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Mentioned Part 35

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 15/11/2001

Home > Features > Mentioned > Mentioned #35


"No disrespect to the likes of Grimsby..."

thursday 15th november

Cast your net wide to find tales of Grimsby heroics

From the Times by Alison Rudd.

Why it took a cup victory over Liverpool to put the town on the map at last

Football is so emotive, it is easy to get carried away and stray into hyperbole. When David Beckham scored in the dying seconds to send England to the World Cup finals, well of course it was not the most momentous occasion in your life or in mine, but for a few seconds it felt like it. On Tuesday night, Grimsby Town knocked Liverpool out of the Worthington Cup. Liverpool won both domestic knockout trophies last season and the Uefa Cup to boot. Grimsby took Gérard Houllier’s men to extra time, at Anfield, went a goal behind and then won the tie with a wondrous strike. Immediately the commentators called it the greatest moment in Grimsby’s history. Lennie Lawrence, the club’s manager, said: "This will live in the memory of everyone from Grimsby forever."

Yeah, yeah, it’s only a football match, Lennie. Grimsby folk have far more weighty and historic events to dwell upon. Actually I checked and they don’t. I asked a sweet woman at the tourist office in Cleethorpes what the other significant dates in Grimsby’s history might be and, quick as a flash, she recalled Grimsby Town’s victory in the Auto Windscreen Shield three years ago. "Right, but apart from football?" I asked. Silence.

I trawled around the information centres of the region. Grimsby used to be the world’s biggest fishing port - everyone in North East Lincolnshire knows that - but it hardly counts as a great moment. Finally I found an official spokesman. Is there a another great date in Grimsby’s history apart from the win at Anfield? Immediately he referred me to the Auto Windscreen Shield final and, for good measure, recalled that Grimsby had beaten West Ham United once. "Right, lovely, but apart from football?"

King John gave Grimsby its charter in 1201 and in the same year Grimsby nearly built a castle. The Pilgrim Fathers almost sailed from Grimsby and a local man, John Whitgift, did become the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1583. But the spokesman was forced to concede that knocking the Worthington Cup holders out of the competition could indeed be Grimsby’s greatest moment. Somehow the town’s links with the birth of the fishfinger cannot compete.

The football club was once managed by Bill Shankly, the king of hyperbole who went on to create the phenomenon that is Liverpool FC and said of the Merseyside club: "I want to build a team that’s invincible, so that they have to send a team from bloody Mars to beat us."

Grimsby are not Martians; at least there is nothing in the archives to suggest that they might be - I checked - but they beat Liverpool, and Shankly for one would have understood why the townsfolk are smiling and twirling inflatable fish above their heads.

Spotted by Grim Rob.

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