2021 - 2022 : Dare To Dream

Once the sun had set on the final Fenland episode of the Annus Horribilus 2020-2021, wave after wave of good news appeared to flow from Fortress Blundell. None more so than the return of the Mighty Shaun Pearson from his North Welsh sojourn. His return guaranteed a 100% effort on the pitch but would also ensure a huge positive influence in and around the dressing room.
Early imports through the door were a good sign that priority signings were arriving - John McAtee and Ryan Sears were already encamped by the end of the first week of June. The re-signing of Giles Coke in face of competition from higher up the food-chain, would similarly be welcomed by the vast majority of Mariners.

But also developments away from the pitch. A new Fan Zone, investment in new technology for Performance Analyst Kal Singh, early Season Ticket announcements with multiple different category offers improvements to facilities and playing surfaces at Cheapside as well as at Blundell. The appointment of Debbie Cook as Chief Executive was also seen as a step in a new direction but Town had been at the forefront of such appointments before. In 1971 the first female appointed as Club Secretary in the Football League was Dorothy Edwards at…..Grimsby Town.

The level of positivity surrounding a club just relegated was extremely unusual and possibly unique - very few half-empty glasses were being raised!
Accordingly the Histon Mariners were cajoled by their enigmatic Chairman to embrace the moment and help reinvigorate the Campaign.

Friday 11th June 2021.
Mr and Mrs Fish arrived in Cambridge for a sociable aperitif and pre-planning meeting with Mattie and Histon Mariner Logistics Director. It was somewhat appropriate that Campaigning should kick-off in Cambridge, that “island in the Fens” where the that Annus Horribilus ‘death by a thousand cuts’ ended only a few weeks previous.

Mr. & Mrs Fish with Mattie on the River Cam by Magdalene College.

The Fish, Mattie and Roy Cropper were fortuitous fortuitous to be welcomed by Rugby Union Ambassador Richard Mathews at the renowned Maypole. Sporting LegEnd Dick, a respected figure throughout most of his household wanted to acknowledge the contribution made by the Histon Mariners to Real Football and thus Real Sport in general.

Roy Cropper was keen to extend the hand of friendship to signify a shared ethos between the two games.
The season ahead was discussed and planned with glasses appropriately filled. Concerns were acknowledged, notably the inevitable disruption to the Chairman’s match-day routine in the post Covid world.


                                                   17.07.21 Clee Town v GTFC
                                                   17.07.21 Spalding Town v GTFC
                                                   24.07.21 GTFC v Rotherham Utd

After a horrendous 17 month hiatus, Histon Mariner President Maurice and the Logistics Director ventured north, hoping manoeuvres were back on track but like everybody fearing the possibility of a sudden further repeat curtailment.
The prospective programme for the day ahead only added to anticipation levels.

Other than the inevitable routine discussions en route there were 3 very pertinent issues :

  1. Following the outrageous ‘Big 6’ breakaway European Super League proposals in April and the total disregard for football supporters, the National League appeared to be following a similar path by changing several of the original published fixture list, by moving fixtures to awkward times later in the day or moving them away from Saturdays. Being the bigger games of the season (Stockport, Wrexham, Southend and later Chesterfield), suspicions arose - perhaps unfairly - as to why the games were moved.
    It appeared that the Clubs had little input, that the police had a minor role but the Big Bad Wolf was once again Television which via it’s over-supply of product and it’s unquenchable thirst for money had no consideration for Real Football Supporters.
    Whatever the reasons the impression abounded that fan consideration was at best low on the agenda but in reality not even on the agenda.


  3. The sale of Ben Grist, barely 16 years old, to Leicester City probably reinforced the impression that in years to come only those considered not quite ‘top notch’ at such a tender age or late developers would ever progress to play for The Mariners. Genuine fair recompense for development work put in, often over a number of years, was probably never the case but supporters were increasingly unlikely to experience the excitement of homegrown talent with local connections however tenuous, appearing in First Team colours.
    And whilst those clubs outside the upper echelons will cease to fairly benefit from their own efforts, Mariners would only wish young Grist ‘bon voyage’ and good luck in his GCSE’s.
  4. The weekend would inevitably be underpinned by continuing concerns about Histon Mariner Chairman Neville’s forthcoming seasons dilemmas as a result of the inevitable changes to his match-day routines…

A welcome taste of normality was certainly the overwhelming feeling but inevitably the only thing that is constant is change. The positive changes at Blundell Park have been alluded to elsewhere. The changed modus operandi at the Kingsway Hotel had necessitated the search for a new operational base in Cleethorpes for the Histon Mariners. The Kingsway Hotel had been a most hospitable and welcoming base camp for 13 years since the debut appearance on 4th March 2008 for the the second leg semi-final fixture against Morecambe.
Change brings forth new opportunities and the search for a Cleethorpes base brought forth Ginnie’s Guest House to the attention of the Histon Mariners.

Kim and Francis Wood were great hosts and with a top breakfast even the Chairman would possibly be content…..

However match day routines have to be adhered to and after docking at Ginnie’s there was only one possible option - Willy’s.

The President and Mattie announce the seasons Campaign officially in progress, toasting success with the splendid Willys Original.

Match day routine was enthusiastically and quickly re-established. Legendary Cleethorpes Matriarch Tina at ‘Think Bubbles’ was clearly excited to welcome back Mattie and the President. She was however slightly disappointed that the Wainfleet Chairman was absent, him being on romantic operational manoeuvres in Scotland.

A thoroughly satisfactory workout for the first 70 minutes after-which the multiple substitutions by both sides produced a disjointed patchy game. A draw would have been perfectly acceptable for both sides.
An 84th minute scrappy goal following a goalmouth scramble meant very little.
The starting Xl all made a reasonable impression. A composed Coke, an industrious Ben Fox and an energetic Harry Clifton, who looked to have added more vision to his game, gave the Mariners a competitive mid-field. Esteves Sousa was certainly lively up front, will excite but will also frustrate. John McAtee looked to be a very good import and will be a key player over the season. David Longe-King is the latest solid rock at the back uncovered by Hurst and alongside a rejuvenated Luke Waterfall looked very comfortable. It was particularly pleasing to all Mariners to see Shaun Pearson back at Blundell and no surprise to see his competitive leadership whether captain or not.

Special mention of James McKeown who in his much deserved testimonial match once again reiterated his great strength with 2 great goal-line shot stops. One can only wonder in the current era when and if another player will serve the Mighty Mariners for a decade or more - one can only hope.

But overall The Black & White Army was back at Blundell!

Post-match Ben Fox was introduced to Histon Mariner President Maurice by the Meggie Pavarotti…

After trialing a very splendid Batemans ‘Macca’ (or two !) in the Trust Bar, a visit to the new FanZone was eagerly anticipated. Awash with Docks Beers and B&W Army LegEnds, the balmy summer evening further enhanced the feel good facto on the return to Blundell Park.

Jolly Boy Pete and the ever temperature challenged Tony discussed the season ahead with glasses half-full.
A deservedly proud old git with granddaughter Georgia who has had a lot to put up with over the years....
…… with a very cold, back-end specialist bringing up the rear, calling for two more scarves…!
Jolly Boy Paul found someone who would listen in Cleethorpes Mariner Dan...not for the first time.

Before leaving Blundell, the Logistics Director had discussions with Dave Smith about sponsorship opportunities for the new season. He also met Debbie Cook and had interesting discussions about the Histon Mariner Campaign. The results of those discussions it was hoped would be announced soon.

Phillip Searle lookalike Steve informed The New Imperial Club was not available to visit thus only the Notts could complete a successful return to Cleethorpes. At the Notts it was debatable who provided the bigger draw President Maurice or Mattie.

Linda, Christie and Angie had heard about the HM visit and could hardly contain their excitement.
The President held discussions with Jolly Boy Dave about the forthcoming Campaign. Cautious optimism was very much the order of the day.

In all a splendid return. A reminder of what was missed. A reiteration of the total folly of those that thought football was encapsulated and improved via a European ‘Super League’. A return to a degree of normality. A new season under new stewardship to embrace.

And now it really was,

Surprisingly the Chesterfield away game (14th Aug.) was switched - this time by the police - from 15.00 to 13.00. Not to worry, Cambridge Railway station now had a part-time employee available for the Histon Mariners, dealing with refunds and changes to the specific time tickets bought in advance for economy … again and again!

***** 27th July 2021 - 93 Year Old Daphne Baker a Mariner Since 1933! *****

GTFC Chairman Jason Stockwood acknowledged the remarkable devotion of Season Ticket holder Daphne when she was presented with a season long pass by Ticket Office Manager Lisa Piggott. Daphne’s memories of going to Blundell with her Dad on his bike, paying 6d (2.5p) to get in at a time when PM Ramsey MacDonald led The National Government, is at the heart of the soul of Real Football. Lisa’s dealings with Daphne for a mere 2 decades simply reiterated the importance of community in the Real Football world.

30.08.21 Hyde United 2 v 0 GTFC

03.08.21 Alfreton Town 0 v 1 GTFC

Lo and behold another change in the published fixture list was announced - the first game of the season was switched from 3 O’Clock to 5.20. The reason it was switched- BT Sports TV interference! Never mind arrangements made both before and after would all be changed or cancelled because not everyone involved would be football supporters in the same boat!

******** 6th August 2021- Histon Mariners Were Delighted to Announce
the 12 month Sponsorship of John McAtee. ********

07.08.21 Boston Utd 0 v 1 GTFC

The first away day for the Histon Mariners since 7th March 2019 at Scunthorpe

Calls en route from Wakefield Mariner Jason to give a full report from the fixture at Hyde Utd and Peterborough fan and Associateassociate of the Histon Mariners Posh Steve, about “messy” manoeuvres on the opening derby-day fixture at Kenilworth Road, reiterated the shared bonds of Real Football Supporters everywhere.
It really did feel as though SS Hope had been boarded. With Paul Hurst at the helm supported by Able Seaman Doig, despite inevitable choppy waters ahead, somewhere bright and pleasant would be reached next May.

Pilgrim basecamp the Eagle, provided a warm welcome to the Histon Mariners. Boston Utd. stalwarts Liam, Ben and John held long discussions with Mattie sharing the usual anecdotal football bollocks from the disastrous last 18 months, hopes for the season ahead and the many connections between the Mariners and Pilgrims. Paul Hurst, who had managed both clubs and had brought Shaun Pearson and James McKeown to Blundell Park, Max Wright, Dayle Southwell, Anthony Church, Wes Parker, Andi Thanoj, Mitch Rose and Scott Garner were all recent duel protagonists whose names cropped up. Plus not insignificantly, Boston Utd Assistant Manager was currently Mariner Legend John McDermott.

Pilgrims, Liam, Ben and John with Mattie.
Mattie collectively engaged in a spirit of hope of hope and belonging.
Likewise Derby Mariner Andy in full-flow with like-minded Pilgrims.

As far as new stadiums go the new Boston ground was far from the worst example but unfortunately being away from the town was unfortunate.
Max Crocombe looked comfortable on his debut whilst not being seriously tested. Michael Efete was impressive at right back in his 45 minute outing. An odd switch for Seb Raven, who last time out played in his familiar left back role but this time played up front on the right but nevertheless looked quite competent.
A switch to a back- three in the second half with a rejuvenated Waterfall coming on alongside Longe-King and Pearson, appears to be a tactic Paul Hurst may well employ when necessary in the forthcoming season.
Histon Mariner sponsored John McAtee again proved a handful and it was no surprise that he scored for a second consecutive game. Expectation levels were justifiably beginning to rise with regards the former Iron.

The B&W Army appeared to be approaching a state of full mobilisation.

A recently decommissioned Sgt. Mosey was now able to pass onto the TefMan the benefit of his strategic intelligence.
Barnsley Mariners Jo and Kenny, looked match-fit for the season ahead.
A slightly coy Rebekah was also mentally preparing for the Junior Members Open Day-Play at Blundell the following day.
New Imperial Paul took time to weighing up the burger offering whilst contemplating opportunities in DN35!

After such a positive outing it would have been impolite not to return to the Eagle to indulge in more football trivia talk with the hospitable Pilgrims. Best wishes were extended to all for the forthcoming season - Boston had proven a great reminder of the spirit of Real Football only only whetted the appetite for the year ahead.

The return to Cambridge necessitated an unfortunate lengthy break at Sleaford but enabled the discovery of the Carre Arms Hotel a most suitable venue for the reinvigoration of weary travellers.

One can never anticipate who would be encountered and what tales would emerge from the match-day railway journeys that transported the atomised sub-culture of Real Football Fans. At key terminals like Peterborough, supporters from multiple teams often collide, exchange drivel delivered in various levels of comprehension before moving on wishing each other guarded but generally good fortune for the season ahead.
On this occasion unsurprisingly there were Posh fans returning from Kenilworth Road having lost 0 v 3.
‘Posh’ Steve’s pre-match report of “messy manoeuvres. appeared to have been accurate. More surprising was the meet-up with QPR fans heading back to their March base. QPR had played at Loftus Road against fellow Londoners Millwall, drawing 1 v 1. Histon Mariner connections with West London enabled many shared associations which only reinforced the universal shared spirit, experiences and outlook of Real Football Supporters everywhere.

March Rangers Nathan with Dad Phil reminisced with Mattie and looked forward to the year ahead.

A relatively early arrival back in Cambridge enabled quiet reflection on a very successful return to the near normality of away-days that gave a significant boost of confidence in the state of the health, soul and spirit of Real Football Fans.


14.08.21 Chesterfield 2 v 1 GTFC

Normal(ish) Service is Resumed

The crawl back to normality was further advanced en-route to the renamed (yet again) Technique Stadium. A forty minute rail delay at Nottingham due to coupling problems and the absence of an engineer, which necessitated relocation to different carriages, felt reassuringly normal.
However the immediate concern about the approaching rearranged early kick-off was alleviated by the subsequent delaying of kick-off by an hour due to the surprise of the local constabulary re. ongoing road works…….

Spireites Police


As I've just found out the A61 from Horns Bridge through to the tesco roundabout used to access the stadium is closed. @officialgtfc fans coming off the M1 at Junction 29 this will divert you through the town centre adding time onto your journey

…. This double dose of normal service in a perverse sense provided a degree of comfort that the football season had resumed in all too familiar circumstances!

