The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

A quip on the way to the cemetery

10 August 2018

We all know about Toto Nsiala and Town, don't we? He was a good player for us, but in the blackest moment of 2015-16, he responded angrily to the barracking the players took during the 4-2 defeat by relegation strugglers Halifax. The club put that defeat behind it, but when the season was over, Toto wanted out. And not only did he want out: he made clear that the abuse he had faced was a factor in his decision.

Ever since, social media has been awash with Town fans doubting Toto's ability to play at a higher level, even as he made a success of his move to third-flight Shrewsbury. Town fans are arseholes: the case for the prosecution rests.

Except: Nsiala has acknowledged he owes one group of Grimsby fans a dinner for telling him to have faith in himself, for telling him he was a second division player in the making. In turn, by the way, Cod Almighty owes that group of fans a drink, for shedding a good light on the club. Make yourselves known to us: it would be good to read an example of fans offering encouragement even when times are hard.

Among the many thousands of people who take an active interest in the affairs of Grimsby Town, there are inevitably going to be a few idiots. But for everyone who may (or may not: the case was never quite satisfactorily resolved) have used racist language to attack Toto, there is another who is offering support when support is needed. For every Main Stander who responded to the disappointment of our opening-day defeat by hurling the most foul abuse at Michael Jolley, there are another couple who took the trouble to thank Danny Rose for opening up about his depression.

Maybe it was the same people doing both. We all of us have a head and a heart as well as an arsehole; which body part we present to the world may depend on the day you catch us on.

The problem is that it is the empty vessels that make most noise. They are the ones filling the ether now with their fears because there was no transfer business yesterday. They are the ones muttering "he has to go" one match into the season. They are probably by the way the same people who regarded Jolley as Bill Shankly, Matt Busby and Brian Clough rolled into one last May. Empty vessels have no ballast: they roll with every passing wave.

Middle-Aged Diary has written before about a previous visit to Macclesfield, when a knot of 'supporters' responded to a second-half no-show with such a display of purple-faced, neck-bulging vitriol that they actually made it impossible for anyone else to offer genuine support at all.

I much preferred the time when Grimsby supporters used to pride themselves on their sardonic stoicism. I know I mustn't tell supporters how to support, but there are times when the occasion demands it. Leave early if you like, but if anyone's idea of support is racist abuse, or throwing around the most vile accusation, then they need to be told.

Enjoy the game, and if that proves impossible, enjoy not enjoying the game. It's the Grimsby way.