‘Well, it’s now 10:55, so I’m going back home as I’m freezing,’ announced Tesco Pete though text message. ‘The Ripponden Shayman is on his way,’ I replied, ‘go back out and wait for him quick.’ It’s fair to say that Tesco Pete was like an ice lolly when he arrived at our meeting spot. I’d accidentally given different people different set of meeting times and Pete had spent a good half an hour on a street corner in the chilly wind and rain waiting and waiting…
With just 94 miles ahead of us, it was another local trip as we headed east along the M62 and the almost deserted M180. The weather was bright, and we were in good spirits with everyone in the car predicting a positive result. We’d witnessed a 7-0 defeat on our last visit to Cleethorpes, but we also remembered a recent famous 1-0 victory too. Every game over there seems to be memorable for one reason or another.
We’d spotted a decent chippy as we approached the ground, and once parked up on the narrow residential streets we headed straight back for a ‘Matchday Special’ at just £6 for local haddock, chips, and curry sauce. It was really good value. The best thing on the menu board was a battered tea cake for just 60p, but we couldn’t convince Tesco Pete to try it out. It’s second only to a battered Bakewell Tart we’d seen at a chippy near Bradford Park Avenue. Who thinks of these things and better still, who buys them?
Having visited Blundell Park a good number of times, we set off to the usual away turnstiles only to find that it’s now a fans zone for young Grimsby supporters. Before we’d even realised our mistake, the stewards were on us like a flash, ‘Just wait there a moment please.’ said one. We weren’t too sure what was happening as we’d not realised we were at the wrong side of the ground. Suddenly a big metal gate swung open, ‘This way please.’ said another steward and he beckoned us into the ground. We were directed though several gates and fences, and before long we were in the familiar away end. We were keen to show them our digital tickets, but the stewards were more concerned about making sure we were looked after. Wow, those Grimsby stewards were top class and even sorted our exit after the game though the same route.
Grimsby’s ground is a real traditional football stadium, opened in 1899 it’s located just a few hundred yards from the North Sea. It has a capacity of just over 9000 and is dominated by a double tier stand that straddles the halfway line. Behind both goals are the noisy home fans at one end and the away fans at the other, each with covered seating. Opposite the main stand are the changing rooms amongst some covered seating. Part of this stand dates back over 100 years. The famous black and white floodlight pylons have had a recent makeover with their height reduced and old bulbs now replaced with blocks of 80 LED lights on each tower. It took us ages to be able to see properly once we’d counted them!
At half time it was goalless; the Shaymen were kicking away from the travelling 380 fans and had started well. Halfway through the first half Grimsby got more into it and looked dangerous going forward. A few heroic headers and last second blocks stopped the home side from leading at the break.
The second half was more fun; the Shaymen took the lead with a goal right beneath the travelling support, the drum blasted out and the fans sung but in truth, it was against the run of play. Grimsby dominated possession from that moment onwards, but the Town defence was resolute, everything that went into the box came back out. Grimsby finally found an equaliser in injury time, deserved but equally difficult to take. Just a minute later and the referee blew the final whistle.
Driving back and we reflected on two really decent away points over the Christmas break, so close to six points but in truth it’s more than we expected at the start of the season.
Next up it’s the FA Trophy and a visit to our friends at Alfreton. Let’s give Billy a big cheer!
Goals on the road 18, miles 5232, c’mon Shaymen!
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