The mixing, banter and reminiscing amongst the various fans - Forest home to Bournemouth and the inevitable Posh fans, home to Derby - was awash with good humour - all were grateful for ‘the normality’.
Discernible topics of conversation which one could confidently predict would constantly be raised, revolved around the consequences of the previous season enforced absence, the resultant and unavoidable domination of televised football and the disgracefully proposed European breakaway league.
All Real Fans regularly talked of such factors bringing focus onto the heart and soul of the Real Football world, what was threatened and what was missed during that time - in essence the very conversation taking place between fans from different clubs on the train travelling to live games! There existed genuine concern for young fans priced out of Premier Theatre football, being sold football as if it were a Reality TV show, who needed to experience the very scenario thus taking place. Alas a world where the viewer in a Singapore bar is thought of as more important than the travelling fan at home was appearing on the horizon in ever sharper focus.

The disappointment of curtailed pre-match activities was softened by the mundane experience of a very average refilling station managing to confirm very low expectations. To be fair The Donkey Derby would have no illusions of catering for thirsty impersonators of Compo, Norman Clegg and Foggy, being more set-up for dealing with fans of Love Island and Harry Potter.

There was very much a pre-season atmosphere exacerbated by a very odd approach from The Spireites who perhaps would have preferred the game played behind closed doors.

Miami-Vice lookalikes Wimbledon Mariner Danny and a levitating Jack of Sutton Mariner fame.
A brace ‘Billys’, both Paul’s, Jolly Boy and East Halton Mariner, manage to keep each other awake…just.
Mr.‘Croxton’ ever a voice of reason, appeared match-fit for the season ahead.
Young Grace sought to relay train tales from Ffestiniog.
TefMan sought to impress Baron and Baroness Bomburst from Vulgaria.

Debuts for loanees Owl Alex Hunt and Sky Blue Will Bapaga plus the appearance of the infamous Stefan ‘Scrapper’ Payne for The Spireites provided additional interest.
A 1 v 2 defeat. Not much in it. Conformation re. the need for additional firepower, which Hurst would know more about than anyone - especially the ‘finger-tapping intelligentsia’.

After a disappointing pre-match a magnificent post-match unfolded in 2 super venues. Firstly The Beer Parlour, Whittington Moor, where June was on hand to dispense a plethora of fine beverages.

A sprinkling of distinguished visitors added substance to first impressions. Firstly, the renowned Mariner ‘Booze Bus’ had hand selected the Beer Parlour to provide sustenance, which certainly said something about the establishment. One could but wonder, given the vast experience and collective insight of the intrepid Bus-Crew whether they had prior knowledge that Beer Parlour regulars included ZZ Top members. Unfortunately whether it was Billy Gibbons or Dusty Hill in attendance was difficult to verify.

Bus Crew Ancient Mariner Paul with in-house celebrity - Billy or Dusty - from ZZ Top.
Fellow Crew Member Dronfield Mariner Wayne, in discussion with Histon Mariner Logistics Director about absolutely nothing of any importance.

After adding a couple of stitches to life’s rich tapestry one could only hope for another opportunity for further embellishment but Spireite free-house The Glassworks, obliged in providing excellent fayre and facilities.

In conference with the Chesterfield Mariners without the authoritative leadership of the Squire of Hasland was initially a little disconcerting but ultimately most enlightening. Gareth the Engine relayed riveting tales from a North Wales Railway and added illuminating news of the Lord of Hasland’s recent venture into ‘washing lines’. The TefMan as ever more cautious, sought to remain totally non-controversial, regaled tales from far off distant grounds and the recent Euros’.

With the pre-season Campaign concluded the final report would read :-
       a) On the pitch - 7/10.  Satisfactory, could do better.
       b) Off the pitch -10/10. A most welcome and resounding success.
With the pre-season kick-abouts completed the real business would commence in S.E.London, in 7 days time, the B&W Army was on full alert, Hursty could now begin in earnest, the anticipation levels were heightened more than for many years….
                                                       ….. Here We Go, Here We Go.

Tuesday 17th with 4 days to go….Covid struck again the visit to Bromley was postponed !!!


21.08.21 Bromley P v P GTFC

28.08.21 GTFC 1 v 0 Weymouth

31.08.21 Stockport County 0 v 0 GTFC

Matties Late Summer Campaigning Sojourn To Northern Ireland

In accord with past adventures Mattie made a valiant effort to reinvigorate The Campaign during a time of restrictive and debilitating measures. With long haul adventures probably beyond the realms of realism, Mattie took the opportunity to visit Northern Ireland.
Past Town players who starred for Northern Ireland include Jackie Scott who played in the 1958 World Cup, Martin Patterson, Chris Nicholl and Kingsley Black. More recently Paddy McLaughlin born in Larne, flirted with the Northern Irish teams up to and including U21.

Mighty Mariner taking an overview of his Belfast options, prior to retiring to the magnificent Crown to refresh and formulate a plan.

Matties trawl up the Antrim coast to Ballycasle took in football hotspots such as Paddy McLaughlin’s Larne and Brendon Rogers Carnlough. A successful days campaigning was finished at Cushendun where appropriate accommodation was found.

En route to DerryCity, Mattie and Histon Mariner Logistics Director called to meet up with the Chairman of Maghera (County Londonderry) Mariners, Terry O’Hagan. A very fruitful meeting and positive rapport was established resulting in a firm commitment to further the Maghera - Histon Mariner connection was made - hopefully as part of an end of season celebration.

In Derry City when raising the profile of Town’s Ladies Team Mattie received an enthusiastic response from the Derry Girls.
At Pedar O’Donnells, Shamus was delighted to divulge local intelligence.
Finishing inside the Walled City at The Bentley, Mattie reviewed his plans when across the border.

Across the border in County Donegal, Mattie took time to recuperate from his hectic schedule when visiting the most northern part of the island which is in Southern Ireland - Malin Head.

Once in Donegal town, campaigning commenced. At the Reel Inn (a suitable name for Real Football Supporters to partake) word from the Derry Girls had reached Emma Gallagher about Mattie raising the profile of Towns Ladies Team. Understandably Emma was captivated and announced her intention to start up a branch for Donegal Mariners.

Yet another successful Campaigning Adventure with plans afoot to return next close season.
The trip certainly invigorated the spirit and soul of the Campaign alongside Towns super start to the Campaign on the pitch.

04.09.21 GTFC 4 v 3 Barnet

11.09.21 Torquay United 1 v 3 GTFC

GTFC’s No.1 Ancient Mariner

At 99 years old Jack Hinchcliffe would legitimately claim to be Towns most Ancient Mariner. Attending Blundell since the 1930’s and still when able. Jack’s vastly experienced thoughts re. the current season naturally carried great gravitas and was listened too with interest…

99 years old Jack Hinchcliffe

…. Jack’s prediction was given further credence later on the day of him featuring in the Grimsby Telegraph…

14.09.21 GTFC 3 v 1 Wrexham

18.09.21 GTFC 2 v 0 Eastleigh

25.09.21 Maidenhead United 1 v 1 GTFC

Whilst acknowledging the tremendous start, a debut appearance at York Road for the Histon Mariners was anticipated to be a rather muted affair - perhaps an indication of a subconscious effort to restrain expectation.

Local intelligence directed operations to the Craufurd Arms. Local intelligence proved remarkably accurate as a leisurely couple of hours were spent in the late summer sunshine. A good hour talking to Magpie supporters only reaffirmed the shared soul of Real Football Supporters.
Once again the replenishment of the camaraderie and bonhomie between Real Football Clubs and their supporters encouraged a proper perspective of their rivalries. Maidenhead followers thought a point from the days game, given their last couple of results, would prove to be a successful day. Mariners expected a point but hoped for three. The stark reality for Mariners was that most would take a point away from home against such a potential banana skin prior to kick off.

Maureen, Kevin and Connor in vaguely familiar colours welcomed the Histon Mariners.
Alas, their glasses appeared half-empty…
…but as the day unfolded and Harry Haddock provided good cheer, glasses appeared a little more full.
Hospitality abounded equally inside where long term associates of the Histon Mariners Kenny and Jo from Barnsley Mariners led proceedings.

Inside the York Road Stadium the B&W Army gathered in its usual numbers 820’ish’

A youthful, joyous and exuberant Windsor Mariner, was in sharp contrast to…
…an aged, grumpy, and slightly cynical Mr. Parker!

Importantly, the unbeaten run was extended - a job was done. Less important, though naturally a little disappointing, was the performance. Town lacked a little intensity and overall it was a 6/10 performance. Equally off the pitch, the B&W Army appeared a little subdued.
Maidenhead were a physically big side and well organised - all in all a typical Alan Devonshire side, that conjured up memories of his time at Braintree who at the time, Town found very difficult to beat? Thus, a timely reminder of the long slog ahead.
Now firmly back in the saddle, the Campaign marches onto Bromley. Most reassuringly the conversations after the game was about logistical arrangements for pre-match preparations on Tuesday.
Unsurprisingly Chesterfield Mariners and Derby Mariners were heavily involved!!!

28.09.21 Bromley 3 v 1 GTFC

It would have been irresponsible to endure the long journey from Cambridge through London without taking an opportunity for a moments rest and rehydration. Fortunately a suitable tavern with potential access to a higher authority - the Mitre W2 - was located en route without undue hardship. Given the forecast was for heavy rain - and Bromley would be providing uncovered accommodation - a moments indulgence was thought of as most judicious.

The Mitre was found to have perfectly suitable facilities, hopefully the Gods would look down kindly on travelling Mariners.

Leaving Bromley station one was immediately confronted by the Richmal Crompton - a Wetherspoon establishment. Given Richmal wrote the ‘Just William’ books in the 1920’s, it was not unreasonable to think many well known associates of the Histon Mariners would feel at home in such a named venue by virtue of their age and/or their like-minded school day memories. The liberal scattering of black & white attire proved ones suspicions correct.

Two adjoining hostelries, the Bitter End Bar and the Bricklayers Arms provided more than adequate facilities to conduct pre-match preparations, the later the more substantial.

Alford Mariner Rob and Derby Mariner Dan were amused by the ramblings of an aged contingent sitting down nearby.
Lord Roy and the TefMan looked bemused as Gareth discussed the the shade of brown of the half-full glasses. Chairman of Derby Mariners Andy attempted to locate lighter brown beverages elsewhere.

The B&W Army had obviously located the Bricklayers as suitable and made their presence well known with good humour and bonhomie.

An incredibly complex web of connections exists amongst travelling Mariners. Quite often, even in the age of instant digital connection, it was still satisfying to be able to pass on crucial information and messages that mere text struggled to communicate.
Cleethorpes John Boy, had recently become a southern exile and thus isolated from N.E. Lincs family and friends. It was a great comfort to pass onto JohnBoy best wishes and a kiss from his Granny to whom reassurances could be passed on that he was well wrapped up and his shoe laces tied.

Rubin from Grimsby and Belfast Mariner Carl were relieved to know Granny Coleen would sleep easy knowing the Boy was safe and sound.

On 8th Feb. 2011 - JohnBoy on an early training exercise supervised by President Maurice and Chairman Neville under the Hewitts sign. It was obviously no surprise that the passing of years had witnessed graduation from Codling to full Mariner status. It was also noted that the fringe had thankfully gone - Granny’s main concern hence forth would be “who had been eating all the pies?”

At 20.30 all was well. Town deservedly 1 up at half-time virtue of another goal from Histon Mariner sponsored John McAtee.
Esteves Sousa was causing problem for yet another defence. The rain had held off and the Mighty Mariners appeared to be coping well with the artificial surface.
By 21.30 disaster had struck. Seemingly during half-time, Ravens Manager Andy ‘biscuit fingers’ Woodman instructed a change of tack. As a result Sousa went off injured in the 53rd minute. 4 minutes later the Ravens equalised. Then…
…the heavens opened. The B&W Army (625+) either escaped or bravely and/or foolhardy stayed on and witnessed Efete react badly to a rash tackle and accept an invitation for an early bath on 69 minutes.
2 further long-range efforts from Bromley found their target to inflict a first defeat of the season on Town.

Paul Hurst with politically dignified responses proclaimed “disappointment” with the result, disappointment with Bromley’s 2nd half approach, disappointment with some decisions of the officials and disappointment with Bromley player and staff celebrations - which were to be fair “a shade provocative”. In all it could be assumed Hursty was disappointed.

The heavens continued to empty throughout. A sodden trek to the station awaited. Still we live to fight another day. The return fixture is eagerly anticipated.
One consideration on the journey home was who got wetter?
Efete by virtue of his early bath or the exposed, sodden but still cheerful B&W Army.

Journeys home are always a shade downbeat after a defeat, even more so given the circumstances outlined above. But there was a collective struggle to remember a journey home as wet.

Drenched, down but not out, Histon Mariner Logistics Director and Cleethorpes John - on tour since before the Maidenhead game - enthusiastically discussed the next trip…. Why?
Because we do!


02.10.21 GTFC 6 v 0 Dover Athletic

05.10.21 Altrincham 2 v 3 GTFC

Once again the forecast was for rain and on a par with that experienced at Bromley. Again uncovered facilities at Moss Lane awaited the B&W Army….Why do we do it ? Given the defeat at Bromley was the last attended match, a minor deviation from match day routine was deemed permissible - even though victory could see the deviation attain the status of regular incorporation. Thus 2 vegetable samosas were purchased en route to the station from Mr. Handsome’s Earth Crust stall in Cambridge Market. Mr. Handsome (aka Derek) was a Lisbon Lion with stories aplenty from his chaotic trip to the Portuguese capital in 1967 to witness the coronation of the first British (Scottish) European Champions.

At 10.00 in glorious sunshine at Cambridge railway station it was difficult not to raise hopes whilst checking on manoeuvres with Wakefield Mariner Justin. A quiet moment of reflection brought home the fact that due to ‘international lockdown’, Scunthorpe away, 7th March 2020, had been the last joint operation of Histon and Wakefield Mariners!

