We’re a better team than we were the last time we played Shrewsbury in every single way – except one

Remember, remember, the five wins of November. We played the perfect month, beating St Albans in the FA Cup and taking 12 points from a possible 12 to move up to third in the league. I won’t win any prizes for saying that it hasn’t always been like that (unless it’s the Most Obvious Thing To Say On A GTFC Blog award, in which case, yoink, thank you very much), but it does make me wonder whether I’m happier with us being in a lower division, where we win much more regularly.

Controversial, I know. That’d get ’em going on the Fishy, if I opened up a thread with that sort of comment. But it’s not the first time I’ve thought it.

It was this article in the Grimsby Telegraph that reminded me of just how appalling we’ve been. Imagine going six months without a win in the league. Well, we don’t have to imagine. We don’t even struggle to remember, since it only happened recently.

I wouldn’t have minded so much if that record-breaking barren spell occurred at a decent level. The fact that it happened in the fourth division in 2010; that my grandad, who supported the Mariners for many more decades than I, never witnessed such a shambolic period in the club’s history, just adds to the shame.

It seems all the more astonishing, to go 25 league games without a win, at a time when we’ve all become so used to winning. Such a tragic run is in direct contrast to the month we’ve just enjoyed.

Paul Hurst’s win ratio is close to 50%, which is impressive for any manager at any level. The fact that we remain in the Conference, though, is probably the thing that denies him the great manager tag. For now he remains a very good manager.

So, instead of going into this match against Shrewsbury Town on a 25-game winless streak, we go into it on a five-match winning streak, and just one defeat in our last 18.

We would’ve killed for that sort of form in 2009/10, as a League club. Of course, it’s entirely possible to go 25 games without a win at any level of football, if you’re mismanaged to the degree we were just six years ago, but it doesn’t hurt if, every now and again, you’re reminded of what we had to endure during our darkest times to appreciate the good times.

And hey, maybe in a few years’ time, when we’re back in the Football League and looking over our shoulders at relegation from League 2 again (much like York are this season) we may consider this time – the days of Hurst recruiting good players, building competitive squads, taking us on long unbeaten runs and fighting for promotion every season – as the good times.

And no, I don’t lack ambition, and I don’t want us to remain a non-league club. I’m as passionate as the next Town fan, but we all measure success differently.

Today we have a better manager, better players, a better Trust, a stronger voice in the boardroom, and a stronger connection with the fans and the local community. Today our club is a much better club than it was six years ago in every single way.

Other than the division it’s in.

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7 thoughts on “We’re a better team than we were the last time we played Shrewsbury in every single way – except one

  1. Spot on. I was asking some Torquay supporters the same thing – if you support the team it’s about your ties to them (memories, birthplace, etc) and the history. The league you play in is incidental and you’re right – I’m enjoying this season and our good form. I wouldn’t swap it for where Shrewsbury are right now. I’d be happy for us to win, get promoted, build, get promoted again and consolidate on that but to be getting stuffed every week? Nah

  2. Thanks. I’ve been thinking it for a while but never really put it into words. There are financial benefits of being back in the FL, but being non-league has taught us the importance of community, self-reliance and living (more) within our means. We still haven’t got it quite right on that front, but we’ve improved. Now I can see how being non-league is the kick up the backside some clubs needed to get their house in order. Being non-league is probably more a mental barrier than anything else. We get to watch good players in a good football team win regularly, and that matters more to me than being a mismanaged, badly run League club.

  3. I agree with RichyMills that there’s more to supporting a team than the league you play in – and that my relationship with the club is the same regardless of where we play. I’ve really enjoyed the last few years of non-league football.

    However, I think it’s easy to paint this as a choice between being a successful, reasonably well run and managed non-league club and a badly run, clown show of a league club. Sport is about lots of things, but the winning and standard of opposition is part of the package. I’d swap our ability to dominate most teams in this division for the ability to win some, lose some in a division or two higher. We shouldn’t accept being badly managed (financially and on the pitch), but we also shouldn’t accept that getting promoted isn’t the priority.

  4. TGTGD says:

    I was actually thinking this last night – is it better to be a top 5 team in the Conference or mediocre middle table in L2?

  5. Trawler says:

    Podge, Bogle, Plug, Disleyisourleader, Toto, Pope, Macca, #weneedanicknameforArnold- names that will live long in the memory. For the right reasons.

  6. Jim Barwick says:

    Living in Leeds since ’85 I used to have a regular debate with Leeds fans who used to say to me ‘how can you watch lower league football, it must be so rubbish (or something like that). My response was simple, a goal scored for Town is celebrated just as much by a Town fan with just the same passion as anyone supporting any team in any league high or low. Except personally, I think it more passionately felt when you can ‘stick it to the man’ from the lower leagues. Fits with our hard done too east coast mentality so often portrayed on the Fishy. Good stuff Rich

  7. Joe Turner says:

    Couldn’t agree more. I don’t think I’ve enjoyed – or been as proud – as a Town fan since the 98 glory days and the few years we enjoyed sticking it to the bigger clubs after that. Regardless of whether we get promotion this season or not, there’s so much to be positive about right now. Disley, Mckeown, Pearson, Podge – and probably a few more – are all players I’ll remember fondly in many years to come.

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