As per usual, we hardly have time to catch our breath from our last long trip North up in Crewe midweek before the next one’s hard on its heels and there’s early rises and all the other usual cobblers to consider. However for this week’s match, our inaugural visit to
Cleethorpes Grimsby, there’s an added spanner in the works due to the ongoing industrial action on the railways. Having booked this weeks ago, the notice that there’d be a strike that Saturday caused some concern amongst the mob. However, a few of us had cleverly booked to go up Friday although news that there was going to be engineering done on the Sunday meant getting home was going to be something of a slog.
In the end, early notice that a lot of the Friday trains were getting canned meant all of the early travellers decided to sack them off and just simply drive up instead. Well, most of them. As I had to work Friday, I couldn’t get out of London until just before 7 so my option was to see if I could at least get up there as I’d now at least have a lift back. The whole day I kept a beady little eye on the two trains I had to take, dreading the fact that one or both would be canned. My main worry however was the second leg being the one affected as that would mean I was in Doncaster at 8pm with no other way of getting to bloody Cleethorpes that night or even the following day. As it was, both trains stayed running and allowing an hour to get to Kings Cross from Bank, I left the office just before 6pm. It wasn’t near enough time.
Of course, with the Tubes out as well, that was a no no. So I went for a couple of buses I knew would put me into Euston fairly quick and should do the job. Sadly, the first 2 were packed and standing. Bugger! Maybe go to Blackfriars? Nope, only train I could get would arrive 3 mins before my train left Kings Cross, so no good. Uber wanted a bullseye for the job (fuck right off!) and I failed to see a single black cab in the whole time I was in Bank and then on the walk back down to London Bridge to go home when I eventually sacked it off and called Magnum to ask him what time he’d be picking me up in the morning. Bollocks to it, it’s not worth the stress and it’s not like I was arriving in time for a beer up or owt. By the time I’d have arrived, got to the hotel, checked in, tipped and got out again it would have been well past 10pm. Not worth the hassle. So I schlepped home and no doubt ruined Mrs Taz’s finely laid takeaway and Netflix binge watching plans for the evening.
Magnum lets me know he’ll be round by 6.40 of the am the following day so I get an early night and ensure I’m well rested for the trip up the following day. Meanwhile in Cleethorpes, the recce party are of course tearing the arse out of it and supping in a late night place until well after 1.30am. we never ever learn do we? Now most of the gang are keen on this trip as it’s our first meeting with our hosts and as such means an all important new ground tick for most of us. However, not for me. This will be my third trip to Blundell Park overall, having been up here in 2001 as I was seeing a lass from nearby Immingham at the time and her family were all ST holders. So on a trip North for her birthday, I got to freeze my tits off watching Barnsley’s Alex Dyer rip them a new arsehole in a 2-0 defeat, all whilst Sutton were bumming Dulwich 7-1 at GGL for what was our first win in about 3 months. Not happy! Even former midfielder Danny Bolt takes the fucking piss out of me for missing his hat-trick that day every time he sees me, the bastard! My second trip was for an Oldham game on Boxing Day, a pulsating 3-3 draw and then a night on the beers before heading back South the following morning for the Massacre Derby with the Bobbins. Yeah, that one! Cleethorpes was also the scene of a couple of mad nights out in this era, including one where a local lass hit me with the classic “Fancy a shag and a pizza”. Luckily the other half wasn’t around at the time or I’d probably have been castrated with a Bacardi Breezer bottle or summat.
I’m up at 6 and straight into the shower for the usual. A quick sort out and I’m all ready to go with a good 15 mins to spare. Well done Taz! Would you like a cuppa and some toast to celebrate? Why yes, I would! So I pop in the kitchen, get a brew on and pop the bread in the toaster. “See you in 10!” I send to Magnum on Whatsapp just to let him know I’m up. Before my toast has popped, I’ve a reply. “I’m early. Outside now”. For fucks sake!! The tea goes in my little flask and hopping around putting my shoes on, I grab my toast and give Mrs Taz a crumb infused peck on the cheek and dash out the door. Bloody PI’s, so unreliable. I’ll eat my toast in his motor now and get crumbs and jam all over the seats. That’ll fucking learn him! Soon, we’re picking up 4Days, also caught on the hop by our driver’s lack of tardiness and then back to get Magnum’s missus Heidi who’s coming along as an old mate of hers lives in Cleethorpes and they’re going out on the beers to catch up. Right, to the North!!
It’s a relatively quiet run up as I make another dent in my WW2 tank book. There’s a quick stop for a snack at Cambridge services on the M11 where I hold everyone up waiting for a fresh cup of tea in Costas as they’d only got one poor lass on to work the gaff on her own. Still, I have tea, so the others protests fall on deaf ears. 4Days does get a modicum of revenge when having managed to decant this into my little flask with no scalding, spillage or other mishaps he sarcastically describes me as “The teabagging master”. Yes yes, very funny you wanker. Further along, we pass through Boston and get to see both their new ground and their old York Street venue as well. The latter still looks impressive even after all these years and a fair bit of neglect and it’s literally no contest on the floodlights side of things as the proper old school ones of course shit all over the modern droopy flower designs they now have. The rest of the run is quiet though as I’m engrossed in my book although the dull flat Lincolnshire landscape whizzing by outside means I’m not exactly missing much.