At 10.25 in equally splendid weather at Ely station, logistical coordination with the Lord of Hasland from the Chesterfield Mariners, brought up 2 major topics:-
      - Firstly on behalf of Chesterfield Logistics Controller Gareth, the possible shade of brown of
        pre-match refreshment.
      - Secondly, it was brought to the attention of Histon’s Roy Cropper that his absence from the
        demolition of Dover had been noted by many.  A discussion was had that maybe a potential
        jinx had been identified.  All Real Football Supporters would recognise the urgency of
        excluding a potential Jonah from match-day routines.  It was however narrowly decided that
        his position in the fold could be secured by virtue of spending a considerable time at a bar

By 13.55 when leaving the White Rose County the clouds appeared ominous. Descending into the victorious Red Rose County, the drizzle began and the briefly held very hopeful optimism, was dampened by a begrudging acceptance of what lay ahead.

Rail journey a success. Travel Lodge a few hundred yards from the station AND the superb CheshireTap but a few yards further on. With the rain looking to have stopped great concerns as to what could possibly go wrong increasingly came to the fore.

A meeting of minds across the cultural divide between Chesterfield and Wakefield.
A meeting of minds across a table of glasses half-…

The consistently large numbers taken away by GTFC regardless of distance and weather continued to impress Real Football Supporters everywhere.

New Imperial aficionados Chairman Ossie, Carl and Cafe Paul as ever put themselves through rigorous pre-match preparations.
Wythenshawe Mariner Ethan with Nana Eileen whose cheerful demeanour belied her years of carrying the burden of Salty Old Sea-Dog Tony (right).
Respite from the Old Sea-Dog had an obvious uplifting effect…
…as did the effect of a hovering Parker

All will all be written about elsewhere because like one or two games already in the campaign, this was another memorable occasion. As the first-half wore on Town became more and more impressive and the 1 goal half-time lead did not reflect the domination witnessed.
Bapaga scored the goal, was very harshly booked and continued to make such strides as to be now thought of as a key player.
The opening 20 minutes of the second half was arguably as good a performance for as long as most could remember. It is not an exaggeration and will be reiterated elsewhere. Ben Fox looked comfortable in commanding proceedings and Harry Clifton had surely now to be seen as totally worthy rather than simply “one of our own” Adam Crookes was now Mr. Dependable and Ryan Taylor had proved another piece of shrewd Hurst business. Perhaps worthy of particular note was the continued rejuvenation of Luke Waterfall, now thought of as one of the first names on the team sheet.
Goals from Histon’s McAtee and Taylor led the travelling B&W Army to seventh heaven - especially with the rain lighter than expected (just)!

But… a ludicrously harsh second yellow for Bapaga reduced Town to 10 men - the three goal lead one would reasonably have assumed to have been a sufficient cushion. A Robin goal after 65 minutes, was a disappointment but - a two goal would surely suffice. Another Robin goal on 85 minutes with 4 added minutes made for a totally unexpected fraught ending.

But the Mighty Mariners successfully completed the task in hand. A further 3 points and the GTFC lead at the top of the table increased to 2 points.

The George post-match provided food for thought when Robins, Ryan and Jordon whilst commending their own spirited comeback talked most complimentary about Town as clearly evident front-runners. Furthermore they were most impressed with the B&W Army turnout for a mid-week fixture in a known open end with rain very much expected.

Wakefield Mariner Jason with the brace of Robins.

A trudge back to base, difficult because of knackered knees was lightened somewhat by reviewing an excellent days campaigning ….from 2 vegetable samosas through to a further 3 points.

09.10.21 Woking 0 v 1 GTFC

Following the successful Altrincham Campaign a repeat of that days routine necessitated another visit to the Earths Crust in Cambridge Market for 2 vegetable samosas.
‘The Sovereigns’ an unplanned venue provided perfectly suitable offerings whence forth the various likely arrivals could decide on further manoeuvres.

A tip off from local intelligence encouraged an earlier than usual arrival at the ground. Being desirous of seats on this occasion, which were available on a first come basis, it was decided to make an unprecedented early trip to the Laithwaite Community Stadium. Unfortunately the reports proved prophetic.

A camera-shy East Halton Mariner led the assault on the Laithwaite Stadium.

Unfortunately probably the least prepared club visited for a long time. A total of two stewards on duty at the two turnstiles open, to search bags - item by item including checking an overnight bag, emptying a bottle of water, taking a camera out of its case and asking what it was ! scanning tickets and thoroughly frisk - a two/three minute process. Why tinder would be accumulated in such a way that could become such an almighty fire, beggars belief - one school of thought would suggest, some reputations travel in advance!
Once inside the ground things hardly improved. Being one of the first in the ground was a novel experience, as was being directed as to which bits of terracing to walk along. Nine different stewards were asked about the whereabouts of programmes - four didn’t know what programmes were, two thought none were available and three advised we walked around the ground and we might find some. However other stewards said access to those different parts of the ground were inaccessible!

A few of us of from the Ancient wing of the B&W Army had a perfectly reasonable conversation with Woking Officials about potential problems. They listened, took on board and suggested the hired security company had taken their brief a little too literally. As it transpired it would appear some common sense prevailed and ‘relatively normal’ service was resumed.

But a special moment so indicative of ‘the way of the world’ was the purchase of a chicken and mushroom pie (without any mushrooms!) for £3.50. On being given a £5 note, Chantelle behind the counter said, to hold on a minute whilst she went to get her phone from the adjoining kiosk. Having got her phone she was then able to process a calculation to determine that I needed £1.50 change!!!

Another part of the ground that was inaccessible that looked particularly inviting was the Moaners Corner Cafe - if only.

The unfamiliar view from the “half-crown, circle seat” enabled a different perspective on proceedings. Similarly several foot soldiers were seen to be looking skywards presumably for inspiration. Gerry thought 3 points were on the way, whilst York Mariner Paul pleaded not guilty ahead of his liaison with the Chesterfield contingent.

Opinions always vary, especially amongst Real Football Supporters, but the victory at Woking had the aura of a team on the ascendancy which in the long run might suggest a successful conclusion on the the far off distant horizon. Of course there was always a fear of tempting fate but on such days one could be excused for dreaming the dream - Real Football Supporters don’t get the opportunity too often.

As Town walked out onto the pitch, if someone didn’t know they could reasonably have assumed battle with a basketball team was about to commence. In the opening exchanges Woking’s obvious physical presence was enhanced by a very spirited onslaught. GTFC back four, Sears, Waterfall, Towler and Crookes were excellent in ensuring McKeown was not greatly troubled.
The Mighty Mariners had chances but would be content over the half-time cup of tea, to be all square.

As the second half wore on Ben Fox again came to the fore. As the half proceeded the Mighty Mariners were the more likely to score.
The welcome appearance late on of Max Wright further illustrated Hursty’s positive frame of mind. Like all the best laid plans, when Wright set up Harry Clifton for the winner 3 minutes from time a master-stroke was proclaimed.

A thoroughly competent performance with all components of the team performing that permitted the dream to continue.

Post-match in the adjoining Snooker Club the ‘Chesterfield half-empties’ were more than happy to join in toasting Paul Hurst’s Mighty Mariners. Such was their magnanimity towards the Town Manager, one could not help but detect a sea-change of opinion BUT no-one wanted to tempt fate.

In Hurst we now (all?) trust!

F.A. Qualifying Round : 16.10.21 Bromsgrove Sporting FC 0 v 5 GTFC

Despite not attending it was considered reasonable for this away game to revisit Cambridge Market for 2 veg. samosas. Proprietor Mr. Handsome was by now keen to see the Mighty Mariners win. Whether that was from a newly discovered love for Town or with a mind to his samosa sales is debatable.

23.10.21 GTFC 2 v 0 Yeovil Town

26.10.21 Wealdstone 1 v 0 GTFC

Great start in glorious autumn sunshine with not a hint of rain! Inevitably there would be no rain because Grosvenor Vale stadium had covered away supporter facilities.
The established cycle route to the the station now incorporated a stop at the Earths Crust for the compulsory brace of vegetable samosas. The Lisbon Lion was clearly at the ready to help the Mariners cause.

The first calamitous enforced deviation from the normal routine was the unavailability of the usual cycle rack at the station. With about 20 minutes to spare it was possible to hang around in case a space became available. Frantically with only a few minutes to spare an alternative rack was taken. Suddenly all was not so well with the world.
A very civilised aperitif was soon easing concerns at the perfectly satisfactory Parcel Yard at Kings Cross.

Mid-afternoon assembling of a very familiar match-day squad preceded a series of rather lengthy circuitous orienteering exercises - not witnessed for many “a session”.

The first stage witnessed a rather exhausted and forlorn Lord attempt to recuperate at The Volunteer.

Lord Hasland’s recovery was given a massive boost once inside when he was welcomed by Landlord and Staffordshire Mariner Rob.

However the respite was temporary. His Lordship’s staff continued their wander around NW1 stopping for temporary relief at the deserted Thornbury Castle before settling at a deservedly more populated Globe in Lisson Grove.

Whilst recovering with the aid of The Globe’s excellent refreshment menu, Lord Roy questioned the days performance and lamented his absence from The Turrets Angling Club. The physical excursions so far in the day were a far cry from the leisurely hours spent on his estate waterways with Spireite Al, building footballing bridges with Towns most likely rivals in the current season.

Given the logistical skills demonstrated on the day, it should have been no surprise that the motley crew managed to get lost twice in Ruislip which despite being several miles from Wealdstone was where the Grosvenor Vale Stadium was situated. In fairness having 4 underground stations with none indicated as being nearest, is some form of defence but the preceding performance must also be taken into account.
The performance of Roy Cropper on the tube journey to the ground was worthy of recording.
As the stop was nearing, panic ensued as pen, notebook and wallet containing multiple cards appeared lost. Closure of the tube’s door was prevented, whilst a good spirited fellow traveller assisted by pointing to the pen and wallet in THE carrier bag and the notebook on the adjoining seat! Thanks to Emma the route march around West London was able to continue. On reflection, it appear ones thirst had been quenched more than adequately!

Up the road and down again. Round and round the mulberry bush. One stop, two stops, taxi to the ground.

The late arrival at the ground presented the weary travellers with a very restricted view. On a day when there was not too much to see the situation did not cause too much distress. But lo and behold a trickle of rain - it was after all a Tuesday night in London suburbia.
A penalty (allegedly) to The Stones which Macca saved, probably saw justice done. But a goal conceded shortly after confirmed a growing feeling that a job was required regardless of performance. When Wealdstone sat back making their intentions clear and their goalkeeper wasted about quarter of an hour on every available opportunity, the disrupted routine at the cycle rack began to appear ominous.

A second half where Town had approximately 80% possession - difficult to assimilate given the time Wealdstone’s goalkeeper refused to put the ball back into play - but failed to create meaningful goal scoring opportunities said all that needed to be said.
Stones goalkeeper was finally booked for time-wasting around five minutes from the final whistle. When only 4 minutes if added time was signalled, the game was clearly up.

Horrible evening when Town underperformed. Wealdstone had a plan which worked. Enough had been seen in the preceding weeks to assume this performance would be quickly analysed, learnt from and put to bed.


30.10.21 GTFC 0 v 1 Notts. County

GTFC v Notts. County Ticket
GTFC v Notts. County Ticket

Blundell Park was sold out for the visit of major rivals The Magpies. The weather improved as driving north until arriving at a bright sunny Cleethorpes. All was as expected at Ginnie’s, Willys beckoned and a sumptuous feast awaited at McMenemys. Histon Mariner President Maurice appeared fully motivated to lead The Campaign.

Meggie Mariner John listened intently to The President at the Notts.
Legendary Mariner Leeson was on hand to welcome Maurice to B.P.
Once a youngster who played alongside The President, Steve Robertson recalled very few highlights of those far-off North Thoresby days.

Such a fixture often produced a cat & mouse affair and in the first half the Mighty Mariners played the role of the cat. Ben Fox again impressed and was ably assisted by Alex Hunt. Chances were few. The Shop hit the bar but McAtee and Taylors absence emphasised their importance.

The second half was more even and likewise the few chances were evenly distributed. When 0 v 0 appeared likely, The Magpies produced a smash and grab routine in the final minute reminiscent of Town’s performance at Woking. Four minutes of extra-time passed to no avail.

The performance had proved a good reaction to the disappointing trip to Wealdstone and was reflected in the different assessments of the same scores. A need for suitable additions to the squad was a fair judgement but the team-spirit was clearly evident and could not be endangered. The best man was at the helm!

Despite the result, spirits remained high. A brace of Dicksons remained in total agreement that the future was bright.
Likewise a rejuvenated McMike looked forward to a continuing positive Campaign alongside the HM President.
New Imperial Nick managed to stay awake……
…..unlike Cafe Paul as The Presiden related 1950’s Tales From North Thoresby.
No-mates Daz looked on, hoping for some engagement.

Whilst the President retired, further Campaigning occurred at The Notts where Messrs Tondeur and Lowther Jnr. (Gillingham Mariner) and at The Smugglers where Kingsway Simon and Landlady Julie were forewarned of a planned major assault from the South at the end of November.

Onwards and Upwards.

F.A. Cup 1st Round : 06.11.21 Kidderminster Harriers 1 v 0 GTFC

13.11.21 Aldershot Town 2 v 1 GTFC

Aldershot Town v GTFC Ticket
Aldershot Town v GTFC Ticket

The recently adopted pre-match routine throughout the seasons great start had been recently severely tested but the current seasons all too common day return south to a location in the vicinity of the M25, presented a final opportunity for the latest piece of superstitious nonsense. It is strange, when things go well, established routines are hailed as ‘the reason’ but when the opposite occurred the routine became vilified as nonsense but just in case…
The trip to the North-East corner of Hampshire was a last chance to re-establish “normal service”, after all hasty knee-jerk reactions did not sit comfortably with Real Football Supporters.. A further failure would necessarily mean the abandonment of that particular routine whilst a new one emerged and adopted. Proceedings started well, 2 veg. samosas followed by the correct cycle rack hinted all was going to plan.

