2020 - 2021 : Annus Horribilis

04.09.20 - Grimsby Town F.C. Youth Development Association Golf Day

Normally arranged at the height of the summer break, like the entire world The YDA Golf Day was moved, readjusted and ‘more or less’ Covid compliant on the eve of the 2020-21 season. The most welcome occasion enabled many glasses to appear half-full!

For several years The Histon Mariner Campaign had embraced the Golf Day. But like everything else at the time, logistical changes were inevitable - not even the chagrin of the Chairman could overcome events. The Logistics Director’s duty in putting together a ‘match-day’ squad and planning manoeuvres in accord with The Campaign was a task taken on with much enthusiasm.

The President was keen to observe commencement of The Campaign, and drove The Logistics Director north from Cambridge. Given the time lapse since previous manoeuvres a nostalgic trip around North Thoresby was highly predictable. The Viking named village provided several highlights that included the St. Helen Parish Church, the home of AWOL North Thoresby Mariner Steve Robertson and tales of ‘various activities’ at the Village Hall (!) and exploits at the Cricket Club.

It would be remiss to ignore the commemoration within the village sign, of the death of the aircrew following the crash on Oct. 4th 1943, of an Avro Lancaster Bomber (as featured in the film “The Dam Busters”) whilst on a test flight from RAF Waltham.

Onto The Grimsby Golf Club where the Wainfleet Mariner President, at the invitation of the Logistics Director, had gathered a disparate group of individuals to represent The Histon Mariner Campaign in line with previous years efforts - somewhere around the bottom three teams.
The President was delighted to meet up with and check the conspicuously absent credentials of Fulstow Mariner Steve Metcalfe, Leicester Mariner Ammo Khan, Skipper for the day Wainfleet President Stuart B. and Nottingham Mariner Dave Mantle.

In accord with golfing etiquette, the Logistic Director commandeered a golf buggy to deliver multiple bacon rolls to the ill-prepared Skipper on the fairway of the second hole. (See picture above)

After The Wainfleet Chairman had finished dining, the intrepid foursome proceeded to reaffirm the remarkably consistent annual Histon Mariner Golf Team performance by finishing third bottom. One unexpected aspect was the Skippers determination to stay awake for the duration of the game - the Histon Mariners were appreciative of his sterling efforts!

Like everyone The Histon Mariners looked forward to more accommodating times when they in particular could accept Stuart’s offer of refreshment at the renowned Cross Keys in Fulstow. Landlord Steve agreed that would be an occasion not to be missed and would go down in the annals of local folklore.

The President and Logistics Director left “the team” to perform whilst continuing operations elsewhere. Cleethorpes HQ, The Kingsway Hotel, under new ownership and refurbishment had been decommissioned until Oct. 5th, when it was hoped normal service would be resumed. Given such circumstances the already known Dovedale Hotel was recommisioned.

Finally after booking into the hotel, what had been so long anticipated, was to be - a visit to Cleethorpes Operational H.Q., Willy’s......

So excited was the President he mistakingly took his wallet out to purchase refreshment.
Jolly Boy Pete and Willy’s owner Bill Parkinson - on hand to welcome the Histon Mariners back - were able to witness the occasion.

It was assumed the chosen golf foursome would finish their round before the hours of darkness.
Such an assumption curtailed what would easily have evolved into a very comfortable, convivial and extended visit to Willy’s!

The President had been delighted to explore future possibilities in the difficult times ahead with the Jolly Boyz at Willy’s. He welcomed continuing the collaboration at The Grimsby Golf Club.

Jolly Boyz Pete and Dave R. with President Maurice prior to further sustenance and the Golf Day presentations (which inevitably did not involve the Histon Mariners.)

Having no part to play in proceedings, had no effect, surprisingly, on the success of the evening. Town Legends, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly all sought out the The Histon Mariners, passing on many complimentary remarks.

President Maurice, John Fenty and the very Jolly Pete and Dave Roberts all sang from the same hymn sheet.
Ian Holloway as he always appeared to be, looked more at ease than the North Thoresby Legend.
Legends included Tony Ford MBE minus Afro) and Dave Smith (without Mullet)

Tony Ford with Afro
Dave Smith with Mullet

Planning future manoeuvres at a time of such uncertainty was obviously fraught with difficulties.
However the commitment to soldier on was never in doubt, a factor to be reiterated to an expectant Chairman on return to Histon.

As the Golf Day approached the conclusion, Jolly Boyz Tour Director summoned his chauffeur to facilitate proceedings in Cleethorpes. Cleethorpes Mariner, ‘Stato Andy’ could not resist joining the planned meet-up with his known associate Ray The Fish plus McMenemy Mike.

No better venue to continue proceedings than The Nottingham Castle. The prevailing mood of the day was the overwhelming desire of Real Football People to return to a deeply missed world, put on hold because of the intrusion of a most unwelcome guest.

Lisa and McMenemy Mike took time out from their excursions at The Lindon Club.
Ray The Fish updated The President on local developments.
Chauffeur Paul and John Tondeur listened to the demise of Dave R.’s planned tour schedule for 2020-27.
Paul looked to have heard it before..!
Nigel Lowther appeared optimistic whilst in discussions with Meggie John

Despite the very unusual circumstances President Maurice considered the excursion to have been a resounding success. Reconnecting with old, very old and new associates was always likely to be a delight.
The opportunity to report back to The Chairman a modicum of positivity around GTFC and Cleethorpes would enable glasses to remain half-full. When, the ‘soul of the game’ would next be reinvigorated, when life could next be breathed into The Campaign and when The Mighty Mariners could next be supported from the terraces, was still the Number One concern.

Onwards and Upwards

On reflection, realistic goals peppered with hope rather than expectation had been the overriding sentiment following the trip north. There was no doubt the Corona Virus and the resultant strategies to deal with the consequences had been a major factor in determining the squad. Prudent finance had been an essential element in recent years, which had left the Club in a reasonable (if not exciting) state to fight the unexpected. But at Division 4 level the best laid plans only go so far.

The ridiculously inappropriate finances that creates the Premier Elite, are known to endanger its extended football family. The inevitable continuation of the self serving greed, ultimately will only serve to narrow the base of the pyramid of English Football, which is/was the greatest asset of Our National Game and remains the envy of the world. In such difficult times, the self satisfying interests of the upper echelons continues to alienate public sympathy, the likely results of which are the irreversible erosion for the broad base of the already struggling foundations of the football pyramid.

The return of Real Football People to stadiums other than the Premier Theatres remained absolutely vital for the survival of many clubs. The return of Real Football People to preserve the soul of the game, the return of Real Football People to enliven the economies of the communities that their clubs are part of, to return to a shared history that had evolved over decades was at this point a hope rather than an expectation.

05.09.20 - League Cup Round 1 - GTFC 1 v 1 Morecambe
                                                    (Morecambe 4 v 3 on penalties.)

08.09.20 - EFL Trophy - GTFC 2 v 2 Harrogate Town AFC
                                      (GTFC 5 v 4 on penalties)

12.09.20 Walsall 1 v 0 GTFC

A terrific away day for the B&W Army to start the league season. The Histon Mariners would meet up with friends and associates at The Post Office Vaults....if only!

In reality the match without the edge emanating from crowded terraces, resembled a pre-season game or a testimonial - a scenario that will have to be learnt to be lived with for the foreseeable future.
An injury list of most of the experienced players didn’t appear to help a very young side. The 15 year old Louis Boyd made his league debut from the bench having made his first appearance and scored his first goal in the previous fixture v Harrogate - The Histon Mariners wish him all the best in his GCSE’s......next year!!!

19.09.20 GTFC 0 v 4 Salford City

First home game of the season - Willy’s, Notts, McMenemys, New Imperial, No.2 Bar and The Smugglers - the excitement would be hard to contain..... Alas, it was not to be.
Even The Chairman’s obsessive match-day routine would be missed (just). The only positive would be the Logistic Director not having the mental turmoil of choosing the days lucky scarf.

A much missed friend!

Oh dear. Pretty much the same as above. When (if ever) have Town conceded 3 penalties in a single game before ? (Answers on a postcard). As is often the case not quite as bad as the score suggested. The result may well be viewed as a freak result - hopefully sooner rather than later. Early days, the glass remained half-full.

The best referees tend to be those not noticed. Given the prominence of the match referee Declan Bourne, it could legitimately be assumed his performance would not be adjudged with top marks. Many fans constantly trawl for excuses following poor results but on this occasion it could be safely said that every Mariner would be delighted not to encounter Mr. Bourne again.

Oh shit.  A single positive Covid assessment
            —> squad in isolation for 10 or 14 days depending on whose advice is listened to 
            —> the closure of the Cheapside training ground
            —> 3 matches postponed
            —> possibility of 2 days group training before a trip to Bolton Wanderers ( all of which
                   would end with a likely defeat ! )

The conflicting advice from legal advisors, the changing advice from the EFL. and the uncertainty surrounding the Government’s advice was creating difficulties which were creating additional expense that simply could not be maintained.

