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.