Many years back I went to watch Town play on a Friday night, against Charlton, and we lost 5-2. Clive scored against us. Despite the heavy scoreline (I don’t think I’ve ever seen us concede five goals at Blundell Park since) it was 2-2 with just half an hour to go, and that’s when we fell apart. I remember returning home and thinking, ‘shit – that’s the weekend ruined’.
I’m glad to say that I’ve grown up since then – which is just as well, because tonight, Friday night, Town lost their home game against Cheltenham 1-0. Like a lot of Town fans who don’t live in Grimsby, I can’t get to evening games, and I don’t have BT Sport, but I managed to watch most of it online, through a load of pop-up ads. We were great in the first half, but didn’t score, and then we were totally anonymous in the second half, and we conceded. It was the sort of frustrating performance over 90 minutes that doesn’t just encapsulate the way we’ve played this season, but the way we’ve played under Paul Hurst since he went solo two years ago. It’s the sort of result we throw in there, every now and again, that means we’ll always be on the periphery of the title race, and never slap bang in the middle of it.
Sadly it didn’t feature the kind of swashbuckling forward play and incomprehensibly bad defending that both Grimsby and Burnley displayed exactly 13 years ago in the club’s last so-called ‘Fright Night’ when the Mariners won 6-5. That match haunts me in a way you wouldn’t believe. Back then, as a slightly more volatile 19-year old, I considered our desperately poor form, our bottom-of-the-league position, our recent 4-1 loss at Wolves and our worrying lack of goals, and concluded that, actually, I didn’t fancy paying £12 to watch a load more dross. So I swapped my shift and decided to earn a bit of cash rather than throw it at the shower of shit that was the Town team back then.
I still remember the beaming face of my team manager as he emerged from his break to announce that Town were winning 4-3 at half time. I refused to believe him, and dismissed what I thought was his attempt at bad humour, efficiently, using only two words. Only on his oddly desperate pleas for me to go and check for myself did I begin to consider that he wasn’t winding me up. By the time I checked for myself, we had indeed won 6-5, and as I cycled home I did my absolute best to ignore what I’d just missed by considering how far I dared to cycle at midnight, along a deserted Queen Mary Avenue, with my eyes closed.
It remains the most stupid thing I’ve ever done. I managed about 50 yards before I hit the kerb square on, missing a parked car by centimetres. Amazingly there wasn’t a scratch on either my body or my bike.