Pyewipe estate on an overcast day — industrious, but nothing much to look at.

If naming Preston on the left of midfield was the best curveball Hurst could throw at Southend, it tells you all you need to know about our current predicament.

It’s unfair to say that Green can’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo when he’s not ever in the vicinity of a cow to even attempt it, but the bloke was desperate for something more than George ‘international’ Williams to work with.

However, there was some hope in seeing Big Jim Hanson on the bench. Sat next to him were five more attacking options, and Sam Russell.

This was a must-not-lose game — and we didn’t lose it, virtue of some stoic defending when needed and an excellent star-jump save from McKeown right at the death.

It may have actually done us good to weather some pressure in the first half. Southend had the better of it and found the side netting early on. The pressure brought a succession of corners, but Town always seemed to do just enough to clear their lines.

Given our propensity to concede early on in just about every game we play, there must have been a sense among the players that we’d emerged unscathed from a period when we usually go behind.

The match stats show that we had just one shot on target all match, and that came early on from a 20-yard Matt Green shot that drifted politely into the midriff of the Southend keeper.

Spokes blazed over a little later from a similar distance and I can’t really remember us doing anything else of note in the final third for the rest of the match.

At least we had a go in the second half against Cambridge. That said, Cambridge were 2-0 up and not interested in taking any risks whatsoever, so the comparison is as futile as the signing of Alhagi Touray Sisay.

You didn’t get a lot of excitement for your £10.

But if it’s unnecessary fouls you tune in for, then Town absolutely delivered. Elliott Hewitt was the pick of the bunch, scoring about seven our eight fouls alone, and somehow escaping a yellow card.

At one point in the second half, Southend won a free kick and got two of their own players booked. Can’t say I’ve seen that too often.

It was just a very bitty, very scrappy, very poor game of football. Southend created more and came closest to scoring, but it was as messy and untidy as a students’ communal kitchen at 2am following a big night out.

Hanson replaced Williams midway through the second half, which should’ve helped, but it didn’t. I like Big Jim but he jogged around like his spine was Royal Doulton china; too afraid to go near anyone for fear he’d break.

Sean “1 in 10” Scannell (seven times out of ten he’s injured; two times he plays and is anonymous; but he’ll play brilliantly once — as described by my Huddersfield-supporting work colleague) made a late appearance from the bench, but he looks like a man who has been told he’s made of wax and has just had his wick lit.

Jackson also got a bit of game time. While he brought with him energy that other subs lacked, his touch was heavy and his running off the ball was as wayward as John Fenty’s character judgments.

But let’s not rip into the team unnecessarily. We certainly kept us shape better than the two previous games; we earned a clean sheet against one of the division’s form teams and we remain in touch with the three to four teams immediately above us in the table.

It could’ve been worse. It’s not a motto to live by but we’re Grimsby Town, and we know what worse looks like.

Hurst has another week to work some magic in the transfer market, and players like Hanson and Scannell have more time to improve their fitness.

Morais looks like our best option to link midfield with attack, and he could be back in time for the trip to Scunny next weekend. Gibson and Jackson remain options off the bench while we wait for a saviour to be signed.

The Holloway Year: a tale of chaos, calamities and dishonesty

Ah, do you remember the time we were managed by that great footballing philosopher, Ian Holloway? When the path was the path and mud went on the mud?

Well, the mud got chucked at the wall, in the hope that some of it stuck. Very little of it did. And then we found out it wasn’t mud, but shit.

It all still seems like a very bad dream, except it actually happened. The almost total absence of pre-season; the covid-clause; a complete absence of an assistant manager; signing 74 attacking players who, between them, couldn’t score at a Bags’ Ball.

I mean, we’re just scratching the surface here. Playing Harry Clifton at left back; releasing two centre backs when we were playing three in the first team; signing seven players on season-long loans when we could only name a maximum of five in a match day squad. The Bilel Mohsni scooter thing.

I watched the film Compliance recently. It’s based on a true story — a caller posed as a police officer and got some restaurant staff to do some unimaginable things to each other because all the workers accepted the caller’s authority without question.

When you think about it, Holloway did a whole load of stuff to us that was weird at best, and damaging at worst. And we just sleepwalked through it.

I suppose we went along with it because, you know, it was Ian Holloway; the football manager for the Mighty Boosh generation.

We knew he was quirky; it was part of the deal. Not everything he said made sense, but that was fine because he’s kooky and eccentric. And he got Blackpool into the Premier League that time (just as Town were being relegated from the Football League).

Mad as a box of frogs. Daft, but in a harmless way. At least that was the theory.

Plymouth fans warned us that he might ditch us the moment he gets a better offer. Millwall fans warned us that he might be shit.

But he’d become more than a manager here, investing £100,000 into the club and joining the board of directors. It later turned out that he never made that investment.