The Parcel Yard at Kings Cross - recently a regular staging post - for ‘the full English’ certainly encouraged a feel good factor.
‘Under the clock at Waterloo Station’ a brief meeting with one of the bespectacled Sergeant Brothers, Tom (now leading the Portsmouth Mariners and also a burgeoning multi-media personality of little repute…)  provided us all with a stark reminder of the reality of the current situation.
- It was ascertained that we had not met since February 2019 firstly at Yeovil and latterly at
   the Glue Pot in Swindon which served to emphasise the extent of the “ turbulent -and
   unimaginable period” - since experienced. 
- For 6 months after that draw at Swindon the Mariners world appeared to be bumbling along,
   very much as expected.  Won a few, lost a few.  Hopes raised, hopes dashed.  Many memorable
   Campaigning days - especially away from Cleethorpes at ‘proper football’ venues such as
   Chelsea, Exeter and Plymouth .  From that mid-November, the unforeseen on the horizon
   descended with such unexpected devastation it is still difficult to look back so soon, with a
   completely objective perspective.
- The headline names severed to emphasis the turbulence.  Jolley out.  Limbrick steadied.
   Hollywood Holloway arrived.  Limbrick “ousted”.  Hollow-words ran-away.  Alex May formerly
   known as Alick Kapikanya visited Blundell Park whilst awaiting a deportation hearing.  Paul
   Hurst returned. Fenty was replaced by Stockwood and Pettit.  PLUS Covid PLUS Relegation.

  On reflection a very damning sequence but it certainly helped to provide context.  To be where
  The Mighty Mariners were at this time was thought of as a commendable situation. The visit to
  The Shots was agreed to be an excellent opportunity to reverse the recent run of three defeats
   without scoring.  But to go to the Recreation Ground in the town aka the Garrison Town on
   Remembrance Weekend, raised superstitious concerns about the inevitability of fate.  With The
   Shots having lost at home 0 v 5 only 4 days previous and lost all 7 home games in the current
   season and the last 4 in the previous season was obviously a run that would not continue.  It
   was feared the veg samosas would not be able to resist the momentum of fate.
- It was asked where Tom would likely be based next time we met up.  The roving Portsmouth Mariner previously known at different times as Cardiff Mariner, Dublin Mariner and Bilbao Mariner would probably be known henceforth as Traveller Mariner.  Moving targets are certainly harder to hit!

A brief respite at the Waterloo Tap did little to dispel the mood of optimism but again superstitious thoughts affirmed underlying concerns that Real Football Supporters were only too well aware of.

A series of moving commemorative efforts re. Remembrance Day, were made even more pertinent whilst sitting amongst veterans in the B&W Army. Such memories and experiences added contextual meaning and served to emphasise the significance of the occasion.

Without Carer Emma, Veteran Stuart added context to the occasion Whilst Salty Old Sea-Dog Tony understandably remained low-key but well wrapped up.

                                        Context. Context. Context.
A surprise selection on the left flank was soon attracting criticism as Revan appeared stretched and Evan Khouri struggled to make any impact. As ever a tiny but vocal minority, appeared to relish the opportunity to brandish their half-empty glasses and vent their negative spleen. Waiting like women around the guillotine and relishing the unfortunate proceedings, the objectivity and context discussed at Waterloo, would have been anathema to the guilty few.

Vulnerability at the back had been a trait absent in the season thus far. For the first time another loanee Towler looked a little off the pace. And with Alex Hunt also not firing in all cylinders it was possible that time had caught up with the obviously talented but young inexperienced loanees.

A quick equaliser from Harry Clifton ensured an acceptable 1 v 1 scoreline at half-time. A poorer second-half performance from Town led to the fatalistic 1 v 2 defeat.

A fourth successive defeat, of which 3 were below-par performances against sides against whom Town were favourites, was now a serious blip. Perhaps some of the young loanees were beginning to feel the pressure and a short break from the firing line would assist a recharging of batteries. Time would tell.
BUT Town were still 3 points off top spot and majority of glasses remained half-full.

Post-match debriefing at The Barrel Vault included a serious suggestion that perhaps a different combination of samosas might help!

In Hurst we continue to trust.


19.11.21 GTFC 1 v 0 Southend United

GTFC v Southend United Ticket
GTFC v Southend United Ticket

A beautiful day was made easier by the decisive move to buy one veg. and one chicken samosa. When the correct cycle rack was available at Cambridge station, the world appeared at one.
Fortuitous changes to train times (sic.) meant arriving at Cleethorpes approximately 35 minutes ahead of schedule. The option to take advantage of the unexpected opportunity to recuperate, however briefly, at The No.2 Refreshment Rooms Under the Clock was a call difficult go ignore. The first visit since before ‘the plague’ was eagerly anticipated as the train rolled towards dock….

…not a lot had changed!

The battle of The Seaside Towns drew together an eclectic Campaigning Party. The inclusion of Wainfleet Chairman Stuart B. and Mariner legend Andrew Moore had the potential to provide a different slant on proceedings whilst also adhering to established routines that had stood the test of time.

Whilst initially meeting at Willy’s, proceedings were unable to get properly underway until the Wainfleet Warrior had visited his favourite Women’s Clothes Shop.

A visit to ‘Think Bubbles’ had long been a feature of the Wainfleet Chairman’s match-day routine. The staff always provided an enthusiastic welcome to Mr. B’s alter-ego
Always interested in the latest range without fear of contradiction ‘Think Bubbles’ was the favourite Women’s Clothes shop.

Once his enthusiastic urges had been satisfied The Nottingham House beckoned like a call from a Siren Goddess. Once in situ the Moore-Bateman double act began in earnest, about what, no-one knows or probably cares.

At Blundell, an early graduate of the Youth Policy Sophie, was on hand to welcome all and sundry.
Sporting silly head attire Sophie was clearly in unison with fellow graduate JohnBoy, long known for silly haircuts and headwear.

Big night matches wherever always generated an atmosphere that appeared to bind those likeminded souls present to ‘support the cause’. Blundell Park was no different to football grounds around the world and ‘The Mariners family’ clearly appeared in unison.

The East Halton ever-presents were rearing to go….
The resilience of Mariners everywhere is often to be admired. Having recovered from plague Mariner Croxton faced another ordeal when he was well and truly ‘Moore’d’.
Long-term Histon Mariner associate the legendary Leeson, displayed no embarrassment at daughter Lisa’s fetching head adornment.

*** Lisa’s team raised close to £700 on the night for Children In Need - another sterling effort.

McMenemy Mike was on hand to welcome visitors from strange foreign lands. Efforts to build such connections only reaffirmed the importance of ‘the wider football family’

The return of crowd favourite Shaun Pearson was a welcome announcement not because of of who he replaced, but simply because he was Shaun Pearson. With the added surprise that McAtee was retuning to the bench, Blundell Park was given an unexpected lift. Thus a Ryan Taylor goal after only 3 minutes probably raised expectations a notch too far. And so it proved to be. A couple of half-chances for Town whilst McKeown was never troubled, meant the largely uneventful 40 odd minutes that followed produced a half time 1 v 0 lead.

A very similar second-half left the scoreline unchanged. The highlight was the appearance of McAtee in the 75th minute but Towns recent blip had not been all about his absence, likewise a return to form will not be all about his return.
As ever, the Real Football Supporters would moderate overall expectations.

Ryan Taylor was MOM. Pearson and Waterfall were always in command.
Perversely, it was fortunate that Sousa’s final touch was often sadly lacking otherwise he would be playing considerably higher up the food chain - all very frustrating. Unsurprisingly Mr. Consistency Adam Crookes, again produced a 7/10 performance.

All in all - in an effort to employ another cliche - the result was more important than the performance. Functional rather than exhilarating would be the adjective thus utilised.

As ever The Campaign was at least as important off the pitch as on. Of the many hostelries available The Notts was frequently the plaice to bump into Real Football Supporters and Mariners alike.

Mark The Fish (close associate of Ray The Fish) with son-in-law Craig at The Notts.
‘Scooby’ and Nigel Lowther were enlightened as were many others by a very animated and loquacious Wainfleet Chairman.

As the days Campaigning drew towards its natural conclusion a fleeting visit to Willys presented one small unexpected surprise - the availability of a long lost recipe one would hope recreated somewhere near its former glory.

Messrs ‘Scooby’ and Lowther appeared quite animated, whether that be because of the reappearance of Allsopps or the disappearance of others could only be surmised.

The following morning at Ginnies, co-host Francis helped produce the usual sumptuous feast whilst simultaneously enduring youthful memories from Wainfleet about ‘tales from the track’ and other biking misadventures.

On arrival at the station, and running to catch the train an acrobatic trip meant the train was missed. Oh well, never mind an hour would provide some time for contemplation in The No. 2 Bar. BUT the 10.26 was canceled which meant another hour in The No.2 Bar before it was possible to get back on the track.

Likewise The Mighty Mariners had appeared back on track.
On to Solihull.

23.11.21 Solihull Moors 2 v 0 GTFC

GTFC Ticket
GTFC Ticket

The second of three games in a week brought forth travel arrangements that only ‘Real Football Supporters’ with their shared DNA could rationalise.
Without a car many mid-week games necessitated stopovers. This was particularly the case, when from a Cambridge base, the fixture is to the west. On this occasion the cost encouraged some mental gymnastics that rekindled memories of delightful excursions to the likes of Guisley.

Thus the plan was reinstated. Match-day rituals for so many are critical. The same cycle route to the train station interrupted by the necessary 2 samosas from The Lisbon Lion on Cambridge Market was an absolute must. Choice had been challenged after Aldershot henceforth the 2 veg choice had become 1 veg 1 chicken.

Victory against Southend had vindicated the change - a new ritual was born. However timings on match-day necessitated purchase the day before … oh dear. Equally important was using the same cycle rack for my bikes overnight stop… all very Cambridge!

The 06.57 Cambridge to Cleethorpes. A stroll/march along the sea-front to base camp - the splendid Ginnies. Clock-in and onto Willy’s for a brief well deserved moment of recuperation.

Collected at 12.15 by a very Jolly Boy for transportation to The Farmhouse, New Waltham where a Salty Old Sea Dog accompanied by ‘Mrs Slocombe’, a motley collection of Old Gits with carers, and a couple of Billy’s with no mates’, ensured one immediately felt at home.
After partaking of a little light refreshment, the odd - very odd - collection of individuals limped towards the renowned charabanc organised by the acclaimed gang of Hall, Rooke, Tabois and Fanthorpe. Once onboard, the uncoordinated group of disparate individuals merged with fellow travellers creating a coherent fighting force the likes of which attracted admiration from Real Football Supporters across our Green and Pleasant Land. The inevitable “breaks” enroute were necessarily observed.

Jolly Boyz on tour. Care-worker Emma on-hand to supervise hot-chocolates alround.
Group Commander Terry Hall with foot-solders Graham and Mr. Dixon Snr.

At Solihull, when alighting the Vanguard Wing of The Back and White Army were checked for tied shoe-laces, warm apparel and understanding of return arrangements. Encouraging the wearing of war-time evacuation labels should be considered, it would alleviate the concerns and worries of High Command at loosing said foot-soldiers.

The Moors Damson Stadium is very much an example of the modern genre that is so far removed from the likes of Fratton Park or Kenilworth Road. But the poor location did little to dampen the optimism of the B&W Army which rose further when the announcement of new signing Sam Bell’s debut was confirmed. The B&W Army was excited by the immediate inclusion of Sam Bell.

Imperial LegEnd Daz appeared overly excited, much to the amusement rather than concern of the local constabulary.
Carl and Cafe Pete also Imperial LegEnds were seen deep in thought as they conducted their insightful analysis of team selection.
Likewise Derby Mariners Dan and Andy paid due consideration to the inclusion of new signing Sam Bell.
Worksop Mariners Max and Nick were justifiably optimistic.
A brace of Cleethorpes Mariners aka John and Andy, in total unison when talking absolute bollocks
Whilst optimism appeared rife amongst the B&W Army, some spent their time looking for mates

Town started slowly - again. The goal conceded after only 7 minutes seemed all too easy. A lot of passes went astray - Sousa guilty more than most. A Pearson header and a speculative shot from Clifton were the only realistic efforts on goal. However at only one goal down at half-time all was not lost.

Town built a modicum of pressure after the break as a result a subdued Black & White Army stirred. Town increasingly looked the more likely to score but a terrific reflex save by the Moors keeper from Pearson saw the speculative clearance collected and all too easily walked into Towns area and casually past McKeown - effectively ending the game.

Did Town deserve to loose - probably. By two goals - probably not.
Where to place blame - a lot of below par performances but most puzzlingly a lack of intensity. Bell made a reasonable first impression, he certainly has pace. Effete looked a step nearer his early season form.
Taylor as ever put in a shift. It would be unfair lay blame on Pearson and Waterfall - it was all a bit lack lustre.

Perhaps the start to the season had created some difficulty in managing expectations but we are Town and despite a deflating evening Town were still third, a position that remained unaltered for the entire journey home - an extended journey of about 90 minutes because of a closed motorway and more diversions than Town had on goal!
Arriving back in Cleethorpes at 01.45 was not as expected. Nevertheless onwards and upwards the 09.26 awaited at Cleethorpes Station.

Next morning after checking, Town were still third and after another excellent ‘full English’ at Ginnies, the trek back to Cambridge would enable some perspective to be considered, hopefully without additional rail problems. The overriding feeling was still one of disappointment largely because we had had a glimpse of what was possible.


27.11.21 GTFC P v P Boreham Wood

Another marathon journey started at 06.05 from Norwich railway station in order to get to Cambridge to team up with the match-day squad.

The weather forecast was far from encouraging but the bright sunshine in Cambridge certainly raised hopes that were maintained throughout the journey north. However, enthusiasm waned as Cleethorpes neared and was finally blown away on arrival at Ginnies.
Some might think proceeding with normal match-day routines would be a little foolhardy but rationality is not always part of Real Football Supporters mentality.

The battle to get from Ginnies to Willy’s was sufficient to heighten the worst fears but confirmation was still awaited thus the Histon Mariners marched on.

North Thoresby Mariner Steve appeared enthralled with the ramblings of Histon Mariner President Maurice. Youth Mariner Ken a little less so.

The expected postponement of the match at 13.00 failed to deter proceedings. After dining at Willys The Campaign continued at The New Imperial Club where North Thoresby Mariner Steve managed to maintain interest but others a little less so.

