Cod Almighty | Diary
Too many people have left, and maybe one or two of the wrong people have stayed
15 May 2018
There's a play, Time and the Conways. The first act is set during a party straight after the end of the first world war. A family of young adults looks forward with hope, their ideals intact, to the peace to come. The second act is set 18 years later in the same room with the same people, but now embittered by the tarnishing of their dreams, by bad marriages or no marriages at all, by wrong choices with awful consequences.
Cruelly, it might seem, the third act takes us back to 1919. The audience now listens to the characters unfolding their ambitions, knowing they will come to nothing.
Middle-Aged Diary has, from time to time, contemplated updating Time and the Conways and transplanting it to Blundell Park: acts one and three set in May 2016 and the second act perhaps in February 2018. Let there be no doubt there has been a litany of wrong choices to contemplate over the last two years. What we can't say, alas, is that we are looking at the same people. Far too many people have come and gone since the play-off final win.
But there is a kindness that softens the irony of the third act of Time and the Conways. The people of 1919 and 1937 are the same: we are just seeing them at a different point in a journey. But that journey as a whole, not a part of it, is who they are.
My own journey began with Jack Lewis and Harry Wainman some 45 years ago, and has taken me to some wonderful places in the company of many more great players, from Joe Waters through Paul Groves and Wayne Burnett to Omar Bogle, Nathan Arnold, Craig Disley, James McKeown, and all the rest. The stuff I've forgotten is probably best forgotten. I have seen so much I cherish that I can even look with sympathy at the travails of Scott McGarvey and remember that without Mike Lyons, John McDermott might never have won a professional contract.
So tomorrow, let's learn lessons and do our best to make sure we never go back to where we were in February. But today, let's remember not just where we were two years ago on 15 May 2016, but how we felt as well. It is ridiculous to rank euphoria. The first time, whether it was Exeter in 1972 or 1991, or Wembley in 1998 or 2016, will always be the best time. And the last time, spilling on to the pitch to celebrate avoiding relegation: that will be the best time too.
Grimsby Town makes time travellers – time adventurers – of us all.