It would be unimaginable that this would be the only such occurrence over a 7-8 month season. The associated costs with such events (£5000 to test the playing squad ONCE at a time of virtually no income!) is unsustainable. Talk of the demise of Real Football beyond the reach of the Premier Theatre was increasingly evident and not without some justification.
Bury - gone. Bolton - last minute reprieve. Macclesfield - gone. Wigan continually speculated about. Southend highly likely. Charlton said to be in a very precarious place. And probably about a dozen more.

The Football Family, the shared camaraderie and experiences, that which united rather than divided was at best on hold - the glass had to remain half-full to maintain some positivity but unprecedented times necessitated venturing into uncharted waters and the possibility of spilling the contents of the glass.

The Histon Mariners, given the current information to hand, couldn’t object to a call to end the season now....

The Campaign must continue and will continue.


26.09.20 Cheltenham Town P v P GTFC

03.10.20 GTFC P v P Bradford City

06.10.20 - EFL Trophy - Hull City P v P GTFC

10.10.20 Bolton Wanderers 0 v 0 GTFC

Bank Top brewery “Here we come”....but not this season!

A very respectable point. Perhaps the season was finally up and running. Perhaps the point gained was one of the much grasped for turning points so beloved by Real Football People. Such turning points can only be seen by Real Football People but everyone could see the fixture congestion from this point on.

Other teams have had more declared positive Covid cases than Towns one isolated case, yet were still fulfilling fixtures. A threat of point deductions for not fulfilling fixtures appeared paramount in their thinking. How Town could be blamed for not complying with EFL regulations when following Government guidelines, was indicative of the chaotic thought processes evident across every strand of life across Britain at present. When the Government were allegedly seeking to encourage clubs to screen matches inside their hospitality facilities when at the same time discouraging the possibility of allowing limited spectators inside grounds beggars belief.

In Ollie we must trust.

13.10.20 Cheltenham Town 1 v 3 GTFC

An debut appearance at the dreadfully named Johnny-Rocks Stadium had been planned by the Histon Mariners. No doubt The Chesterfield Mariners would use their vast experience to lead the way.....Alas, perhaps next season.

A tremendous result on the back of a very good performance. When an opponent's fanzine site accepted the defeat to a better performing opponent, the reality would appear accepted.
First goals for Ouwura Edwards, James Tilley and Owen Windsor suggested the season was really underway.

‘Project Big Picture’

The unveiling in the week following of, ‘Project Big Picture’ and its attempt to reset ‘Our Game’, dominated discussions amongst Real Football People. In return for critical financial help, it was no surprise that the sugar coated power grab launched during the pandemic crisis, demonstrated a complete lack of understanding of British football culture.

The overwhelming majority of Football Fans immediately opposed the suggestions put forward. Essentially the proposed concentration of power in the hands of an ever decreasing number of elite clubs - and therefore their overseas billionaire owners - would channel an even greater proportion of the monies made, especially from TV rights, towards those elite clubs.
It was not unrealistic to assume, that the timing of the small handouts (bribes) offered to attract approval from lower league clubs, it was hoped (assumed) would be gratefully grabbed by the desperate, for a vital instant quick fix. It appeared to be assumed that so urgent were monies needed by so many outside Premier circles, that the medium and long term sustainability of The Real Football World were factors that would not figure uppermost in thought processes - hopefully how wrong they would be proven to be.

It was rumoured several overseas owners desired no relegation for elite clubs (as per sporting franchises in the USA). Nothing was more indicative of the dangers inherent in the grandiose ambitions of the movers and shakers at the top of the English football pyramid, the pyramid of which the rest of the world was so envious.

The Big Six Fan Groups issued a joint statement in total rejection.
The Football Supporters Association talked of a “sugar coated cyanide pill”, of the “insatiable greed of a handful of billionaire owners cannot shape English football” and the inevitable reduction of competition.
The Spirit Of Shankly Group (SOS) proved consistent in their sympathy for the extended Real Football Family.
     “...all of us understand football does not work in isolation.  It’s a family.  It requires a fair
      share of resources to ensure that the Premier League is competitive to watch and that
      the lower leagues flourish as part of our national game.”

Spot The Gall Competition.

17.10.20 Leyton Orient 2 v 3 GTFC

Without doubt, usually one of the highlight days of the season for The Histon Mariners.....usually! Such days emphasised, that what was being missed! At least 1200-1300 Mariners would not not be meeting up with exiled friends - that which is part and parcel of Real Football.

Well, well, well. As real football people appreciate things can - and sometimes do - change very quickly. Three tough away games in a week, from which the Mighty Mariners earned 7 from 9 points, was more than could have been reasonably expected. But even more pleasing was the manner of performances which bodes well.

This Ollie factor may well have began to reveal itself :-
     - Pollock has looked to have continued maturation and is no doubt a leading candidate of rich
       pickings that the vultures are circling over.
     - Harry Clifton has picked up the challenge of forging a key role in the squad maybe even the
       team, at a time when many were having doubts.
     - Owen Windsor and Danny Preston (already part of a growing list of polished loanee left
       backs - Townsend,  Driscoll-Glennon - who will play at a higher level) indicate the value of
       Ollie’s standing throughout football.  Town would now appear to have placed themselves as a
       club in which other managers place their trust to nurture their better young players.
     - Experienced players such as Danny Rose and Sean Scannell were needed and would
       become a vital element in the the ‘Ollie Evolution.’
As the past week unfolded momentum appeared to be gathering.  Sustaining that momentum would be the next and harder challenge.

Ollie, Ollie Ollie.

20.10.20 GTFC 1 v 2 Harrogate Town

24.10.20 GTFC 1 v 1 Carlisle United.

27.10.20 Forest Green Rovers 1 v 0 GTFC

A Glimpse of a ‘New Normality’.....

At this point it had become possible to watch a live match on a screen whilst eating inside venues such as McMenemys, with the curtains drawn in order to prevent television cameras picking up supporters quenching their thirsts, whilst the game was being played (How such scenes of debauchery differ from The Barmy Army at Headingley is difficult to fathom).

On Thursday 28 Oct. with eager anticipation The Histon Mariners booked to attend The Pie, Chips & Peas Evening with Ian Holloway at McMenemys on Monday 2nd. Plus, eager to indulge in the sudden orgy of available tantalising pleasures, the match against Barrow on the following evening was also booked to watch...on screen.
With great anticipation The Histon Mariners planned to team up with The Jolly Boyz on the Monday evening but had a dilemma the following evening for the Barrow game. A choice of fish & chips and the match ON SCREEN ONLY IN McMenemys or SCREEN ONLY in The Mariners Trust Bar.

With Cleethorpes basecamp The Kingsway Hotel undergoing re-evaluation following a change of ownership, HM Logistics Director was designated to investigate potential alternatives. The Clee Hotel was chosen, his report was eagerly awaited by The Chairman. But...

Oh no, not again.

No sooner had the anticipation of meeting up with fellow Mariners for the double-header as outlined above started to stir, then firstly Tier 2 was announced, quickly followed by a second lockdown. At least Billy from The Jolly Boyz would be saved from taking an extra £5 out from his savings!

31.10.20 Stevenage 0 v 0 GTFC

Undoubtedly given that the trip to Broadhall Way was virtually a home fixture for The Histon Mariners, this was a definite game to be attended.
Undoubtedly one of the least attractive fixtures of the season, for multiple reasons.
Undoubtedly a ground where Town never seem to play well, score a goal or gain a point.

But undoubtedly a successful day - a point secured.
                                                      - a clean sheet (though Town still didn’t score).
                                                      - no travelling necessary.
                                                      - a contented parsimonious Logistic Director.

Come on The Mighty Mariners.

03.11.20 GTFC 1 v 0 Barrow

Gutted not to be in attendance. The circumstances provoked the memory from last March, when enroute to Blundell for the Carlisle game but turning back at Peterborough following the announcement of the first lockdown.

A win at Blundell. 3 points and a second clean sheet.
A confidence booster for Montel Gibson, reflected in his performance after he scored.
Histon Mariner sponsored Danny Rose played consecutive games and looked to be establishing himself as a key player.

07.11.20 - F.A. Cup Round 1 - Dagenham & Redbridge 3 v 1 GTFC

But for the location and the opportunity to see The Mariners put The Daggers to the sword and by so doing, progress to Round 2, a debut visit to the exotically named - possibly by Derek Edward Trotter - Chigwell Construction Company Stadium, Victoria Road, was not high up on any list of the seasons attractions.
Dagenham rightly or wrongly conjured up images of another Stevenage type visit. A place where historic Inns & Taverns have no place. A place where only monolithic refilling stations with ubiquitous choices survived and where even the walk from the rail station would be of little interest.

Whilst the prevalence of the uninvited omnipresent guest forbad any visit to such sporting extravaganza, just as the Stevenage game, the Logistics Directors parsimonious inclinations were never tested.

The nature of the defeat, in which Town dominated proceedings but continued toothless in front of goal, only served to exaggerate the consequences of the mistakes made which led to the goals conceded. Overall the dreadful circumstances in which the world at this time barely functioned were unequivocal, but as ever, a silver lining in every cloud was found and a few pound coins (nee notes) were conserved.

