The Grimsby Town FC


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James Brown

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 18/06/2000

Cod Head James Brown with wife Tenzile

The following is an interview of James Brown undertaken by The Fishy.

When did you first start supporting the Mariners, and what was your first game?

I started supporting the Mariners in about 1980. I didn't really understand much about the game then as I was only 6 but I seem to remember us just missing out on promotion to the old 1st division. I didn't actually go to my first game until the 88-89 season, by which time we had sank to about 4th from bottom of the old 4th division. Scunny at home and a 1-1 draw if I remember correctly. We just missed out on the playoffs the year after appointing Mr Buckley.

Who is the best player you ever saw wearing a Grimsby Town shirt?

Dave Gilbert's skills in going past people did it for me.

If there is one game you were allowed to go back in time and watch what would it be and why?

Wrexham at home, last day of the 1990 season. Won 5-1 with an absolutely amazing hatrick by Birtles. We had already won promotion by that time, and Wrexham were singing "We're in Europe, You're not". Didn't seem to bother us much that day though. Also, Exter at home, the last day of the following season. I remember how the ground went deadly silent when the Exeter manager's son hit a 30 yarder to make it 2-1. But we hung on.

What are your favourite and least favourite away grounds?

Favourite: Rotherham - Maybe because we won 4-1 there that night. But it's a neat little place with a decent pitch.

Worst: Southend - awful place, in the rain and wind.
Crystal Palace - we always lose and it's really expensive.

What, in your opinion, are GTFC's best and worst seasons since you have been supporting them?

2 seasons ago has to be the best for me. I went to both Wembley games. Being a bit of a traditionalist, I think it's great that we finally got to the famous twin towers before they are ripped down. The 1st half of the infamous Laws season was corking also though. We were riding high about 2nd in the 1st division. Then Bonetti met a plate of sandwiches and it was never the same again.

Worst: The 2nd half of the season when Brian Laws went mental and was sacked and the club faffed around with Kenny Swain and Cockerill.

What is the most eventful day you have ever had in the course of following the Mariners?

During the 2 promotion years (89-91) I used to travel to all the away games with a gang who thought they were trouble makers. It makes me laugh now. We were always where the trouble was because we went looking for it; leaving the ground early etc. However, if anything really happened we just watched or ran away. We saw it all, police vans being turned over (Halifax), buses being bricked (Chesterfield), trains being wrecked (Mansfield), fighting with fans & police etc etc. One of our gang even got ran over by a police horse once. How we laughed! :o)

Who is the greatest ever GTFC manager?

Alan Buckley. Buckley, however, isn't extravagent enough in buying players. Laws brought in foreigners... Bonetti, and a couple of other Italians came on trial before he went. It's players like that that get you up the league as it showed when we were riding high that season.

Contrary to many peoples thoughts, I firmly believe Buckley IS a 1st division manager, ie. he can get any team out of the 2nd division, but can't get any team into the Premiership. I think he should go.

How many games a season do you get to now, and what do you do while Town are playing games that you can't get to?

I travelled to every home and away game when I was living in Cleethorpes during the 2 promotion years (89-91). Then I moved, firstly to Sheffield (Uni), and now London (work) and now only make it to about 4 games a year. When I can't make it I'm glued to the latest scores on BBC teletext all afternoon! Mmmmm Sad.

Name your all-time starting eleven since you have been watching Town?

Sherwood, McDermott, Handyside, Tilson, Lever, Groves, Gilbert, Childs, Rees, Bonetti, Birtles ....... closely followed by Mendonca, Cockerill and Stevie Saunders (nah only joking about the last one)

Do your children support the Mariners?

None yet, but they will.

Do you think we should move to a new ground?

The move is a catch-22 situation in my view. If we stay at Blundell Park we won't be able to go into the premiership in the future. If we move we will have a 21,000 capacity stadium with less fans than now, inside it. ie. about 4,000 on average. Cos they won't want to travel out to Great Coates. That'll be an awful atmosphere. Actually, thinking about it... Imagine this scenario... we move to the new stadium. The board charges £18 entry to try and get back the money they spent on it. This reduces the crowd to 3,000, this means the club doesn't get enough cash to pay costs like players wages, and we do an Aldershot and go bust.

It may be safer to stay where we are.

If I lived in Grimsby like when i were a lad and went to all the home games, then i'd say cool, go for a new stadium. but cos I'm miles away and will hardly ever go, then i think "it doesn't matter where they play as long as i've got a footy team to follow in the classified results on a saturday" if we stay at Blundell Park, then i'll have a footy team for sure.

If a money bags chairman stepped in and bought players like Blackburn did, like Shearer, then i'd say "yeah, go to a new stadium and pack it full for every game with people wanting to see the top players". but when they can't even afford to keep Lester then moving could be a big mistake.

James Brown

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