The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

It's but a dalliance, nothing long-term

24 September 2015

I’ve got a confession to make. Alright, I’ve actually got two confessions to make. The first is that I really love rugby union - I used to play it and I could quite happily sit and watch any of the games in this year’s World Cup. Okay, it’s nothing on the scale of the news earlier this week that the PM indulged in a spot of fellatio with a cold, clammy pig’s head. But I do know the way many football fans view Union so I would normally keep schtum on something like that.

The other thing I have to come clean on is that I have been to watch Torquay United. Okay, a lot of you will also have done that this year but here’s where it gets a little sordid. I’ve now seen them twice this year. Are you getting my drift? I went to see Torquay on Tuesday night and Grimsby Town weren’t there at the time. I spent a fair bit of my evening checking in on Town via the BBC match updates and twitter and quite a few of the lads in the Popside crowd were doing the same – checking in on their own teams while trying to make sense of what was unfolding in front of us.

The Torquay United who I saw on Tuesday were unrecognisable from the team who held Town to a draw last month. Okay, a lot of the names on the teamsheet are the same but the brutally effective, ugly style of football which Town picked totally the wrong team to play against is gone, replaced by hapless wandering and a tendency to kick everything into the glare of the floodlights, regardless of the situation a player finds himself in. Defending? Hoof it high. Attacking? In space? Same again, just sky it. What do you mean you can’t see it coming down? Neither could Boreham Wood. What Boreham Wood could do was keep a couple of passes and free kicks on the deck and they came out 2-1 winners in front of their gobsmacked but quiet 24 fans. Boreham Wood weren’t really any good of course but they made a masterstroke of a signing earlier in the day by signing Clovis Kamdjo on loan from Forest Green. Clovis went straight into the team and totally bossed the middle of the park to the extent that it looked like the Gulls hadn’t picked a midfielder.

What should we expect when Town travel to Devon next month? Well, unfortunately if gates continue to fall like they have been doing over the last few games then there’s a possibility that Torquay might not be able to fulfil their fixtures. Maybe it won’t happen that quickly but I wouldn’t plan too far forward if was a Torquay fan right now.

And that’s why I was at the game, I wasn’t flirting or owt; it definitely wasn’t a sneaky grope with a cute club while my long-term club aren’t watching. I was there along with a few hundred supporters of other clubs who have seen the mess at Torquay and wanted to offer support and show solidarity with the Gulls fans. Why am I bothered about Torquay? Why were the other fans bothered? Because football can’t allow another club to go under. It’s pretty shameful that while premier teams have money pouring in from TV deals and sponsorship that a lower league club could go under for what might amount to not even a full week’s wages for a premiership player. By my quick calculations approximately a quarter of Wayne Rooney’s weekly wage would be enough to plug Torquay’s gaps for the rest of the season. Yes, less than two days’ pay for Wayne is all we’re talking about.

The situation in football is kind of analogous with the inequality of modern society – a few hold the wealth while many struggle to get by but if we sat down and looked at it together we all know there’s plenty of money to go round without anybody going hungry. We are Torquay, and Cameron and his friends are Manchester United. We are Tokyo and they are Godzilla.

The loss of a club like Torquay would definitely affect the rest of the teams in the conference as the ‘smaller’ teams yet to be visited by them this season could lose a home fixture and the associated income. If a couple of hundred fans makes such a huge difference for Torquay – the 12th best supported team in the non-league structure – then you can bet that there are many other clubs budgeting on all fixtures being honoured.

The other teams in Devon – Plymouth Argyle and Exeter City – although in a higher division, need a local rivalry. Both teams’ fans dug deep on Tuesday as their fans turned up at Plainmoor and it was actually the second time this year that the Grecians had helped out their neighbours. Of course fan-owned Exeter City understand the tightrope that lower league teams can be walking financially and it wasn’t too long ago that they were being helped out in a similar way by Swansea City. We’re pretty lucky at Grimsby that we have (a) a solid fanbase who turn up week in, week out, even when things aren’t going to plan and (b) Fenty. Say what you like about him but JF has kept our club going through difficult times.

There you go, am I forgiven? At the very least, Torquay is a nice away-day for Town, one that saw an upturn in our season last year and one that I’d like to think will see us set off on a decent run this year if we’re not already on a roll by then. I don’t want to see them go under and I’m sure that if we all put rivalries and differences to one side no Town fan would want to see any team go under. If Town were to get in trouble again (and let’s hope the days of crises caused by fiascos such as the ITV Digital collapse are long gone) I’d like to think that our neighbours and rivals – Boston, Lincoln, Scunny, Sheffield United, Hull - would support us. And the other way about, we’d do the same. Football is nothing without the fans and it’s certainly even less without the teams.

If you want to find out more about Torquay’s struggles and how they got into this mess then in the absence of an official fan campaign or crowdfunder check out this blog I wrote and also a second following the Boreham Wood game.

Looking closer to home, I reckon that was a pretty decent point by Town at Wrexham on Tuesday and Wicklow Diary summed up the main points nicely yesterday. But how about that clean sheet? Is this the turning point in our season? Football is a confidence game, that’s for sure and no more so than for a keeper. James McKeown is a class act and has kept us in touch in many games over the past four years. After his illness during season it seemed as though he was struggling a little, but the past few games have seen some fantastic saves and if that wasn’t a sign of an invigorated player getting back to his old self then the club posting this compilation of his best saves will hopefully give him another boost. Top drawer indeed, sir.

In last week’s diary I wrote about our home support’s need for a scapegoat when we go a goal down or the tea in the ground isn’t hot enough and this week we see this year’s chosen ‘goat, Matt Robinson returning to Luton. I think we’ll see him turn out to be a decent midfielder. Although he looked out of place when he first arrived he grew into it as he got match fit so good luck to him. I hope he gets a chance with his own team now rather than get farmed out on another loan. Now he’s gone though I hope this means the pairing of Craig and Craig is left alone for a while as it looks pretty good when given the chance. Clay looks back to his best and Disley is arguably our most reliable player since Groves. Why mess with that? I don’t want to see anyone else in the middle of the park until Scott Brown is fully fit again or Disley says he’s really, really tired.

This Saturday sees The Mariners head to Southport, part of what is a real hotspot of lower league football in the North West – Chester, Tranmere, Barrow, Altrincham, Macclesfield and Wrexham (yeah, I know but it’s really close.) It’s really about time we had a decent result against one of these teams this season. I’m confident. McKeown’s confident. We can do this.

Until next week, up the Mariners!