This defeat did raise uncomfortable feelings. The team put out was arguably the best available. The fixture was not taken lightly. The opposition, from the league below, without being over confident, would reasonably be expected to be beaten. Worryingly they had recently shown signs of life after death. Town were the better team. Town were ‘unlucky’. Dagenham were in the hat for Round 2!

10.11.20 - EFL Trophy - GTFC 1 v 3 Leicester City

14.11.20 GTFC P v P Newport County

17.11.20 - EFL Trophy - Hull City 3 v 0 GTFC

21.11.20 Tranmere Rovers 5 v 0 GTFC

Trips to the North-West are always eagerly looked forward to, so fixtures such as Tranmere with Covid restrictions in place, provided stark reminders of what was being missed.
Tranmere have an excellent marque at Prenton Park where both sets of fans mix in totally hospitable surrounds with perfectly acceptable refreshments available.

BUT being 4 down after 34 minutes would not have been part of the expected proceedings. A final score of 0 v 5 left a lot of glasses half-empty. The inevitable vitriol became personal often loosing site of perspective.
The Campaign - relatively dormant at this point in time - recognised only one thing would refill many glasses......

24.11.20 Crawley Town 1 v 2 GTFC

Logistically an easy game for the Histon Mariners to attend would as routine dictated, begin in the splendid White Hart - if it were not for the omnipresent uninvited guest.

Within 90 minutes many glasses were overflowing. Within half a week over two games, football fickleness could not have been better illustrated - there appeared to be no middle ground. A goal down after 4 minutes would have witnessed some glasses being thrown away. But the fight back via goals from Matt Green and Max Wright brought forth talk of winning 2 games in hand and being on the verge of the playoffs.

It is difficult for Real Football Fans to charter a steady ship through such turbulent seas without the camaraderie of fellow sufferers over the customary ‘cup of tea.’

The unique circumstances of 2020 demanded unique approaches and plans. Unsurprisingly not all materialised as one would have wished. We live and learn. The Campaign continued.

In Ollie we have to trust.

01.12.20 GTFC 1 v 4 Exeter City

05.12.20 Colchester United 2 v 1 GTFC

First game played with fans this season - 1000 U’s season ticket holders chosen by ballot.
Once again Histon Mariner thoughts turned to what would have been - the likely nonsense and banter at the convivial Victoria.
The fixture also provided a reminder of what was being missed on the pitch. Only 10 months previous a stunning hat-trick from Charles Vernam secured the 3 points at Colchester and great optimism for the future. Soon after, COVID 19 and all that followed. Vernam was now flourishing at Burton Albion. His departure - of which there was much debate - was not helped by the prevailing circumstances. The circumstances of Vernams departure provides grist to the mill. The half empty brigade viewed this episode as indicative of the story as a whole

No doubt Town were by this point struggling. Adapting to the unique circumstances had proved difficult for everyone. No doubt some decisions made were wrong - hindsight is exactly that hindsight. Salary caps, track and tracing, COVID contact clauses etc. were all new concepts. Different clubs appeared to have approached the crisis differently - The Mighty Mariners, rightly or wrongly, appeared to have played strictly by the rules. A financial rescue package from the cash rich upper-echelons had now been agreed for the EFL and hindsight proved a useful ally for the half-empty lobby.
Town now had to re-adapt and Ian Holloway would necessarily be the spearhead of the march forward.

Once again Town conceded an early goal after 8 minutes. Once again Hendrie equalised midway through the first half. But in the second half Town were the better side despite conceding after 56 minutes. The statistics - always quoted when favourable - thereafter gave Town most possession, more shots in total and more on target and more corners. The Football Gods did not look kindly on Town.

However, no matter how many times one checks the result, it remained the same. Even the half-empty brigade, which always grew during such runs, admitted the performance had been better but provided only hope and no points.

In Ollie we have to trust......

08.12.20 GTFC 0 v 2 Newport County

12.12.20 GTFC 1 v 1 Mansfield Town

15.12.20 Southend United 3 v 1 GTFC

The first visit for some since 2004, for others a first visit to the south coast resort and probably to Roots Hall. Southend would probably have been ‘an over nighter in a different era - denied at this time by the unwelcome guest.

For The Logistics Director however it would be a return visit to Southend. His previous visit was 18th May 1964. The precise memory of that Bank Holiday was due to the excitement of a trip by train to the seaside (then living in Willesden, London) on fathers birthday. The day was particularly memorable because of being caught up in the Mods and Rockers clashes on the seafront - and actually being pushed out of the way into the safety of a pie and mash shop.

A goal down after 24 seconds.....ffs.
But then 47 minutes by far the better side, with the woodwork hit three times. Danny Rose was replaced by Filipe Morais in the 23rd minute who straight away looked a very good addition to the squad/team. IRA Jackson Jnr. equalised seconds before half-time - his second goal in two games. Glasses were filling nicely.

But then an awful second half. The Shrimpers scored a further two! (The Shrimpers had scored 7 goals in 16 pervious league games all season!) And, Waterfall sent-off in the 94th minute!!

Oh Dear - an awful lot of half-empty (or worse) glasses on view.

A shambolic week off the pitch. Such shenanigans hardly surprised Real Football Fans. Such shenanigans created shared experiences amongst many in the wider football community. As ever the rights and wrongs would be raked over again and again. Oddly, whilst such a complex web of intrigue was absorbed into the foundations underpinning the short term efforts on the pitch, there was a more important aspect that long term permeated the very soul of the wider Football Family. The culture - both low and high, the histories and the mythology of the wider Football Family, is lived in, experienced and breathed through the vehicle of their own particular club. That Club belongs to its fans, the locality in which it operates, it is a tiny part of a whole. Those in charge of running the Club at any one time are the temporary custodians of a baton which would inevitably be passed on at some - often traumatic - point.

At this moment in time it was felt by many, probably the majority, that a significant turning point had been reached from which it would be very difficult to recover.
The position of Ollie as a Director had become embroiled in off the field matters. Ollie had arrived at Blundell, a year previous, in a whirlwind that encompassed both the pitch and the boardroom. And though difficult to completely separate the two, it was the battles on the pitch that he as Manager had most influence over.

19.12.20 GTFC 1 v 0 Scunthorpe United

Uninspired but committed. A well fought local derby that brought forth a welcome three points. Elliot Hewitt, Luke Spokes and goal scorer Matt Pollock received good reviews. Filipe Morais was certainly considered a bright note that gave some hope to be clung onto.

The noticeable change of tactics was a surprise given the previous declared commitments. It can only be assumed that the dressing room is as one. Such thoughts creep in when results are not as desired and add fuel for the half-empty brigade to devour.

A victory with a discernible level of commitment provided a momentary breather but the ‘ins and outs’ of the off-field shenanigans cast an inordinately long shadow over matters.
The Clubs association with Alex May (nee Alick Kapikanya), a multiply convicted fraudster awaiting a deportation ruling, created a situation from which there was no discernible way back His latest fraud that secured in excess of £3,000,000 was despicable, in whatever manner it was committed it was abhorrent and morally inexplicable.
May/Kapikanya attended Blundell Park, not for the first time, for the Scunthorpe game, with the compliance with at least some from within GTFC. It was reported May/Kapikanya was seeking to invest significantly into GTFC infrastructure. In whatever format, the thought of such an investment should never have been considered. Football People from a multitude of clubs across the entire spectrum of clubs would recognise and support such a stance.

Excluding an enormous number of non-league clubs ruined by the infiltration of such manipulative financial predators and ignoring the despicable deliberations of people allowed to poison our Football World, from the top like Sepp Blatter, through the likes of Owen Oysten to Steve Dale, the recent experiences alone of Bury, Oldham, Macclesfield, Charlton, Wigan etc, etc, etc, should have been sufficient warning to “stand well clear.” Redemption for ones sins may well be a desirable principal. But a convicted, time served paedophile would not knowingly be allowed near a junior school teaching job. May/Kapikanya should never have been allowed anywhere near such venerated community clubs like those cited.
Mr. Shankly, a man of renowned principals, would be turning in his grave - that alone should be sufficient to end all discussion of the matter. However it was known, as this was written ‘The End’ was not yet in sight!

22.12.20 GTFC 1 v 2 Bradford City

A familiar, “We outplayed them for large parts of the game. We just need the rub if the green. If we put away a few more of the chances created, all should be fine.” Unfortunately such a view was probably correct.
The players never gave up and some deserved to be mentioned in despatches. Again Morais impressed as did Spokes, Hewitt and Luke Hendrie but again the score remained and 3 further points were lost.

With over half the games left to be played, snippets of positive news re. the January transfer window and continued commitment from the players, hope remained but the half-full glasses were not totally without some vindication.



Holloway citied inappropriate approaches to him, directly or indirectly, by the Tom Shutes led consortium that had been conducting on/off takeover negotiations with the Club for two years.

The forensic analysis of events would no doubt be conducted ad nauseam. The Histon Mariners remembered the immense optimism when Ollie arrived, followed by the buoyancy and improved performances until the arrival of the unwanted guest.
Again the debates about strategy, decisions and events since the cancellation on FRIDAY13th MARCH!!!!!! of the following days home fixture against Carlisle and subsequently the rest of the season, will continue long into the future without coming to a definitive view. The benefit of hindsight will colour many opinions. Whatever the view, 2020 will be remembered as a year of profound disappointment, a disaster on so many fronts.

