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Turning Town around
1 September 2011
Yeah, yeah, Town are no bloody good, ya-di-ya, we know. But what are you gonna do about it? Ten years after the Mariners topped the Football League, Chris Beeley has had a think and come up with five ideas to stop the rot.
1. Accept that we can't attract decent players from outside the area, and stop wasting our efforts and money trying to do so
The club has been going downhill for over a decade, and we couldn't attract many good players even back then. As far as most pros are concerned Grimsby is the arse end of nowhere and the elephant's graveyard of journeymen. The only successes we have had over the years have been based on teams built around young local lads.
I refer here to what I would describe as the Kevin Drinkell era and the John Cockerill era. Those lads understood the Town and had some pride and investment in it. I don't understand why so many young players (OK, maybe they're all not from Grimsby but they are local-ish and brought up in our 'academy') are let go without even being given a chance. Why was Conor Marshall initially let go and Elding signed? Why was Tom Corner never given a chance to get the experience which was all he needed to become a decent striker? Mark Gray? Rob Peet? Nathan Dixon? Jammal Shahin? Josh Fuller? Matthew Bird? Jonny Rowan? Shall I go on? Let's gloss over Straight Peter Bore and Darren Wrack here, shall we?
What we need is to develop a siege mentality: the world's against us, it's us and them, no-one likes us, we don't care – like the teams of Jose Mourinho. Let's make Blundell Park a fucking horrible place to come, a place other teams dread playing at. At the moment they just take the piss out of us. Even now I would run my heart out for a Grimsby team. Nearly all the players I've seen over the last few years at Town don't look like they'd run their heart out unless a curry and a beer were waiting.
I was appalled that Charlie I'Anson was the one subbed off against Braintree. Why?
2. Have a single captain who leads by example
Separate 'club' and 'team' captains – why do we have them? Neither showed any leadership at all in the disaster at Braintree. (Nor did the managers, for that matter: Glenn Cockerill's comments on Radio Humberside were illuminating in that respect.) I hate to chant an old Tory mantra, but let's get back to basics. We need one captain who provides leadership by example – step up Bradley Wood.
"It makes me want to puke when I go to Grimsby and see blokes in Chelsea shirts wandering around"
3. Establish a game plan and make it simple
Let's get a simple tactic. If it's long ball I don't care. At least have a game plan. We all remember Buckley as a passing coach but what about the success he had in the lower leagues with Keith Alexander up front? I haven't been to a Town game for years where I could see for the life of me what system the coach had worked on in training all week.
I accept that it's not as easy when the other team is trying to mess up your carefully laid plans. But at least everyone should know what you're trying to achieve. It just seems to be 'stick 11 on the pitch and hope for the best' right now. Other teams seem to work out our shortcomings very quickly. We never seem to be able to work out theirs.
4. Stop thinking we should be in the Football League by divine right
The most cursory glance at our history shows that, save for a few glorious years here and there, we bumped around the bottom or thereabouts for most of the 20th century. Let's start each season making the avoidance of relegation our target, not pretending we can be champions. If we focus on small steps, one at a time, maybe one day we might be able to run.
5. One for the fans: get behind the club
I blame myself partly for Braintree. I've been going since 1976, but I haven't been to more than a handful of games over the last few years. I tell myself I live 200 miles away from Blundell Park, but so do others and they go much more often. Falling attendances exacerbate the problem. It makes me want to puke when I go to Grimsby and see blokes in Chelsea shirts wandering around. At the moment the apathy of the town means we've got the team we deserve, and it's no use hiding from that. We haven't got a next generation of fans coming through, and I'm seriously worried the club I love could die.
I am not advocating mass sacking of players or management or even chairman. I almost feel sorry for Fenty at the moment. "Oh John, just open your wallet one more time, we just need one more player and everything will be OK..." How many times must he have heard that? What we need now is to get our heads down and graft, all of us, before it's too late.
Can you add any original ideas to add to Chris's about how to turn round Town's decade of despair? Use the Cod Almighty feedback form to tell us.