Wednesday, 8 August 2018

Blundell Park

Grimsby Town 1-4 Forest Green Rovers

4th August 2018

Coming back from a goal down at the break to win 4-1 would, at first glance perhaps, appear to represent an impressive comeback by Forest Green Rovers on this opening day of the new season.  But in reality, the Gloucestershire side were easily the better team throughout this contest, even if they did benefit from a deal of assistance from their hosts on their way to claiming the three points.

Outplayed for most of the opening period, Grimsby Town took the lead from a laughably soft penalty award after half-an-hour, when referee Martin Joy decided the ball being thumped at Lloyd James’ hand from a few metres away represented a deliberate attempt by the Forest Green number four to handle the ball.  The defender clearly had no chance of getting his arm out of the way in time but, I suppose, the sound of almost six thousand voices yelling “Hand Ball” in unison is clearly a powerful influence on a susceptible referee.

Not that the Town’s Mitch ROSE gave the matter too much thought before converting the award.

And, although the visitors soon required a bit of judicious ball juggling by their goalkeeper Robert Sanchez to prevent them going two behind, Rovers always looked the likelier lot to grab the next goal.  Particularly when they attacked down the Mariners’ left flank, where former Dundee United defender Paul Dixon did not have one of his most enjoyable afternoons.

Grimsby Town v Forest Green Rovers - August 2018

Grimsby Town's Mitch Rose looks reluctant to get the new season underway
until Christian Diodge gets back into his own half.

Paul Dixon - Grimsby Town

If I could be bothered, I could probably individually count the visiting fans.
There looked to be around 70-80.

The Jutlandia Seaways shuttles back and forth between
Immingham and the German port of Cuxhaven.

John Welsh' first-half free-kick flew high over the top.

Grimsby Town v Forest Green Rovers - August 2018

I take it Town manager Michael Jolley had been watching England's set pieces in
Russia.....or perhaps Gareth had been watching Grimsby last season? 

Not that it helped.

Mitch Rose opens the scoring.

Robert Sanchez (Forest Green Rovers)

Judicious Juggling.

After the break, rather than managing to build upon their rather fortuitous lead, the Grimsby defence, it has to be said, simply fell apart.

Six minutes into the second-half, a cross into the Town box found the totally unmarked Joseph Mills, whose sclaffed attempt at goal found its way to the similarly isolated Carl WINCHESTER who had time not only to take a touch to control the ball, but also to casually choose his spot.

In the 67th minute, under no pressure whatsoever, home defender Danny COLLINS then casually rolled the ball into his own net.  Whilst the lad was at least partially culpable for committing the cardinal error of targeting a back-pass between his own sticks, he really could not have been expected to anticipate his 'keeper James McKeown would have wandered so far from home.

I am not sure which of the Grimsby central defenders had been charged with the task of marking Christian DIODGE at set pieces, but no-one was anywhere near the tall Welshman as he headed in his side's third in the 70th minute.  Actually having to stoop to do so, so poor was the marking.

And DIODGE it was who completed the scoring seven minutes from time, as he capitalised on another woeful back-pass; Mariners' substitute Reece Hall-Johnson the guilty party this time around.

Rarely have I witnessed a side (outside of a Scotland National Team display, of course), contribute so comprehensively to their own downfall. 

The Pontoon Stand, Blundell Park.

The Young's Stand, Blundell Park. 

The Young's Stand, Blundell Park. 

Panorama of Blundell Park - Grimsby Town.

I generally don't take pics of individuals from the crowd, but I make an exception here. 
I sat in front of this chap and overheard most of the stuff he was saying to his companions.  His intelligent, articulate, impartial comments and seemingly encyclopedic knowledge of all things football-related (not just about Grimsby Town) made for a welcome change to the bellowing potty-mouthed half-wits I generally find myself seated near.  Thank You, Sir.  

Alex Whitmore v Christian Diodge.

Town's Captain John Welsh impressed me no end -
he being one of the few homesters to emerge from the afternoon with any credit.

Grimsby Town v Forest Green Rovers - August 2018

Blundell Park electronic scoreboard.

The Young's Stand, Blundell Park. 

Panorama of Blundell Park - Grimsby Town.

Grimsby Town, of course, do not actually play in Grimsby itself, but in the adjoining town of Cleethorpes.  I am guessing at some point in the past these two communities were separate entities, but these days are contiguous, so that one passes from one to the other barely noticing the fact.  Apropos of nothing at all, I learned just hours ago that there is in fact a Cleethorpes Town F.C. who play in the eighth tier of the English pyramid.  What they feel about having this alien tumour in their heart, so to speak, competing with them for resources, I did briefly ponder.  Until noting that this latter club is only about 20 years old.

My seat high in the Young's Stand forded me not only a fine view of the venerated Main Stand (the central part of which dates back to the early 1900s), but also across the Humber estuary where crafts of varying sizes whizzed or drifted past.  An aquatic version of that hypnotic flow of traffic which can be viewed from Walsall's Tile Choice Stand.

The more excitable – and they were certainly pretty darned vociferous by the end of that calamitous second half - Grimsby fans filled their Pontoon Stand, in stark contrast to the paltry smattering of Forest Green Rovers fans behind the other goal.  One really has to fear for Rovers' long-term future at this level if their away support can be counted in double figures.

The approach to Blundell Park along Imperial Avenue

Minutes before kick-off there was a whopping queue of folks waiting to pick up
pre-ordered tickets, whilst I was able to stroll to an empty window to buy mine. 
That just did not seem right.

There are two Blundell Parks, I learned.

The facade to the Young's Stand.

With time spare before the match, I initially dropped into the National Fishing Heritage Centre in Grimsby itself.  Well worth the visit.  I would recommend anyone planning to visit to ensure you allocate sufficient time time to take in the (included in the admission price) guided tour of the trawler Ross Tiger moored nearly.  Former trawler skipper Bob led our tour – and a fascinating and highly entertaining hour this proved to be.

Finally, there was a dash into Cleethorpes itself to enjoy my traditional ice cream on the local pleasure pier.  Even though Cleethorpes Pier is a disappointingly truncated affair – just a chippie on stilts really.