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Go on Macca!

By: Todd Bontoft
Date: 13/11/2000

On Saturday, John McDermott was thwarted by the weather to join Keith Jobling on a record equalling 450 league appearances for Grimsby Town. It now looks likely that Macca will reach this milestone on 18th November 2000, when the mighty Mariners play away to Sheffield United.

With an extended programme of away games beginning with Sheffield United, followed by Wolverhampton Wanderers 21st November and finally Fulham 25th November it will be the 2nd of December before home fans can show their appreciation when Town play Crystal Palace at Blundell Park.

Throughout its history, Grimsby Town Football Club has been blessed with more than its fair share of fine players and committed servants but for me none can better the contribution of John McDermott. During his 14 seasons with town he has given nothing but total commitment and performances of a consistently high standard. When he finally makes the magic 451st league appearance, no one can doubt or argue that John McDermott will be the club's greatest servant of all time. This will be a matter of public record, with no one able to boast more appearances but as is so often the case when looking at simple footballing statistics, it does not tell the entire story.

Firstly, it is remarkable that John will reach this phenomenal achievement in an age of professional football where money is king. A climate where the fan's patience is tested to its limit by players and their agents touting themselves around clubs, like mercenaries whose moral stance is determined by the highest bidder in some sad civil war zone. A player that stays loyal to one club, may often be left out of pocket having missed the inevitable signing on fees or the cut of a transfer fee or two.

Macca's loyalty has been undiminished and during his last contract negotiations ignored the reported interests of Ipswich Town and Sunderland in favour of a new contract at Blundell Park. Recently Macca, whose current contract finishes at the end of this season, has publicly stated his wish to sign another contract and continue his stay with the club. "I'm not looking to move anywhere and over the years I never have been," said McDermott. The possibility still remains that John could be one of only a handful of professional footballers to start and end their career as a one-club player.

There may be the niggling doubt at the back of his mind of 'what if'. John McDermott has been, for many years, considered one of the best full-backs in the first division, there is no hesitancy from me when I say his footballing ability could safely have graced many of the more successful clubs in this division and many in the premiership. The interest of Ipswich and Sunderland at contract time last time around is testament to his recognised talents. We have been fortunate, and so has a string of Grimsby Town managers, to have the team sheet almost pre-printed with Macca's name in the right full back position.

Hopefully any doubts he may experience at remaining loyal to Grimsby Town will be banished in years to come when he finally has the chance to look back on his football career. High in his list of memories will be a string of promotion and relegation campaigns, many more than the vast majority of professional players ever experience. Perhaps his memories of successful seasons, like those of town fans, will be all the more sweet for having experienced the darker times. But what he can be sure of is unstinting affection and respect of the supporters. Plus some not so boring seasons to come!

With all that surrounds the modern game, the obscene amounts of money, incessant wage demands and the absolute dominance of the 'big clubs to name a few, it is little wonder that many football supporters are a cynical bunch. John, now 31, has served this club with distinction since his debut away to Bradford City in 1987 and is the raison d'être why fans passionately follow their club through thick and thin.

But he's not perfect his goal-scoring ratio is atrocious!

Seriously, Macca restores your faith in football. He epitomises why we are passionate about our team, being a player whose consistency, professionalism and commitment cannot be questioned.

If only other clubs had players as loyal as Macca the game as a whole would be a lot richer for it.

The sooner he gets that new contract signed and he drives on to an unassailable record of appearances the better.

Go on Macca ! Go on Macca!

Todd Bontoft

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