Magnum ditches me at my hotel so I can check in, drop my bags and get back out for pints. Outside, I find a smoking and somewhat hungover Greek who’d failed to surface after breakfast after the exertions of the previous evening. Although he’s now feeling much better after an hour or so’s extra kip and the pint of coke he’s now necking. “Get sorted and I’ll get us a cab” he mumbles as I disappear inside. A quick bag dump done, I’m back downstairs in a shot and a few minutes later a sherbert’s got us on the way to the first pub of the day down in town. Pulling up, we find Mr X, 4Days, SLO Loffers, Nat, Robbo and Indy sat in the sunshine supping a pint. Here Mr X sorts us some tickets out for the game and Loffers spots that the floor is covered in penis shaped confetti. No reason, just thought I’d mention it. Next we head to the Dolphin around the corner, a pub I remember from a couple nights out up here 20 years ago. Amazed it’s still here to be honest! Here we have a pint and get another reminder of just how far we’ve come as it’s 20years to the day we were watching a 0-0 at Grays Athletic.
The Dolphin also sees the end of Greek’s M18 corridor winning streak on the fruitys. Having had a ton out of one in Scunny last season and then 85 quid in Donny a couple of weeks back. Lucky for him to be honest as one more win like that and there’d have been wanted posters in boozers all over this part of the world with his mugshot on it. Here the big man also makes an impassioned speech about why walking is shit. “I can’t believe you ran a fucking marathon once” chuckles 4Days. Our next stop is the Market Arms a bit further up the road for a couple more before the game. Spurs v Wolves is on the box and Greek wanders out for a fag just as Kane scores. Here we’re a 20 minute walk from the ground but the big fella insists on cabs, but no one can really be arsed to get them called and even when they eventually relent, there’s nothing available for ages. Walking it is! On the telly, we see the last few seconds of Hibs v Rangers, with the latter down to 9 but a goal up. Being the footballing expert that I am, I comment that Rangers will undoubtedly hang on moments before a Hibs lad spanks one on the volley to level up. Seriously Sky, call me. I’m available.
We set out on the trot down to the ground and its soon clear that even if we had got a cab, it would have been largely a waste of time as the main road down to Blundell is backed up with traffic. We get to within sight of the floodlights before we catch Indy coming back the other way. It seems we’ve just missed the turning for the away end. Thanks for the signage lads! We backtrack and are soon behind the away end. Tickets collected, we head in. I fancy a pie! Got to have some soakage. Oh. It seems that despite tagging SUFC in all sorts of shit about gourmet grub this week, that’s all for home fans only. Our one option is basically shit hot dogs. Not even with any onions. Crap that lads, proper crap.
Rose, Milsom, Kizzi, Rowe, John, Eastmond, Beautyman, Boldewijn, Neufville, Wilson, Thomas SUBS: House, Gambin, Smith, Randall, Fadahunsi, Kouassi, Barden
Our hosts start bright and on the front foot, looking to get an early lead and press us hard. But despite a good opening few minutes, the best opportunity they can muster is a shot from the edge of the box that’s safely wide of Roses’ upright. We slowly get a foothold and start to have a bit more interest at the other end. Enzio has a decent sighter when Milsom sticks a cross on his nut, but the header is down and across goal and wide of the far post. From here we liven up a touch and really should be in front when their centre back leaves a back pass short with Wilson lurking. But the keeper’s out quick to narrow the angle and having made the save, the ball rebounds off Donovan and out for a goal kick.
From here, most of the rest of the half is a little dull with both sides cancelling each other out. The only real talking points are their big ginger lad up top wiping Louis out with an elbow that the ref doesn’t even consider a foul and then our defender getting a yellow card for barely touching their lad on the edge of the box. Soon after, they bundle the ball in at the back post from a set piece, but it’s never going to stand as their lad’s made sure Rose has gone in with it too. So at the break, we’re all square but both sides look a little lacking in attack. Some head down for a shit hot dog, I pop down to get out of the sun and catch up with Kebab Belly Bob and also Chancellor Oakes about his midweek trip to our colour cousins Forres Mechanics up in Scotland. “Enjoy it?” I ask “It was like watching us” he replies “They had 40 shots, the oppo keeper had a blinder and they lost 1-0”. Sounds about right to me mate!
