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Grimsby Are Playing For Youth's Future

By: Richard Lord
Date: 09/04/2002

THE way this weekend's fixture at home against Burnley is shaping up, anyone would think lives depended on it. With the future of ITV Digital in doubt and the fact that Grimsby don't know which division they will be playing in next season, some players really are playing for others' livelihood.

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Two of the Mariners' form players are Michael Boulding and Bradley Allen but neither of them are contracted to be with the club next season. The sensible thing to do would to sit down with the players and offer them contracts - if the management team think they are good enough to play for the club.

But Grimsby can't splash money about as easily as Wolves or Birmingham, which makes Paul Groves and Graham Rodger's task even more difficult. Failure to stay in the First Division will result in less TV money - if any - and a fall in attendances and merchandise, meaning less income to the club on a whole.

That is common knowledge, which shows why survival this season is of paramount importance.

This domino effect would then affect players' contracts, or the renewal of them, and we would see many players departing Blundell Park in search for another club. For players like Boulding and Allen, this won't be a problem. But it will be for the younger players like the emerging Darren Mansaram, Kirk Wheeler and Graham Hockless.

These are the people whose futures depend on the first team's survival. These are the people who will suffer if Town are relegated. Grimsby Town, over the years, has been based on a good youth system that has seen players like Croft, Handyside, Oster, McDermott and Lever emerge.

This youth system, so vital to Town's future, will be thrown in doubt as to whether to carry on if the worst happens. Not by choice, but by force. Grimsby would no longer have the financial stability to hold the set-up together.

A victory on Saturday will put the Mariners on 50 points and result in almost certain survival for another year. On top of that the youth system will be able to carry on and help the youth team players progress through the ranks. For Ross Thompson and Co, this will be excellent news and they can continue to commit themselves to professional football.

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