The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

Plus ca change, plus c’est la même chose

4 March 2020

Miss Guest Diary writes: Bravo to the 205 Town fans who made it to last night's game against Plymouth. Not all of them will have made the 700-mile round trip from North East Lincolnshire but, even if you live down south, Plymouth is still a long way to go. I have extra admiration for those who will have made the journey without a stopover. And all to see Town beaten 3-0 for the second game in a row.

That sort of distance without an overnight stop is something I wouldn't have contemplated even when I was young. But it has got me thinking about the days when we lived down south and only made it to Blundell Park a couple of times a year, so we liked a mid-week B&B adventure.

The earliest of these I remember was a sluicing wet night in Bournemouth in April 1991 when Town lost 2-1. It wasn't a terrible performance, just terrible conditions. The poor saps who opted to stand on the terrace looked like drowned rats in no time. We opted to sit under cover in the stand, but even the short walk from the car had us drenched.

Another away trip marred by the weather was Tranmere in October 1999 where the evening was so cold I was forced to stop and buy some extra socks on the way to the ground. The 3-2 scoreline makes it sound as if it was a respectable performance but Cod Almighty's own Tony Butcher described it as "an awful game with virtually no football played". What I remember most – apart from the cold – is that when Town scored their second, only a couple of the younger (and more naive) fans bothered to celebrate – the rest of us weren't going to be fooled by false hope late in the game.

The worst score line I remember for one of our footballing mini-breaks is at Bolton in September 1996. This time the weather was lovely and we'd had a pleasant afternoon visiting the stately home where they filmed the BBC's Pride & Prejudice. You know, the place where Colin Firth dives into a pond and emerges looking all dishevelled and sexy. But then the football intruded.

What the Grimsby Telegraph headline described as the "Massacre of Burnden Park" ensued. The eventual score was 6-1 but that flattered Town, and I quote: "That it was only six was down to poor finishing and bad luck. Twelve would have been a fairer representation." Unsurprisingly, Bolton finished top that season and were promoted into the Premier League while Town sank into the third tier. Happy days.

The law of averages says some of our away trips must have been to see Town play well and win, but somehow it's only the disasters which stick in my mind. Nowadays we rarely venture very far for an evening game – when you have a season ticket and go to all the home games, it seems less vital to make that extra effort. We did bother to make the trip to Portsmouth in Town's first season back in the League, with our reward being a 4-0 pasting. Enough said.

And what does jolly Ollie have to say about last night? Nothing very encouraging: between admitting he got his team selection wrong and that Plymouth are better than he thought, Town's manager sounds a little clueless at the moment. I haven't listened to the press conference – life's too short when you've got global pandemics to worry about and hands to wash. Maybe next time I'll substitute a couple of choruses of Up the Mariners for singing Happy Birthday. See you at Scunny on Saturday.