The arrival of Holloway had undoubtedly been akin to an overwhelmingly whirlwind. The surge of optimism encouraged by his quality early recruitment, but alongside roll-a-coaster selection conundrums, of his 2 promotions to the Premier Theatre but with notes of caution from some supporters from his other clubs, a discernible improvement in playing style and the improvement in results gave cause for the half-full brigade to be massively in the ascendancy. The occasional eccentric/oddball/individual/characterful performances by a media-savvy Holloway no doubt entertained and won over the vast majority of the B&W Army.
The rapid all-consuming descent of the unknown phenomena, Corona Virus caused total disbelief, fear and confusion to an unprepared world. The consequences on all fronts were confronted as they were. In the football world, beyond the Never-Neverland of the Premier Theatre, there appeared different approaches to the problems. The consequences of Towns approach did not serve the Club well. The half-empty brigade were handed validatory material. The outcome of the unfolding story manifested itself a couple of days short of the first anniversary of IH’s arrival on the 23rd December.

But the somewhat uplifting reality, was the multiple phone calls, texts and emails from Supporters of many clubs, from all over England discussing events with The Histon Mariners. As such, the events were taken as signalling the start of ‘The Next New Era’. Such dramas existed within football reality and in the cold light of day helped provide context. The Mighty Mariners and The Histon Mariners would carry on regardless.

The unfolding of such events encourages reflection and a revisiting to a familiar territory, ‘Why do we do it?’

Even this debate was at this time conducted in unfamiliar circumstances. There was to be no enlightened traditional tribal debates conducted in ceremonial surrounds such as The New Imperial Club or The Notts.
There was to be no copious supplies of refreshing glasses of sarsaparilla. There was to be no argument about significant turning points, usually missed by everyone apart from one visionary individual. Instead sitting on the settee with a cup of tea and a mince pie,’ whilst trying to decide between ‘The Queens Speech’ or ‘Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang’, the pros and cons appeared vaguely familiar.

We are Town. It could have been Rovers, City or Athletic. It is the match-day routine - even The Chairman’s match-day routine. It is the hope rather than the expectation. It is the prematch preparations in gloriously old fashioned surrounds with fellow travellers from obscure places with crooked spires. It is the frantic search, (because one has always done it), for a programme which is nowadays barely scanned because it contains little of real interest. Once attained, respite is possible with a volcanic vegetation steak pie and insipid Bovril. Then there is a match. After-which in the freezing rain, it is the 30 minute march to the railway station to the accompanying Marching Song, “Fuck This, I’m Not Going Next Week. (I’ll See You As Usual In Willy’s At 1)”. It is the expectant delays and regular Rail-Worries. It is the post-match analysis, which starts off as pessimistic as is possible. It is the transformation of that discussion to one of heightened expectation in direct proportion to the height of stacked glasses on the table. It is the morning after, when checking the scores and reports to see if anything had changed overnight.

Oh well, not my decision it was to be ‘Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang’ and it was to be another mince pie - my decision.

Onwards and Upwards, 27 games (81 points) left to play.

26.12.20 Morecambe 3 v 1 GTFC

The customary prematch visit to Lancaster would be sorely missed and have to wait for more accommodating times. With increasing publicity being given to a vaccine (or two), the view through whatever glass, was probably veering towards the 2021-22 season.

In the prevailing circumstances, memories were stirred by each fixture that provided stark reminders of what was being missed.
Firstly the Morecambe visit was always preceded by a much anticipated cultural and thirst quenching visit to Lancaster.
Secondly the Mazuma Stadium (nee, The Globe Stadium) was the venue for one of the great moments in B&W Army folklore. During the game when the ball was kicked onto the terraces, Chesterfield Mariner The TefMan (aka Ian Fitz) displayed consummate ball-skills when hitting the ball back into play. Unknown to fellow fans, was his aiming for and hitting a supporting post with such force and accuracy, that the ball rebounded with even greater ferocity back onto the terraces, in the opposite direction to the pitch !!

Gareth (aka Cliff) was anxious to showcase the unique skills of the coy TefMan whose inclination was as ever, to tick the ‘X for no publicity’ box. In the continued lockdown situation, it was rumoured the the TefMan had taken the opportunity to hone his skills as part of a vigorous exercise regime.

Ben Davies was handed the baton of leadership with the ever present shorts-wearing Dave Moore to assist. Morecambe were on a great run, 5 consecutive league victories, in their best season for a decade. With ex-Mariners Harry Davis and Liam Gibson from last season in the match-day squad, The Mighty Mariners we’re up against it.

Unsurprisingly The Mighty Mariners were on top for large parts of the first half and went in with a half-time lead. Towns leading scorer had struck yet again - 19 year old centre-back Mattie Pollock, for the 4th time this season!
Unsurprisingly on the hour Morecambe equalised as they gained the upper-hand. Very quickly as one would expect from a team suffering from confidence deficiency, Town unsurprisingly surrendered the lead 10 minutes later. As Town pushed forward, unsurprisingly The Shrimpers broke away and scored their third several minutes into added time.


29.12.20 GTFC 0 v 0 Oldham Athletic

A point would probably have been taken before the game given Towns situation and because The Latic’s had won their seven previous away games. A clean sheet probably the most positive outcome to be taken from the game.


Wednesday 30.12.20 @ Approx.15.00


Whilst the legal process regarding the proposed takeover of GTFC was grinding on, Jason Stockwood, from the new consortium, acknowledged the cooperation of the various parties in securing the return of Paul Hurst and Chris Doig to manage The Mighty Mariners, an encouraging announcement as the legalities were proceeding.

Paul Hurst officially left The Mighty Mariners after the 0 v 1 home defeat to Cheltenham on 22.10.2016. It would appear his fate had been decided by that stage. The previous week when ‘Shorty’ was properly in charge, was the away fixture at Cambridge United.
15.10.2016 proved a great away day for The Mariners, when The Black & White Army descended on The Histon Mariners H.Q., The Red Lion. A 1 v 0 victory left Town on the verge of the playoff places. However life’s rich tapestry was soon to be woven in unexpected patterns.

It is the nature of football fans, that when things go particularly badly, to wish for the polar opposite. Fans who perceived Holloway’s exuberance in a slightly more derogatory light, welcomed back ‘the dour Yorkshireman.’ Those same fans were probably those who had criticised Hurst for a lack of ‘a more adventurous style’ when last at Blundell in 2016.

“We keep us shape.”

The first game back for Histon Mariners sponsored Paul Hurst will be at Blundell against........ .........Cambridge United !!!
Was it to be one of the internally searched for ‘turning points’ that football fans are forever debating?
With more glasses half-full than for some time, one could only hope and dream.

The Histon Mariner Campaign Marches On!

02.01.21 GTFC 1 v 2 Cambridge United

09.01.21 Port Vale 3 v 0 GTFC

The game witnessed James McKeown equalling Harry Wainman’s appearance record for a Mariner goalkeeper. Other than that, at best disappointing but more realistically instantly forgettable. Paul Hursts recruitment would be a key factor going forward.

16.01.21 GTFC 0 v 0 Southend United

23.01.21 Scunthorpe United 3 v 0 GTFC

A result that enriched the fertile soil into which the half-empty element would welcome battle-weary recruits from the half-full brigade. The scale of such a defeat, in a Derby-match and the consequent surrender of bragging rights, would always witness those encamped and increasingly fearful of their glasses draining, venting their frustration at anyone who could be blamed, including the groundsman. Immediacy disables perspective. An empty Glanford Park, thus enabled the players to escape the inevitable wrath and vitriol that would likely have been forthcoming from some within the half-empty camp.

The January transfer window is always considered the more difficult window.. To the usual mid-season and geographical dilemmas was added all the Covid related issues, salary caps and the willingness to embrace a relegation dog-fight. In such circumstances, Paul Hurst had appeared to have begun to recruit well - Sam Habergham, Rollin Menayese and in particular Jay Matete from Fleetwood. Though albeit not as many or as quick as ideally desired, signings for signings sake, one could not imagine being part of Hurst’s DNA, so trust remained in place.


26.01.21 Barrow P v P GTFC


                     Jolly v Hurst

The Bluebirds (nee The Ziggers) v The Mariners had long ago been earmarked as an overnight trip for the Histon Mariners. The thought of a Tuesday night in January spent at the tip of the Furness Peninsula in the Holker Street Stadium, with snow, sleet and wind forecast, was a surreal reminder of what was being missed. Refuge was earmarked at The Robin Hood (Robinsons) whilst The Kings Arms had been identified as a most suitable meeting venue - alas another day.

The game was called off because of a waterlogged pitch at 17.45. Had the world been in a state of normality, the Histon Mariners would likely have been engaged in the camaraderie of Real Football Fans, both Bluebirds and like-minded stranded members of the B&W Army. Memories of a similar situation in Plymouth (2nd November 2019) seemed so long ago, as if in a different era.

Again, yet another reminder of what was being missed....and it was not only, or even mainly, the match!

