The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

When will there be good news?

8 April 2021

Middle-Aged Diary writes: Virtue is not always rewarded, or not in a way which is obvious.

Grimsby Town's institution, the genial Harry Hickson, died on 10 March 1932, after 34 years as club secretary. He'd seen the club rise to Division One, fall to the Midland League and - almost worse - Division Three (North), then climb again to Division One, and through all that time, he remained a  byword for efficiency, discretion and charm. He died with Town bottom of Division One (yes, I know. How we'd love that problem), and no doubt in the days that followed, there were calls of "Let's do this for Harry".

Three games to go, Town needed a minimum of two wins and a draw to even have a chance of safety. They won the first two. One of the games was astonishing: a 6-5 win having been 5-3 down with goalkeeper Tommy Read off the pitch receiving treatment for a kick in the face. If ever a team deserved success, it was the one which clawed a win out of that situation. They won the last as well, but we still went down. There was a fairy tale in 1931-32, but it was Blackpool's: they won too, and from a position almost as desperate as ours they escaped.

One team's happy ending is another's disappointment. There'd have been another fairy tale in 1998 if Bournemouth - a club which had been on the brink a few months before - had beaten Town in the Auto Windcreens Final. Bournemouth moved on, and enjoyed greater triumphs in the end.

Our under-18 team have had a very good season, and it would have been fantastic if all their hard work had been rewarded on Tuesday afternoon with a win in the nothern final of the Football League Youth Alliance. But no doubt Rochdale's players, their coaches and parents had the same tales to tell, and the victory went to them. So no happy ending, yet. Perhaps in a couple of months one or two of the players beaten on Tuesday will be signing their first professional contracts, and in a year or two will be enjoying some happy endings with the first team.

In the 1930s, thanks in part to Hickson's diligence, Grimsby Town had a healthy enough bank balance that they did not need to sell the promising young players - Alec "Ginger" Hall, Harry Betmead, Pat Glover, Charlie Craven - who had not quite been good enough to avoid relegation in 1931-32 but who went on to form our greatest-ever team.

Our currrent situation is a bit like the mid-1980s. The squad Bobby Roberts miraculously assembled in 1987-88 from the wreckage of a football club left by Mike Lyons and the Ramsdens deserved better than relegation. Eventually, Steve Sherwood, Shaun Cunnington, Kevin Jobling and John McDermott, to name a few, did get what they deserved.

The one piece of news we are all waiting for has not happened. Apart from that, all we can do is carry on doing the right things, wait for next Saturday, and believe that it will all turn out all right. In the end, somehow.