Thoughts turned to the next fixture - another trip south to another destination within striking distance of the M25. Enthusiasm for such an all too familiar trip appeared as welcome as the continuing gale that had engulfed Cleethorpes.
The loss of the opportunity to regain second place in the league was softened by rumours that Paul Hurst was on the verge of adding to the squad. Given Hurst’s recruitment track record, such a rumour was eagerly hoped for rather than expected.

04.12.21 Dagenham & Redbridge 3 v 2 GTFC

Dagenham & Redbridge v GTFC Ticket
Dagenham & Redbridge v GTFC Ticket

Deja Vu - Down to London once again before heading to another venue largely indistinguishable from the last, this time Victoria Road. So regular have such manoeuvres been deployed in the current season, it seemed duly courteous to check if the driver was familiar - to no avail.

Troops began to assemble at The White Hart, Bethnal Green but were quickly on the move eastwards.
Chesterfield Logistic Guru’s incognito, in consultation.

Perhaps not as upbeat as a few weeks previous, the B&W Army still gathered in impressive numbers.

Outside Mrs Slocombe was more concerned that Capt.
Pugwash was appropriately attired.
Cafe Paul unsurprisingly inspected the food offering. His glee only confirmed the generally agreed thumbs down.
Inside The Earl of Hasland with his usual half-full glass, spread pearls of wisdom to a supportive double act.
An optimistic Imperial Carl fully supported Imperial Chairman Ossie’s “Only one winner” declaration.

Deja Vu on the pitch. Another defensive reshuffle that saw Longe-King, Towler and Crocombe replace Pearson, Crookes and McKeown, did little to alleviate the recent defensive vulnerability not normally associated with Paul Hurst teams.
The Daggers appeared intent on pressurising Towns full-backs, particularly Towler down the left-hand side, from where The Daggers lead emanated from after 20 minutes. When McAtee equalised on the stroke of half-time, spirits were understandably raised. With glasses instantly half-full the release of the weight of recent disappointments gave cause for scenes of jubilation.
Town appeared for the second-half re-energised - normal service appeared restored……for 5 minutes. Two Dagger goals in two minutes (the last being very dubious) deflated the optimism of the previous 25 minutes. Many glasses were emptied as quickly as they had been filled.
McAtees dismissal only made those down more so. A half-hour cameo from substitute Sam Bell including his very well taken goal, only confirmed the previous assessment of his potential.

Understandably, post-match witnessed some audible venting of disappointment from the swelled ranks of ‘the half-empties’. Equally predictable was a more measured reaction from the majority within the ranks.

Tilly with relatively local exile Rob, maintained a semblance of a smile.
JohnBoy maintained an ‘air of confidence’….. the support of Nana helped!

Post match analysis, held largely in The Parcel Yard, was es ever insightful as would be expected when led by the half-full Lord Hasland. Even the TefMan appeared with a glass exactly half filled.

However in quite moments of isolated contemplation His Lordship did momentarily display a degree of nervous anxiety, unseen by the rank-and-file.


11.12.21 GTFC 0 v 1 Chesterfield

18.12.21 - FA Trophy 3rd Round - Stockport County 4 v 0 GTFC

21.12.21 GTFC P v P Boreham Wood

26.12.21 F.C. Halifax Town P v P GTFC

28.12.21 GTFC P v P Kings Lynn Town

03-01-22 GTFC 1 v 1 F.C. Halifax Town

11.01.22 F.C.Halifax 1 v 0 GTFC

15.01.22 GTFC 2 v 0 Altrincham

22.01.22 GTFC 1 v 2 Bromley

25.01.22 Wrexham 1 v 0 GTFC

29.01.22 GTFC 2 v 1 Wealdstone

The voluntary absence from Campaign duties of Histon Mariner Logistics Director witnessed his return (temporarily!) to a former life. One can only assume the citizens of Trunch in N.E. Norfolk, were eternally grateful to the Innkeeper, who whilst holding the reigns of the villages ‘Premier Nitespot’ The Crown, was seen and heard to raise awareness of the Mighty Mariners and ongoing Campaign. Who would be most pleased for the ending of his 8 week sojourn would remain a matter of conjecture.

05.02.22 Notts. County 1 v 2 GTFC

Notts. County v GTFC Ticket
Notts. County v GTFC Ticket

A return to relative normality was confirmed when meeting up with York and Chesterfield Mariners at the renowned ancient watering hole, The Bell Inn. Nothing of real consequence was on the agenda which enabled lengthy ramblings about all matters Town and the quality and choice of Bell Inn offerings. Paul Hurst continued to hold the support of the assembled Mariners whilst discussion centred on the ubiquitous “small margins”
The only non-match day matter raised was the disclosure of The Lord of Hasland’s recent philanthropic research venture into canine welfare. His experimentation with dog-shampoos was hoped would render rebarkable benefits for pooch-welfare.

Whilst some preferred to let sleeping dogs lie, York Mariner Paul hounded His Lordship for further information.

Chesterfield’s Logistic Gurus had to be congratulated on finding The Barrel Drop wherein York Paul continued to display a heady cocktail of incredulity and pup-reciation of the sacrifices made by His Lordship.

Buckingham Mariner Andy was clearly aghast at Teflon’s explanation of Rovers venture into scientific research. It appeared Lord Roy himself was beginning to weigh-up what was paw-sable.

By the time The Canalhouse was reached it appeared that the altruistic intrusion into the realms of scientific research, no matter how well meaning was beginning to be perceived as “barking mad”.

Mariners from as far apart as York to Buckingham declared unremitting admiration for the efforts of a Great Leader

Whilst 2454 members of the B&W Army was the official figure of visiting fans, it would not be unknown for Mariners to be interspersed amongst Magpies. One can only surmise, if the turnstiles had been open on the day what the attendance could have been. However close to 50% of the average home date was a remarkable statistic.

The Magpies began very much on the front foot. Town proved quite resilient - alarm bells rang. When you Magpie pressure came home to roost after 15 minutes, a veil of sanguine inevitability was reluctantly embraced.
Nevertheless it never ceases to amaze how enthusiastically the half-empty brigade appear to grasp the opportunity to spout their usual diatribe towards boringly repetitive targets.

For a further 15 minutes Town survived/ displayed-stern-resistance before asserting some authority in the final 15 minutes, raising some optimism going in at half-time. If the Magpies had been two or three up there could have been few grumbles, equally had Town drawn level no one could have complained - fine margins indeed

Fox on for Coke at half-time appeared to suggest a tactical switch. Such thoughts became evident as The Mighty Mariners asserted dominance.
Efete was flying. Sousa was dancing. Clifton was probing. Fox was controlling. McAtee was McAtee. But would the desired result materialise ? As time wore on, many could have been excused for fearing the recent malaise was never going to lift especially when a hamstrung Fox left the battlefield, making way for Max Wright. However a minute later Taylor ensured a degree of justice was served.
The Mariners were clearly fired up as a now collectively (mostly) rejuvenated, B&W Army (more or less collectively) considered a point could (just) become more… On 90 minutes Histon Mariner MOM Michele Efete struck gold, victory was on the cards and justifiably so.
6 added minutes seemed a shade incredulous but the introduction of Tristan Abrahams just before the goal certainly paid dividends, as The Mighty Mariners managed (in post-modern parlance) the remaining game time.

With 2 home games next on the horizon, in which Town would be made favourites, it appeared once again that a defining stage in the seasons journey had been reached. Without doubt some confidence had been restored but as ever The Campaign continued and Histon Mariner glasses remained half-full.

08.02.2022 GTFC 0 v 0 Kings Lynn

12.02.2022 GTFC 3 v 1 Aldershot Town

GTFC v Aldershot Town Ticket
GTFC v Aldershot Town Ticket

As ever exile Mariners from far and wide met conversed, reminisced, laughed and pontificated about absolutely nothing of any importance - the very essence of a proper match-day.
Brentford Mariner (?) Chris, Cambridge Mariner (Mill Road Branch), York Mariner Pete and Jason of the Wakefield Mariners, totally and utterly proved the point. A time would hopefully emerge when the Bee’s scarf would be replaced by a ‘right & proper’ B&W equivalent.

A first visit to McMenemy’s since mid-November was eagerly anticipated. McMenemy’s as ever lived up to expectations. A warm welcome from many was much appreciated as the recent absenteeism was justifiably explained.

Legend Dave Boleyn was on hand to welcome The Histon Mariners back.
An injured Ben Fox took the opportunity to pass on the squad’s appreciation of the Histon Mariner Campaign.

The need to accrue maximum points was the order of the day. A poor Shots team barely (if at all) troubled The Mighty Mariners. When Sousa scored after 10 minutes, the game appeared to be under control.
McAtee’s goal 5 minutes before half-time effectively ended the game securing three points for Town.

A lacklustre second half by virtue of the two goal lead and an impotent Shots, saw the game slowly peter out. McAtee’s second goal made it 3 v 0 before a consolation Shot goal in the last minute produced the final score.

All in all, job done.

18.02.2022 Southend United P v P GTFC

GTFC Ticket
GTFC Ticket

Red Alert, downgrading, Amber Alert, upgrading - all to be taken into consideration as well as the weather. Local intelligence suggested all would be well at Roots Hall by early evening. Information gleaned from Blundell confirmed such reports. Setting off from Cambridge in glorious sunshine made such discussion a little surreal. Obviously the wise would advise otherwise but rational reasoning and objectivity are not familiar bed-fellows with Real Football fans.

The planned day proceeded without any sign of the feared warnings. A mid-day pre-planning meeting at The Parcel Yard, Kings Cross - an excellent venue though bloody expensive. An afternoon meeting in sunshine though a little blustery at the very acceptable Lord Wargrave with daughter (very expensive !) Fellow travellers reported in from various locations that steady progress was still being made towards Roots Hall.
As a result Kings Cross was aimed for. However……

…. at Kings Cross by 16.40 Southend was inaccessible. Fellow travellers reported in that the game was officially off. Also it was confirmed, there would be no trains to Cambridge before 22.00, which made trains thereafter highly unlikely - major problem. However a recruitment drive produced a squad of four to share a taxi home.

Those bemoaning the late calling off of the game have a point but everyone wants every game to be played, we consequently live sometimes/usually in blind hope. The warnings were clear, rational decisions were options available for everyone. Very frustrating but the B&W Army live to fight another day.

Tuesday 22nd February

On this Tuesday Plymouth Argyle were due to play Cambridge Utd. Several Pilgrims made strenuous efforts to meet up with Mattie and The Histon Mariners beforehand. The Pickerel proved a venue conducive to great camaraderie amongst Real Football Fans.

901 Pilgrims made the journey to Cambridge - a sterling effort for a Tuesday night in February. No doubt the 0 v 2 defeat lengthened the journey home. But The Campaign off the pitch was greatly enhanced with pledges to renew acquaintances in the future when the Mariners once again do battle with The Pilgrims.

Milton Keynes Pilgrim Paul, Torbay Bay Pilgrim Chris and’ Liskard Pilgrim Ian shared total bollocks with Mattie & Histon Mariners.

26.02.2022 Dover Athletic 1 v 3 GTFC

01.03.2022 GTFC P v P Boreham Wood (Again)

05.03.2022 GTFC 1 v 0 Woking

GTFC v Woking Ticket
GTFC v Woking Ticket

The day after the great, great Rod Marsh and great great Shane Warne declared their innings closed a huge sense of reality resonated with many. The meeting up with fellow Real Football Fans reaffirmed the privilege and wonderful nature of the journey being taken.

At Peterborough Gateshead (B&W stripes) season ticket holder Bob enthused about The Heed season, from the lofty position of league leaders. Their fixture against Kidderminster reminded one of the depth and uniqueness of the English football pyramid structure.

By the time Doncaster was reached just an hour or so later, fans travelling in every direction were met. Newcastle (B&W stripes and suddenly very conspicuous!) v Brighton. Notts County (B&W stripes) v Yeovil. And Sunderland supporters travelling in the opposite direction away at Charlton.
Mariners who routinely met at Doncaster arrived despite ongoing rail disruptions due to industrial action. Though York Mariner Pete a notable absentee was a victim of the same disruption. A great sense of positivity coloured conversation that was enriched by passionate but by no means consensual debate about all things meaningful and meaningless.

On alighting at Cleethorpes Brentford Mariner Chris declared his true allegiance ably supported by NHS professional Wakefield Mariner Jason.

An all pervading sense of bonhomie was only enriched by the warm welcome from ‘top landlady’ Kim at base camp Ginnie’s.

Again at Willy’s meeting up with the Vanguard Wing of ‘The GU7 Cardinals’ reiterated the essence and validity of such occasions. The usual banter of complete bollocks, the swapping of stories, myths & legends and the exchange of useful intelligence could only serve to supplement The Campaign For Real Football

GU7 Cardinals.
Chop Senior and Uncle Neil in support of Liam the enthusiastic Chop Junior.

At McMenemy’s Ben Fox, a big supporter of the Histon Mariner Campaign, brought along Ryan Taylor and Jordon Maguire-Drew to add support to The Campaign. Their meeting up with the ever-present Gerry could have had cynics suggesting the injured trio were angling for seats inside to escape the rather inclement weather.

Signed only yesterday, Callum Jones was included, all a result of Arjan Raikhy being confirmed with a broken fibula.
In very difficult conditions, it would have been simplistic to overly criticise the quality of play. Crocombe was untroubled whereas Cardinal keeper made a couple of good saves to deny The Mighty Mariners. Tristan Abrahams led from the front supported by promising debutant Jones and with a favourable wind in the second half, positivity remained cautiously buoyant.
In reality Town continued to press but a disciplined Woking, shamelessly intent on wasting time and several below par Mariner performances, increasingly suggested the inevitability of a goalless draw (or worse) A disallowed goal, goalkeeper heroics and resistant woodwork forewarned the inevitable. The introduction of Emmanuel Dieseruvwe - known for obvious reasons as Mani - for the frustrating Sousa, was a positive substitution for the final 20 minutes.

Wokings time wasting (game management in modern parlance) only increased and The B&W Army began to drift away.

But in the forth minute of the five added minutes - a fraction of what should have been - MOM Abrahams set up Mani to grab all three points. The reaction of The Cardinals indicated the magnitude of the goal.
Not a classic by any means but probably deserved and ultimately the type of result that is often looked back on as “the turning point.”

