The difference a year makes

Cod Almighty | Article

by Mark James

2 March 2017

We've all done it: said that a team from the past would run rings around the current crop of players. When I was a young Mariner, I was blessed with watching gods like Drinkell, Batch, Waters, Ford – so unfortunately I may be one who screams this more that most. But the past remains the past.

Last Sunday, annoyed after a one-nil defeat to Morecambe – a performance my 68-year-old mother called "utter shite" – I started to wonder if last year's promotion-winning team would beat our current squad. It is trying to compare apples with pears, I know. We are now playing in a different league which may require a different kind of style to be successful. The comparison would also mean Pearson and McKeown playing against Pearson and McKeown, but this is a hypothetical question; we can compare what we like.

In the end, I put the question to a Twitter poll. The results shocked me. In all, 51 per cent of respondents said the 2015-16 team would win, 34 per cent said the current team would win, and 17 per cent said a match between the two would end in a draw. Surely the majority ought to back the current team, playing in the higher division?

 


This left me wondering whether people draw their own opinions based on emotion. Asking around to find the basis for the poll result, one person told me that last year's team were much harder to beat, as our current team seem to fold when we go a goal down. Another said this year's team has more skilful individuals but the promotion side was more cohesive and had a much better team ethic.

What I believe makes the 2015-16 team more endearing to us all was the fact that they played like a team. Was this due to the continuity of the squad over the years in the Conference? Was this due to the success of Operation Promotion in bringing the fans and players closer together? Was this due to everything coming together at the right time? I don't know and don't profess to know.

McKeown; Tait, Collins, Pearson, Andrew; Disley; Clay, Osborne, Nolan; Bogle, Amond

After that amazing day at Wembley, I did get the feeling that the squad that had just walked the 107 steps to collect the play-off trophy would be decimated, and that three months later we'd be looking at a brand new set-up.

But without wanting to sit on the fence, there was a big part of me that remains curious how the old team would have got on in the fourth division, with the likes of Disley and Clay bossing the midfield. What I wanted to see was just a few tweaks here and there, keeping the same spine that had bought success, with additions like Collins to bring different qualities – especially experience.

But what makes football so amazing is that it has an ability to touch our emotions where other sports can't necessarily reach, and that's why we as football fans let our 'hearts rule our heads'. I guess we will never quite know which team is better, but we have to trust Marcus Bignot to create something we can be proud of, with a big team ethic at the heart of everything we do. I hope he gets it right. Up the Mariners!

What's your take on Bignot's current team vs Hurst's promotion winners? Let us know.