International breaks are rubbish. Fact. Nobody cares about the English national team anymore, not even the players, so what else is there to do when there is no Everton match on?
Well, you could always go and watch a non-league game, which is exactly what I did today. Well, I watched half a game. Well, 45 minutes of “play” at least.
In memory of his dad, who passed away recently according to the tannoy announcement, a good friend of mine sponsored the match at Marine as they took on Grantham.
30 years ago his dad had taken him to Marine to see his first ever football match. Today, the love of the game that was handed down to him has led to a career in the game that everyone would envy. Even the players. He’s stood pitch side at World Cup finals, he’s interviewed the best players in the world, and for a short time operated as Sepp Blatter’s left hand man. Sadly for him, Sepp took all his bungs with his right hand.
However, 30 years on, to thank both his dad and Marine FC for introducing him to the beautiful game, he sponsored the game and around 50 of his friends turned up to show their support too.
The atmosphere was friendly and the crowd actually looked a decent size – even if we hadn’t all turned up! – but it would be short lived. Seven minutes into the game, Grantham took the lead through a long ball which was collected with a clever touch that took the striker inside the defender to beat the keeper at the near post. That wasn’t in the script.
And then the heavens opened. And opened. And emptied themselves all over the pitch. And the stand.
Fans scrabbled for cover further back under the roof, and the puddles grew and grew on the pitch. It’s never a good sign when the goalkeeper has to wring his gloves out every couple of minutes is it?
Despite the ball sticking, the referee allowed play to go on and Marine clawed one back. A long, floated pass forward created a scramble in the box for Marine to force it over the line before the keeper had chance to put his snorkel on.
Grantham weren’t going to give up though, and like Leslie on a webcam, they pressed on.
A long ball forward was headed back by a clearly offside striker before his team mate coolly finished and restored the visitor’s lead. All the remonstrations in the world weren’t going to change the linesman’s decision, although if he’d actually been watching the game, he may have given the offside in the first place.
At half time the big wigs got together and carried out a pitch inspection, which mostly involved seeing how far the ball would float if you left it in the wind down the wing, and the game was abandoned.
A hot bovril and a pie later and we were all warmed up and headed home. You never get this kind of shenanigans at Goodison, so we might pop along to Marine again. But we’ll check the weather forecast first!