An amazing scene after the game at Blundell Park yesterday when one of Grimsby’s managers (yes, we have two) directly engaged with some of the home fans after the club’s 2-1 loss to Darlington.
First, Rob Scott “discussed” his team’s performance with a fan in the ground’s Main Stand (where the managers’ dugouts are, so Scott will have probably heard any grief from the stand easily). And then, after continuing his walk round the pitch, in front of the Pontoon stand Scott couldn’t help himself but become drawn into a similar discussion, this one apparently more heated than the previous.
Reports suggest Scott was responding to “criticism” (translation: fuckwittery shouting) that the performance, the team, this season so far, whatever, isn’t up to some fans’ expectations. Some fans, some idiot fans.
The message in Scott’s response is actually reasonably spot on (not sure about the “there’s no money” line, with chairman John Fenty’s regular assertions that Town have one of the biggest playing budgets in the Conference, which he is sort of bankrolling/lending to the club).
Scott’s also expressing something a large number of Town fans have been feeling towards the vocal minority of fucktards for a while. To hear someone in the club’s managerial hierarchy say it is certainly a new one though.
No-one seems to deny the Town management team’s post-match assertion that the Mariners deserved something from the game, the team being denied league points by a combination of a lack of clinical finishing from their own players (mainly the first half) and the Darlington goalkeeper Sam Russell having an inspired performance (mainly the second half). Town’s first half tactics weren’t spot on. The side were playing well, but the weaknesses in Town’s formation were exploited by the opposition to score twice. Sometimes these things happen, and it’s up to the manager to respond. At least the Town managers changed the formation and personnel at half time. There the management did their job (although could they have responded sooner?), the players responded in the second half, no problem. To play as well as Town did and not get anything at is frustrating all round. That’s, erm, football sometimes. (On the reverse side Darlington will proud to have come away with the three league points.)
What is debatable is whether Scott’s approach to “talking” like this is acceptable. Despite their position in the Conference, Town are still a club that employs full time staff, a “professional” club. It is therefore supposedly a professional outfit, a point chairman Fenty has stressed numerous times before. Scott’s passionate, great to see, but the language is more akin to Sunday league football than the professional game. There’s an argument that he’s addressing the idiotic minority in their own way. Whether that should be in their own plosive and “fak” laden language I’m not sure. The support for Scott is clearly audible in the above clip though. Scott is addressing a minority head on. It’s brave, direct, and arguably more effective.
Scott’s broken through football’s “fourth wall” with this, eschewing the buffer that exists between a club’s fans and managers, usually facilitated by media like newspapers, radio, and official websites. Has he connected more with a majority of fans through this, or is he revealing himself as someone that can respond relatively easily when provoked? By eschewing that “safety ground” Scott has made the message more clearer than ever. The fact it has been captured and is on YouTube (see above), that people will be discussing it across the web, shows the impact of this route. If it’d been mentioned in the post-match radio interview would it have had as much response? Arguably not, as there’s very little being said about the other manager’s more “eloquent” delivery on Radio Humberside – and I suspect that’d still be the case if Scott hadn’t shouted off.
Even though Scott came to the club with a reputation of being a bit of a gobshite not being able to bite his tongue, here he has a point. The message isn’t arguable. Just the delivery, by someone in a position of responsibilty. Possibly.