30.01.21 GTFC 1 v 2 Stevenage

When the final whistle blew there could have been no Town fan anywhere able to talk dispassionately about what had just been witnessed.

In the first half Town had been the better side - not exhilarating free-flowing football but competitive with signs of Hurst’s “keeping us shape” mantra coming to fruition. New signing Jay Matete impressed and Idris El Mizouni appeared to have something different to offer.
Against the run of play The Boro took the lead on 42 minutes. A scrappy second half appeared to be drawing towards the increasingly familiar loss. In the 94th minute Matete set up debutant Stefan Payne to equalise and share the points.

Dis-belief, exhilaration, a season-defining moment, a turning-point, glasses quickly filled.
In the 96th minute defensive calamity, The Boro took a 2 v 1 lead and all 3 points.
Dis-belief, draining deflation, a season-defining moment, a turning-point glasses instantly emptied.

There are some who claim that to be A Mariner Fan is not a small burden to carry. That only Town could extract such drama from a fairly turgid game. But the reality is less dramatic. Town did perform better, especially in the first half. Town did scrap in the second half. New signings had begun to influence proceedings. Town kept “us shape” for most (not all !) of the game. Individual errors had proved calamitous.
Perversely, adversity can strengthen the bonds of association to a greater extent than triumph. When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Blood is thicker than water and as members of the same tribe The Histon Mariners stand shoulder to shoulder behind Shorty.

There were 20 games left (60 points). Hurst’s influence was slowly becoming evident.

The Campaign marches on.


At a time when every aspect of life appeared in a state of suspended animation, Matt Dickinson of The Times wrote a magnificent piece which every member of The Real Football Supporters Family would recognise. Dickinson’s piece absolutely exemplified so much of what unites family, overriding all the trivia that divides. Every single member of the Real Football Family, would not fail to be moved by such a heartfelt tribute to ‘Rochdale’s David Clough.’

David Clough adored Rochdale – now they will immortalise him in bronze. The lifelong fan raised £400,000 for the club and left them his entire estate last year – to be spent on the supporters, not a new striker.
According to those who knew David Clough, the idea of a bronze statue immortalising him in his flat cap and thick glasses would have horrified a modest man. He was the last to seek recognition.

Salt of the earth? Clough was the very definition of the phrase as he cycled home from work at the local bakery and, most familiarly, did his rounds selling scratchcards and collecting weekly draw tickets for his beloved Rochdale AFC.

“David collected money for the club virtually every waking hour, supported by his dearly loved wife, Dorothy, who took care of the paperwork, and counted t’brass,” the club noted of their most devoted supporter. “Many fans will remember seeing him on the streets of Littleborough on his bike, completely wet through, dutifully collecting 50p here and there for his beloved club, with a smile and a profanity.”

Without the likes of Clough, lower league football clubs would wither. He was a real-life version of Gordon Ottershaw in Ripping Yarns; obsessed by Barnstoneworth United, even after six years without a win; teaching his son (first name Barnstoneworth, middle name United) to recite the great teams off by heart; hurling pot plants through the window in despair at another loss.
Clough was a lifelong Dale fan who witnessed the club’s only three promotions, from their first in 1969, living on the same street as record scorer Reg Jenkins. He took up helping with the Goldbond cash draw and scratchcards, selling hundreds of them weekly and dutifully amassing the coins from his collection rounds.

He could not drive so everything had to be done by bike, which he carried out, unfailingly in all weathers, for almost 30 years. By the time Clough died last June, aged 78, it was estimated that he had single-handedly raised more than £400,000 for Rochdale. Pretty astonishing, but there was more.

Clough and his wife had not been able to have children — “they fostered, which tells you what sort of people they were,” Richard Wild, a close friend, explains — so he left his entire estate to Rochdale. Almost £250,000, it turned out.

Wild, a Championship assistant referee who befriended Clough when he was also working on the club’s fundraising, is one of the executors of his will. He was by Clough’s side when he passed away in a nursing home.

David Clough

“David said that he didn’t want the money going on a centre forward who would disappear after a couple of years,” Wild says. “He wanted it spent on something to benefit the fans, something he would always be able to look down on and see.”
A new electronic scoreboard at Spotland Stadium, now the Crown Oil Arena, is already in the planning and there are discussions about other ways to upgrade supporters’ facilities that are hard to maintain at a League One club badly hit by the pandemic. Clough’s devotion and generosity will make a lasting difference.

Then came the idea for a statue. Another fan, Mark Cryer, who never met Clough, heard about the bequeathal and thought it was only appropriate to mark Clough’s loyalty.

The notion of a statue was taken from Valencia, who commissioned a lifelike bronze of Vicente Navarro Aparicio and erected it in the fan’s seat at the Mestalla. Aparicio had continued to watch matches despite losing his sight, and there are plenty of parallels with Clough.

One of his last games supporting his beloved Dale was an emotional afternoon in May 2018 when they were saved from relegation by Joe Thompson, who had twice recovered from cancer and then scored the winning goal. Clough was at the match in a wheelchair, blind after a stroke.

“We were commentating for him, screaming our heads off when Joe Thompson scored that goal to save us,” Wild says. “At the final whistle, knowing we were safe, David burst into tears.” He would enjoy one more game, a home win over Accrington Stanley, before passing away.
An initial target of £2,500 to build a statue was quickly passed — a decent version will cost several times that — and the total is climbing towards £6,000, helped by donations from fans of other clubs who have been touched by Clough’s story.

The statue will sit in Clough’s seat in the main stand, where he enjoyed his passion of supporting the Dale through thick and thin. “Hopefully it will be just as he was, with his flat cap and those thick glasses,” Wild says. “He won’t mind me saying he was a quirky looking chap but he was the most wonderful, down-to-earth man you could meet.

“He would have hated all this attention, not his style at all, but it’s great that fans not just from Rochdale but other clubs think he is worthy of this recognition. The world would be a much better place if there were more David Cloughs. We miss him dearly. He would have been 79 on Thursday.” His voice cracks a little as he says it.

by Matt Dickinson Chief Sports Writer, The Times 2nd Feb 2021

Renewed 2year Sponsorship Deal Announced

In the difficult circumstances of the increasingly forgettable 20/21season, poignant stories as that from Rochdale reminded us all of deeply held feelings that permeate the soul of The Real Football Community. But equally, fresh stories still emerged to replenish tired old bodies and minds.

For several years the Histon Mariners had sponsored youth prospect Henry Moore. It was recently confirmed the son of Andy, nephew of Dave and the sadly missed Kevin Moore, had been awarded a 2 year apprenticeship with GTFC. Intense negotiations with Town’s Commercial Manager Dave Smith culminated in a further 2 year sponsorship by the Histon Mariners. Despite late efforts from Lord Sugar and Donald Trump the influence of the Chairman of the Histon Mariners bore crucial influence and should never be underestimated. The Logistics Director conducted negotiations, the result was :

“It’s official, it’s in Black & White.”

The Logistics Director looked forward to a celebratory afternoon tea with Dad Andy Moore hopefully at the expense of Uncle Stuart, Chairman of Wainfleet Mariners.

06.02.21 Newport County 1 v 0 GTFC

After a positive first half, the deflected winner from 10 man Newport was yet another body-blow. Mariners everywhere continued to be flummoxed by the innumerable ways Town managed to find to be beaten.

In normal times no doubt the perennial question as to “ Why ?” would be debated after the match in, The Tiny Rebel Newport Centre and Ye Olde Murenger House. Why do Real Football Supporters travel hundreds of miles every / most weeks knowing they are more than likely to be disappointed?

In such normal times and circumstances, no doubt the answer would arise. Because we do. Because one day things might be better. Because we belong. Because the association and camaraderie is part of the Real Football Supporters soul. Because we are deluded. And because we like Bovril.

We live to fight another day.


13.02.21 GTFC P v P Tranmere Rovers

Paul Hurst’s incredibly busy transfer window witnessed 11 arrivals.  It would surly be difficult to conclude anything other than a real determination to correct proceedings.

      Sam Habergham, Rollin Menayese, Jay Matete, Stefan Payne, Idris El Mizouni, Lenel
     John-Lewis, Joe Adams, Joe Bunney, Jake Eastwood, Julian Lamy and Giles Coke.

More games were being postponed because of the weather rather than Covid.  This certainly gave  ‘the new team’ opportunities to attain fitness levels, overcome knocks and ‘gel’.  But an increasingly congested fixture schedule was grist to the mill for the half-empty brigade.

20.02.21 Exeter City P v P GTFC

23.02.21 GTFC 2 v 1 Crawley Town

At last. Didn’t play well in very difficult conditions. Had some luck. Crawley probably better. Who cares. The double over Crawley. Win ugly. Three points. Glasses half-full. Off the foot of the table. It’s a turning point!!?!!

In Hurst We Trust.

27.02.21 Harrogate Town AFC 1 v 0 GTFC

Harrogate was one of the top three overnight stays planned before the seasons commencement. Under the Covid restrictions, planning places which couldn’t be visited, was a slice of masochistic pleasure endured in return for the brief flight of imaginative pleasure derived from what should have been.

The Inn at Cheltenham Parade (Timothy Taylor) had been earmarked as a most suitable billet. The excellent looking Hales Bar was considered a perfect base-camp but with many other possibilities available, a healthy thirst would have been an inevitable prerequisite.

