From our Motoring Correspondent

BILLY'S CONTRACT ticks off Grimsby

Grimsby Town 0 Pools 3 (League 2) Saturday October 1st 2016

Never been to Grimsby. Ever. It's not all that far away, unless of course you are walking but one way or another I have never ticked Blundell Park off my list of visited grounds. It could have been that I had something else booked on the day or that I did not fancy driving back from Grimsby on a wintery February night.

I did some homework and upon checking the records of games played at Blundell Park against Pools since 1967, the year I started following Pools, we have, excluding last Saturday's match, only played them in all competitions eleven times. I could not believe this either. I did not get my first car until 1981 so that's the first fourteen years of not making the journey accounted for. Not surprisingly they have been playing non-league football for the past ten years and even when they were in the Football League we never seemed to be in the same division as each other.

Mind, I did very nearly got there in March 2004. For my birthday (I forgot the number) The Bride had got me one of these Red Letter Day presents to drive five classic British cars around Mallory Park racing circuit near Leicester. There were three different Jags. An E Type a D type and an Inspector Morse type. And another car which I cannot recall the make of (Chartham?*), which seemed to consist of a engine from a Supermarine Spitfire which was enclosed by half a dozen bits of scaffold tube and held together with pieces of Meccano. The icing on the cake for me on the day - oh, just remembered that I don't like icing. so the ice cream on the jam roly-poly for me was getting to drive an Aston Martin DB6,  my all-time favourite car. The plan was to stop overnight in Leicester then having done my Jeremy Clarkson bit head off in the general direction of Grimsby a mere 90 miles away just after 12.00 hundred hours.

As usual things did not go as scheduled. By the time I had got myself kitted out and had my health and safety induction it was almost ten a.m. so the clock was ticking. Although not a car buff as such I certainly had an enjoyable time. You were paired with formula 2/3 racing drivers who acted as your mentor and guided you round the track. It is very nerve wracking when you are driving at 80/90 mph and they are telling you to accelerate further, when your natural instinct is to brake, particularly when the bonnet of your E Type (which seems forty feet away from the drivers seat) is less than quarter of an inch from the boot of the car in front. Although I was having a ball I was concious of the time passing very quickly and I almost considered skipping the last event which was being driven two laps round the circuit by a Stig-like character in an AC Cobra.

Don't know what speed we were doing as the speedometer was intentionally disabled, so the driver did not know what speed he was going at. All I can say is that the drive only seemed to last a matter of seconds, and all I can remember was the noise of the thing.

With the race day completed later than planned, we dashed to the car park, set the coordinates for Grimsby and fired up The Rover (British Racing Green of course), and unlike most Rovers, it started first time. We worked out that with a fair wind we should reach Blundell Park just before kick off. After just over half an hour on the A46, what with average speed cameras, single carriageways, road works and different speed zones,plus a car accident (probably caused by the confusing speed limits), we decided to abort the journey as we reckoned it would be nearly half time before we reached our destination. With that we reset the co-ordinates to 'Up North' and listened to the match on the radio (yes it was one of those posh Rovers) and laughed out loud when we heard that Neale Cooper had been sent to the stands for throwing his towel down on the touchline after a doubtful refereeing decision. Pools won two nil. Happy days. As we headed home I felt gutted at having missed the match and I also had a sense of disappointment about my car track experience.

They say you should never meet your heroes as they are not what they seem. You should also apply this same logic with relation to the car of your dreams. Yes the Aston was great but not a patch on the the E-Type. Fast forward twelve years on and by chance after the Luton game my mate mentioned that Pools' next game was Grimsby away and the decision was made there and then to head to East Linconshire. We parked up at Blundell Park at 12.30 hundred hours. Both my mate and myself still deafened from the 10/12 mile concrete section of the M180. even with Tom Waits turned up full blast on the CD player we could not hear him sing due to surface noise, it was like being in the AC Cobra again ...but a lot slower.

We took a bus down to Cleethorpes and asked a very friendly Police woman (so friendly in fact that I thought that she must be a stripagram). to direct us to Steel's Cornerhouse Fish and Chip Restaurant which had come highly recommended to me. We were not disappointed either. You got three choices of Haddock, small, medium and Moby Dick. What is it with Yorkshire/Lincolnshire folk with haddock? If you ask for cod they look at you as if you have two heads. You very rarely see cod on the menu in that neck of the woods ...or should I say sea.

