The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

Not too bad, all things considered

14 August 2019

Miss Guest Diary writes: The thing I miss most about being in non-League is the abundance of midweek evening games – 16 in the promotion season. We have been averaging less than half that since we returned to the League. Not including the Rogue Traders Cup, of course, as that is being boycotted by all right-minded football fans.

For me, there's something extra special about meeting mates for fish and chips at the Ocean Fish Bar then walking down the Grimsby Road towards the floodlights, speculating on who's in the team tonight and how we might manage to mess things up this season. Of course, this image doesn't work quite so well when the game is in August and it's still bright sunshine. But I think you get what I mean.

On Twitter earlier this week someone asked Town fans what was the best atmosphere they'd ever experienced at Blundell Park. Immediately I thought of the Spurs game in 2005. For that game we went posh for the fish and chips, taking some Spurs fans up from London to sample the delights of Steel's. When they started to refer to the game as being Town's cup final, we let them pick up the tab. Then on to join the capacity crowd under those iconic floodlights. We even got to go on the pitch to be presented with Gary Croft's shirt which we sponsored that season.

Side note: I never wear replica shirts, but that night I put the sponsored shirt on and we all know what happened. I have only worn it one other time: Wembley, May 2016. If anyone wants to make me an offer for it...

Last night couldn't hope to qualify in the great atmosphere stakes with a crowd of less than 2,500, not helped by the team selection. Mr Jolley had flagged up that he would give some of the squad players a run-out – but with only four players who had made the starting line-up on Saturday in the team, some were heard to complain about paying £22 to watch the reserves.

The atmosphere was more of a tea party than a sporting contest and I confess to being deep in conversation about a Bill Bailey routine from a couple of years ago – sparked by the sight of a dreadful hairstyle – when I looked up to see Jordan Cook haring forward with the ball. After an interchange with Ogbu, he slid the ball into the net and joy abounded. I paid a lot more attention to the last five minutes of the half and Town almost made it two with a cracking shot from Vernam which was tipped over the bar.

The second half was a catalogue of corners and missed chances by Doncaster. It felt like all of their 12 corners were in the last few minutes, with Town players slicing, kicking, heading or chesting the ball behind, sometimes it seemed when it was already going out for a goal kick. But the 'reserves' hung on for a victory – Town's first in the League Cup since 2008, apparently. My man of the match was James McKeown, but undoubtedly the star of the show was the new floodlights. For the first time in many years at an evening game I was able to see quite clearly what was happening at the Osmond end.

Our reward for the victory is a home game against Macclesfield. Not the most glamorous of ties, but a good chance to progress to the next round. And it's another Tuesday night match – that'll be three weeks in a row. Brilliant. Just like those new floodlights.