“Look at the scenes behind the goal! The agony is finally over!”

We all know what happened on Sunday 15th May 2016.

Grimsby Town beat Forest Green Rovers 3-1 in the National League play-off final to win promotion back to the Football League after a six-year absence.

We’ve seen the goals a million times. We’ve replayed them again and again in our minds, and on YouTube.

I think it’s fair and accurate to say, I could never get fed up of watching Nathan Arnold slot away our third goal in injury time.

But as I was at the match – and not listening from a hotel in Seattle (as I was in 2015) – I always wondered what it would be like to watch the TV footage but with John Tondeur’s commentary.

So, ladies and gentlemen. After a few hours of trying to work out how the hell you put something like this together, here you have it.

Grimsby Town’s play-off victory as you’ve (possibly) never seen it before. Enjoy.

Take it away, JT!

 

 

An outpouring of emotion: what Grimsby Town’s return to the Football League really means

Grimsby players celebrate on the pitchIn April 2003 I watched my beloved Grimsby Town surrender meekly at home to Walsall and drop out of the second division with two games still to play.

The following season, after an 8-1 defeat at Hartlepool, a 6-0 defeat at Oldham and a 5-1 defeat at Port Vale, I stood on the terrace at Tranmere, staring into the abyss, as news of a 90th minute goal elsewhere relegated us from the third division.

Two seasons later, in the fourth division, I was at Blundell Park when Northampton Town and Leyton Orient combined to deny us an automatic promotion spot we’d held all season in the very last minute of the season.

Two weeks later we lost the fourth division play-off final to Cheltenham – a team we’d beaten home and away in the regular season, and finished above in the table.

In March 2008 I was sat in the east end of Wembley as I witnessed us lose the Football League Trophy final 2-0 to the worst kind of club.

Then, the unthinkable happened. In May 2010 I watched the Mariners plummet out of the Football League on the final day of the season in a 3-0 defeat at Burton – at the expense of perennial fourth division strugglers Barnet.

Grimsby Town were a non-league club. Neither my dad, my grandad or his dad before him had seen the like. It was an all-time low.

In January 2011 we lost an FA Trophy tie 2-1 to Chasetown. In August 2011 Grimsby Town lost 5-0 at Braintree Town in our second league fixture of the season, and the football world felt like it was collapsing in on us.

Then in March 2013, when we got our first whiff of relative success, it was snatched away from us on penalties at Wembley when we lost the FA Trophy final to Wrexham.

A few weeks later we lost 1-0 home and away to Newport County in the Conference play-offs. Exactly one year later I saw our second successive play-off venture end in the semi-final stage, this time at Gateshead.

One year on, we endured the heartache of making the Conference play-off final but losing to Bristol Rovers on penalties.

Two cup final defeats. Three relegations. Four play-off defeats. Last-minute relegations. Last-minute promotion denials. Penalty defeats and all-time lows.

Fourteen years of pain. Any glimmer of success was snatched from us in the cruellest of fashions.

So what does winning promotion to the Football League mean to us Mariners?

It means this:

It means this:

It means this:

It means this:

It means this:

It means this:

It means this:

It means this:

It means this:

We might have already been 2-1 up when Nathan Arnold scored our third in injury time, but all those years of pain had given every single one of us such an anxiety complex that it made the final half an hour feel like an eternity – and Arnold’s goal feel like a decisive winner.

In that moment there was an outpouring of emotion; six years of promise and pain – and the end of 18 years without a thing to celebrate. I couldn’t hear words; just screams. There were hugs. There were tears. There was disbelief. A whole generation of Town fans had grown up not knowing what it was like to see their club win promotion.

But despite the torment, the lows and the near misses, we finally had our day in the sun.

And what a day it was.

What it was like listening to Grimsby edge past Eastleigh

The problem with Thursday night football in a town that’s 239 miles away when you have a full time job is that it makes it really difficult to get to. I also don’t have BT Sport, so I listened to Grimsby Town’s first leg play-off match at Eastleigh on the radio. Unlike the Mariners, I didn’t get off to the best of starts.

The team bus got stuck in traffic, again, and I was led to believe that kick-off would be 8.15pm, so I tuned in at 8.07 and missed Arnold’s opening goal (and two other clear-cut chances that should’ve put us 3-0 up).

But due to the wonderful world of technology I was able to see the goal before it was even half time. BT Sport tweeted it in a mildly desperate ‘come-and-watch-non-league-football-with-us-it’s-really-not-as-poor-as-you-think’ type of plea.

