Newsletter #281

Time constraints mean that I’ll have to leave it up to the reader to find out what’s in this issue!

This one reaches 1,404.

Next game, Tranmere Rovers away, Tuesday 18th March 1997


GRIMSBY TOWN vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 15th March 1997

It’s been a long time since I’ve seen the Blues play live (last one was some time in the eighties, probably a game against Hull City though my memory might be playing tricks) – after this game it might be a long time until the next one!

We four East Yorkshire Blues arrived in Grimsby after the short trip from Beverley with a bit of a thirst. Unfortunately, the welcome from the local “hostileries” suggested the Mariners had battened down the hatches and were preparing to repel boarders. Of the few pubs in the immediate area, one was marked ‘Home Supporters Only’ (dunno how they knew Mark, Craig and Kev weren’t with their East Yorkshire accents – I suspect anyone actually from Manchester had no chance!), one had Man Mountain guarding the door and the other one had a mounted police guard. Anyway in the end, Craig deduced that as we had tickets for the John Smith’s Stand, there was a fair chance of there being a bar inside, and so it was that we came to have a pre-match jar watching the Grimsby – Bradford video with the locals – with hindsight, a better game than the one we were about to watch.

In the upper tier of the stand, we had a fair view of the ground and the ships making their way up the ‘Umber. Travelling Blues seemed to make up a large proportion of the 8,732 crowd (predictably the largest home gate of the season) and were in fine voice at the start – “You only sing when you’re fishing!” going down well even with the Grimsby supporters around us. Our spirits were raised when Gio was spotted warming up; Ged Brannan was due for a début, but more surprisingly Kav was going to get on from the start as part of a much shuffled team due to suspension and injury.

City looked more composed in the early stages, but a swirling wind was making the play scrappy – Tommy Wright was having difficulty getting the ball clear of the penalty area let alone the halfway line. However, it was Grimsby who scored first on 16 minutes, with Appleton (playing his last game on loan from the Rags (aagh!) cutting in from the left and finishing well to put the ball beyond Wright in the far corner. Cue everyone around us standing up and we four sat there with the ‘Here we go again’ look. Still we felt it was only a matter of time, as their defence showed the composure that has lead to their conceding 66 goals to date. Uwe was putting himself about a fair bit, and on the half hour he made something from nothing on the right of the area, turned the defender and crossed for Kav to rise and head the ball into the roof of the net. Cue us four standing up (actually Kev was already standing up in the toilet at the time) and everyone else around us sat despairingly.

And that was about it really. The second half was a pretty scrappy affair, with the ball in the air too much. Gio was only in the game fitfully, taking a couple of free kicks that the wall dealt with, and on one occasion jinking down the left wing only to find there was nobody on the end of the cross. Uwe looked the most likely to cause them trouble; Kav became invisible and was replaced by Greenacre with about 20 minutes to go; Buzzer had a very quiet game and rarely took his man on. Defensively we weren’t troubled much and I can’t really comment on Brannan at this stage, but the consensus (us and the Grimsby supporters within earshot) was that Alan Kernaghan is a liability rather than an asset on this showing (Mark wouldn’t let him in his pub Old Boys team).

A draw was probaby a fair result, though the local radio reporter seemed more complimentary about our performance than we were. I guess every point helps make Division 2 less and less likely, but there’s work to be done next season if we’re going to get sorted for promotion to the Premiership in the 97/98 season.

Final score: 1-1

Geoff Donkin (


GRIMSBY TOWN vs. MANCHESTER CITY, Saturday 15th March 1997

Let’s face it, this is a match we should have won if we had any serious thoughts of making the play-offs. Not only did we fail to win, we came quite close to losing it.

Grimsby are another side with plans to move to a new stadium so it’s possible that this will have been City’s last visit to Blundell Park. The stadium was packed, with Blues here, there and everywhere amongst the crowd of 8,732. I was behind the goal in the front row, which due to the camber of the pitch meant that my eyes were about level with the players’ knees. Hence I can tell you about how City defended in the first half and how we attacked in the second half, but not much else.

Injuries, suspensions and the arrival of Ged Brannan resulted in a number of team changes. The best news was the return of Gio Kinkladze, though he wasn’t firing on all cylinders which I put down to a lack of match practice. The same could no doubt be said of Alan Kernaghan and Mischa Kavelashvili (who made a rare start after impressing with the reserves and in training). Bob Brightwell was captain in the absence of the suspended Kit Symons. City lined up as follows:

Brightwell Kernaghan Brannan
Summerbee Lomas McGoldrick Horlock