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Eighteen Months Later

By: Tony Hamilton
Date: 13/11/2003

THIS weekend’s game against Stockport Country will bring back bad memories for one ex-Grimsby Town loan player. Martin Pringle was on his way back from a long-term injury when Charlton Athletic decided to loan him out to get match fitness.

Home > Features > 2003 Features > Eighteen Months Later

Grimsby Town took Martin on loan towards the end of the 2001-2002 season and hoped he would help the Mariners in their relegation fight.

Martin was happy to come and play for Grimsby knowing he would get first team football for the length of his loan period, whatever that would be - but how wrong that was to prove.

In his first game against Forest, Martin showed what he was capable of and that he wasn't living on his pedigree, of which the highlight was playing for Benfica for the Champions' League and being capped by his homeland Sweden.

But all this was going to end in only his second match back by a reckless tackle from behind by a fellow professional who to this day hasn't even apologised for what he did.

The tackle from behind, by Stockport County’s Dave Challinor, shattered both Pringle’s tibia and fibula in his leg and also went totally unpunished by the match day official which also had a bearing towards Martin’s future which I'll explain later.

Stockport County's manager at the time, Carlton Palmer, huffed and puffed about Challinor and his tackle but as usual this was all hot air. At the time of writing this piece Challinor is still on the books of Stockport County and will be playing against Town on Saturday.

Due to the match official not giving Challinor a red card this meant that Pringle couldn't sue for compensation, as he couldn't prove the intent of the tackle because Challinor went unpunished. Martin tried all he could to get over his injury and play professional football again, spending over a year attempting to get fit again but it was to no avail. He then finally conceded, hung his boots up, and made the decision to retire.

After living in London and announcing his retirement Pringle decided to move back to Sweden and wanted to stay in football in some capacity. Thanks to his ex-agent Craig Hutchinson I found out what Martin was doing in Sweden and all the up-to-date information to help me write this piece.

Martin is currently co-managing a Gothenburg Club, Gais, who were promoted this year to Allsvenskan (Swedish National D2) and is happy in his new existence and looking forward to the challenge next season. For next term the management team at Gais is first team coach Roland Nilsson (ex Coventry) and Martin, so good things will be expected of the pair of them when the new campaign starts.

Martin still asks from time to time how Grimsby are doing and hopes the club get back on track, as well as speaking very well of Paul Groves and the rest of the staff at Blundell Park.

In my correspondence with Craig over the last few months he wonders if Grimsby Town would benefit from a link with Gais with loans and players in mind. In my opinion this would be good as the deal with Lilliehammer is in doubt and, if viable, would benefit both clubs

The other problem Martin has come across is the insurance he had. I can't say too much about this as legal litigation is pending but the insurance company is dragging their feet as they claim he was still injured when he was sent to Blundell Park on loan.

This all adds up to Martin losing £500,000 if his claim is not accepted and him and his ex-agent are still in the throes of legal action. So when you watch the game on Saturday remember what happened the last time we played Stockport in the league, and how it affected a footballer's life in general.

Tony Butcher's Report of Pringle's last game.

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