FAN VIEW: It’s rare for Grimsby Town to enter the national consciousness
There There is no road through Grimsby that leads anywhere else. The town is not a stopover but a destination, along with Cleethorpes, the seaside resort to which it is linked.
Half a mile from arcades and fish and chip shops on every corner is Blundell Park. All that lies beyond, 120 meters beyond to be precise, is the sea wall with the River Humber and North Sea stretching into the distance. It is England’s closest ground to the sea.
There’s something magical about supporting a football club that’s sitting on a geographical branch. It’s our city, our club and we guard it jealously.
The club crest features a trawler and three fish, while Harry Haddock has once again become the fashion accessory de jour of the FA Cup, 34 years after the famous day when 3,500 inflatable boats took to the skies on the guest terrace for a fifth-round tie at Wimbledon were shot Pflug Lane.
It’s rare for Grimsby Town to burst into the national football consciousness, but being a Mariner is part of who we are every day. For good and bad.
Grimsby Town travel to Brighton today for the next step in their memorable FA Cup run
There’s something magical about supporting a football club that’s sitting on a geographical branch
It’s rare for Grimsby to burst into the national football consciousness, but being a Mariner is part of who we are every day. For good and bad.
My first Town game was a 4-1 win over Southend in January 1972, a year of promotion under Lawrie McMenemy. Since then, there have been seven more promotions, three of them via the playoffs. There were also two play-off final defeats. And eight relegated. Sixteen division changes in 51 seasons.
Seven days at Wembley. Three wins, four losses. Standing next to my father as a Wayne Burnett golden goal won the 1998 Auto Windscreens Trophy final against Bournemouth is a glorious moment of disbelief.
Losing to Bristol Rovers on penalties in the National League Playoffs final in 2015 is a scar that never quite healed despite our redemption 12 months later on the same pitch.
It’s never static, rarely boring. As high as the top of the Championship table on the night England beat Germany 5-1 in Munich in 2001. As low as a 5-0 loss at Braintree Town to finish bottom of the National League a month later just under 10 years later.
But through it all, Town fans travel in droves. From Chasetown to Chelsea, from Brigg Town to Brighton.
Singing songs about nights in Nunsthorpe (a quiet residential part of Cleethorpes) and greasy chip butties and the more familiar ditty ‘We only sing when we fish’.
The Mariners had the highest away average in last year’s National League, while 4,300 traveled to Southampton on a Wednesday night earlier this month.
More will travel from the east coast to the south coast again today to face a side of Brighton we shouldn’t beat.
On the same Saturday in December that Brighton’s Alexis Mac Allister helped Argentina progress to the quarter-finals in Qatar en route to the World Cup, I watched Town play a League 2 game 1-0 at the new Plow Lane lost to AFC Wimbledon. worlds apart.
Sunday is an unequal competition. We know that. But here we are and the black and white streaks were in much worse places.
It took us six years and three failed play-off campaigns to fight our way back into the EFL under Paul Hurst after first exiting in May 2010.
Our miraculous playoff ride that got us back into the Football League was unforgettable
Paul Hurst has led us to two promotion campaigns from the National League
Last season we came right back in a technicolor flash, again under Hurstie, who was brought back to Blundell Park by our new owners, a self-made internet entrepreneur in Jason Stockwood and Andrew Pettit, the head of a butcher family. City fans through and through.
If Leicester’s Premier League win was a tale of impossible, so was our National League play-off ride last season, beating three clubs to finish ahead of us, two of them away, all with a goal down and all of them in the final minutes of extra time.
And so to this year’s cup run. We are the first club in the history of the FA Cup proper to have beaten five teams from a higher division in the same season.
can we make six? Probably not. But we will sing anyway. And we will still be proud.
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