Grim… oops, sorry, lost concentration there. What we meant to say is Grimsby Town – a team we first belatedly met in 2016. We say “belatedly” in the sense that we were yearning to meet. That’s not actually the case. But we had a sense that we’d somehow kept clear of them without really knowing why. Maybe it comes down to the fact the Mariners went down to the Blue Square Premier at the same time Boro’ came up in the opposite direction? And even when we did get together in the same division, they went and ruined it by going back to non-league football in 2021.
Our first 10 encounters had a lot of ground to make up on some of our other contemporaries. We won six, the Mariners just the two – although it was the biggest of the lost; a 5-2 home win when we first met. Oh, and you can claim that one event put this fixture on the map. What larks, eh? Anyway, here’s a vaguely interesting factoid. Grimsby Town became only the fourth side ever to play in each of the five premier divisions of English football with their relegation to the Blue Square Premier in 2010. It’s not all grim, is it? Yeah… you see what we’ve done there – haven’t you?
Formed as Grimsby Pelham in 1878, it took just one year for them to wake up to what an odd name that was. So, that was binned in 1879 and the Mariners took on the name you know and love them by today. A decade later, they would become founder members of the Football Alliance; lasting just three years before the Football League angels came a-calling and picked them to become one of their own. In those formative years, things were a bit of a rollercoaster too. In 1901, they were champions of Division Two and made it into the top flight. But what goes up…
At the end of the 1902-3 campaign, back down they went to Division Two. Just seven years on, they were completely out on their ears; failing to gain re-election and forced to join the Midland League. Oh, the infamy. Luckily, it was to be a short-lived exile. In fact, 1911 was when they were allowed back in. And that would be the start of almost 100 years as a continuous Football League side; ruined only by their relegation to the Blue Square Premier in 2010.
For the sake of brevity and your sanity, we’ll pick up the pace now.
Leading up to World War Two, they won the Division Three North title (1926) and secured a return to the top flight of English football on two occasions (1929 and 1934). Believe it or not, there were even two appearances in the FA Cup semi-finals (1936 and 1939). After World War Two, however, two things didn’t happen. There were no more top flight outings for the Mariners. Nor did they reach the last four of the FA Cup again. There were, however, plenty of ups and downs between the second, third, and fourth tiers. It’s in no-one’s interests here to list them all.
Why do we know the Mariners?
As recently as 2003, the Mariners were a second tier club. It all started to fall apart during the 2000s, however. First, they were relegated to Division Two (2003). Next, there was a second successive relegation to Division Three – or League Two as it was rebadged that summer (2004). The 2005-6 campaign saw them get to the playoff final; a rare high at that period of time. But it was not their day – and the following seasons saw them slump towards the foot of the Football League. Having ended four points clear of dropping into the Conference in 2009, there was no escape one year later.
As is so often the case for fallen League giants, it took them six attempts to get back into the Football League. And it was by this point in time that we ran into them; Boro’ having gone up twice, missed out on a third straight promotion, and returned to League Two in the same period.
Grimsby Town Travel Information – Distance: 156 miles
If you look at a map of the UK, you might find that you could probably draw a straight line from Stevenage up north to Grimsby. But when it comes to going between the two, the UK road network is less direct. That’s not to say that it’s a faff, however, as we’ll now explain for your benefit.
From Stevenage, head north on the A1(M) and A1 for more than 92 miles; a path that takes you away from the east coast slightly. Don’t worry though, for we shall be correcting that with our next step once we reach Newark-on-Trent. On the north-eastern edge of the town, exit for the A46.
Take the first option at the roundabout after leaving the A1 and once again after passing over the bridge. There will be a filter lane though. Head along the A46 and remain on this course until you get to Lincoln. Here, you’ll link up with the A15; join this heading in a northbound direction.
Keep on the A15 until you reach the M180. At this point, take the third exit at the roundabout for the Grimsby-bound carriageway. After 6.6 miles, remain on the A180 for another 13 miles until you reach Grimsby. Keep following the A180 through the town until you reach a McDonalds.
Blundell Park has no car parking at the ground, which leaves you facing the prospect of having to find on-street parking. One option is to go towards Cleethorpes and try the side streets down there. But do keep an eye out for any local restrictions.
Services to: DONCASTER (for STEVENAGE)
The nearest station to Blundell Park is Cleethorpes – a mere one mile down the road. Leave the station via the access road, which will bring you out by No.1 Pub. From here, turn right onto Station Road and then turn left straight away for Prince’s Road. This will take you down to Isaac’s Hill Roundabout.
At the roundabout, turn right onto the A180 Grimsby Road and just continue along this road until you reach McDonalds and the stadium itself.
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