Grimsby Town v Real Madrid in the FA Cup? No thanks, give me Huddersfield any day of the week

Huddersfield pack out the Osmond Stand

Huddersfield pack out the Osmond Stand

The FA Cup is dead, long live the FA Cup. Grimsby Town may have been dumped out of the competition already this season, but there’s still a spark for smaller sides participating in football’s oldest cup competition. The romance may be dead for the likes of Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho who will undoubtedly use the 3rd Round of the cup to blood squad players and youngsters. But try and tell the fans of Dover, Wrexham and AFC Wimbledon that the FA Cup needs to be fiddled with to make it more entertaining.

Neil Ashton of the Daily Mail wrote a ridiculously patronising piece on their website today which you can read here. I try not to take anything that publication says seriously because it’s descended into clickbait nonsense to attract advertisers, but Ashton’s first person piece is symptomatic of the mainstream media’s view that nothing outside of the corporate world of Premier League football matters. The FA Cup needs ‘saving’, he argues, with the need for tweaks to “generate excitement and enthusiasm for both clubs and their supporters.” Try and tell the supporters at Blyth Spartans they need to be more excited. Or even the fans at Worcester who invaded the pitch after they drew at Scunthorpe and forced a replay.

The answer, apparently, is to invite Real Madrid and Barcelona, I imagine at the expense of a non league side, and bring in more corporate sponsorship (which would inevitably go to those already well off). This, he argues, will make the competition more interesting with the incredibly patronising argument “imagine the great Lionel Messi travelling to England for a third round tie at Huish Park, Victoria Park or the Racecourse”. It’s the same patronising pat on the head we used at school for the fat kid picked last at football. Let’s all laugh at the less fortunate – we’re all right, Jack.

I thoroughly enjoyed Town’s cup run last season and it was not just great to beat Scunthorpe, but to see Blundell Park buzzing when Huddersfield visited in January. It reminded me of the good old days of league football, but also just how much excitement the FA Cup can generate when you have ‘giantkilling’ football matches. Dover v Crystal Palace next month will likely attract the TV cameras and give the Conference side a financial boost. It doesn’t need more sponsorship or Leo Messi to generate excitement, it just needs a romanticism that already exists amongst most football fans.

Real Madrid in round 3? No thanks, give me Huddersfield any day of the week.

New grounds, sponsorship and commercial revenues

IMG_6739I was listening to Radio Humberside last night and thought John Fenty came across well when challenged under a slightly negative line of questioning regarding the new ground. I’ve been critical of the Majority Shareholder on occasions as many other fans have, but I thought he held his own and got his point across well. Yesterday the club announced they have extended their exclusivity period on the potential Peaks Parkway stadium and again outlined the need to make the club self sustainable. I think all Town fans agree this is something we have to look at over the next few years, promotion or not. Becoming a seven day operation is something John Fenty mentioned several times last night as a means of increasing revenue – doing more within the community and making the stadium available to others at times that are not 3pm on a Saturday and 7.45pm on a Tuesday, 23 times a season.

The theory behind this is that doing more outside of football hours increases revenue. It works for some sides – Arsenal in the Premier League for instance – and not so well for others (Darlington and Coventry spring to mind). But the theory is an interesting one and all teams moving grounds do so with this in mind. Most Town fans look at our near neighbours Scunthorpe United when it comes to ground moves, a point also made by Radio Humberside last night. Of course they’ve moved once already and will soon be moving again and from reading articles on their new ground there’s also been a commitment to increasing revenue streams on non-matchdays. So I thought I’d look at commercial revenues between the two clubs and sponsorship and look at how these revenues may be different based on the respective league positions and the ground situation. The results were very surprising.

Based on these figures and on this link, Grimsby Town, of the Conference, actually out perform our League 1 neighbours in both departments. In the latest set of accounts Town made £187,000 in retail and merchandise, while the Iron made less (how much less depends on how you add up the figures and whether programme sales, lottery sales etc are also included). Sponsorship wise, the promotion-winning Iron made £109,000 according to their recent accounts. The Mariners made £327,000 – an increase of £50,000 on the previous 12 months.

I’m not making any adverse comments regarding either club and don’t wish to stir anything up, just pointing out two interesting sets of figures. Realistically, with Town already outperforming a League 1 club, how much extra revenue is there to gain? Are Town already punching above their weight in commercial terms – to the credit of all those involved. Is promotion and the £720,000 league bounty Scunthorpe received last season as ‘league central distribution’ cash the only way to significantly alter the club’s financial future?

I don’t have an answer, I just hope that if and when Town move to a new ground, it’s home to league football and a self-sustainable financial future.

Match report: Grimsby Town 0 Kidderminster Harriers 2

IMG_7207Sometimes it’s better to write something off and move on to the next one. That’s definitely true of yesterday’s Grimsby Town performance, which was one of the worst displays I’ve seen in quite some time. It lacked passion and urgency, was slow and lethargic at times, and saw the management staff too slow to change tactically when the game cried out for something different. Immediately after the game i criticised Paul Hurst for being too negative – but perhaps he’s just too trusting in his players to make amends? Either way I think he got it wrong yesterday and hope to see improvements on Tuesday night. Continue reading

Mariners Trust away supporters’ bar gains praise from visiting fans

IMG_6708If you’re not an away fan, you might not be aware of the fantastic bar used by supporters in the Osmond Stand at Blundell Park. The Mariners Trust bars are always busy on matchdays and regularly receive positive comments, but the away bar is also attracting lots of positive comments. As a member of the Trust I was given the guided tour on Saturday before the Dartford game and the bar and it’s hard not to be impressed with the work that’s gone into it. Altrincham fans recently posted very positive comments on their own website and other fans have donated shirts, scarves and other memorabilia for the walls behind the bar. If you’ve not seen the bar, check out the gallery of images below. And if you have something you want to donate to the collection contact the Trust.

Match report – Grimsby Town 3 Dartford 0

IMG_6842Last season, Luton despatched teams regularly when they didn’t play particularly well. They had players like Benson and Andre Gray who could seemingly score goals at will, unlocking defences with the guile needed when opposing sides came and parked the bus. There have been too many times this season that Grimsby Town have failed to break sides down, especially at home. But times are starting to change – the luck is going with Town with own goals and penalties awarded when previously we’d have missed out. Players are consistently playing well and the side looks like a team; they’re winning personal battles and punishing sides when they make mistakes. They’re not perfect – yet – but it’s now five wins on the bounce and the Play Offs beckon for the first time this season. Continue reading