If there’s one thing that has added to my love for sport in the past few years, then it’s going to watch Grimsby Town in League Two with one of my best mates, who is of course a Mariner.
He spent much of third year at university agonising over the fact that his beloved black and whites were flirting dangerously with relegation after one of the longest runs without a win I’ve certainly ever come across (think it ended at around 23).
Well, fast forward 12 months and they are virtually in an identical situation. After a poor start to the season, another manager was sacked (Mike Newell) and in their wisdom, the club decided to appoint youth team boss Neil Woods as the new manager. Woods is yet to win a game. In 17 games in charge, he has yet to pick up three points, and Grimsby lie in the relegation spots with the Conference a distinct possibility for next season.
Next up was a tricky tie with high-flying Rotherham at the Don Valley Stadium. Why not, I thought.
So across the M62 and down the M1 I went to the Don Valley, in Sheffield, to which I’m no stranger to, having been there to watch Widnes win a couple of times against Sheffield Eagles.
It was the fourth time I’ve seen Grimsby this season, and having finally witnessed them gain a point the last time I went (Shrewsbury away in December), I was hopeful that maybe a repeat, or better, was on the cards.
I was wrong. Grimsby were totally outplayed, two Adam Le Fondre goals were no more than Rotherham deserved and although Grimsby scored late on through Wes Fletcher they were never at the races.
They seem to be making loan-signing after loan-signing, and while some of them may prove effective, surely it doesn’t do much to help build a team spirit in a side fighting against relegation?
Either way, Grimsby face an uphill struggle to survive in 2010, and as luck continues to evade them, it could be a very nervy few months for their fans. Jonny, my mate, states that one of his best life moments was Phil Jevons scoring an extra time winner for Grimsby against Liverpool in the League Cup at Anfield (back when Grimsby were good, he says). Football is all about those highs and lows. Unfortunately for Grimsby, the lows are far more frequent than the highs, and they will be praying that they don’t reach the lowest of lows come the final game of the season.