The Thundercliffe Files: respite, reset and restart

Cod Almighty | Article

by Paul Thundercliffe

14 November 2019

Perhaps Town's enforced break is a chance for all of us - management, players and fans - to reset the season

The Thundercliffe Files

The current hiatus from league football is certainly frustrating but has happened before. Back in Town’s first inglorious season in non-League we played no league games between drawing with Barrow in November and thumping Mansfield 7-2 on New Year's Day.

Just two days later, we knocked six past Histon. That 13-goal salvo was supposed to herald the march back to the Football League. But it was followed by two dismal defeats and the humiliation at Chasetown. Town limped across the line 11th in the conference.

The enforced break from league action has its upside. Players such as Max Wright and Luke Hendrie can regain fitness without missing too many games. The manager and coaching staff can take stock of the third of the season that's elapsed and plan accordingly. It even offers the chance to take in some games of upcoming opposition. Players can recharge, refocus and re-engage on the task at hand.

But what now is that task? A strong, two-point-a-game start that saw goals and a sense of belief seems to have been overtaken by a plodding, mechanical team playing with a paucity of confidence, seemingly unable to pass and move. Creativity is foggy at best. Jolley doesn’t seem to know his best team. The old issue of fans deriding players and the management has resurfaced.

Critical fans are nothing new. I'm not sure if McMenemy, Newman and Kerr were barracked from the Main Stand, but every manager since has been. Buckley used to bemoan the haters – often confronting a few – despite the football fare on offer. Groves was demonised during a particularly difficult spell in charge. Woods oversaw the club’s worst run and subsequent banishment. All played to a backdrop of moaners and haters.

Most managers kept their powder dry but Rob Scott was fiercely vocal about the negativity and of course Paul Hurst cupped his ear to the criticism after the Wembley win which had followed a pretty turgid run to that final. Now Jolley is facing the backlash and - according to some witnesses – offered a retort at half time against Leyton Orient.

The charge is that the team are clueless, lethargic and listless. Hanson’s been found out and the drop down the league is a sign of impending doom. Fans, as ever bolstered by having paid for their season or match ticket, are entitled to their opinion.

I don’t know if it’s a Grimsby disease. Certainly we seem to have extreme fans who enjoy being negative, whose flasks are only ever half empty. Whether that has an impact on the manager and team, whether we should be more understanding, more demonstrative of passion and positivity is an interesting point.

I don’t think I’ve ever been to a game where fans are deliberately awful from the start. What can happen is a misplaced pass or a defensive error seems to haunt the players who react to the grumbles from the stand.

It’s strange really. The one thing every person reading this wants is for Town to do well, to win games of football. But people like a good moan and whenever the slightest thing goes against the team we are on at them (although to be fair, referees have got most of the bile this season).

What to do? Well, when Town finally emerge from their autumnal cocoon we should hope that this enforced mini pre-season has galvanised players, management and fans alike, we take the league by the scruff of the neck, have purpose to our play and conviction that this season could still be something special.