Timothy Taylor’s Inn at Cheltenham Parade.
(What a miss!)

There would also have been a match.....

Hales Bar - magnificently suitable for post-match celebrations......
......or for drowning sorrows.


02.03.21 GTFC 0 v 1 Leyton Orient

06.03.21 GTFC 1 v 2 Forest Green Rovers

Another hammer blow - it could not be just bad luck. All made worst by the curse of another returning ex-player (Jamille Matt!) plus having to watch some very poor acting (professionalism?) in outfits that remained the bookies favourite as the worst kit in the the football league award. Tomorrow would be another day!

The morning after the night before, thoughts turned to this day a year ago :—

On 07.03.2020 —
The Histon Mariners were on manoeuvres visiting Scunthorpe. The early kick-off necessitated the 05.57 train from Cambridge in order to meet up with Jason from Wakefield Mariners, for the full-English in Doncaster.
Campaigning alongside Carl, Chairman of Hebden Bridge Mariners, Jolly Boyz representative, and Neil Sedaka lookalike Pete, LegEnd Larry from Grimsby, fellow travellers Mike and Mandy from East Halton Mariners, Lisa and the smiling McMenemy Mike, Mr. and Mrs. Fish from Cleethorpes, Airdrie Mariner and new father Will, a solo Mariner Alistair, the ever sprightly Sgt. Dick accompanied by Sue, Derby Mariner Andy and Chesterfield Mariners Lord Roy with Mr and Mrs Engine plus the multitude of fellow members of the B&W Army.
A 2 v 0 victory and three points gained. Post match analysis in and around Scunthorpe.
A most satisfactory day all round....
....It would have been beyond the wit of mankind to imagine the devastation from that point in the world generally but also the turmoil Town would encounter following on from that bright afternoon in Scunthorpe. Who could have imagined the B&W Army would be decommissioned out of necessity, with The Colours laid down for another day.

On 07.03.2021 —
Towns position at the foot of the table did not look good. Recent defeats had been by the narrowest of margin and Town had never been completely out of any game. Surely - it was hoped and assumed - Lady Luck would at some point look favourably on The Mighty Mariners.
There were still 45 points to play for. The Fat Lady could not be yet heard singing...at least by the half-full brigade, membership of which may well have been decreasing but, Carlisle could just be the turning point from where the revival would in the future be seen to have begun.....Some of us may have been delusional but the desire for a visit to the likes of the Howard Arms in Carlisle remain part of our football DNA.

The Campaign Marches On!

09.03.21 Carlisle United 1 v 1 GTFC

It would be difficult to credit Town with such remarkable resourcefulness as to keep unearthing different ways to avoid winning. One would have thought the extraordinary high and low experienced within 120 seconds after full-time v Stevenage on Jan. 30th, would have been a unique occurrence most unlikely ever to be equalled.
However at Brunton Park in the first half, the Mighty Mariners played as well as they had all season but went in at half time with an underwhelming one goal lead. The Cumbrians rarely threatened in an uneventful second half. When the 90 minutes were up, Town introduced an extra central defender to ‘use up time’ and add to the defensive resilience. Immediately a poor clearance from a speculative long throw-in saw Town snatch a draw from the jaws of victory!

13.03.21 GTFC 0 v 0 Colchester

17.03.21 GTFC 0 v 0 Tranmere Rovers

Unbeaten in three games. Two consecutive clean sheets. ‘Plenty demonstration of keeping us shape.’ The Mighty Mariners were clearly on the up. The main problem was the distance needed to go up. But there was still no tune to be heard from the fat lady!

20.03.21 Mansfield Town 2 v 2 GTFC

Every football supporter knows when struggling for results Lady Luck rarely appears in support. Town’s ever increasing injury list would appear beyond what should reasonably be expected but such difficulties can present unforeseen opportunities for squad members otherwise unlikely to be involved.

Luke Spokes and George Williams were brought on as second-half substitutes and gave Town added impetus. They certainly appeared up for the fight and in so doing deservedly put themselves into contention for selection in the next game at Barrow and probably the rest of the season. More than anything, those players most up for the fight are those who have to be involved.

Unbeaten in four games. Individually quite good results which could / should have been better. Only Town could create such a drama that unfolds minute by minute. In the 96th minute Williams hit the woodwork for Town, Barrow scored their winner...! Each result leaves the Mighty Mariners with a degree of hope - diminishing though it might be. The thin thread of hope had to be grasped as tightly as possible for as long as possible.

Come On The Mighty Mariners.

With the end of March in sight, another forgettable anniversary was on the horizon. Chesterfield Mariner TefMan was fast approaching the 47th celebration of his arrival.
Town began March 1974 with 3 defeats and a draw before finishing with 2 victories. However in the age old custom whereby Football Fans search for that elusive sign, the teams beaten at the time of the eventful arrival of the polytetrflouroethylene infant, were at home Southend 2v1 and away at Cambridge Utd where Frank Sharp scored the only goal in a 1v0 victory…
…now, at this time with Town neck with Southend and away at Cambridge for the final game of the season, such coincidence had to be a sign.

Here TefMan looked incredulous as he is offered a full-glass of something unfamiliar.
Apparently his birthday wish revolved around music being played over loud speakers after a goal was scored! Perhaps, “The Pub With No Beer”

23.03.21 Barrow AFC 0 v 1 GTFC

On This Day - 23.03.11 GTFC appoint Paul Hurst and Rob Scott as joint managers - its a sign!!

Town arrived at Holker Street after 4 consecutive draws. With a reasonable slice of luck, the 4 points could have been 12. Barrow’s run of 4 consecutive victories were assisted by the illusive element that had thus far appeared to have alluded the Mighty Mariners.
This was a fine illustration of the fine margins so often talked of.
As games go by “we is keeping us shape ” much better. Menayese is turning out to be one of Shorty’s best signings and Elliot Hewitt at centre back is rapidly becoming the find of the season.

Towns extensive injury list was hardly helpful with El Mizouni, Pollock, Bunney, Wright and probably Scannell out for the season with Habergham, Eastwood and Morais not likely to be back soon. With 10 games left after this match, the tide needed to turn - the elusive turning point was required.

The Mighty Mariners put a Spoke in the wheels of the Barrow juggernaut ! The tide had turned. It was surely “ the turning point.” The proverbial glass appeared replenished and up the league we go....!

N.B. Hurst’s 2nd win during his first spell with Town was at..... Barrow with a goal from blonde haired Alan Connell in the same corner as the blonde haired Luke Spokes…


27.03.21 GTFC 1 v 1 Walsall

The appearance on the Saddlers bench of Norman Bates caused concern amongst Mariners. Towns unbeaten run appeared to have stirred a deep psychological fear of being beaten in the Walsall camp and as a result being dragged into the relegation mire. However as events unravelled the Saddlers found no need to take a stab at pushing for a late victory, ‘with bus parked’ they entrusted the shower already on the pitch to secure a vital away point.

Had the Spokes wonder-strike at Barrow been the proverbial sign ? It would have seemed not quite.
An early goal from Hanson, added justification to the view that a sign had been witnessed at Barrow (briefly). Injury to Jay Matete after 20 minutes disrupted cohesion and confirmed that the Barrow game was not the key turning point.
The Saddlers equalised on half-time. The second half was very scrappy.
We lived to fight another day but… some whose glasses appeared a little more drained were said to have heard a faint sound of a female clearing her voice in preparation to sing (allegedly).

01.04.2021 April’s Fool Day

Rumours circulated that Tom Shutes one third of the consortium involved in the legal process of , securing control of the Mighty Mariners, had on the eve of the conclusion, pulled out of the process (again) for “personal reasons”. After a period of disbelief, it was remembered what day it was ! But as the day wore on, the rumours were confirmed to be true. Mariners far and wide would claim such events could only happen when Town were involved. But the the family of Real Football Supporters share so much more than divides them and supporters of Southend, Bury, Blackpool, Macclesfield, Notts.County, Rushden & Diamonds, Bolton, Wimbledon, Oldham etc would dispute a claim of such uniqueness.

It was later announced the remaining two-thirds of the consortium, Jason Stockwood and Andrew Pettit, were to continue discussions to complete the previously agreed and EFL approved deal with major shareholder John Fenty

1878 Partners Ltd directors Jason Stockwood
and Andrew Pettit at Blundell Park.

02.04.21 Salford City 1 v 1 GTFC

Football Supporters continually bemoan bad luck and poor refereeing decisions even when they know deep down such matters tend to even out over the course of a season. Real Football Supporters would generally prefer to debate such matters within the “yard offside” school of thought rather than the VAR plagued Premier Theatre melodramatic debates revolving around 0.017ml either side of a divide. BUT....

.....the performance of the individual in the black attire at Moor Lane defied any objective reasoning, rational thought process and even after 48 hours of quiet contemplation, Mr. Declan Bourne’s efforts must be recorded as exceptional.

The normally reserved, diplomatic responses from Paul Hurst in his post-match interviews were dispensed with when he alluded towards Bourne’s awareness of the Ammies glitterati presence in the stand. The preening, posturing and blatant Salford-centric decision-making had to have some explanation.