That, even if it felt generous, was a little unusual. But, you know, it’s Ian Holloway. It was a sign of his commitment, and certainly not for a more-than-dubious investment opportunity that we were only going to find out about 11 months down the line.

But there was one bigger alarm bell ringing from day one — and while many of us probably heard it, none of us really worried about it, such was the state of our paralysis. It was his rather over-friendly and uncomfortable allegiance to John Fenty.

In retrospect, it had all the hallmarks of a relationship that spoke more about business than it did football.

We never really stopped to question Holloway’s football intelligence based on the level he’d previously managed at. We were just grateful that he could see us from his media-hyped tower, never mind join us.

But if Holloway had any emotional intelligence, or any sense of judgment, he’d have known not to side with Fenty — or at least not be so openly friendly with him.

While many (including me) praised Fenty’s ability to bring a manager of Holloway’s supposed calibre to Cleethorpes, the fact remained that our major shareholder was still deeply unpopular with many of our fans. The relationship had long passed the point of no return.

Media-savvy Ollie thought he could be best mates with Fenty and the fans. And for a while, that was the case, as we saw out what remained of the 2019/20 season in both good form and good spirits.

But then things unravelled quite spectacularly over the summer.

When he initially joined the Mariners, jolly Ollie spoke at length (typically unprompted) about standards and regrets — particularly about the way he left Plymouth — only to flee Grimsby like a rat from a sinking ship at the first moment of trouble.

But that’s putting it kindly. There were many signs of trouble on the pitch, long before the 2020/21 season started, but his cute media persona allowed him to escape any sort of backlash from the fans.

The summer was an absolute shambles. While most League 2 clubs were assembling squads and playing friendlies, Town couldn’t find it within themselves to retain our better players, then bizarrely chose not to arrange any friendlies bar one against neighbouring Cleethorpes Town.

Signings came late and were so wild that it was difficult to understand what the recruitment strategy was.

After returning to training later than every other club in the division, the whole squad then had to self-isolate just a few games into the new season following one player’s positive covid test.

That gave Holloway enough ammunition to complain about fixture pile-up; personal safety, injuries, and being forced to sign players who couldn’t play 90 minutes.

Although it created a positive story, he chucked on 15-year-old Louis Boyd in our Mickey Mouse cup draw with Harrogate, who promptly scored, breaking two club records in the process. A tremendous feat, for sure, but Holloway made it seem like he had no other choice, despite having 30 full-time pros on his books.

He insisted on asking fourth division footballers to play out from the back when clearly none of them were capable.

He dropped our first choice keeper in favour of the goalkeeping coach, who subsequently dropped a clanger at Southend — to Greg Halford, a player who had been training with us for weeks but chose to sign for Southend the day before the game.

I mean, if you were an ambitious writer who liked to push boundaries, you wouldn’t dare write the script that Holloway was leading. It was a dark comedy to most, but pretty bleak for us living it.

Then the whole Alex May affair came to light. It’s not worth me repeating it here, but it raised serious questions of our major shareholder and his duties as a local councillor, plus the integrity of our entire board — which, of course, included a certain Mr Holloway.

Actively pursuing a £1m investment from a convicted property fraudster was not the sort of future Grimsby fans wanted.

Holloway was on the board of directors. It’s fair to assume he knew the details of the investment. In fact, it’s fair to assume he knew the details up front, back in December 2019, when John Fenty persuaded him to join the Mariners.

But when the news broke, Holloway thought he’d found a way to side with the fans. He made no comment of the investment, neither confirming or denying his knowledge of it, as Fenty bore the brunt of the backlash.

Instead, he made his own statement, via Twitter, to say the fans were different class; he was here for the football and he was going nowhere unless told to.

Six days later, he walked.

In his resignation tweets, Holloway said he felt unsettled after he was contacted by far more credible and entirely more ethical people regarding a separate takeover. He believed a fresh start for everyone was best.

In the club’s official statement on the same matter, it suggested Holloway was only interested in working with the current board — you know, the one that likes to invite criminals to invest.

It’s doubtful that Holloway enjoyed much of the football management side here at Grimsby. His recruitment was abysmal; his tactics were haphazard or incomprehensible; and then there was that time he claimed Tranmere played a different system to what we were expecting when they trounced us 5-0, even though ex-Mariner Paul Bolland on radio commentary duty that day said Tranmere had, in fact, played the exact same system in the previous two matches.

Holloway brought absolute chaos to our once proud club. He was snippy with the local media, defensive about poor results on the pitch and absolutely silent about his conduct off it.

In the end, Holloway was exposed for being nothing more than a soundbite with a deceptive and duplicitous core; someone who was in cahoots with Fenty — a man with morals so low you’d need a special ROV to scrape them off the base of the Mariana Trench.

