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Town Take to the Oldest Stage in the World

By: Mike Worden
Date: 06/08/2001

IN THE post-Taylor Report era it is now reasonably common for clubs to be saying goodbye to grounds that have been their home for many years as they look to a bright new future in a new stadium.

When Grimsby turn out at the Drill Field, Northwich on Tuesday night, there will be a special significance for the small number of fans watching. The Drill Field is the oldest football ground in the world and Grimsby could be the last Football League team ever to play there as "The Vics" look to sell up and move to a new ground next year.

The Drill Field has been in continuous football use since 1874, four years before The Mariners were formed. In fact one of Grimsby’s first ever away matches in the Football League was at the Drill Field in 1893. 127 years of continuous football will come to an end though as Northwich look to pay off their debts and build a stadium good enough for promotion to the Football League.

Unlike Blundell Park, Northwich’s existing ground is in the town centre and has significant development value. Planning consent for the new ground has already been granted although some supporters argue that a ground share with town rivals Witton Albion is the most sensible option. The Cheshire Club considered selling up 10 years ago but the supporters rallied round and Northwich remained afloat and at its historic home ground. This time though they won't be so influential.

It’s only a friendly and Grimsby will probably field an under strength side as Lennie prepares for the real action on the 11th. Nevertheless, the occasion will have a degree of poignancy about it. Possibly the last football league team to play on the oldest football ground in the world. Ironically a player called Gregg Blundell has been proving himself in Northwich’s pre-season games, scoring a number of times. You can almost see the headlines now.

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