The next hour was an excellent example of how to sit back and let inferior opposition who play hoofball bollocks worm their way back into a match that should’ve already been beyond them. The equaliser was inevitable (I saw it on Twitter a few seconds before I heard it on the radio, which was an odd experience – although it did kind of take the edge off it) and all the Town fans on Twitter and The Fishy went into a bad mood.

Then Arnold scored a second 20-yard cracker and we were all happy again. Well, the Town fans were, obviously, but the same couldn’t be said of Eastleigh manager Richard Hill, who told one of his substituted players to ‘go on, fuck off’ when the microphones were on him, and who whinged in the post-match interview that we got all the marginal decisions because we’re the big team. Hill’s been sucking on lemons ever since he got sent to the stands in the league match at Blundell Park.

The game got a bit scrappy; a bit niggly; a bit naughty. But there were no further incidents and Town held on through five minutes of injury time that were somehow conjured up from the absence of any injurues whatsoever. But let’s not go all Richard Hill on the ref here – we’re better than that.

I can’t afford to get my door frames widened so I’ll keep this short. In my preview I predicted that we’d win, narrowly, and we did. I also said that the home leg will be a nervy affair and I don’t think we’ll win it – so it’s important that we don’t lose it.

No one should be putting a gun to anyone’s head in this country, but if I were to find myself in that situation, and forced to predict the outcome of Sunday’s second leg, I’d have to say that we’ll draw it.

You’ve got just under 24 hours to grow your fingernails.

On a slightly separate note, it’s a pity that Grimsby’s goal of the season competition was decicded on Monday because both of these goals would’ve been strong contenders.

If Fantasy Football points applied to Grimsby Town players: March

Hello there. Well, wasn’t March a tremendous month for the Mariners? If four wins from five wasn’t refreshing enough, simply having just five March fixtures to fulfil was a rarity that was worth celebrating. With 29 points to his credit, the month undoubtedly belonged to the one that dares to Zlatan.

Four goals and an assist for our very own* Ollie Palmer might not help him punctuate the top 10, but he’s certainly made an impression in the average points-per-game table.

Goalkeeper James McKeown led the way at the end of February but he’s been replaced by Shaun Pearson – boosted by the goal and clean sheet he recorded at Welling. After spending so much of the season leading the way, Lenell John-Lewis has slid to fourth, although that was in part due to his absence in the win at Woking and draw at Chester.

Here’s the Top 10 as it stands at the end of March:

Top 10 performing players as of the end of March 2015

With four assists in March, Nathan Arnold was the month’s second highest scorer with 24 points. That’s lifted him to sixth place – his highest position of the season. Having missed the games against Eastleigh and Dover, Jack Mackreth has slipped a couple of places to eighth, while Pittman and Clay remain in the Top 10 by a comfortable margin (Scott Brown is nowhere close in 11th).

The next table makes interesting reading. He may have only turned out 11 times in Town’s colours but Ollie Palmer is averaging 4.73 points per game and leads the way. Arnold and Jon-Paul Pittman have done well in this version of the table – when they play, they contribute. Arnold’s four assists and Pittman’s two goals in March underlines this point:

Top 10 best performing players based on points per game.

With just five games of the regular season remaining, I’ll be back at the start of May with the final league tables (in full). However, if the Conference play-offs beckon, I may wait until those games are completed before I reveal who’s crowned Grimsby Town’s first ever All That and a Bag of Chips’ Fantasy Player of the Season (now there’s a mouthful).

Before then, feel free to share your opinions on this over on The Fishy or on Twitter (I’m @RichMariner, by the way).

*He’s actually contracted to Mansfield Town

If Fantasy Football points applied to Grimsby Town players: February

James McKeown

Image taken from the Grimsby Telegraph.

He has been leading the way since October, but at the end of February Lenell John-Lewis was replaced at the top of the table by James McKeown. However, with just two points separating the top four players, it’s shaping up to be an interesting race to see who will be crowned the first ever Fantasy GTFC Player of the Season (FPOTS).

Town played five games in February, winning three and losing two. A couple of clean sheets against AFC Telford and Braintree has seen McKeown and the defensive line in front of him scoop a fair few points – particularly Carl Magnay, who claimed an assist for Craig Disley’s superb header against Braintree. That’s actually put him second, which means The Shop has slipped into third place.

Here’s what the table currently looks like:

Top 10 performing players as of the end of February 2015

The gap between fourth and fifth has opened up even more – from this table it’s clear to see which four players have made the biggest contribution this season. The only reason Disley isn’t up there is that his season didn’t really get going until October.

I started this Fantasy Football thing in the summer because I thought it would be fun. And also because I’m a nerd. However, I’ve been in two minds over how to measure it. Do I simply reward the player who scored the most points, or is it fairer to judge them on their points-per-game ratio?