The euphoria that such a late winner launched on an otherwise bitterly cold and frustrating afternoon cannot be over estimated. The evening ahead would be in a different dimension with glasses very much half-full.

Jack Johnson and Leeds Mariner (nee Muswell Hillbilly) Scott en route to Docks Beers to raise a glass (or two) to The Mighty Mariners

At McMenemys ‘An Evening With Steve ‘Livvo’ Livingstone’ proved very upbeat. The combination of three points secured, results elsewhere being largely favourable and one of Towns favourite sons reminiscing about past glories, encouraged much bonhomie.

The ‘tables were turned’ on Club photographer Anne, here seen with Livvo and Histon Mariner representative.

An unbeaten run of 6 including 5 victories was evidence of the season being back on track. Further refreshment at The Smugglers proved most invigorating whilst staff and regulars discussed enthusiastically the planned visitation of The Histon Mariner Chairman….!

A bright sunny Sunday morning supplemented by ‘the full English’ encouraged the sense of well-being. An invigorating stroll from Ginnies to the No. 2 Bar where great music as ever supplemented tip-top refreshment and couldn’t fail to embellish one’s positive vibe. Industrial action by rail-staff is hardly a deterrent to the B&W Army. The changed time-table added a couple of hours to the journey but (every cloud) provided one of those great unforeseen situations for which we are for ever grateful.

The terrific Draughtsman's Alehouse - from hereon-in a must visit venue.

The inescapable joy derived from that last minute goal, the bonhomie engendered throughout the evening afterwards and the joy felt the following day cannot be underestimated.

Hurst In (Never Out)
On to Southend

08.03.2022 Southend United 1 v 0 GTFC

The repeat effort to get to Roots Hall took place 18 days after the previous and after Southend became the 52nd City in England.
Upbeat feelings were enhanced by the spring-like weather and by the excellent hostelries encountered during pre-match preparations in the Capital. The much anticipated Queens Head at Kings Cross remains elusive, being closed and on realising it operates a cashless policy, will probably remain so.

The Fellow @ Kings Cross
The Globe @ Moorgate

Lord Aberconway nr. Liverpool Street

Limited time in Southend permitted only a brief visit to the Golden Lion in Rochford. The Blue Boar, where Southend United were founded in 1906, remained on The Campaigns radar.

Unfortunately for photographer Tilly, the limited time available didn’t deter an episode of reminiscing from a brace of ancient Mariners.

The recent form-book prior to kick-off revealed 7 wins and 5 draws for The Shrimpers and 5 wins and a draw for Town - both had high hopes.
A tight first-half which Town possibly just edged, produced no clear cut chances. Clifton was energetic. Coke was composed. Pearson and Waterfall largely untroubled.
The Shrimpers were probably the better side in the second half but again few if any clear cut chances materialised for either side.
It was no surprise that the game was decided by a 62nd minute penalty, unfortunately to the home side.
No real grumbles but a long journey home with no points in the bag!

12.03.22 Yeovil Town 0 v 2 GTFC

19.03.22 Boreham Wood 0 v 0 GTFC

Boreham Wood v GTFC Ticket
Boreham Wood v GTFC Ticket

The World Continues To Progress ‘ad pepetua pace’

Without doubt the National geographic change of economic good fortune since the 1980’s has witnessed a parallel emergence of southern football clubs at the expense of northern clubs. Alongside this dynamic there has been a fundamental change to many Football Away Days. Visits to the likes of Stevenage, M.K.Dons, Wealdstone and Boreham Wood are bereft of viable venues for civilised sociability. Old-school Southern away days like Luton and Portsmouth are now the exception rather than the rule.

Once again pre-match rituals would be conducted at a distance before travelling to the ground.

Initial meet at The Euston Tap, al fresco could only have raised the spirits of combatants.
A brisk stroll down Euston Road encountered a marvellous looking Rocket - good venue but only “the usual” offering.
The enigmatic Deptford Mariner Phil was beholden to his partners tonsorial artist’s time-frame.
TefMan, ever the voice of reason, offered his well thought out advice.
A very acceptable visit to Mabel’s Tavern was necessarily brief but earmarked for further attention.
In Lord Roy’s absence, Deptford Phil provided sibling Gareth with sufficient solace to continue with manoeuvres.

A dull game shortened from the off by The Wood who appeared content with avoiding defeat. The annals elsewhere will echo such sentiments. For a team apparently having the best season in their history, the visit to Meadow Park proved most disappointing.

1670 was The Woods highest league attendance of the season - boosted by 762 B&W Army. A refreshment site with only two employees brought forth queues that had to wait for 40+ minutes. Perhaps the good quality food kept the mood amicable!

A couple of second-half chances for Town were not converted by McAtee and substitute Maguire-Drew drew a good save from The Wood keeper.
A last minute flurry from The Wood reminded all what could have been.

No Mariner particularly shone. No Mariner let the side down. Danny Amos probably had his best game yet for The Mighty Mariners.

It was readily apparent how the Boreham Wood stadium and football reflected Boringwood itself.

One side of Meadow Park was bathed in glorious sunshine, one side remained in an artic shadow - it should not be too hard to guess which side the seated Mariners were.

The Jolly Boyz display old soldier toughness.
(Note the absence of a Salty Old Sea-dog.)

Less effected by fahrenheit factors, due possibly to age, were a colourful Belfast Mariner Cal, Meggie Mariner Rueben and a well-fed graduate codling JohnBoy (NB Grandma Colleen’s absence.)

22.03.22 GTFC 1 v 2 Solihull Moors

26.03.22 GTFC 2 v 1 Dagenham & Redbridge

GTFC v Dagenham & Redbridge Ticket
GTFC v Dagenham & Redbridge Ticket

A glorious day greeted the travelling Histon Mariners and could only add to a feeling of positivity. In truth, the disappointment surrounding the defeat to The Moors had induced a touch of nervousness. Exaggerated swings of positivity/negativity are often the case at the time of year when fixture lists appear to be rapidly disappearing.
But, one should remember…………… The Sun Always Shines On Cleethorpes!!!

And so it proved to be. Ginnie’s, Willy’s and The Notts provided a well trodden path prior to arriving at BP.

President Maurice was enthusiastically met by Mighty Mariner.

Histon Mariner President Maurice was delighted to invite very old footballing teammate North Thoresby Mariner Steve Robinson along with Louth Mariner Ken Reed to represent him when collecting a signed shirt from HM sponsored Paul Hurst. Very old team-mates Maurice and Steve revived many ancient memories often about the much missed brother of Steve, Mike. As with everyone, the longer ago the sporting memory the higher the quality of one’s own ability.

Awash with embellished memories, Steve was keen to pass on some advice to to Paul.
Ken looked on in disbelief.
Paul appeared slightly amused.
As Honorary Histon Mariners, North Thoresby Mariner Steve and a very serious Louth Mariner Ken coped with official duties like a couple of old.
Steve was congratulated by Maurice whose experience once again ‘nursed Steve through the few stressful minutes!’

Even the half-empty brigade had to accept the attacking intentions of the announced Xl. A 4-4-2 with Scannell and Drew Maguire as the two wide players. Perhaps North Thoresby Steve - himself an attacking inside-forward (allegedly) - had made an impression on Paul Hurst……..

Bright day, bright start and a bright debut from Cropper and THE throw!
Wow. Cropper demonstrated a throw that can replicate a well driven-in low corner - a terrific addition to Towns attacking armoury but also a valuable defensive outlet when necessary.

After half a dozen games, Andy Smith was by now Waterfall’s first choice partner. Sean Scannell had clearly played his 350+ games at a higher level, many considerably higher. He with Drew-Maguire on the opposite wing could well be a combination that will strengthen the play-off assault…and more.
Two slightly fortunate goals (about time) gave The Mariners a deserved 2 v 0 half-time lead.
A rather pedestrian second-half could have been enlivened had McAtee’s great solo run and effort ended by crossing the line rather than mysteriously being kept out by an obscured limb normally only used by goalkeepers.
A late consolation Dagger goal meant no clean sheet but left 3 points in the bag.
Afterwards a very prominent memory for everyone was THAT throw…Wow but a sense of momentum was beginning to be talked about, Hurst’s recent recruitment was looking very promising.

The framed shirt was taken to be added to the collection at the New Imperial Club, where post-match analysis repeatedly referred to THE throw.

04.03.2008 was the debut of The Histon Mariners at Blundell Park. Three weeks after the 14th anniversary it was decided for the first time since to revisit The Crows Nest Hotel. Alas the other frequented hostelry on that first visit was no longer dispensing refreshments. Many lamented the loss of The Imperial Hotel, since converted to “luxury apartments”.

On arrival at The Crows Nest Hotel, two immediately appealing factors begged the question why a return visit had been so long delayed.

Excellent refreshment supplemented by much merriment and banter with locals inspired great imaginative thoughts as to the potential impact of the forthcoming visit of Chairman Neville. It was only fair to forewarn regulars about the imminent visit of the renowned impresario in 28 days v Torquay.
Without doubt The Crows Nest was to become a part of “the routine”, which on this evening moved onto to The Notts, The Smugglers, Willy’s and ultimately Ginnie’s.

The success of ‘a Days Campaigning’ can always be judged by the enjoyment of ‘the full English’ and the perceived length of the journey home…..Breakfast was excellent and the drive home flew by. Successful mission!

Next stop : The Home Of The Chesterfield Mariners.
                  (One would assume Logistic Guru’s, Gareth The Engine
                  and TefMan will be given a days rest by Lord Hasland.)

02.04.22 Chesterfield 1 v 4 GTFC

Chesterfield v GTFC Ticket
Chesterfield v GTFC Ticket

The visit to Chesterfield was deemed able to proceed at 15.00 hours by the powers that be. 3 o’clock on Saturdays has always been a foundation stone of Real Football Supporters mindset. The tiny minority who are capable of jeopardising such arrangements would hopefully be mindful on the visit to Chesterfield but the very visible, possibly over the top, police presence throughout the town centre certainly raised concerns amongst the general public above and beyond reality.

Visiting Chesterfield was always eagerly anticipated partially because The Mighty Mariners have a very reasonable record there and also because of the cordiality invariably encountered in some very acceptable hostelries.

At Chesterfield Mariner territory, The Market, a most hospitable start was enlivened by…..
….Lord Hasland who recounted the riveting details of his pizza oven installation.
In recent years The Barley Mow has proven to be a lucky venue for The Mariners - a visit on this occasion was thus compulsory.
At The Barley Mow Spireite Al - aka as creator of Chesterfield Joe (CJ) - prepared as best he could for “Tales of The Pizza Oven”.
The Chesterfield Arms witnessed Spireite Al lamenting the over exuberance of CJ…
…Mrs CJ aka Charlotte recognised familiar territory as Becky appeared lost in thought following ‘Pizza-gate’
The excellent Neptune helped facilitate lubrication which only served to raise expectations all round.
Bemused at CJ’s exuberance. Distraught at no pizza on the menu.
Fearful as to who was to pay.
A mindful Spireite Al, attempted to empathise with an excitable but heart led CJ. A more measured approach from Spireite Head Craig was offered to compadre Danny.

1718 Mariners gathered in The Rubicon Print Stand, a number less than possible because of an imposed Spireite restriction. The afternoon was set for an eagerly anticipated battle that would go some way to validate play-off aspirations, a ‘virtual derby’ for which Town held no fear. After just 5 minutes all came tumbling down as a well worked corner routine put The Mighty Mariners behind. Town could feasibly have been 2 up before the hammer blow. The immediate disappointment was alleviated by a spirited response that brought forth a McAtee special from about 25 yards after 27 minutes.
The B&W Army recognised the quality of the goal and it’s importance. 4 minutes later the rapturous Mariners were delirious because of an even better strike from 30 yards by Gavin Holohan - seventh heaven. The half-time lead if held onto would be a result all would have taken beforehand.

Town far from looking to preserve came out for the second half on the front foot, playing some of the best football seen for a very long time. After 50 minutes our own Harry Clifton added a third which put Town in a position unimagined by the vast majority. When probable MOM Ryan Taylor finished off yet another crisp incisive move in the 78th minute, disbelief amongst both sets of fans - at least those Spireites who stayed in the ground - abounded.

                                             Spireites 1 v 4 Mariners!!!

The final run-in for the season was suddenly very promising. Those with half-empty glasses kept them well hidden but realism had to prevail - it would be hard to imagine a Hurst led team being any different.

                                             The Play-offs Beckon…

09.04.22 Weymouth 0 v 0 GTFC

Weymouth v GTFC Ticket
Weymouth v GTFC Ticket

Weymouth as virgin territory for most travelling Mariners proved an absolute delight. The town, the weather and the friendliness combined to make the excursion memorable. Those of a more cautious disposition reiterated, last weeks win, the weather and welcoming Weybiza did not have a great deal of influence over the quest for 3 points.

After a longish train journey, a little light refreshment seemed only natural. The Golden Lion, adjacent to base camp The Crown Hotel, provided convenient refuge.

Having quenched ones thirst, established routine took precedence. Lord Hasland’s Chief Logistic Operative increasingly took pride at finding micro-operations that would fail to appear on the radar of a certain select band of fellow travellers. Of course some discoveries are better than others and on this occasion Gareth The Engine hit the nail on the head.

Inside His Lordship sought to ascertain the progress being made by Scrod Mosey.
Sgt. Tim Mosey took advantage of the scrods interrogation to reflect on proceedings.

The oft experienced logistical arrangements of Chesterfield Mariner logistics team, proceeded to the ground on this occasion with military precision overseen courtesy of Sgt. Mosey’s operational expertise. The different experience of said journey greatly illustrated the input of professional expertise.

An unconfidant Lady Hasland checked on times and routes. Doncaster Mariner Paul had familiar feelings of deja vu.
An exuberant scrod blissfully unaware of potential mishaps.

At the Bob Lucas Stadium travelling Mariners relaxed in the convivial atmosphere but were mindful of the task ahead.

Payment - a battle of wills.
Mr. Parker enthralled his audience with tales from his North African Campaign alongside Field Marshall Montgomery
Sutton Mariner on location - very Hollywood.
A brace of Old Meggies.
Market Raison Mariner Big Andy wary of over optimism.
The ever present East Halton Mariners
Lord Hasland predicted victory by a single goal.

