The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

It''s...Gary Lund

22 February 2021

Miss Guest Diary writes: To misquote that famous son of Lincolnshire, Alfred Lord Tennyson: 'tis better to have played and lost than never to have played at all. Or is it?

With Town's last two games called off due to inclement weather, fans were left pondering whether it is a good or bad thing that the game at Exeter on Saturday fell victim to a waterlogged pitch. Points in the bag are always better than games in hand, and I'd take games in hand over a humiliating defeat a long way from home. But what about a plucky 1-0 defeat which gives the new players a chance to maintain their fitness and get used to playing together? I bet Paul Hurst would have taken that on Saturday.

It's all academic, of course, as the clubs have no choice in the matter – that's up to the referee. I'm leaving aside the conspiracy theorists who suggested that the Grecians deliberately allowed their pitch to become unplayable because their leading goal-scorer was suspended. Yeah right, a team who are one point off the play-off places are running scared from the team propping up the league with a goal difference of -26 and who haven't won a game since December.

Fortunately, Town still remain in touch with the teams above them. Both Barrow and Southend – currently our two main relegation rivals – both lost on Saturday and Stevenage managed only a draw. Relegation rivals is an odd expression, isn't it? It makes it seem as if teams are vying to go down, when the exact opposite is true. But I digress.

Mardy Diary has suggested Town should also be targeting Colchester, who apparently haven't won for 12 games. Then there's Port Vale, who are on the same points as Colchester and Stevenage, and their only wins this calendar year have been against us and Southend. Town have home games against both Colchester and Port Vale later in the season, plus the postponed game against Barrow, which could all be vital relegation six-pointers, as the pundits like to say. It still feels that our fate is very much in our own – or rather in Paul Hurst's – hands. I haven't given up hope yet, especially now that Barrow have sacked Michael Jolley, our erstwhile saviour.

Taking a break from Town's current predicament, I listened to Burnsy interviewing Gary Lund on Friday's SportTalk. Town were in the second tier during Gary's time with the club and mention of league games against Man City, Leeds and Chelsea will be like glimpses into another world for younger fans.

He was at Notts County by the time I hooked up with my partner who, regular readers will know, was a school friend of Gary's. They were still in touch at that time, which is why we were at Wembley in May 1990 watching Notts County secure promotion to the second tier by beating Tranmere. The following year they beat Brighton in another play-off final and spent two seasons in the old first division before following us down the leagues and ending up where they are today in non-League. In 1994 I attended another Wembley play-off final as a neutral, when Burnley were promoted to the second tier at the expense of Stockport County. And now look at their relative positions in the football pyramid.

None of these events has any direct relevance to Town's current predicament; I suppose it just brings home the cyclical nature of football. I'll leave the last word to Gary Lund who, when asked by Burnsy about not making it into the England team at senior level, said that football is a game of "fine margins" but declared that it's "a fabulous way to make a living at whatever level."