The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary


11 December 2018

"Because nothing is happening and you don't know what it is, do you, Mister Middle-Aged Diary," as Bob Dylan so nearly sneered. Let me suggest some better things for you to read, starting with Lee Johnson's tale of delivering the Grimsby Gazette at a penny a copy to watch every Town game, home and away, in our best season since 1948.

To Ron Counte's tribute to Matt Tees, and his heartfelt sympathy for his current condition, Tony Barker has added his tale of meeting the great man.

Fans who remember Tees from his first spell at the club will also remember Rod Green, with whom Tees formed a devastating partnership. By awful coincidence, Green too suffered with dementia, but not before leaving us with the image of him driving a vintage tractor through a snowbound Halifax town centre one boxing day so he could have a pint. Thanks to Steve Bierley for sending us the link.

Alex Gerlis's article on live streaming provoked a thoughtful response on Twitter. Joel Wheatley has added his thoughts, making clear what a boon iFollow can be to exiled Town fans.

Alex and Joel make that point well, but it is less clear how live streaming can win over potential fans: the ones who will not be content to praise with faint damns the occasional freezing of the screen and the single camera. They don't yet care enough to go to extremes to follow Town and are used to far better televised coverage. My concern is that, to the uninitiated, the coverage will fail to convey the intrinsic pleasure of actually being at your local ground. Far from winning them to the club, it could deter them.

My view is coloured by a memory from some 20 years ago, when live coverage of league football was still relatively new. I was at a party in Vauxhall, south London, and found myself talking to a boy of about ten, keen on football. I asked him who he supported, confidently expecting him to answer Arsenal (a few stops on the Victoria line) or Chelsea (probably a bit closer as the crow flies). "Man United," came the answer.

The son of a single parent, why should he develop a particular attachment to a local team if his exposure to the game comes entirely through TV? And if Arsenal struggled to compete against the glamour of that Man United team, what chance have any fourth-flight club?

No doubt live streaming is a fact of life. And I don't doubt it is an enormous advance for those like Alex and Joel, who know that it is still second best to the real thing. But it means that Grimsby, clubs like Grimsby, and the Football League as a whole need to think harder again about how they can manage it and ensure a new generation will be doing newspaper rounds that they can watch Town play.