The final kick in the balls, though, was when Holloway went and hit top bins on Soccer AM to take the plaudits of the armchair football fans across the country. Meanwhile, none of the players he signed for Grimsby can hit a cow’s arse with a banjo.

Holloway has already intimated that he may not manage a football club again, thus making it his decision when, for any reasonably informed football club owners out there, he should never be a credible option anyway.

Meanwhile, his assertion that the Grimsby owners were ‘hounded out’ (by the fans, or the prospective new owners, or both) highlights his tunnel vision further. It’s a conscious effort to ignore the tale of the past two decades, in which Town fans have stories aplenty of how Fenty brought austerity to GTFC while board members pocketed any profits.

I’ll wrap up with a quote from the Hollow Man himself:

I was given some decent values from my mum and dad in our council house, and one of them was honesty and trust and loyalty. And I forgot to do all that at Plymouth. I left them, and I made the biggest mistake of my life.

It appears he also forgot to do all that at Grimsby, although I somehow doubt he regards leaving us as a mistake.

However, we are not an isolated case. Holloway’s history is catching up with him, which may explain why it seems likely he’ll pursue his media interests over football management in the future.

Here in Grimsby, he’ll be remembered as Mr Runaway; the man who talked the talk but chose to walk when he put our Football League existence on the precipice.

Beware the man who speaks about trust; he’s often the one you can trust the least.

Tragic. Match report: Grimsby 0-4 Leyton Orient

Supporting the Mariners is a bit like owning a cat. I’m not really sure why any of us do it. They don’t seem to give a lot back.

Take my cat, for instance. I tell her I love her, but I seem to spend about 90% of my time being annoyed by her.

They scratch your furniture, pick holes in your carpets, do horrible stinks in the litter tray, walk across your laptop while you’re working, and they’re prepared to spend hours and hours just staring at you, and intimidating you, until they’ve ground down what resistance you thought you had to get what they want.

They know your greatest weakness; that you’ll give in, eventually. Again and again.

Once in a while, they’ll provide you with some memories to treasure but, on the whole, they’re arseholes.

Well, they are.

Grimsby Town know my weakness. They know I’ll return, no matter what.

They know my love for them is unconditional because I was born at Croft Baker and grew up being able to see the floodlights from our garden.

And so, on a dull October afternoon at Blundell Park, the Mariners put in one of their dullest performances for many seasons as they conceded four goals without reply to a side whose manager had literally days to get to know his players.

And yet it was Town who played like complete strangers.

Such was Town’s ineptitude, even now I’m wondering whether Leyton Orient were actually any good.

They got near the Mariners’ goal twice in the opening 20 minutes and stuck the ball in the net both times. The defending for each was tragic.

We can’t keep conceding first. It’s one thing conceding first to a worldie; it’s something else when the opener was easily preventable at three separate stages.

You could measure the level of shitness at Town’s defending for the second goal because Orient centre back Josh Coulson looked genuinely embarrassed to score it.

Town had chances to score at 2-0. Their keeper lived up to his name and made two ‘brill’ saves – both at his near post, either side of half time.

Hanson somehow scooped the ball over the bar from six yards and sub Whitehouse nodded wide from a similar distance when he should’ve at least hit the target.

Other than that, Town were rubbish. There was at least some intensity from the half time subs, Green and Ogbu, but it begged the question: were the hell was it in the first half?

Why do we have to go 2-0 down for us to start playing like we should’ve done from the start?

I’m less concerned about the third and fourth goals, which were a result of our pressing to get back into the game.

Jolley at least put all our available attacking players on the pitch. Don’t ask me to tell you what formation he had them playing in, though.

The first half, in a nutshell, was a Town centre back – usually Waterfall – launching the ball 50 yards towards Rose on the left. At least Monkhouse was tall, and could win a few headers.

Rose, a player notorious for his pace, barely got to use it. You could’ve brought your part-time mate to the game yesterday and as they headed for the exit after the third goal they wouldn’t have had a clue that he was meant to be quick.

I’m a big fan of us playing our young players, but Clifton never got on the ball and Vernam was isolated on the right.

We never looked like we wanted to pass it through the middle, but I’m not going to criticise Clifton and Hess if that’s what the team was instructed to do.

Öhman met his match in Harrold and struggled to win his headers, while Hanson was as ineffective in the air as I’ve seen.

We spent the whole of pre-season practising this 4-3-3 formation and, while it’s worked for us on a few occasions, yesterday’s match would have you think we’d never played it before.

Hewitt in midfield? Get out of here.

We’ve got a selection of strikers who are more than capable of scoring goals at this level, and the only player in our squad who offers genuine width and is capable of putting crosses into the box is out injured.

There are too many unanswered questions for mid-October.

On his return to Blundell Park, 10 years on from the shit-show that was Mike Newell’s alcohol-infused reign, Joe Widdowson must have thought nothing has changed.

And in many ways, he’d be right.