The decisions could not reasonably be explained away in normal Real Football Supporter parlance. It may reasonably be asked if Town were mid-table, would the feeling of being hard done too, be so paramount but this performance had been one of undeniable inaptitude. It may well have been a total coincidence but Mr. Bourne gave 3 penalties to Salford in the reverse fixture (19 Sept. 2020),2 of which it would be kind to describe as bizarre!

The fight continues!

05.04.21 GTFC 1 v 1 Cheltenham Town

8 games unbeaten = a glass half-full. 1 win in 8 = a half-empty glass.
Lo and behold - the Mighty Mariners rode their luck and a rejuvenated James McKeown, without the added load of captaincy, saved the day. BUT still, the failure to convert chances meant only a single point gained.
The continuation of the excruciatingly tantalising thread of hope had become increasingly torturous and unsurprisingly claimed by some as a uniquely Grimsby Town experience. However Real Football Supporters everywhere share so much whether they like it or not.

Friday 9th April - The Torturous Thread of Hope

Oldham Athletic 5 v 2 Colchester United - The U’s, bottom of the form league, seemed to be conspiring with fellow Essex strugglers The Shrimpers, to torment the B&W Army by constantly topping up and emptying Grimsby Town glasses.

Saturday 10th April - Announcement of the Time Scale for the GTFC Takeover

A day that brought renewed optimism for the future to the supporters of The Mighty Mariners. An EGM was scheduled for May 6th after which the huge reservoir of off-field hope and optimism would be released.
The Histon Mariner Campaign would continue unabated. The Campaign for Real Football for Real Football Supporters with a mind to the Spirit of Mr. Shankly would hope for some engagement with Messrs Stockwood and Pettit (1878 Partners Ltd) in due course.

The paramount need at this point was a need to manage expectations. The Histon Mariner association with the Trust and Officials of the Club had been strengthened over the course of the Annus Horribilis. The Chairmans International Horizons had been somewhat hampered by the pandemic and his resultant focus on domestic infrastructure had been the paramount concern/focus. The manifestation of such a switch of focus could not be underestimated.

10.04.21 Bradford City 1 v 0 GTFC

The day had began with reinvigorated optimism both on and off the field. The dawn of a new era was on the horizon.

Incredibly after 40 minutes, Town were probably the better side in a scrappy game. On 42 minutes The Bantams took an undeserved lead. Then after the half-whistle, Town had Payne sent off for ... head butting teammate Morais after an obvious spat between them!!!

Down to 10 men, 3 (tactical) substitutions at half-time and Town were probably the better side in the second half - all to no effect. Increasing numbers - especially non-Mariners - were now proclaiming “the end was nigh” But 5 (possibly 4) wins in the final 6 games would probably secure EFL status.
No doubt with multiple twists and turns on the horizon, confidence remained that any Paul Hurst team would fight to the end.

The manor in which the three points were lost was certainly dispiriting. The impossibility of debating the various aspects and consequences of the game whilst partaking of the excellent local fayre was a double reminder of the Annus Horribilus of which we were all taking part in.


17.04.21 GTFC 2 v 1 Bolton Wanderers

A full League debut for Evan Khouri who the day previous had been awarded a first professional contract. Some would view such a selection being motivated by planning for next season but Paul Hurst had continually upheld the belief that all was not lost. On such a basis Khouri’s selection would be regarded as one of merit, albeit aided by injuries and other miscellaneous factors effecting availabilities.

A better start could not have been envisaged. Glasses were soon topped up virtue of a Jay Matete goal after 35 seconds, raising hopes yet again. The furious switching between hope and despair on the never ending ‘big-dipper’ has been constantly referred to as torturous but was surely preferable to being ‘down and out’. On loan from the Cod Army, Jay Matete had been very impressive in his loan spell with the Mariners and would prove a very popular signing for 2021-22, as would Stag Rollin Menayese. Alas one would suspect Jay was destined for greater accolades.

Town were undoubtedly the better side but still needed 2 great saves from James McKeown to keep hopes alive. Even the very often rather difficult to determine, often meaningless “match stats” officially had the Mighty Mariners down as having created 18 chances - 8 on target. The half-empty lobby proclaimed these stats as proving a poor conversion rate, as being more than the rest of the entire season and all too little too late!

Driven on by Harry Clifton, substitute Ira Jackson scored the second before the Trotters late consolation goal. The best performance of the season without doubt and with Colchester playing later in the day the cruel twist of fate again held up both the possibility of immense hope and fearful despair.

Later in the day, Colchester secured 3 points against lack-lustre Saddlers ... Up the ladder and down the snake whilst trying to avoid spillage from the glass.

Sunday 18th April 2021

The proposed ultimate disconnect between football and business.

The preposterous announcement of the 12 club breakaway so called ‘Super League’ of the European ‘elite clubs’ would be debated and written about at ad nauseam elsewhere. Suffice to say it would have been difficult to imagine anything further from the Spirit of Real Football and Real Football Supporters. There would not be one club outside the ‘elite dirty dozen’, not one player, not one Real Supporter, who would support the proposal in THE country with THE football pyramid that is THE envy of the world. To be fair it was highly likely that no one beyond the upper-echelons of ownership of the so-called elite clubs would support such a ludicrous proposition.
Politicians and Governments - whether motivated by politics or from genuine feelings - members of Royalty, Community Leaders, journalists would all sing from the same hymn sheet.

If such a thing as a ‘Social Contract’ exists, it is something about a connecting thread from the past, of the present and for the future. In recent decades football elites - which in England are invariably from abroad, often American with consequential sympathy for American models - have paid little attention (if any) to the past, in their effort to feather their own nests concurrent with a view to securing their own future. Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester United were all American owned without any grasp of historical context, community or sport. They together with the unfathomable debt-ridden owners of the Spanish and Catalonian giants Real Madrid and Barcelona appeared the driving forces behind the nonsense.

The mantra of the modern era is that football has become or is a business. Such an assertion was the essence of the problem. This mantra had ruined OUR game. Of course football must be run with a mind to good business-sense, but a slave to business, it is not. The constant hype about mega deals and club ownership, TV money and advertising, legal disputes over image-rights and the sale of over-priced shirts in the Philippines are not factors as to why Real Football Supporters watch and support their team.

Shame on the American trio of Joel Glazer (ManUre), John W. Henry (Liverpool), Stan Kroenke (Arsenal) plus the pseudo-Englishman Joe Lewis (Tottenham) based in his Bahamas tax haven.
Shame on Florentino Perez the President of Not So Real Madrid, who as Chairman elect of the breakaway dozen even talked of cutting games down from 90 minutes, because many found engagement for such a long period of time difficult to maintain!

Bill Shankly would be turning in his grave and his families suggestion to have his statue removed from Anfield was perfectly understandable. The home, “pound for pound of Mr. Shankly’s greatest ever team” would be a fitting destination particularly in view of the commitment to the fans and community proclaimed by 1878 Partners Ltd whose takeover of GTFC was scheduled for May 5.

The instantaneous furore created by the unfathomable notion of the ‘not-so-super-league’ and the inevitable ramifications that would ensue, motivated Mattie, the Governor and the Logistics Director to visit Parker’s Piece, Cambridge the site of the origin of the rules of football.

In 1848 a meeting of 14 representative students from different schools who played ‘football’ by different rules, convened. They agreed a rule that the the ball could no longer be “picked up and run with.” By 1863 a Committee of 9 students codified the evolving rules into the format largely recognisable today. They were published on November 21 st.
On November 24 th 1863, a meeting had been scheduled of the Football Association to resolve the row between “hackers” (allowed to carry the ball and kick the shins of the ball carrying player) and the “non-hackers” (forbad both practises). The Cambridge Rules as played on Parker’s Piece were adopted and ratified on 1st December 1863 and spawned the modern world wide game.

Mattie and the Logistics Director took the Governor to Parker’s Piece, Cambridge. The. Logistics Director explained the significance of events from the 1848 Commemorative Monument.

Up The Mariners

As it transpired the ‘not-so-souped-up-super-league’ fell apart when universal opposition exposed owners who unashamedly declared the project over.. Their speedy response to the opposition and the ‘sincere apologises’ could not be taken at face value. The businessmen in football were clearly on a mission. The football-men in opposition had to mean business. The game was surely not over. The businessmen would return to fight another day. In order to match their determination that self-evident truth needed to be remembered.
The one lesson that should have been learnt - already known to Real Football Supporters - was about the common bond that bound ‘football tribes’ together. Premier-theatre fans ought to reflect on that bond when they enthusiastically support the oft-repeated grab on monies available, to the detriment of the wider football community.

The Mariners Trust, seemingly invigorated by the potential of the new leadership arrangements of GTFC, should play a major role as the moral custodians of the Mighty Mariners.
The Trust could be the legitimate focal point for protest and engagement with like minded bodies throughout football on the issues now firmly in the spotlight. The Histon Mariners imbued with the desire for Real Football, with the shared soul of Real Football Supporters, would continue to Campaign and support on all fronts.

