Fixtures and results so far
The Meek that was
Away fans guide
Man of the match
Home and away
WSC Festive 20
What came before
Review previous campaigns covered by Cod Almighty
Diary of a sadman
5 February 2005
Bristol Rovers 3 Grimsby Town 0
"Don't go to the footy, darling, stay at home and play with me. We can make love all day. My sister is coming over with her Swedish friend you like and they are starved of attention too... It's been chucking it down all morning... You'll only get wet and disappointed again... Please stay at home with us?"
"No, my love. I have made a solemn oath to Cod Almighty that I would stand in for their regular reporter and write the scripture for today. Once again I must ride forth with all available horsepower to the ancient city of Bristol to witness the battle of the Pirates and the once-mighty Mariners. A band of wandering mercenaries fly our colours and history must be recorded."
"I'm off shopping. Get your own tea. Don't be late back. Tosser."
"I leave now, my love... have a wonderful day at the hairdressers."
I parked in nearly exactly the spot in the side street my brother and I did back on 13 December 1997, when Town last played here and won 4-0. The omens were good. Danny wasn't with me today but I was in the good company of Harry H, who has forgiven me for not taking him to Yeovil. Why do people avert their eyes from you when you walk through suburbia with a four-foot fish?
We walked up the cul-de-sac to the away end to find it closed off. You now have to go in the Filton Avenue entrance with the Gasheads (just like the website instructions said). Nice to see they have a big shed behind the goal near us instead of mud. They allow away fans in for a couple more quid. I still can't believe the Memorial Stadium has a bigger capacity than BP.
It was cold but warmer than the 0-ish degrees forecast earlier this week. The sky was full of heavy grey cloud and it was a dead cert we would get pissed on in our exposed concrete corner.
Ah well. Town's line-up comprised Williams, McDermott, Forbes, Jones, Ramsden, Fleming, Coldicott, Pinault, Parkinson, Gritton and Reddy, with the rear ends of Hockless, Whittle, North, Crane and Downey snuggling into the bench.
Both sides settled down within a few minutes, and even though we are both low, lowly lower-league teams, it is refreshing to see both teams trying to play passing football like they have a semblance of a plan, rather than the 'hoof it and hope' style of many other desperate teams in the lower divisions. [Ian Atkins has clearly had a road-to-Cleethorpes conversion then - Ed.]
Ten minutes in, Stacy gets what seems like a minor head wound and has to come off for attention and change shirts twice. Not having spare shirts handy with the correct name, he turns into number 20, Mr Wheeler, with a nice big Terry Butcher bandage for the follically challenged midfield maestro. It must help on a cold February day.
Gritton, clean through at six yards, one on one with Clarke. Clarke makes a great save. Or Gritton hits it straight at him instead of to the left or right. Hard to tell from concrete corner. The ref looks like the singer from Franz Ferdinand.
Reddy... a good shot on target but well stopped by Clarke. Rovers apply possession and win two corners on the left next to us, cleared by Jones.
Sixteen minutes. Here comes the rain.
Trollope comes off after spewing up. His replacement, Williams, is not over-endowed in the height department. "Don't take the piss, otherwise he's bound to score," someone near me instructs their vociferous friend.
On 23 minutes the ongoing real-life drama that guards our goal has a usual moment when a back-pass is spooned with a full ladle of spoonerism that none of the away support even gasp at any more. Has anyone got Nigel Batch's phone number?
Rovers keep the pressure on with another corner which Williams returns with a double spooning. A flappy punch goes to the edge of the box and is headed back goalwards. Williams, out of position, flaps a punch again. Rob Jones then blocks a hard incoming shot from Agogo. Has anyone got Harry Wainman's phone number?
Another Rovers attack and Hunt strikes a beautiful shot from a central position about 23.5891 yards out before anyone can close him down. Williams, for once, doesn't stand a chance.
Parky misses a sitter for Town from six yards though Clarke saves well. Rovers take a 25-yard free kick which comes to nothing much... especially as I can't read my wet notes... something like 'jfgbdgsaJwi'. It is raining nice and steady now. Not spitting, not torrential, just good old British 'this will soak through you, nice and steady' rain. Town have had plenty of shots on target and it is quite a good 50/50 game.
