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Town's Giants Of The Past - Part 3

By: David Harbord
Date: 20/05/2004

I was first hooked by the Mariners as a youngster in 1959 and they have been playing with me on the end of a line ever since, writes David Harbord.

Home > Features > 2004 Features > Giants From Grimsby's Past

From Rafferty, Cockerill and Jobling through to Jevons, Crane and Coldicott I have been buffeted alongside the boat, mainly through very stormy waters, and only occasionally in calm seas.

I went into journalism as soon as I left school and within a couple of years I was working with Charlie Ekberg at Humber Press and one of our main duties was to report on all Grimsby's home matches for the national Sunday papers.

It was very rare for a paper to send their own reporter to Blundell Park so we had an awful lot of writing to do...500 words for the News of the World, 450 for the Sunday Mirror and People, 350 for the Sunday Express, 250 for the Sunday Telegraph, a running report for the Green 'Un etc. Each paper had to have a different angle and they all wanted their copy filed within 10 minutes of the final whistle!

There was no such thing as laptops in those days, of course. It was all bashed out on a typewriter and rung through by dodgy phones from our draughty press box near the players' tunnel.

Charlie took the main brunt of the writing but, because there was so much that had to be compiled by the whistle, he had to start his reports at half-time and hope there wasn't a goal rush in the last 10 minutes!

One occasion stands out during a particularly boring 0-0 draw when legendary centre-forward George McLean got the ball just below the press box and put his foot on it, tempting the opposition to take it off him. Charlie's voice rang out: "For God's sake, George, do something, I've got 500 words to write for the News of the World." (I suspect the language was a little fruitier).

George looked up, shrugged his shoulders, called back: "I'm doing my best, Charlie" and carried on down the wing.

I have been exiled in London for many years now, but I am still in journalism, as deputy editor of the Daily Star Sunday and I am delighted to say my sister-in-law, Michelle Lalor, is editor of the Grimsby Telegraph.

Working on a Saturday prevents me from seeing many matches but I am proud to say I was at Wembley for both of those memorable games a few years ago and many of my friends now admit they look for Grimsby's results on a Sunday morning. Many of them know little about football, which is probably just as well!

I do not intend to get into the politics of Grimsby's dire present state..I will leave that to others more qualified and nearer to the goings-on at Blundell Park. And I have no illusions that the problems will soon be solved.

It has never been an easy trip being a Mariners supporter, but I would not have missed it for the world.

Best wishes to everybody in the same boat!

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