Holker Street
Barrow AFC v Grimsby Town
Blue Square Premier
Tuesday, 7.45pm, January 24th 2012
Glynn Sharkey

1. Why you were looking forward to going to the ground (or not as the case may be):

Although my Dad was from Carlisle and also spending a lot of my youth in the area I had never set foot in the town of Barrow-in-Furness. As such I was looking forward to this trip even though it was a Tuesday night game, the good old Travelodge sale rooms came into their own once again.
I had preconceptions of a gloomy, run down industrial town on the edge of a desolate windswept peninsula but I was going to be proved wrong.

2. How easy was your journey/finding the ground/car parking?

It's not a trip to the shops. Me and the other half set off at 9.30am and arrived about 1pm via the M181/M180/M18/M62/M61/ M6 and the seemingly endless A590. We dumped the car at the Travelodge which was situated just across the road from the ground and headed into town with six hours to kill.

3. What you did before the game pub/chippy.... home fans friendly?

It was slinging it down with rain, so the first port of call was the "Furness Railway" a Wetherspoons outlet, rude not to really as it was steak club day. After a few pints and a full belly, plus with the rain slowing, we had a walk round the town centre such as it is. One weird thing we noticed is the High Street is in fact a side street with no shops at all!

We tried a few watering holes and eventually ended up in a boozer near the docks called the Devonshire Hotel, a good old fashioned, no frills pub. There is a massive ship on the docks which up until recently was used as a 2,500 capacity nightclub, it's also a great location for any err... submarine watchers.

From there we made our way across a long road bridge to Walney island and settled down in the Ferry Hotel which can be seen from the bridge. A Crown carvery establishment which does good cheap food and good priced beers. Our friend Chris arrived by train and met us there, he was stunned by the quality of the "nosebag" as he calls it. This place is highly recommended by us all. Fed and watered and with kick off approaching we set off on the 15-20 mins walk to the ground.

4. What you thought on seeing the ground, first impressions of away end then other sides of the ground?

Wet and bedraggled we arrived to see four proper old school floodlight pylons, a scene that always and without fail, warms me to any ground. The right hand side of the open terrace behind the goal is for away fans with some seats in the covered stand to the right also available. A good third of the open end just in front of the goal seems to be no man's land, with the rest of this terrace given to the home fans to the left of the goal. We ended up in the seats (more about this below) which had a good view of the open terrace to the left, a small covered stand opposite and to the right a very shallow bit of terrace backing onto what appeared to be their supporters club. All in all a small, basic, old footy ground. I fell in love with the place.

5. Comment on the game itself, atmosphere, stewards, pies, toilets etc..

Being 2-1 up and maybe being just in control, I felt Barrow's last minute equaliser came from nowhere. Saying that, at setting off time that morning I would have took the point, also our rival's results were not too bad either. Less than 200 Grimsby still managed to make themselves heard and I am sure had it had been a Saturday there would have been 500 plus.
It really is a long haul for a night game.

One sour note was the stewarding, we were told for twenty shillings we could transfer into the seats. There was a steward who seemed to take pleasure in refusing people the transfer with the retort they would have to stand and get wet. He tried it with us three (Two middle aged blokes and woman) but we managed to blag it in, many others were refused.

6. Comment on getting away from the ground after the game:

Easy! Straight back into town and the Furnace Railway Wetherspoons, after checking the latest time we could get a table at the Mithwali curry house across the road. The curry rounded off a brilliant but wet day out and we were more than ready to fall into bed after the 15-20 minute walk back to the Travelodge.

7. Summary of overall thoughts of the day out:

A rainy January night in Cumbria might not sound like everyones idea of fun but me and the other half were more than impressed. The next full day was spent across the bridge exploring Walney Island, with it's villages, hamlets, caravan parks, pubs and wildlife. A stunning piece of land well worth exploring for it's scenery and history.

It's very surreal with the shipyards and town of Barrow stretching out below the mountains of the lake district from one side of the island, and less than a mile on the other side, the crashing waves of the Irish sea on a windswept rocky beach. If Grimsby are still in the same league as Barrow next season, this will be a definite must do.


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