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A Proud History

By: Barry West
Date: 25/05/2002

ALTHOUGH exiled in the Midlands for the past 30 years, I am still an ardent Mariners fan, seeing them as often as possible (usually away games) and have been a fan since the age of 8 - er, that's 56 years ago!

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I inherited my devotion from my Dad, and have since passed this rogue gene on to my son and daughter (and I am now working on our 2 year old grandson!). Whether such a lineage gives me any more right to pontificate than the most recent Mariners convert, I'm not sure.

However, suffice to say that it would be a devastating blow if Grimsby were to go under. The football season would never be the same again. It is doubly painful this season to have witnessed, and experienced the joy of, such an astonishing escape from relegation, only to hear that from a financial point of view, relegation would have been preferable. It really is very hard to take. We must pray for a miracle: I have always had confidence in Peter Furneaux's commitment to the club, and still believe the promised land of the new stadium can be achieved.

So - what have been the highlights of the past 56 years? Well, nothing quite matched 1998, quite the most wonderful year in Town's history. (I like to think my Dad was looking down from heaven and beaming. It was always his unfulfilled ambition to visit Wembley, and to have seen Town win there, not once, but twice, would have been the climax of his long life).

Nevertheless, there have been many other great days, usually associated with promotion, though not all. 1956 was the year of my A levels, but my history teacher tacitly approved my bunking off to see the Mariner win promotion that year. Bob Crosbie was the "one season hero" then, but a bigger hero was Ron Rafferty, the best and most consistent finisher for Grimsby that I ever saw.

But the greatest game? That surely was the amazing 5-5 draw with Fulham, who were at least one division above us, in the Cup, in (I think) 1952. I still have vivid memories of that game, 50 years on. We were 4-2 up at one stage, then went 4-5 down and all seemed lost - only for us to get a magnificent equaliser 5 minutes from time, at the Pontoon End.

I have lots of other memories of course, and would be hard put to it to name my favourite all-time player, because so many have graced the famous black and white shirts. But I think it would have to be Joe Waters. He not only personified the pride we should always expect from the Mariners, but also showed superb leadership qualities, drive, determination, considerable ability and sheer delight when he scored. I was very sorry the Club never managed to give him a role after his playing career ended.

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