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Go With Groves

By: Hannah Cawsey
Date: 15/12/2003

AS a strong Mariners' fan, I know full well the topic of Groves is a controversial one and love him or hate him he’s the gaffer: what he says, goes. So, where does this leave us?

Home > Features > 2003 Features > Go With Groves

Paul Groves, manager extraordinare: a great passion for his football club, a love for the fans, and a very good footballing mind. Paul Groves has it all, but why hasn't he got the fans' support???

Over the years he has gone down in fans' ranking; first he was the saviour for Grimsby Town as he did the impossible and kept us in Division One for another season. However, the next season, money was scarce and the heroes who had fought so hard to keep us up were soon eyed up by bigger clubs and attracted by greater wages and a higher profile. This did not stop Groves’ determination to battle with the Mighty Mariners to what was a very bitter end. Relegated, gutted, after such a long campaign. The whole club saw the importance of keeping everyone at the club as a team in a tight unit; the board, however, saw money being spent on things that weren't a necessity, so Groves had a battle on his hands.

With the new season in Division Two approaching Groves, like anybody in his position, saw a fight on his hands. Players were dropping like flies and the Mariners lost much-loved players such as Danny Coyne and Georges Santos. There were also loan signings which couldn't be made permanent due to money problems, as in the case of the fantastic Michael Keane. The board had cut down on staff including the much-loved Wilkinson to insure Groves had the money for the players in which the fans had requested he get!

Now I am sure anybody can see, Groves seemed to be fighting a losing battle: no players, he’s running out of fans, and he’s having to admit to himself that his playing isn't what it used to be, This man's life must have been a wreck. For any footballer letting go of the first team action is hard to do, but then having to watch your team mates play where you once played must still be heart breaking. But Groves still had a managerial job to do, and the first thing on the agenda was new players. For a club that had just had to face relegation and had fought hard to keep out of administration, Groves had to shop in the PoundStretcher of players and look in all the bargain buckets, taking a huge gamble and buying lots, for a little. However, credit where credits due, any fan would admit, he did a fantastic job with signings like Tony Crane, Iain Anderson, Marcel Cas and many, many more. Groves had done the impossible and got Grimsby a full squad of experienced players and stopped the club from having to rely on the youth team in a time of crisis. He had done a fantastic job on such a modest budget, but were these players any good?

Well a bit of a rough start at first, drawing and losing the first few games it looked like the players Groves had got were straight from the Sunday League. However, giving them time to gel and, Grimsby had started to win. The start of the season has been somewhat inconsistent to say the least, but let's review the line of referees to start off with. Bad referees seem to be attracted by us and the referee in the game against Bournemouth is a case in point. But not to forget, Grimsby’s main man Alan Pouton had been out of action and it also didn't help in Grimsby’s run of bad luck.

Then within the first 3 games we had already had 3 players sent off leading, obviously, to three match bans. New boys Marcel Cas, Des Hamilton and Iain Anderson all were shown the red card, which for these players has proved to be rather out of character. And with Grimsby Town having division 2’s best disciplinary record the evidence is all pointing to a bad bit of refereeing. Iain Anderson picked up a injury and Grimsby’s attack was lacking in someone to hold up the ball for super Micky Boulding to score. Main man John McDermott was out with injury and with all these players out, Groves was left with a reserve team to look at. What to do, Groves' new boys were dropping like flies; this man needed reinforcements. And who better to do the job then Nicky Daws and Iffy Onuora. If Grimsby’s creases were to be ironed out these guys seriously had to impress to spice up Grimsby’s midfield and attack, and impress they did, giving the fans something to chant about and the team a great boost. Onuora and Daws gave the team experience and a chance to score some goals. And who better to do it, a Groves re-signing, Michael Boulding. On fire there’s no wonder he’s called quick Mick, always a contender for division 2’s top scorers list.

So, he'd got the experience, he'd got the pace, he'd got the skill and the goals, but not the results. In fairness some of the results did go our way. We won a few on the trot and even got a little winning streak going, but with the attendance going down as well as the support, the players weren't producing the goods. It would be stupid to say all the fans loved Groves, the majority are still behind him, some are against him for one reason or another and some just want to see the club do well. The club have had many ideas to try and get fans in, like children getting in for free. Reeling in young interest is extremely important to a club for the future: the more children that are fans now, the less teams like Man U and Chelsea etc, etc. have in the future. Also the women get in for £5; women’s interest in football is ever increasing and to get fans via that route is a great way to go down.

Paul Groves is not just building a great distant future for Grimsby Town Football Club. He’s creating a great recent one too, This is my appeal to the fans to forget about the things you don't like about Groves, and look at all the things he has brought to the club. The players whose names you chant at the matches and the offer which we all take up on. Your team needs your support and we will only get it when you get behind every aspect of the club, from the player to the manager to the board. The more support you give the better. Your Club Needs You!!

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