Fixtures and results so far
Reserve team fixtures
Youth team fixtures
Al Wilkinson's poetry
The Meek that was
Stats and analysis
Man of the match awards
The season in pictures
Euro 2004 preview
What came before
Review previous campaigns covered by Cod Almighty
Suspensions and scrumpy
30 August 2003
Bristol City 1 Grimsby Town 0
Well, I've lost two pages of A4 with all me notes on. What a piss-poor start for me as a reporter. I've taken solace in the West Country apple juice and just finished me third pint. I'm not talking about the gay lightweight stuff they serve in pubs – this is fresh scrumpy from a reputable dealer in Somerset. Having lived in Taunton for three years and played with three Zummerzet wazzocks in a heavy metal rock 'n' roll band, I know good apple juice when I neck it. This particular gallon, costing four pounds and six shillings, is from Rich's Farm near the ancient village of Mark on the Zummerzet levels, and is the best this year. The initial taste is like drinking orange squash on a hot summer's day – refreshing, with no nasty kick at all – then the luvverley aftertaste of real dry scrumpy. Gorgeous! Later on I might get a bit messy.
Bloody hell. The Premiership on ITV has just played When You're Young by The Jam. Marvellous!
Right then – let's get a top-up and find my notes. Back in five minutes.
Here we go then. It's a bright, warm, sunny day with a few clouds. The Wedlock stand is populated with 250-ish Town fans, and is the only stand not getting any direct sunshine. Never mind – let's have a singsong.
Grimsby lined up as follows in their customary 4-4-2 formation: Davison, Barnard, Crane, Ford, McDermott, Crowe, Groves, Bolder, Campbell, Boulding, Rowan. Chris Bolder came in for the suspended Des Hamilton; player-manger Paul Groves continued in the absence of Iain Anderson; and club captain John McDermott returned at right-back, with Jason Crowe pushing up to the right side of midfield to replace the suspended Marcel Cas.
It's all Bristol City pressure as Ford clears from three yards out after only four minutes. On seven Aido pushes away a good cross from a corner. Bristol, mindful of their poor start to the season, have packed out the midfield and dominate in central areas. Boulding has a lively run into the box but needs better support. Crane is then decked in the centre circle by their number 9 Peacock but generally gets the better of him for the rest of the game.
Town then waste a couple of really poorly taken free kicks, before their hosts produce some nice build-up play resulting in Ford clearing off a City player's toe only two yards out. Another dangerous cross sees Peacock attempting to beat Davison with a Maradona-style 'hand of God', for which he gets off with just a yellow card.
City's high balls continue to be dealt with by the heads of Crane and Ford. Bolder is booked and the free kick from 25 yards is well cleared twice by Ford. On 37 minutes Town get to play a bit and win a corner, which is caught comfortably by Phillips. As half time approaches Crane clears a goal-bound shot two yards out.
The end of the first half, then – not bad but definitely not good. City are dominating by controlling the midfield. The homer ref has a red shirt on underneath; the Bristolians were playing too much sky ball 30 feet above the pitch, for which the ref allowed them the advantage of elbows…grumble…
Basically, at this point Town would be happy with a point on a difficult away fixture when three of our better players are missing and Bristol City are very much in charge of the match. The two defences are performing competently, allowing neither attack to display any real flair or cutting edge. Bolder really needs to be told, however, that shepherding wingers from three yards away will not stop them passing or crossing. Get stuck into them!
Séan's half-time whinge
Why do 200 people have to queue for tea served by three people? It takes 20 or 30 minutes! The tea people know when they are going to be busy (clue: half time) and know roughly how many people are in the stand. Now I am no brain surgeon – if you've persisted this far then it's obvious – but if I were a tea boy type person I would pour out 50 cups of tea and 50 coffees at 15:40 in anticipation of a bit of a rush five minutes later. Perhaps I would even warm up a few pies and flat fried dog burgers. This would (i) cut the waiting time in half at least; (ii) cut down on stress and abuse levels by 75 per cent; (iii) take (or fleece) more money from us for serving watery boiling coffee and unknown meat products.
Is it just me? To be fair, this is the same problem at grounds everywhere.
A group of ladies called The Wills Girls sang a song on the pitch at half time. They were in tune but surely miming. The idea seems to be that they replace the classic Wurzels songs and add a bit of modern, 21st-century spice. No-one looked interested. It just goes to show you cannot force-feed corny culture to the proles. We all like ours organic actually. We don't want to be told what to sing by nunty commercial departments. C'mon – really. Do you ever hear the Pontoon sing Grimsby Born And Bred?
Right then – off me soapbox and on with the second half. Oh dear.
Town start much more brightly. Macca has a cross-shot very close to the top corner and two minutes later Boulding is clean through but judged to have fouled in the area. Bollocks, ref. Then it's all City pressure with a shot off the bar and a fine save by Aido. A few more Bristol corners and then a Town free kick 30 yards out. Barnard chips in a clever ball to Boulding, who narrowly misses.
City then have an appeal for a penno turned down but win a lot more corners. Macca comes off for Parker on 80 minutes. As Town attack, Boulder wins a header but Homer Ref gives a free kick to City. Mickey then beats three and shoots just wide. Bell obstructs Mickey inside the box to see ball run out of play but Homer gives nothing. Instant Homer Karma.
Further pressure from the home side. A save on the line, Crane then clears. Whew. Aido makes another fine save. Town reply with Crane firing wide from 18 yards, and Campbell beats two to curl into the bottom corner but Phillips makes a good save. The last five minutes are all City in possession. Crane is injured in the box and gets loads of abuse from the Atyeo and Dolman stands for wasting time.
More City corners are followed by one for Town, won by Boulding. Pressure from Town brings a free kick and another corner, and then, just as four minutes of injury time are signalled, Roberts breaks free and scores. Arse. We walk out to the sound of Blackbird. Not the Beatles – The Wurzels.
It was a poor game entertainment-wise, but the Town players do seem to be developing a better understanding with each other. Ford and Crane were much better in defence. Macca was solid, creative as a wing back and his experience showed he is a Town classic. We need more flair and creativity. We need Anderson and Disco Des back – but that's not likely for a few weeks.