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A World Cup Poser

By: Mike Worden
Date: 19/06/2002

WHICH of the second round World Cup teams has been defeated by Grimsby Town?

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The answer to this trivia question which could have been making its way through the town’s pubs and clubs over the month is the co-host nation, Japan.

Japan brought their national side to Blundell Park for a pre-season friendly in August 1971 and lost 7-2. The team were on a European tour and had already played at Hull and Southampton. Just why they chose Grimsby is not clear. It was an easy win for Town, with Jack Lewis opening the scoring after just three minutes. Mike Hickman scored a hat-trick in the second half. A crowd of 3,353 watched the match and Boston’s infamous referee Ray Tinkler officiated.

Four days after the game Town kicked off the new season by thrashing Scunthorpe 4-1 and went on to win the fourth division championship in style with Matt Tees scoring an amazing 27 league goals. Hickman and Brace added another 32 league goals between them that season.

Japan returned home, remodelled their game on the attacking skills of Tees, Brace and Hickman and resurfaced 30 years later on the world stage.

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