The drive past the docks in Grimsby must be breaking the hearts of every single person entering the town. You've come all the way on the noisily unrewarding A180 just to be faced with a pile of derelict buildings left to be eaten by rust and grey skies. It's a hopeless sight. A town at the edge of not quite the county everyone thinks it's in, with its one amazing gift, the sea, being taken away from it slowly and painfully. When we were going past the docks on Saturday afternoon my head was filled with apocalyptic fear: I grew up near a port too. What if it ever ends up this way? It'd be the end of world, surely. But as we turn the corner, people are still there, walking, shopping, breathing, drinking and I realise I shouldn't be so melodramatic.
But there's still room for melodrama in North Lincolnshire. As we walk to Blundell Park, I realise that this is not like any other football match I've been to before. There's nothing festive about the atmosphere, there is no electricity, no expectation. Yet people sit and watch through those first 15 painful minutes, nearly quietly, murmuring swear words and instructions to the players under their breaths, occasionally uttering something loud enough for someone to hear. As Town is starting to make a bit of an effort, we get up to cheer and I turn to the left and catch a glimpse of the Humber Estuary. That's the melodrama of Blundell Park: as their team sinks deeper and deeper down the League Two table and the music of their collective voices gets more and more difficult to decipher from the sighs of desperation, there's still the twinkly lights of the Humber Estuary to look at during the season, there is some hope and there will be a happy ending. A happier ending rather. The floodlights and the glimpses of the Estuary and a team that can play football without resorting to diving, especially when it momentarily forgets about hopelessness; being surrounded by people who could seriously do with a big hug during these 90 minutes; being in a town that reminds me of where I grew up, only colder and quieter, all those things fill me with so much love for this place and this team that I nearly smile. I could do this every weekend just so I can be there at that moment when their fortunes are reversed and they can smile with me. Or so I can put my arms around them if things become unbearable. I want to be here when they finally get a striker who can take a chance.
GY, will you let me heart you?
ConIFA 2018: The Venues
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