Prior to kick-off a distinct air of consternation was all pervasive amongst the B&W Army. The absence of The Jolly Boyz was noted. Rumour had it that the old gits were attempting to recreate their long lost youth somewhere in the south of Yorkshire (?)
Quizzers amongst those who did attend to their duties in Weymouth, concluded that 25th January 1936 Port Vale 0 v 4 GTFC, was the last occasion such an absence occurred.

Seats left vacant by virtue of a dereliction of duties.
A well wrapped Rear Admiral Mitchell

The danger in the game following a thrashing of a promotion rival, especially against a relegation candidate is the containment of expectations within realistic boundaries. And so it proved to be.
No doubt Towns performance was slightly below par. No doubt good chances were not put away and a couple of goal line clearances denied The Mighty Mariners but it is too easy to simply dismiss the sides struggling at the wrong end of the table.
The Terras were well organised, albeit concentrating on denying Town, played with noticeable commitment and had a couple of outstanding performances in defence.

Waterfall continued his claim as player of the season. His central pairing with Andy Smith continues to inspire confidence. Joey Jones is unlikely to give performances that will be described as exciting but his tidy confident performances are from the genre that allows others to excite around him - alas not at Weymouth.

Not the best result but the ‘Weymouth Away Day’ continued with great conviviality. Immediate post-match debriefing discovered the perfectly suitable Dolphin.

Brief consultation with Wakefield Mariner Jason at The Gloucester clarified future manoeuvres.

When concluding the days Campaign, a more suitable venue would have proven difficult to find. The Globe housed many ‘Kimberlins’ interspersed with several Mariners

Inquisitive management took notes re. Bucks Mariner Andy Forza’s movements.
Meggie Jack appeared confused to see Shaun from The Kingsway Club, DN35 on the wrong side of the bar.

It had to be admitted that the season had progressed thus far without any major ‘Rail Mishaps’.  The Sunday journey back to Cambridge witnessed an abrupt end to such good fortune.
Leaving Weymouth at 10.00
   arriving 10.31 at Wareham to catch a bus at 10.41
   arriving 11.34 at Bournemouth leaving at 11.50
   arriving 13.49 at Waterloo. Underground to Blackfriars leaving at 14.32
   arriving 15.31 at Royston to catch a bus at 15.41
   arriving 16.21 Cambridge

Hey Ho. A terrific visitation and a most successful Campaign. Weymouth a most pleasurable destination. The 4 points from Chesterfield and Weymouth were essentially well received. A similar return from next two fixtures against The Hatters and The Linnets would replenish the few remaining glasses not filled sufficiently.

In Hursty We Continue to Trust.

15.04.22 GTFC 2 v 1 Stockport County

Intelligence gave a positive report on the performance of Sean Scannell - lately his performances have suggested to HM that in the final run in and play-offs(?) he could be a key player.

18.04.22 Kings Lynn Town 0 v 1 GTFC

Kings Lynn Town v GTFC Ticket
Kings Lynn Town v GTFC Ticket

Train mishaps seemed to be continuing when the 10.35 Cambridge-Kings Lynn train was cancelled. The initial disappointment, also for Mariners waiting at Ely, was soon put into perspective when the cause for the delay was seen to revolve around the half-dozen paramedics and the air ambulance crew that descended on Cambridge Station.

Kings Lynn appeared surprisingly ‘closed.’ Most offered the explanation it was Easter Monday. However the very visible police presence brought forth an alternative less palliative explanation.

Crown & Mitre - Closed!
Live & Let Live - Closed!

Lord Napier - Open For Business!!!

N.B. A lonely Lord whose absent Logistic Manager was away Diesel Train Spotting!!!

Given a late arrival because of train issues and the absence of viable alternatives, the Lord Napier was the sole hostelry utilised. Despite a tricky initial interaction with barstaff - when a Histon Mariner Representative was “allegedly rude” - travelling Mariners remained ensconced for pre match rituals.

Grimsby Mariner Chris and Ely Mariner Brian
Histon Mariner sponsored Town Apprentice Henry Moore with very Old-Man Andy Moore
Henry, Humberstone Mariner Charlie, Scarto Mariner Josh and Town LegEnd Andy

The mood was certainly positive - it usually is in the spring sunshine after the innumerable long winter journeys. For many the visit to The Walks Stadium would be another ground ticked off.

After the furore at Weymouth created by the inexplicable absence of the old gits aka The Jolly Boyz, (apart from Rear Admiral Mitchell who sailed on regardless,) adopted a highly visible persona at The Walks Stadium.
N.B. Leading Mariner Trust Officials Kristine Green and Ian Townsend had responded to concerns as best they could, but where themselves a little saddened by events.

The well wrapped Rear Admiral mentored Paul R. through pre-match manoeuvres during which time Dave R. listened in for instructions and guidance. Eventually all appeared well as normal - though somewhat interrupted - service was resumed.

Jolly Boyz Pete R., Paul R. and Stuart (with Carer Emma) quickly readapted to a once familiar routine.

As expected the rather familiar difficulty of breaking down sides at the opposite end of the table ensued. Totally not expected was a first start of the season for Max Wright amongst the X changes made from Good Fridays defeat of Stockport.
Very much a repeat of the game at Weymouth with multiple chances scorned and a growing feeling of deja vu.
McAtee injured after about 20 minutes, serious enough to leave the pitch for Abrahams who would partner ‘Mani’ Dieseruvwe. Injuries always spark the comment, “provide opportunities for others.” Whilst true, on this occasion it would be universally proclaimed that it would have been better for such opportunities not to have arisen.
However on the stroke of half time Tristan Abrahams grasped his opportunity by taking Town in at half-time one goal to the good.
The fare severed had not been of the highest calibre but had been fairly predictable.

During the half-time interval, Laceby Mariner Andy found more substantial fare on offer.

The second-half played out in a similar vein to the first half with Town managing to be even more profligate in front of goal.
Amos again impressed ditto Waterfall and Smith. Perhaps not surprisingly Max Wright was withdrawn around the hour mark.
It would have been too much to expect much more - his lack of game time was all too apparent.
The introduction of the mercurial Sean Scannell and the half-hour cameo added further fuel to a growing view that his obvious talent and experience could be instrumental in the run-in and subsequent play-offs.
The 3 points gained added to the increasingly impressive run of 36 points from 15 games (2.4 points per game)

Brief post-match recuperation at The Fenman, witnessed a relieved, realistic but buoyant assessment.
A relieved East End Mariner on his 57th trip round the block.
A realistic Staines Mariner Giles with an unusually buoyant Chesterfield Mariner Mr. Fitz.
Giles retold the only negative tale heard from the recent Weymouth trip.
However the tale was unrelated to football but no less unsavoury for that.

Town’s tremendous run following the mid season slump was undoubtedly generating optimism of the cautious variety. Momentum at this stage of the season was all important as the history books illustrated. Lady Luck appeared to be back on the side of The Mighty Mariners it having abandoned Town during the mid season slump. Luck is always a moot point amongst Real Football Fans but those of more senior years tend to agree that over time, luck tends to even out. Plus Histon Mariner’ are very enamoured with the re-emergence of ‘Super (?) Sean Scannell.
It would be interesting if things went really well if Scannell would earn a new contract for 2022/23.

All Town Are We

23.04.22 GTFC 2 v 1 Torquay United

GTFC v Torquay United Ticket
GTFC v Torquay United Ticket

A goodly selection of Histon Mariners travelled north, following many long established routines as would many Real Football Fans the width and breadth of our green and pleasant land. No one was more routinised than HM Chairman Neville. His entire journey north was regimentally adhered to, as retold elsewhere. And following his successful introduction to basecamp Ginnies he immediately slipped into a wheel trodden path.

At Willy’s, The Chairman needed to concentrate on the prerequisite number of roll-ups for the afternoon ahead. Walter, The Dean of Fitness and Webmaster Kevin looked on in awe and with much mirth.
Again at The Kingsway Club The Chairman appeared to be in deep thought elsewhere whilst his merry followers took in the occasion.

At The Kingsway, brothers-in-arms Neville The Jolly Chairman and Sean The Kingsway’s Convivial Host, had no trouble in confirming their renowned reputations.

Wainfleet Mariner Chairman gallantly provided somewhat overcrowded transport facilities to McMenemys, were as ever substantial fayre and abundant hospitality prevailed. On the day as a result of sponsoring John McAtee, The Histon Mariners were due to collect a signed shirt of his. Because of injury and resultant treatment McAtee was not at Blundell to do the honours. In his place the resurgent Sean Scannell presented to The Histon Mainers.
In recognition of a long association, The Chairman of the Wainfleet Mariners was asked to accompany The Webmaster to conduct proceedings. His excitement knew no bounds.

Webmaster Kevin appeared to listen intently to the ramblings of Wainfleet Stuart.

On the pitch the enthusiastic joy of Wainfleet Stuart was evident for all to see in particular those he commandeered for pictorial mementoes.

The Wainfleet Chairman with Dave Moore. Uncle of HM sponsored apprentice Henry Moore.
The Wainfleet Chairman with a pair of Kevins - a Town Impresario and a Webmaster.

The Wainfleet Chairman collected the McAtee shirt along with The Webmaster from Sean Scannell on behalf of the absent through injury John McAtee.

Whilst Campaign activities continued on the pitch, Histon Mariner leading light prepared for 90 minutes of action.

The Gulls were in a rich vein of form and in need of a win to maintain hopes of reaching the play-offs. The resultant likelihood of a more open game would suit The Mighty Mariners, themselves top of the form-book league. All in all expectations were high.
Town faced a very lively good footballing Torquay who dominated the early proceedings. One or two Mariners looked out of touch. Drew-Maguire appeared heavy legged with his overall fitness a point of discussion. Max Crocombe earned his money virtue of two particularly fine goal-line reaction saves. Town did create a couple of chances but the Gulls deservedly took the lead after 28 minutes. Recently life as a Town fan knew no fear of coming from behind. Recently glasses were no longer instantly drained and after only 10 minutes Ryan Taylor set up Harry Clifton to strike low into the right hand corner. 1 v 1 at half-time with all to play for.

A much improved Town in the second-half produced the oft quoted game of two-halves. In truth Town could easily have been 2 or 3 down at the interval. Equally Town could have won the second half by a 3 or 4 goal margin. But why would The Mighty Mariners proceed easily when high drama could be created to keep everyone on the edge of their seats.
One minute into added time with a point each looking inevitable, the impressive Danny Amos was up-ended. Substitute Tristan Abrahams took responsibility, remained ice-cool, despite best Gull efforts and The Mighty Mariners secured three points. With favourable results elsewhere, the grip on a play-off place tightened significantly.

Afterwards in McMenemys, ex-codling Sophie remained ‘cool’ Grandad Ray grabbed a well earned rest.

Last gasp victories always induce a massive release of tension that encourage high spirits. Even someone as battle-scarred as Histon Mariner Chairman Neville managed to raise a smile at The New Imperial Club when he presented The Histon Mariner sponsored John McAtee shirt which would join the other 10 such sponsored shirts also displayed at the club once frequented by Rod Temperton……and Matt Tees!

High jinx’ and ‘jolly japes’ continued at The Crows Nest where a digital ban precluded photographic evidence of The Chairman’s enjoyment of an alcohol-free G&T followed by his disapproval of a more familiar ‘old-school G&T’. Obviously he knew all-along(!) and played along to provide for considerable mirth, levity and chortling amongst his foot-soldiers.
Talk of not simply reaching the play-offs but henceforth realistic hopes of cementing a more favourable route through them, helped sustain positivity and consequent frivolity.

At The Notts, a joyous Chairman was besides himself, leading his troops as ever from the front and as ever with ‘a drink’ of one variety or other!

Cheers and Bon Voyage.

30.04.22 Barnet 2 v 2 GTFC

07.05.22 GTFC 1 v 3 Maidenhead United

10.05.22 GTFC 1 v 0 Boreham Wood

15.05.22 Eastleigh 4 v 4 GTFC

Eastleigh v GTFC Ticket
Eastleigh v GTFC Ticket

The Steam Town Brewery appeared a popular venue of choice and included the appearance of ‘ two Daves’ and their support team who had cycled from Blundell Park to Eastleigh’s Silverlake Stadium in an effort to raise money for the Youth Development Association.

Smudger Smith was knackered enough to accept support from a couple of old gits……
….whilst a ‘fresh looking’ Dave Moore partook of well earned refreshment.
Spitfires Paul and Toby Jug were enthusiastic observers of the Two Dave’s effort and as Real Football People were glad to share in the camaraderie with Jolly Boyz Dave and Pete.

An afternoon with no discernible pressure made it perfectly understandable for the B&W Army to view the fixture as a ‘free hit’. The last away fixture at Barnet had seen a sprinkling of inflatables and fancy dress. Some tried to continue in fancy dress, albeit in a rather low key demeanour….

Whilst respect for the attempt to make Bradford fashionable was just about evident more discernible was a degree of much mirth.

Tom Sargent hadn’t travelled far but to witness the effort made by Town Beau L.G. added another great memory of the seasons campaign.
It is hoped Town Fashionista L.G. continues to expand his repertoire adding to the overall match-day experience of the B&W Army.
As 15.00 approached The Rear Admiral ensured a very jolly Mrs Slocombe was on board for the kick-off.

With the end of season atmosphere abounding the party spirit was difficult to contain. The Golden Girls led by Mrs Slocombe looked at home in familiar surroundings.

Nine changes by Hursty was a clear indication as to what was uppermost in his mind. Coke - whom one would reasonably imagine would not make many more appearances for Town but would surprise few if he joined the back-room staff - held firm in mid-field and Town deservedly took the lead via Drew-Maguire. A lethargic B&W Army was spread around the ground which exacerbated the subdued atmosphere. So much so that a section of home fans presumably on a youth club day-trip, out-screeched Towns celebration. A penalty at the end of the half from Mani gave The Mighty Mariners a very comfortable two goal lead that was presumed to make the final 45 minutes of the league season a gentle stroll ahead of the playoffs.

Xxxxxxx. Raikhy returned from long term injury when given a run-out in the second-halfreplaceing Coke. With luck, if Raikhys return was to prove successful, the severity of the blow caused by the loss of Scannell, would be somewhat eased.