The second half is much like the first. Keenly contested, but neither side really creates a killer opening of their own and a mistake is the closest we come to a goal. Harry leaves one short for Milsom who then in turn does the same with a back pass and their lad races in behind, but Enzio chases back and Rose is quick off his line to save with his legs, which earns him a big hug of gratitude from the veteran full back. Their best self made chance comes on the break and a shot from the corner of the box that Rose deals with confidently enough. Both sides make changes, but again, neither can quite get that key bit of quality in the final third. Ali Smith on as a sub has our own first really serious shot on goal late on, but it’s straight at the keeper. Then as we hit the last minute of 6 added on, the U’s keeper is called into action again as we lose a header in midfield and the ball’s popped in behind for a lad to dart clear. But in the box, Jack is quick out and dives at the feet of the striker to smother the ball and the danger is cleared. Still, a point’s a point and after the 2 disappointing away results so far this season, you gotta start somewhere. Clean sheet too, so the gaffer will be fairly pleased.
Having done the usual plaudits for the lads, we pack up and head on out to get back to town. We decide to head up the front to go more as the crow flies and having scrambled up a small embankment and hopped a wall, we’re on the promenade and heading towards the station. Here we hit ‘Number 2’ a small micro pub ironically on the station which has a good few locals around enjoying a pint in the evening sun. We have a good natter with a few and enjoy a couple of beers to settle into the evening. Some dart off for fish & chips on the pier here, but the rest stay for pints along with Dancing Marcus and his good lady. Next we head for the Swashbuckle which is an odd place as the entrance is via a small yard that later in the evening will serve as the portal to no less than 3 different venues! Sod being a doorman here. We sit outside & sup but not before Mr X has loudly declared the barman to look like that lad who did our Eurovision entry this year and disappears outside with his pint singing ‘Spaceman’ in a high pitched voice. Still, at least it’s not Dukey calling him ‘John’ I guess.
Beers are necked and then Mr X and I hop a cab back to the digs so I can dispose of the flag and he can put a fresh top on. We have a pint here then we’re straight back into town for more jollity and hit the Fishermans for more. Here an amusingly named Grimsby Town themed beer entertains but before long mine, Mr X and Indy’s bellies are rumbling and we leave the gang to their drinks while we food up. Sadly, there’s not much option nearby, so we hit a curry place a couple doors down, finding Amber Aleman already in here tucking into his own feed and get some stodge on board. Most agreeable! Then it’s back to the Fisherman’s for yet more ale. The night is yet young! Here Magnum kicks back against the usual height-ist abuse by picking on the man of mystery’s ears, referring to them as ‘pathetic’. Yeah, you tell him! Here we lose a couple as Magnum & Heidi go for more cocktails based stuff, as do Nat and Ossie. Steve and Loffers bail and then Greek leads us to some place called ‘Tipsy Shit’ or something via what feels like fucking Hull, with Mr X moaning the whole way as he’s merely tagged along to find the cab rank!
We find the pub and it’s now just me, Greek and Indy left. The Tipsy place is fucking deserted with even Nat and Ossie electing to sack it off, so we get one in and are soon joined by Magnum and missus, who’d not liked the last place and headed here instead. But as they settle in for the more sweet stuff, we down a quick one and return to Swashbuckle round the corner. Here we tuck into a couple more, but by now the pace is taking it’s toll on Greek and I and Indy are feeling the snooze inducing effects of dinner, so shortly after one, we admit defeat and stumble out to the cab rank Mr X so desperately wanted earlier. We bag a sherbert and I promptly confuse the driver by getting our hotel name completely wrong. Fortunately Indy’s on hand to save the day. “Sorry for being such a fucking tourist drive!” is all I can offer by way of apology.
The following morning, I’m up just after 8 and get my fuzzy head into the shower to try and induce some life into the old carcass. With a bottle of water downed to no real effect, I decide some sea air is needed to blow out the cobwebs and head for a walk along the front towards town. It’s a lovely morning out and there’s a few people around doing much the same as me in the Sunday sunshine. About 15 minutes later I’m feeling much more human and spot a cafe over the road that’s humming with people, which is always a good sign. So I head in, order up a brew and 2 bacon sarnies and set about adding nourishment to my weary bones. I’m soon back in the game and heading back to the digs for my ride home. As Magnum is off to see relatives nearby today, I’m hopping in with Steve and Loffers and I’m soon abandoned outside the hotel by Greek, Mr X & Indy as they fuck off for home themselves. Still, it’s not much of a wait and after my ride arrives, we’re also soon on the road and trundling through Lincolnshire homewards.
Without a stop, we make ok time and shortly before 3, I’m being tipped out at HQ and am heading upstairs to get the kettle on and make an arse shaped dent in the sofa. I arrive indoors to find I’ve interrupted Mrs Taz’s weekly hair sort out, which is a finely tuned military grade operation and uses almost as many supplies to boot. So I retire to the kitchen for a brew and a sandwich and let her get on with her conditioning and fuck knows what else flowery smelling stuff she sticks in her considerable barnet.
These weekenders just get longer as time goes by. Thank fuck we’re at home next week!