Friday 3rd April 2015 ko 18.30
Northern Counties East Division One
GRIMSBY BOROUGH 3 (Fuller 21 70 Hall 81)
HALL ROAD RANGERS 1 (Walker 5)
When Chris Berezai and I started working on this hop, Grimsby Borough were the first club on our wish-list. That’s mainly because the club have only recently moved into the Bradley Football Development Centre, but it was a decision that created a few headaches. The first was which side to watch, Cleethorpes Town use the facility too, and the idea of watching a Cleethorpes side playing in Grimsby appealed (Grimsby Town famously play in Cleethorpes!), but the fact that the ground is council-owned caused a bigger headache.
Ask any successful host club on a groundhop and they’ll tell you the biggest money-spinner isn’t across the turnstile, its the food and drink sales, but the council refused to let the club either do any of their own catering, or give them any monies from their café/bar in the clubhouse. The two bouncers stationed there glowered pointlessly, a neat analogy of an out-of-touch authority.
The club made do with a successful merchandise stall, but it seemed the club was paying a high price for returning home. Cleethorpes are looking to redevelop their old ground a mile or two away, and I could see Grimsby heading the same way. Coming into this tie, they were rock-bottom of the league with only 5 points, with relegation to the Central Midlands League looking inevitable.
Yes, the Bradley Centre is good enough to see a club play at Step 5, but would those facilities be needed at Step 7? The committee were friendly, hardworking but few in number and overstretched, and I like most others present fully expected Hall Road to roll in a bucketload of goals.
There was a feeling of inevitability when Danny Walker opened the scoring for Hall Road, but then the hosts rallied. I wondered then whether that was in part due to the stresses and strains Hall Road have had, they’re moving away from Dene Park at the end of the season (although Hull United will continue to play there) but on reflection I don’t think anything should detract from the home performance.
They grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck and in the end were deserved winners, and however much of a shock a home win could ever be, I couldn’t help but be pleased for Grimsby Borough’s committee. They’re fighting some pretty dreadful odds, but I hope they enjoyed their big crowd, and their win.