If some unity and momentum could be maintained maybe, just maybe Real Football Fans could welcome back those whose conscience had been stirred and force conversations about universally disliked issues that had been imposed from above by ‘experts’ e.g. kick-off times , VAR, multiple multi-coloured team-strips for every team for every occasion.

20.04.21 GTFC 0 v 3 Morecambe

Oh dear. Whilst struggling to find any positives to take from the performance, one could detect the vague stirrings of a fat lady clearing her voice but the glass still had enough refreshment in situ to ensure a final gulp ... or two!

24.04.21 Oldham 1 v 2 GTFC

Lo and behold up the ladder again to grasp the dangling carrot of hope.

When the Latics took a deserved lead against a threadbare Town (made worse when James Hanson pulled a hamstring in the pre-match warm up) the ever-growing half-empty lobby were no doubt questioning whether the appetite existed for the last ditch fight.

But the torturous toing and froing between hope and despair had seemingly not yet concluded. Matt Green, the last minute replacement for Hanson, equalised within minutes - “was it a sign”, at last “the turning point of our season had been found.” Was it to be the ‘Monkhouse Moment’ as in the Braintree semi-final, when his enforced late absence necessitated a change, that proved so influential on the day and in the ultimate success at Wembley.

A competitive second-half was settled by one piece of brilliance from Jay Matete. From Hewitts pass, Matete so far from goal, he was possibly in a different post-code, set off on a mazy run past several bemused Latics and hit a left-foot shot from the edge of the area to score what would probably be judged the goal of the season. The goal reiterated what a miss he was likely to be next season.

Drinking from the replenished glass without being interrupted by unwanted music in the early evening sunshine dispersed any concerns about sliding down the ‘inevitable’ snake ... momentarily?

In Hursty we hope and trust!

Come what may, the Mighty Mariners under Shorty would come out fighting. A win at Exeter would complete a hat-trick of consecutive victories at St.James for the visiting Mariners

27.04.21 Exeter City 3 v 2 GTFC

As this game unfolded it was as if a précis of the season as a whole was unfolding.
- started off well, possibly the better side. Glass well stocked — ladder 33 mins,
  against the run of play a Waterfall O.G. (again). Glass with little in - snake
- 41 mins, an equalising penalty (2nd in the league this season), converted by The
  Shop after which he became the top scorer for the season with 4! Glass topped
  up - ladder
- half-time 1 v 1 Town probably the more likely to win. Glass half-full
- 58 mins, Matete scored another belter, Town 2 v 1 up. Glasses filled up, almost
  to the brim - ladder.
- 60 mins, Matete controversially sent-off! Glass emptying — snake
- 80 mins, Town looked capable of holding on but legs began to look weary. With
  real fight and passion clearly evident a miracle looked feasible. Glass filling drop
  by drop - ladder
- 82 mins, McKeown looked to have been impeded. The Grecians equalised.
  Glass began to empty rapidly — snake.
- 89 mins, Grecians took the lead. Glass drained. A fat lady heard singing. Bloody
  big anaconda!
- 90 mins, no sign of any carrots dangling. Fate decided!

Undoubtedly those players latterly assembled by Paul Hurst had given their all to the bitter end. Harry Clifton and Giles Coke were visibly very emotional at the end, which spoke volumes. Post match interviews by Hurst, very downbeat but as ever realistic and Jamie McKeown particularly distraught and apologetic, demonstrated the passion and spirit upon which we would build and go again.

                                          “ It’s time we stop,
                                          Hey, what’s that sound ?
                                          Everybody look, what’s goin down. ”

So, Town were down but strangely the B&W Army was not down. There was certainly a unique atmosphere surrounding the Mighty Mariners. There was almost, odd as it felt, a feel-good factor in evidence. The feeling emanated from the off-field developments concerning ownership but also from the efforts of Paul Hurst and the players since his return in January.
There had been a prolonged period of several months in which to come to terms with what proved the final outcome. It had been an excruciatingly painful period, constantly switching from despair to hope and back again. It was likely, without Paul Hurst, such an experience would not have occurred. It was likely to have been supplanted by one ending earlier with much more despair and an abundance of bitterness.
The experience of I.H. had regrettably turned out to be one of shock, disbelief and best left as an appendix to a disappointing chapter. Few - certainly less than claimed - were not consumed with excitement at the arrival of I.H. and incredulity at his exit.

The seasons outcome witnessed an attitude similar to that which prevailed at the end of the penalty shoot-out defeat at Wembley against Bristol Rovers. That day, in May 2015, the B&W Army had every right to be gutted. The Mighty Mariners had been robbed. But despite falling at the final hurdle (just) Mariners everywhere were immediately looking to the next campaign and before very long enthusiastically so. There was an injustice that needed to be put right.

3 factors produced such a mindset -
 i)  Plenty of time to come to terms with a return to the National League.
 ii) The fight and passion shown by the replacement team so hastily assembled early in the new
 iii) The optimism surrounding the imminent takeover of the club by 1878 Partners Ltd, scheduled
      for 6th May.

Of course the return to the National League would include a trip to the more modest Borehamwood whist Cheltenham would play two divisions above against the likes of Sheffield Wednesday, BUT ... ... renewing acquaintance with Stockport County, Notts County, Torquay, Wrexham and Halifax(!) were eagerly anticipated, and probably more so, than trips to Stevenage, Crawley and Forest Green Rovers.
The new season would be the same B&W Comrades in Arms, the same freezing weather and ever present Bovril just different hostelries (certainly no worse !) and different train-routes, with the usual accompanying Rail Nightmares.

Mariners had learnt from their last visit to the National League, a little humility was the order of the day. The struggle to return was tough, full of unexpected hurdles but doable. A sense of realism would certainly aide and abet the Campaign ahead.

With new owners and a fan base reinvigorated (an element whose expectations needed to remain realistic), with THE Manager who had previously succeeded at National League level already in place, whose additional experience since gained elsewhere had made him even more suitable, there existed justifiable but tempered optimism. Plus our second visit to the National League, unlike the first visit, would be cushioned by a 100% parachute payment in year one followed by 50% in year two ... if necessary.

All in all, the glass was without doubt half-full.
Anyone for Bovril?


May Day! May Day!... Towns last home game in the EFL for the time being.

01.05.2021 Cleethorpes 1 v 0 Burslem

The only team in the EFL who play in a place different from their name against the only team not named after a place.

It appeared a little fatalistic that after the Lords Mayors show, the Mighty Mariners finally had help from Lady Luck, i.e. once the seasons outcome had already been decided. The ‘prolific’ Matt Green struck again. The Mariners secured yet another 3 points.

The final fixture at Cambridge would be against a side needing a result to secure promotion and would presumably provide one final test for Town.

6th May 2021 - 1878 PARTNERS LTD BECAME

Jason Stockwood and Andrew Pettit of 1878 Partners Ltd, the morning after the night before.

08.05.2021 Cambridge United 3 v 0 GTFC

One step back, 2 steps forward.

On the one hand the trip to the Abbey for the Mighty Mariners was the last game of the season and the last in the EFL for at least 14 months, so down the snake we went. But as the first game of the new era under the ownership of the 1878 Partners led by Messers Stockwood and Pettit up the ladder we went..

Given the Abbey Stadium was the ‘home’ fixture of the season for the Histon Mariners, it was thought a visit undertaken in the early hours on what became a very wet and grey finalle to the Annus Horribilus, would provide some cathartic release. It felt appropriate to witness the end and beginnings of different era, by visiting the site of ‘Towns last stand’ to be reminded of what would be missed…..

The answer when at the ground at about 07.00 was ‘very little’, considering the scenes above, albeit at a time of day when few grounds would appear very inviting. Trips next season to Meadow Lane, the Racecourse Stadium and even the Technique (nee Proact) Stadium would be at least as attractive as the Abbey Stadium.

The end of the Annus Horribilis. The Mighty Mariners had significantly the bulk of the possession (68%), 11 goal attempts with 4 on target, against 5 attempts with 4 on target for the U’s. Whatever the statistics, the score remained 0 v 3. The table rarely tells lies.

The process was to began immediately. Mattie arranged for the Logistics Director of the Histon Mariners to meet up with Jolly Boyz Paul and Dave R. to replenish glasses in Cambridge at the Castle Inn.

The Jolly Boyz welcomed the opportunity to meet up with the Histon Mariners.
Mattie as ever was delighted to engage in such elevated and erudite discussions.

Histon Mariners Logistics Director and Paul of Jolly Boyz infamy met up to contemplate next seasons manoeuvres.

Meeting up for how ever briefly was a reminder of what had been missed over the course of the Annus Horribilis. The various lockdowns had engendered a mindset. Some no doubt had suffered more than others. To meet up was the essence of what we all aspired to. An instant reminder of what had been missed. Elements of seriousness but plenty of of total bollocks. Marvellous. Everyone seemed to be looking forward to a Bovril....

Up The Mighty Mariners.

The honeymoon for the new ownership would no doubt extend a little beyond the norm but glasses were more than half-full, which felt at odds with having just been relegated. The B&W Army awaited with eager anticipation the fruits of the new era.

In Jason and Andrew we believe

In Hursty we trust.

Up The Mariners! 

Thanks to css zen garden for the layout.