Mexborough and Swinton Times February 15, 1908
A Trip to Grimsby
How Denaby Drew and Others Matters Incident Thereto
A Full and Particular Account
We were all out for the day, and apparently we didn’t care who knew it. From 10 o’clock in the morning when we rushed the train at Mexborough to the time when, 12 hours later, we left it, at precisely the same spot, we gave ourselves up to mere worldly, selfish enjoyment.
On Saturday night 500 men returned to 500 bosoms of 500 families, a little limp, perhaps, a little hoarse, a little tired, and in some instances a little out of pocket.
Of course I and the two brother Pressmen who did me the honour to accompany me in the capacity of bodyguards, took tickets to Grimsby, fired with football enthusiasm. But we were only going to allow football an hour and a half of our time.
The rest of the day we proposed to devote to eating, drinking, merriment and scenery. Having nothing else to do, I believe I even wasted a valuable couple of minutes in trying to draw up a sort of timetable, in which work and play were to be properly proportioned. However, I think I had to give that up in despair, because of dissent in our ranks. One brother journalist wanted too much eating, and the other too much drinking, while perhaps I wanted too much scenery.
We were chaffed horribly on the journey from Mexborough to Doncaster by the local police, who finally warned us that unless we behave circumspectly at Grimsby our characters might be brought up against us. As journalist we gave as good as we got, which of course is saying a great deal. At Doncaster, where we had to change, we dropped on our feet. From the screaming hordes of Denabyites who swarmed around us on every side, we had the good fortune to pull into our saloon three jolly good fellows from Denaby, and we all clung to each other like twin brothers or importunate creditors for the rest of the day.
The three newcomers were not footballers, but they had done some rather smart things on the cricket field. As a matter of fact they haven’t finished doing smart things yet. I will not make them famous; I will not call to their mantling cheeks the blush of modesty. Instead I will give them the names of –rthur R-b-ns-n, J-ck –sl-nd and W-ll— Sm-th, which of course, conceals their identity perfectly.
Alone with the Sea
We steamed through to Cleethorpes, as some of our party expressed a desire to see the sea. We saw it – by the gallon. But unfortunately we could see little else.
This little seaside resort – this working man’s Brighton – was silently deserted and locked up. In this majestic solitude strolled a constable, monarch of all he surveyed. Except for him we were there alone – along with the sea, and with no more prospect of “a sup or a bite” than the mighty deep in the golden beach afforded us. Surely this was not the promenade where, in the summertime the whiff of the cook shop strikes you full in the face at every dozen yards!
We swung round the corner at last, and struck what do I now believe to be the best hotel in Lincolnshire. And I know Lincolnshire! We found the proprietors a friend in need, and in small room a harbour of refuge. It was our friend R-b-ns-n, who conducted all the negotiation for those.
“Nae doot, “I said to him, “they’ll be thinking thee ye a braw Scottie, and maybe it’ll come cheaper.” “Nay Nay!” He said “ah’ll no be a Scottie while I hev silla in my trooser pockets. There is none such a county as Notts in the world”
However, I cannot help thinking that my loyal Notts friend was lacking in enterprise, for he looked the “braw Scotty” to the life. If only he had announced himself as such the good lady of the house would surely have knocked half a sovereign off the bill. Does he not know the tendency of the Scot to haggle?
However, while dinner was preparing, in answer to the company that he came from the county of cricketers, Notts, and the company at once retorted that he looked like nothing so much as a healthy and prosperous Yorkshireman. Our leader looked by no means certain on the point, and so, for the first time in the course of our day out, we started talking about football, and prospect of the teams.
We received encouraging news from a loyal Grimsbarian, with whom we entered into conversation, a man with whom it was a pleasure to talk to – a schoolmaster evidently. “I calculate,” he said, “that you will win 2-1 and I know precisely what team will take the field, and just what the directors think of it. Also we know all about your team, and we are positively afraid of ‘Cocky’ Bennett, who, we understand, is playing centre forward for you.”
Of course we hasten to assure the gentleman that there were more of the same material of which Bennett was made, and he opined that that settled it.
Encouraged by this news, and enlivened by a lively graceful skirmishing with the pretty barmaid in charge, we went to dinner. My brother in journalism, who stuck out for eating earlier in the day, expressed the opinion that this was the best part of the day’s proceedings. The young man from Notts took the chair, and a very healthy proportion of the dinner. The friendly port was circulating freely enough, and it loosened our tongues just the least bit. Our chairman was great. Having annihilated a luscious beef-steak and called for more, he beseeched us – the noblel minded creature – not to worry because he wasn’t eating anything. (Loud laughter)
Then we took to serenading the pretty little waitress after which our songs and her patience became exhausted we paid the bill and took to our overcoats.
And now we are bound for the match. As I think I said before, it was a glorious day, and there was a refreshing breeze which speedily sectors on good terms with ourselves.
At Blundell Park of course we ran directly into the teeth of the Babel which had left behind us at the Dock station, and while we were parleying with the ticket man we had to keep our eyes carefully away from one little corner of the ground, where the green rosettes played with an intensity which might well have upset the most imperturbable eyesight.
The ground is splendidly equipped and the 3,000 who passed the gates were so snugly stowed away in the stands that they look like the proverbial drop in the traditional ocean. However as the teams came out and faced each other in the following order it was seen that there was sufficient material to make a tolerably big noise.
(Match Report subject of a separate Article)
After the match
A Perjured Policeman
Having shouted ourselves to a considerable degree of hoarseness over a match which never produced anything really worth shouting about, we adjourned to the town for refreshment, the seven of us. The natural instinct of the stranger in a strange city, carried us to a burly Grimsby policeman, who, I am afraid, is but a child of sin, and a dry rogue at that.
Looking calmly back upon the incidence on Saturday, I can forgive that policeman. I wish him no harm, but if ever he was stranded in Mexborough, and it were in my power to lead him astray, I tremble to think of the use to which I would put that power.
He directed us to a dining room near the station, and in the virgin innocence of our hearts we asked no questions, but went. Magnificently, with a sort of flourish of trumpets, we ordered all sorts of impossible things – chicken, rabbit stew and ham. Brother -rthur again presided, and at once attached himself to a cup of undrinkable cocoa and a mass of indigestible chicken. Of course we all made timeworn references to the longevity of the ham, chicken, the student, yes and even of the cocoa’s
As that didn’t improve matters we indulged in a searching criticism of the tablecloth and the flowers in the vase, and made slanders statements about the policeman who was the author of it all. But through it all those two splendid sportsmen, Sm-th and -sl-nd hung onto that ham and chicken. They tackled it with greater determination than ever they displayed in the keeping of the first wicket partnership and even we, in the midst of our tirade against restaurant keepers in general, and this one in particular, could not help admiring the way in which this doughty pair overcame by sheer determination, washed down with tea, the chicken.
That tea was almost our last impression of Grimsby, for we spent the remaining couple of hours at our disposal in looking for that perjured officer, whom we failed to find in the few public houses in to which we peeped.
The return journey was accomplished without much incident. The greater portion of the population of the compartment which we selected were engage in playing snap cards to while away the tedium of a couple of hours jolt through Lincolnshire. Somewhere in the distance a raucous and rather intoxicated voice was murdering the nocturnal silence of the peaceful countryside, but the voice became subdued by choking degrees, and I think the owner was gradually slipping under the seat of his compartment. As I said before we all finished the journey rather washed out but very cheerful.
“But things like this, you know must be
after a chap’s been on the spree.”