SkyBet League Two Season Preview: Grimsby Town

Macclesfield Town
Posted:Mon 25 Jun 2018


Originally founded as Grimsby Pelham in 1878, the club changed its name to Grimsby Town a year later and have maintained their nickname ‘The Mariners’ since.

Grimsby are notoriously one of the most successful professional clubs in Lincolnshire, having enjoyed top flight football and reaching two FA Cup semi-finals in its 140-year history.

The Mariners have enjoyed the luxury of being managed by some famous faces, which includes the Liverpool icon Bill Shankly and Southampton hero Lawrie McMenemy.

Having originally played at Clee Park in 1880, the club relocated again nine years later to Abbey Park. It wasn’t until 1899 when Grimsby moved to their current home Blundell Park; home to The Mariners for 119 years.

The club first played league football in 1888, and they didn’t officially enter the Football League till 1892. Grimsby tasted their most successful season prior to World War Two, with the club obtaining 5th place in Division One, their highest-ever league position in the 1934/35 season.

Blundell Park seen its record attendance in 1937, as 31,651 people attended Grimsby’s home tie against Wolverhampton Wanderers in the FA Cup. They went onto reach the semi-final of the FA Cup but were knocked out by Arsenal, and their next FA Cup semi-final appearance came three years later, however they were beaten 5-0 by Wolves.

Grimsby were relegated from the First Division at the end of the 1947/48 season and have never returned to the top tier since. After initially failing with their attempt of an immediate return, Grimsby spent much of the 1950’s and 1960’s alternating between the Second and Third Division.

In 1968 Grimsby dropped into the Fourth Division for the first time, and the following season seen the club having to apply for re-election to the league having finished second from bottom. As a result, Blundell Park seen its lowest recorded attendance as only 1,833 turned up for their 2-0 defeat to Brentford.

After climbing their way back to the Second Division in 1980, and recording an impressive 5th place finish in 1984, Grimsby suffered two consecutive relegations which saw them drop back into the Fourth Division at the end of the 1987/88 season.

The on-field problems were also mirrored by the club’s financial plight, but having staved off administration, the appointment of Alan Buckley as manager changed Grimsby’s fortunes and three years later they had enjoyed two successive promotions.

Grimsby began to consolidate themselves in the second tier under the guidance of Buckley with two mid-table finishes, but the most positive aspect of the club was the development of their youth academy.

Buckley left the club in 1994 to join West Bromwich Albion which saw Brian Laws take over the club. Despite a successful first season, the club were relegated at the end of the 96/97 season. Buckley returned that summer and preceded in overhauling the playing staff at the club, which resulted in the club achieving two Wembley trips in one season as they secured the Football League Trophy before being defeated by Northampton Town in the Play-Off final.

After remaining in the second tier for five years, Grimsby suffered severe financial implications due to the collapse of ITV Digital. The club struggled but enjoyed an upturn of fortunes under Russell Slade, where they were challenging for automatic promotion by the end of the 2005 season.

Grimsby’s 100 year stay in the Football League was ended by the hands of Burton Albion in 2010, as they suffered a 3-0 defeat which condemned The Mariners to relegation from League Two. As the fifth tier of English football has proved, making an immediate return to the Football League is no easy task and Grimsby spent six years in the Conference, but their absence from the Football League pyramid was ended in 2016 as the club defeated Forest Green Rovers in the Play-Off final. It was the second time they had visited Wembley that season, however they were beaten by Halifax Town in the FA Trophy.

Grimsby have since consolidated their status as League Two regulars, with a 14th and 18th place finish respectively. The club will be hoping that they will be able to return to their glory days in the future.

Last Season

Grimsby’s 2017/18 season provided a fair few voices of frustration and discontent amongst The Mariners fanbase as the club flirted with relegation for the majority of the season.

A summer signing spree seen the likes of Paul Dixon and Martyn Woolford join the club, but one win in their opening four games proved to be a microcosm of their inconsistent campaign.

Things looked to be on the up from the end of September as Grimsby went seven games unbeaten, albeit including four draws, but their form took a turn for the worst and The Mariners went on a barren run where they didn’t win a match from mid-December through to February, which ultimately cost Russell Slade his job.

Paul Wilkinson stepped up as caretaker manager, but he was unable to change the clubs fortunes as he was defeated in both of his two games in charge. Grimsby turned to former AFC Eskilstuna manager Michael Jolley, and the ex-Burnley U23’s coach managed to get the ball rolling and preserve Grimsby’s League Two status.

Four wins and three draws from the remaining 10 matches was enough for The Mariners to finish 18th place with 51 points, scoring only 42 league goals in the process, an aspect that Jolley will be hoping to improve for the coming season.

Head to Head

The Silkmen have met Grimsby on 20 occasions, the most recent encounter being Macc’s 2-1 victory on New Year’s Day 2015.

Macclesfield wins: 8

Games drawn: 8

Grimsby wins: 4

How to get there

By train – The 3-hour journey requires you to make the short 11 minute trip to Stockport from Macclesfield station, before taking a Trans Pennine Express service to Grimsby Town station from Stockport. Alternatively, services from Manchester Piccadilly run to Grimsby Town, again via a Trans Pennine Express service.

By car – The trip east involves two possible routes, one heading north onto the M61 past Manchester and crossing the River Humber by Hull, or the most ideal route with less mileage involves heading towards the M18 before switching onto the M180, which takes you straight into the regions of North East Lincolnshire.

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