I ask because the table looks different when you order the players based on their match averages:

Top 10 best performing players based on points per game.

This second route is kinder to the likes of Jon-Paul Pittman and Nathan Arnold, because as their averages show they usually make a contribution when they play.

But if we take the second route, we are faced with the distinct possibility that Aswad Thomas could end up winning the bloody thing – and we can’t have that. But maybe I should just dismiss anyone who isn’t at the club and give it to whoever is next in line – which means Arnold is still in contention.

If you have an opinion, let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@RichMariner). I’ll be back at the start of April to bring you March’s report.

If Fantasy Football points applied to Grimsby Town players: January

Ollie Palmer in action against Eastleigh. Image courtesy of the Grimsby Telegraph.

Ollie Palmer in action against Eastleigh. Image courtesy of the Grimsby Telegraph.

The postponement of Grimsby’s home tie against AFC Telford means there are no more matches for January… and that means I can show you the latest standings of the Town players in my on-going Fantasy Football league table.

Six games were played this month – three wins, two defeats and one draw – and I guess it’ll come as no surprise to any Mariners fan that loan signing Ollie Palmer has made the biggest impact. Having said that, with three clean sheets the defence continues to rack up the points.

Here’s what the table looks like:

Top 10 performing players as of the end of January 2015There hasn’t been much change in the order at the top – the two things to mention here is that McKeown has closed the gap on John-Lewis to just two points, while Toto Nsiala has crept into the top five for the first time. But the top four look like they’ve broken away, and I think very few would argue that John-Lewis, McKeown, Pearson and Magnay haven’t been our most consistent performers this season.

Although not in the top five, both Nathan Arnold and Jon-Paul Pittman have impressive points-per-game ratios. It makes you wonder where they’d be in this table had they not each suffered lengthy injuries earlier in the season.

It’s also the first time that Scott Neilson has fallen out of the top 10. He topped the table at the end of September, so his slide has been quite dramatic – but also a reflection of how little he’s been used by manager Paul Hurst recently.

If you want to know what the table would look like it it was ordered on average points per game, well, here you go:

Top 10 best performing players based on points per game

Straight in at number two is Ollie Palmer, who’s made an impressive impact since joining from Mansfield. Aswad Thomas is in third place, which suggests the team kept clean sheets when he was in the side. This table also shows how Pittman and Arnold tend to contribute when given a game, while McKeown’s fall is due to the fact that he’s played more games than anyone else.

Now that the home game against AFC Telford will be rearranged it means the Mariners will have another six games in February – after which I’ll be publishing the next batch of updated Fantasy Football league tables.

If Fantasy Football points applied to Grimsby Town players: November and December

If you thought you were feeling empty, like something was missing from your life, then it was probably the absence of the last two monthly Fantasy Football league tables for Grimsby Town’s players. But don’t worry, your nightmare’s over – they’re here!

Like a manager giving refreshingly honest answers in a post-match interview, I have no excuses. I just forgot. Despite what some of my friends might think, I do have other stuff going on in my life.

For anyone joining the fun at this late stage, it works like this. I use the scoring system of Fantasy Premier League and apply it to GTFC’s players before taking a snapshot of the standings at the end of each month to see who’s contributed most in the season so far.

When I last reported in October, John-Lewis was top of the tree (and not under it) with 76 points, while McKeown was second (71), Neilson third (67), Magnay fourth (66) and Pearson fifth (58).

Those mathematicians and statisticians out there will probably point out the limitations of measuring performance in this way, but this was only meant to be a bit of nerdish fun.

This is what the Top 10 looked like at the end of November: Table showing Top 10 performing players in November

It was a good month for Town – and for John-Lewis, who picked up 31 points and stretched his lead at the top to nine points. Magnay also improved his position by jumping above both Neilson and McKeown, while Disley and Mackreth continued their steady progress.

By the end of December, after that awful home defeat to Lincoln, the table looked like this: Table showing Top 10 performing players in December

It was another good month for John-Lewis, who now leads the table by 11 points, while Pearson continued his progress and Mackreth entered the top five for the first time this season. Despite missing a chunk of the season through injury, both Pittman and Arnold have made their Top 10 debuts, while Neilson continues his slide from top position in September to 8th.

Then I decided to re-order the table based on the average points a player earns per game, since some players aren’t always available due to injuries and suspensions. Now the table looks like this: Table showing Top 10 performing players based on average points per game in December

This suggests that when Thomas, Pittman and Arnold play, they tend to make a good contribution. John-Lewis still leads the way though, which certainly gives weight to the argument that he’s having the best season of his career to date.

Make of that what you will. I’ll be back at the end of the month with an updated table for January.