No sooner were people settled for the second half and with Town looking somewhat lacsidasical two quick Spitfire goals returned the score to parity.
Town needed to remember the season wasn’t quite finished.
On 66 minutes Mani finished a well worked move down the right, assist courtesy of xxxxxxx.
71st minute return to parity.
86th minute Mani completed his hat-trick, assisted by xxxxxx, conjuring-up memories of the final game of 2017-18 at Village Green Rovers, when JJ Hooper signed off with a hat-trick.
90th minute The Spitfires equalised again, this time from the penalty spot.

Not too much was learnt. Mani and Abrahams have proved to be useful additional firepower and xxxxxx Bramwell’s debut provided encouragement for the future.

The brief visit to the Eastleigh Club Bar allowed the crowd to disperse. It proved entirely functional though uninspiring.

The long trek north began with a bus to Eastleigh Station. The long trek south and 90 minutes standing and just the thought of what was to come proved exhausting for some.

Fellow passengers with due reverence gave up the Priority Seat and would surely have gained comfort from His Lordship taking 40 winks.

A final attempt to rehydrate before confronting the rail network was seized upon at The Waggon & Horses.

The 3 game Play-Off route was now set Notts County (a), Wrexham (a) and Chesterfield/Halifax or Solihull Moors at The London Stadium on Sunday June 5th.
The route could have been easier but The Mighty Mariners had no-one to fear. Fine margins, believe in the possible and all was left to play for.

In P.H. we trust. All Town are we.

23.05.22 Notts. County 1 v 2 GTFC - Play-Off Eliminator

Notts. County v GTFC Ticket
Notts. County v GTFC Ticket
A young persons ticket!

The 19.45 kick-off provided for ample opportunity to conduct much detailed ‘Pre-match Campaigning’. After a not too arduous rail journey, The Barley Thirst - just outside the station - proved a most convenient resting place to take stock of the multitude of potential sites in the thirsty city of Nottingham.

The Chesterfield Contingent awaited at The Cross Keys - a more traditional venue that appealed more to the old and infirmed Campaigners.

It had become increasingly apparent Post Covid, that Campaigning in hostelries of the traditional variety had become, for some, not always the ‘go-to venues of choice’. Such a development was a reflection of industry trends. The Histon Mariner Campaign was built on ‘Old School’ notions of Real Football and Real Football People, inspired by perennially inspirational figures such as Mr. Shankly. Like-minded people and attitudes were generally found to be alive and well in certain locations. However The Campaign was not blind to the need to adapt. The adaption though had crucially to be on a utilitarian basis and would crucially maintain a conversation with the incontrovertible first principles that provided the spur to action.

The Kilpin Beer Cafe - an excellent mixture of the old and new.
Drew provided an up to date perspective to an old warhorse.
BUT they were in total unison on fundamental principles.

With bags at the ready, The Good, Bad, Ugly and Well Bred appeared relaxed ahead of the crucial game - The Campaign looked to be in good bags.

Further visits - which on this occasion failed to include old favourites such as The Bell, The Canalside and Ye Trip To Jerusalem - only served to confirm what an edifying destination Nottingham was for The Campaign.

The Six Barrel Drafthouse

The Angel Microbrewery

Kingsway Mariners Dave and Jack presented a calm facade.
A solo Imperial representative a little less so….

Without doubt The Mariners appeared “up for it” more than The Magpies. The muted home support reiterated the extent of Towns control. The B&W Army dared to believe.
Alas dominance does nor always produce goals.

Holohan was quietly industrious. Smith looked composed beyond his years. Sousa must have felt like the interminably irritating mosquito to The Magpies. And Ben Fox was majestic.
Alas 0 v 0 at half-time gave rise to faintly discernible chimes of alarm bells that would be ignored at one’s peril.

As expected The Magpies adjusted at half-time and a more even contest ensued. The proverbial ‘fine margins’ raised their cruel head.
Surely after being on the wrong end so many times mid-season of ‘fine margin defeats’, the ‘laws of average’ would now be on Towns side.
Plus the fruit yield from the lucky scarves had yet to be harvested.
When Taylor’s goal was disallowed, it would have been difficult to find anyone who didn’t think ‘all was not going to plan’

After ignoring a foul on Smith, a dubious handball was deemed sufficient to award the home side a penalty. Once converted, Town had the proverbial mountain to climb and half-empty glasses began to appear.
Drew-Maguire, Abrahams and Mani for Cropper, Taylor and McAtee was the last throw of the dice. 6 minute of added time would inevitably be significantly reduced via ‘game management’ by the Magpies.

BUT with 12 seconds remaining Wes Holohan struck gold - the glasses that survived the jubilant euphoria were now overflowing. 30 minutes of extra-time beckoned, the omens appeared more favourable.
Burnt as time wore on the spectre of penalties inevitably begun to occupy peoples thoughts.
But with 72 seconds remaining Emmanuel ‘Mani’ Dieseruvwe transcended ‘the curse of the final game hat-trick’ and wrote his name prominently in the annals of GTFC. The B&W Army exploded into hysteria, incredulity and shock. In the end justice prevailed - fine margins.

Wrexham awaited in the semi-final. With only a pitiful 1200 tickets available the B&W Army would be low on numbers but high on optimism.
The B&W Army had a part to play. Paul Hurst’s squad looked to have a togetherness, over-flowing with endeavour and increasingly embraced a belief in what was possible.

Mr. Parker erupted, spouting more incomprehensible gibberish than normal.

Considering the importance and nature of the result, post-match was restrained as adrenaline slowly receded. People pinched themselves and in an effort to cement memories discussed the accuracy of what had just been witnessed. Wrexham was now in sight.

At the renowned Vat & Fiddle, Meggies Andy and John were clearly delighted but still a little dazed. Bringing up the rear, Kingsway Mariners had retained their calm demeanour.
No doubt Mariners everywhere would descend from their euphoric state in their own time.
Many like Meggie Andy would remain in a confused state of mind through the night, before facing reality the following day.

In normal circumstances, such a late finish may well have encouraged retiring for the evening but on this occasion a quiet determination to relocate for further analysis was fuelled by the slow descent from the adrenaline rush. As time pressed on, only those venues desirous of a touch younger clientele sought to attract custom. The desire not to end the night gave some validity to the resultant route-march led by Notts veteran John in and around the town centre. The Roebuck served to satisfy demand.

Never Say Die


28.05.22 Wrexham 4 v 5 GTFC - Play-Off Semi-Final

Wrexham v GTFC Ticket
Wrexham v GTFC Ticket
An Old Persons Ticket

Wrexham Fans on their Forum appeared to be preoccupied with travel arrangements for the Play-Off Final at The London Stadium following their inevitable success in the semi-final. Had such information been readily available, the 06.24 train from Cambridge and subsequent expense could have been avoided …!
The Mighty Mariners were the underdog. The B&W Army hoped to win. The moneyed Red Dragons expected to win. The gap was not so great and from certain angles barely existed.

Even Steve Dixon, on a solo mission without Snr. Partner Gerry, had a half-full glass
Wythenshaw Codling Ethan was preoccupied with the game ahead. Others were more concerned about the well-being of Rear Admiral Mitchell.
Even more grossly engaged in deep thought was a yet to be honoured Kristine G. whilst Kelly Billings kept abreast of significant announcements….

It would challenge the most talented wordsmith to convey the emotional turmoil that accompanied the roller-coaster of events that commenced at 15.00. The bare facts are almost sufficient …

         13th minute Wrexham 1 v 0 GTFC - non-penalty because of a diving pre-madonna.
         15th minute Wrexham 1 v 1 GTFC - McAtee
         47th minute Wrexham 1 v 2 GTFC - Waterfall
         63rd minute Wrexham 2 v 2 GTFC
         65th minute Wrexham 3 v 2 GTFC
         72nd minute Wrexham 3 v 3 GTFC -
         78th minute Wrexham 3 v 4 GTFC - Mani (again)
         80th minute Wrexham 4 v 4 GTFC
         119th minute Wrexham 4 v 5 GTFC - Waterfall

… but not quite. The self-evident team-spirit, the camaraderie visibly displayed, the ‘never say die’ attitude all emanate from the top. Hurst, Chris Doig and Ben Davies have produced a squad which have given all Mariners realistic hope of returning to Division 4 at the first attempt. The irregularity with which relegated teams return at the first attempt is few and far between. To go to the final game of the season hoping for promotion was the result of a successful campaign.

Amidst the euphoria, Real Football Supporters were fully aware of the depth of disappointment felt by supporters of the loosing side, having been in similar situations - albeit not after such an extreme game of ‘snakes and ladders’. Post-match, The Histon Mariners were able to meet several Wrexham supporters where a major train of thought was the shared view that both clubs warranted league football. Wrexhams unsuccessful 14th campaign in the quagmire known as The National League, graciously praised The Mighty Mariners, wishing them bon voyage.

The Long Pull - the first port of call.
The Long Pull - the first port of call.

A superb ex-Joules tavern, The Royal Oak, proved a most hospitable venue. A home of Red Dragon supporters that once again proved that the shared values of Real Football Supporters far outweighs the differences.

A very agreeable time spent conversing with Wrexhamites ensured an hour (or two) passed very quickly. A most pleasant and instructive time passed so quickly that railway timings were thrown into disarray. The planned train had been on schedule but when arriving late at the station, all passengers were being informed that no more trains would be leaving from Wrexham until the following morning. A taxi to Chester was ordered. The 4+ hour journey home became a 6+ journey.
However the talk, banter and bollocks exchanged with fellow Real Football Supporters had been well worth the diversions. Both clubs had seen better days. Both clubs had new owners albeit with quite different models. But when all was said and done, only The Mighty Mariners had the chance to return to the EFL.
The Red Dragons were to endure a 15th season in The National League (Division 5). This crucial fact was not a cause of division but if anything a cause for unity. Both sides were fully appreciative of the others situation - the family of Real Football Supporters was alive and kicking.

Wrexhamites Paul with Geoff from the Wrexham Trust
Red Dragon Mark yearned to return to better days in order to alleviate Phillip from persistently recounting ‘Tales From Yesteryear’.

After two away trips, to Meadow Lane and The Racecourse Ground, a third to the London Stadium awaited one week hence. Having played an extra hour over the two qualifying games, Town had certainly chosen the most difficult route possible in the quest for glory.
For the third time, The Mighty Mariners would be underdogs. And finally a third win would reap great rewards - a dream or reality?

Once more into the breach.

One final push.

05.06.2022 Solihull Moors 1 v 2 GTFC - Play-Off Final

The non-sensical choice for the “The Showpiece Finale” of the London Stadium manifested itself in many ways in the preceding week and on the day itself :-
    - given Wembley was unavailable because of ‘A Legends Jubilee Tea Party’ the choice of a London venue was nonsense. The only good reason for a London venue being chosen was to give players the chance to play on the hallowed turf. Being The Jubilee Weekend, travel for two Northern’ish teams would inevitably be more problematic than usual. The ‘Price of Living Crisis’ simply exacerbated the problem.
    - the confusion and technological issues surrounding ticket distribution
    - the scandalous pricing, the non-concessions (later amended in some areas for U16)
    - the extortionate price of purchases inside the ground, which most simply accepted, some proclaimed “not a penny more”
    - the dividing up of both sets of supporters into multiple locations
    - the removing of seats behind both goals

For a club to open a ‘Help Fund’ to assist disadvantaged supporters to attend ‘the grande finale’ should cast shame on those responsible for making such a thoughtless decision. £24,000+ was collected for distribution in four days - Real Football Supporters are alive and kicking.
It was realistically estimated if sensible pricing (£30 > £44-£54) had been implemented at a logistically reasonable ground, the attendance would have been comfortably 5,000-10,000 more than the actual 22,897.

All that aside, as match-day approached the gradual tightening of nerves was surely a universally shared experience. Regular routines, never shave on a match-day, usual shoes, lucky scarf, same food at the same time - whatever the particular superstitions, rigid adherence was the order of the day.

Invariably a picture is worth a thousand words.

The magnificent Hoop & Grapes (Aldgate) survivor of the Great Fire of London (1666) proved a most hospitable starting point for Moors and Mariners alike.

Mattie as usual was keen to embrace the day and assist behind the bar.

St. Johns Mariner Baggio in intense discussion with Rochdale Mariner Roger.
Moors fanatic Charlie with Bluenose Uncle Paul spoke admirably about Towns play-off campaign and despite The Moors being favourites, was wary of Towns ‘Never say die’ reputation.

The Pride of Spitalfields is a firm favourite of The Histon Mariners. It is a true Londoners pub in London - one of the few left of a dying genre. Local patrons were delighted for Mattie to serve them whilst catching up on Mariner developments. In these circumstances it was possible for a few quiet moments of reflection on both the hostelry itself and the fast approaching battle.

(A) Beforehand - optimistic & hoping.

(B) During - tense & praying

(C) The Final Whistle - joyous & disbelieving.

(D) And Afterwards - take a breath, disbelief but happy, happy, happy.

The Unbelievable - The Comeback Kings

Superlatives are all too often used, particularly in the heat of post-match euphoria but on this occasion such usage was perfectly acceptable.
    — 3 away matches turned into 4 virtue of 30 minutes added time in every match
    — effectively an extra match played
    — come from behind in every game
    — 9 goals, 6 different scorers
    — of the official 360 minutes played, Town were in front for only 27 minutes
    — only the 3rd time a relegated side were promoted at the first attempt

An incredible 3 seasons in one. A flying start and on top of the league after 12 games with 28 points and 4 points clear of second place Spireites. A middle section when points were seemingly near impossible to gain. During which time early season form had deserted but it was difficult to claim constant bad luck - fine margins. And a final third, with the scramble to get back on track, only to end with arguably the most exciting play-off Campaign witnessed by many many people.

The Mighty Mariners Play-Off Campaign won many admirers. Real Football Supporters from far and wide sent congratulatory messages across all modes of communication.

The League campaign next season would hold no fears. With increasing evidence of stability on and off the pitch and Paul Hurst’s proven eye for a player, cautious optimism enabled the raising of a three-quarter full glass.

All Town Are We and Up The Football League We Go.

Up The Mariners! 

Thanks to css zen garden for the layout.