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Question of the Week
Do you support Cleethorpes Town?
Nov/Dec 2000 Review
By: Rob Sedgwick
October's good run ended with a bang, with Grimsby losing all four games in November, although all of the quartet were difficult away games at Watford, Sheffield Utd, Wolves and Fulham,
David Nielsen's form had supposedly attracted the interests of a number of other clubs, and although Grimsby and Copenhagen had agreed a fee (believed to be around £400K) for the Danish striker, it soon became apparent that securing the Dane's signature was not going to be a formality, chiefly due, in many's eyes, to the players reported wage demands of £6,000 a week.
Norwegian Knut Anders Fostervold eventually signed on a three month loan from FK Molde , and was soon joined by Menno Willems (pictured), a left-sided defender on a two month loan from Vitesse Arnhem. Both players were needed immediately to cover for injuries in the regular squad.
Danny Coyne's outstanding form over the previous few months earned the Grimsby goalkeeper a recall to the Welsh squad for a training session in Spain.
Probably the next of the year's foreign trialists to arrive shocked the Grimsby public most, accustomed as they were to arrivals from the West Midlands, even places as far away as London were unusual under Alan Buckley's long spell in charge. Chinese national defender, Zhang Enhua (pictured), joined the Mariners on a three month loan from top Chinese side Dalian Shide.
Following the Zhang signing, Lennie Lawrence pledged that there would be no more similar transfer dealings in the foreseeable future. Two days later the fans were astonished to learn that three Argentinian trialists, dubbed "The Three Amigos" had arrived at Blundell Park for a trial!
NELC's meeting to rethink their decision to modify the area's local plan was delayed for three weeks to allow the NIMBY's of Great Coates more time to prepare their "case", prompting a statement from the club, urging fans to attend the meeting and thanking them for their support so far.
With the council's decision on the local plan due at a meeting at the Town Hall (pictured) in early December, in the days prior to the meeting the club emphasised just how important the decision was to the future of Grimsby Town Football Club, the premier sporting icon in the region. Lennie Lawrence spoke out the day prior to the meeting saying: "It's vital that we try and keep up with clubs in this division who have far greater resources than us. The club, the area and the town needs it."
Grimsby Town vice chairman Bryan Huxford also issued a statement shortly before the meeting, saying: "I am sure that all the supporters who attend tomorrow's vital Council meeting will be conscious of the need to uphold the good name and image of the Club."
The day of the meeting came and after a debate lasting for over three hours, NELC sensationally approved Grimsby Town's plans for a new stadium development at Great Coates by a majority of 18-9. It was an extraordinary turnaround, and is brilliantly described by Todd Bontoft, who was present at the meeting.
In mid-December the news broke that Bradley Allen faced an anxious wait to determine whether he will require an operation to correct an ankle injury, and may miss the remainder of the season. It was a blow for the club, as both Allen and Steve Livingstone (who himself is facing a ban in the new year) had seemingly benefited with the arrival of David Nielsen. Lennie Lawrence in the meantime was forced to use Kevin Donovan as a makeshift striker for much of December.
It was a frustrating month for Lennie Lawrence (pictured) in his attempt to negotiate a contract with Danish striker David Nielsen. The two had waged a war of words in both the British and Danish press. Lawrence eventually got frustrated with the lack of progress and imposed a Monday deadline for the talks to end, or else the deal would be withdrawn.
The deadline came and wait and eventually Lawrence backed down saying only that he was allowing the Dane more time to forge an agreement with his current club, FC Copenhagen. "I have heard circumstances have altered slightly and sufficiently enough for me to keep the door open" said the Grimsby boss. At the time of writing this is still the situation, with Lawrence also spending more time on securing new contracts with some of the rest of his squad, whose contracts expire in the summer.
On the pitch the Mariners enjoyed a fair amount of fortune in December beating Norwich, and receiving an early Christmas present with a 2-1 win at Preston. Town also drew with Crystal Palace (home), Wimbledon (away) and Stockport (home) during the month.
That completes the review of the year, which has been highly memorable. Whether 2001 will be its equal only time will tell.
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