We then repaired to a nice quiet pub on the pier a mere hundred yards away from another pub full of Poolies chanting away to their hearts' content and surrounded by a considerable police presence. The rear of Grimsby's main stand looks like an industrial unit and you would be forgiven in thinking that due to the large Young's Fish logo (A shrimp) on the cladding, along with all the air conditioning units etc on the roof, that this was not a football ground but a fish processing plant. At once in I fell in love with the plaice ...sorry place, and instantly nominated it as my favourite ground. In the last few weeks I have visited such noble establishments as Windsor Castle, Castle Howard and Cragside in Northumberland, but Blundell park just smells of history ...especially the toilets. The cistern was a steel tank. if it was dropped on your head from more than four inches it would cave your skull in. If you were making a documentary about football in the nineteen thirties, this is the ground that you would bring your film crew to. (Granted you would have to rip all the seats out of it). Like Chesterfield's and Donny's old grounds it just had bucket loads of character and would put some of these so called modern stadiums (Scunny/Northampton) to shame.

Grimsby started the match strongly and unlike Pools instead of playing tappy tappy, after-you Claude football, they were whipping the ball into the box at every opportunity and had Pools on the back foot. After less than five minutes of play Jake Carroll put in what looked like an innocuous tackle on their winger who went down injured. At first I thought the lad was play acting as most wide players do but after what seemed to be an age he left the field on a stretcher. There is a picture of his injured leg in the Grimsby evening paper. Horrific, not one for the squeamish to view, it looks as though he was hit by a mortar shell. It did looked like an unlucky accident as none of the Grimsby players protested and Carroll was not spoken to by the referee.
"If you were making a documentary about football in the nineteen thirties, this is the ground that you would bring your film crew to."

Pools got all their goals on the break and wouldn't you guess that Padraig Amond would score not once but twice against his old club. Fair play to the lad he did not celebrate and indeed was deservedly applauded off the pitch  by both Pools and Grimsby fans alike when he was subbed. I cannot recall another Pools player who has scored in his first season against his former club.

 Again on the break Nathan Thomas scored with a wonderful chip (not another fish shop reference) which I thought was going to land on the top of the crossbar or worse, for their goalie to tip it over,  however, in it went much to the delight of the travelling fans behind the goal. To be brutally honest, apart from the goal and tracking back we did not see much of him. As usual the goalscorers take the plaudits but for me man of the match was Trevor Carson who made two world class saves like Jimmy Montgomery's in the FA Cup Final against Leeds, as well as producing another stunning save in the first half. Which must have been 'Sole' destroying for the Grimsby team.

I agree with Craig Hignett's after match summary when he said that that although Pools were clincal in front of goal our distribution let us down. In fact for the majority of the second half we played deep, played on the break by hoofing the ball up front from defence hoping that one of the forwards would latch on to it.

I would like to see Deverdics get a run in the team in midfield. I think it looked stronger and quicker without Nicky Featherstone and not as defensive. In the match against Luton, Featherstone gave four back passes to Trevor Carson in as many minutes. Even though we were short on midfielders it was noticeable that Brad Walker did not even make the bench, which seemingly speaks volumes. He should be shipped out on loan somewhere .

One player who performed exceptionally well was Jordan Richards who managed to get a goodly number of crosses in the box which is something he has failed to do in recent games. Pools had a great following of around 350 souls who were very vocal throughout. On the down side some clown set off a blue flare after 'Pools got their first goal which, apart from being a safety issue, could have interfered with play to Pools' detriment if the blue smoke had impaired Carson's vision. Against Luton another bright spark threw a coke bottle at their keeper. I cannot understand how no one was picked out of the crowd by the stewards for this incident as after all there are CCTV cameras in the ground. If this behaviour persists Pools could end up with a hefty fine or worse still, a points deduction.

All in all, a grand day out and we had a 'Whale' of a time. After all that, I still haven't been to Grimsby, as Blundell Park is in Cleethorpes. Is there more than one Cleethorpes? Cleethorpes is plural.

(* Caterham 7, which was previously known as the Lotus 7 Ed.)