Do I really want Grimsby to win?

I can’t believe I’ve actually said it, online and everything. However I have. I wouldn’t be devastated if Forest Green lose to Grimsby at Wembley. In fact I wouldn’t have been upset if Dover had got through and they’d lost. There’s a reason why too.

The two teams drew just 2,755 for the semi final at the Falafel Stadium, and the return match at Crapple fetched just 2,071. I’ve played in front of bigger crowds myself, and as for away fans, I’ve been on busier stag nights. It’s embarrassing then that these teams share players like  Ricky Miller, Jon Parkin and Keanu Marsh Brown. You have to wonder how the clubs do it, but more significantly you have to wonder why the chairmen do it.

I have a lot of distaste for Darragh McAnthony as I don’t approve of his choice of club or his brash personality. However at least he invested in a club with a bit of a fan base and a bit of tradition. Jim Parmenter has invested in a team that nobody in his town really cares about, and Dale Vance has basically bought a proud non-league team and turned them into the vegan village people. He’s even forcing the fans to eat falafel, as if they weren’t already staying away from the ground.

The problem is that money really does talk at this level, and as more and more foreign players come into our top two divisions, our talented young domestic players are forced further down the leagues. The level of our division is far better now than back in 1987/88, with seasoned professionals like Jeff Hughes, Gary Taylor Fletcher and Jon Parkin raising the quality and experience. Dan Holman and Marsh Brown show younger talent thrives here too just like it did with Jamie Vardy and Andre Gray. Given the number of promotion spots it’s also one of the toughest leagues to get out of, and that’s why it’s even more galling that badly supported teams can buy their way up the table. They can buy better players than perhaps teams in the 1980s and 1970s could. Back then pub teams had pub players, now they have good players. Very good players. The problem is nobody cares about going to watch them.

Surprisingly that’s why I’m not absolutely repulsed at the idea of Grimsby Town going up this season, and frankly it feels wrong. I am a Lincoln fan and I do really dislike Grimsby Town with a passion, but I’m beginning to wonder if my hatred is being outstripped by the hatred of soulless teams seeping upwards from the non league pyramid.

I was satisfied that when we came down it was at least a fan driven club in Wimbledon that replaced us. The Dons story is a tragic one and our demise was at least softened by the fact we weren’t replaced by some ‘local boy done good’ with a few bob turning his local Sunday team into a potential league club even though nobody else cared. At least Wimbledon stood for something. At least they mattered as a collective. Their joy was able to offset a very (very) small part of my pain, seeing proper football fans prosper. It meant I still had belief and hope that one day we could return.

I think if Forest Green took a place in the league it would stick in my throat far more than a few smug Cod heads would. FGR are an abomination and I’d hate to think that Mr Vince had got his hippy dream team up into the football league at the expense of a proper team with actual supporters who even travel away. I’d prefer to be beaten in front of 6,000 at Sincil Bank by the Cods than I would in front of Terry the FGR bus driver and their full back’s Mum. At least we’d feel desolation at actually being beat by someone we care about rather than a soulless husk of a club existing merely to feed one mans incessant ego.

If you were a New Age traveller Dale why aren’t you living by your principles and giving your money to the poor and needy? Why are you paying footballers who should be too good for this league to demean themselves to such a degree that they won’t even appear on FIFA 17? Why? Why do you think people want to turn up and support this charade? As for Jim Parmenter I’d rather not go too deeply into it, but when I shared the board room with him as guest of the Directors I found him as bearable as a slap in the face with a full used nappy. It seems in his case money really does not buy you class, unless you think Ricky Modeste and Ricky Miller are class.

Oh yeah, that class money does buy you actually. That’s the problem.

I’d rather hate something real and tangible like the stinking Cod heads, or Wrexham, or Tranmere or someone who might actually bring a few bums on seats to boost the gate. At least when you go to Blunder Park you know they hate you and you actually feel something, rather than sitting in a half empty community park feeling nothing at all but self loathing and eerie silence. I’d rather drink beer and eat chips on the seafront before having to run away from a group of chavs in Air Max and black and white stripes than I would munch on some rabbit food before popping in the local tea shop to face a load of football fan prejudice from the 64 year old waitress who doesn’t even know what a Forest Green is.

So I begrudgingly wish Grimsby luck this weekend. I hope they can strike a blow for all that’s real and relative in football, for people that actually care even if they are stinking Grimsby fans. I hope they send the 200 or so Villagers all the way back to the countryside with their souvenirs of a big day out in ‘that London’ and nothing more. I hope they do it and keep the moneybags abomination where they belong, in the non league. Then I hope they get relegated again. I would literally wet myself with laughter.

Mind you if they lose I will still literally wee myself with laughter. After all that’s what football is about.

There’s no pictures with this blog because I am ashamed an appalled at my comments about Grimsby and I feel to add colour and depth to the article would only serve to highlight what are very deeply shameful admissions on my part. I have never before wanted Grimsby to win a match and I would have loved for them to lose to part time Braintree who have (at least) fought their way up with no money AND no fans but with a bit of hard work and effort. Fair play to the PE teachers for that.


  1. It’s a fair point although I do disagree. I don’t think it’s demonising working classes at all, I am working class myself from a council estate. It’s certainly not from journalism that I’m influenced either, I try to avoid the printed media. You’re entitled to an opinion though and people do interpret language in different ways.

  2. Lincoln’s average gate in 2015-16 was 2,596, up 1.3% on 2014-15. According to Wikipedia, the population of the non-metropolitan area of Lincoln in 2012 was 94,600. So the average gate is about 3% of that population.

    The corresponding figures for FGR are 1,758, 17 per cent, and 20,000 (and that’s Nailsworth and Stroud combined). So the average gate is 9 per cent of the local population.

    Who has the best following compared to the local population?

    • How many other clubs fill up the area you speak of? I think % following is a false way of looking at attendance. Surely it’s bums on seats that count?

  3. Gloucester is about 15 miles to the north. They have a non-league side. Then there’s Cheltenham about 8 miles beyond that. Swindon is roughly 30 miles South-East, and the two Bristol sides approximately 30 miles South-West. So four league sides within 30 miles.

  4. Yes. But I am not claiming we have the biggest following in football, far from it. Rather that a bit of context may help to explain the differences in numbers. And I agree with the bit in this blog about money in football – it’s hard to get ahead without a Chairman who is prepared to lose money. In that sense, the business model is bust.

  5. No idea. Does FFP apply to the National League? I think it is a matter of public record that FGR has lost £2M per annum for the last two years.

  6. Agreed, although the authorities need to enforce the rules properly at the top of the game first and set the tone from there.

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