After 38 minutes Ramsden is decked while clearing, but the ref plays a slim advantage and does nothing when the move breaks down. Then another Rovers build-up, and remember the miniscule sub winger Williams... who decides to curl a shot from 18 yards into the far side of the goal. Do I need to say our Williams didn't get near it?
A Pinault free kick. On target. Caught by Clarke.
Town dominate and attack for the last five minutes of the half. We need something before half time. Triple vodka brandy would do just fine. Reddy has a good header cleared off the line then someone shoots over the bar. Reddy, through again; Clarke diving brilliantly at his feet.
Injury time ticks through, and a Rovers attack is repelled, but punted back into Town's half. The defence is pushing up and Walker is clean through from 18 yards. Williams is 10 yards off his line trying to close Walker down but the bouncing through ball is sweetly lobbed over and it's 3–0 to Rovers.
Sean's half-time summary
Town had matched Rovers for good football and had at least equal possession but converted none of their seven on-target strikes. Rovers had only had three shots on target. A well-taken drive, a sweet curler and a lazy lob made it three bloody nil.
We are all wet now and a long way from home. Someone asks their learned colleague when was the last time Town came back from 3-0 away from home to get a draw or win? The old scholar replies authoritatively: "1974 at Burnley." Oh dear. I hope they are having a private joke I don't understand.
Actually following your team through hard times is a joke most people don't understand. The irony and hardship will make us stronger, more rounded people. Yeah, right. We can sing to friends in more fruitful years to come: "Where were you when we were shit?". But we're not shit. That was last season. We are OK but just not converting our chances.
The second half was much the same as the first but with more urgency for Town, with more attacking possession for longer spells. Town had more shots on target but Clarke was having a blinder in goal for Rovers. The quality of the football deteriorated with the constant rain but we have all seen plenty worse in bright sunshine. My notes got wet so the next bit is rescued raw. Actually it's 22:30 Sunday night and I'm knackered. I'm an amateur. Mr Butcher, resume your rightful place next week!
Whittle is on in place of Rob Jones. Town get a 25-yard free kick but the shot is - stop me if you think you've heard this one before - well saved by Clarke. A corner and then a Parkinson cross come to nothing. Ryan Williams shoots just round the post for Rovers.
On 55 minutes Town are looking much more committed and getting stuck in when Rovers break clean through from the back. Whittle brings down the attacker and gets a yellow. Our Williams saves the free kick! Flipping 'eck!
Reddy controls the ball on the right, beats his man, cuts into the box and crosses for Fleming to knock it in. Jubilation lasts moments as the ref disallows for Reddy handling when first controlling the pass.
The rest of the half? More of the same. Wilson spoons a Rovers shot. Gritton is replaced by Graham Hockless. Forbes has a good curving shot saved by Clarke. Reddy is through again but his shot is saved. Parkinson put through but Clarke saves bravely low down. On 90 minutes, bizarrely, Parkinson is subbed for Danny North, presumably to buy us 30 more seconds for a hat-trick.
Still pissing down. "C'mon Harry. I know you like it this wet but I need a hot bath and a beer...". I hope you all had a safe journey home.
Sean's final word
We lost but there is hope. On another day we would have had scored two, three or four but came up against a keeper playing perhaps his best game of the season, and Rovers made their fewer chances count. Don't worry. It was, as they say, just one of those days.
Meggies Rockchick Manhunt Scoreboard Latest
The results are just in on text... and at number three it's Mr Thomas Pinault, with six out of 10 on the Phwoooar-ometer but dropping away from his high of number 1 back in September. At number two it's steady Michael Reddy on seven and a half. Which can only mean... at number one for a fourth week it's... Martin Gritton with an oestrogen-bursting 11 out of 10 on the Meggies Rockchick Manhunt Scoreboard. Apparently, Martin, many local ladies would like to 'look after' you. Thanks to Miss G for supplying CA with the latest stats.