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The First Time I Ever Saw The Town!

By: Futch Fan
Date: 19/11/2004

HOW did you become associated with the Mariners? Most people are introduced to their club by family connections - my son Mike went to his first Town match at Blackpool in the Cup, under the turnstile, and won a football taking penalties against Pool's obliging gorilla mascot, Tango.

Home > Features > 2004 Features > The First Time I Saw Town

However, my only family visit to Blundell Park had been to see a baseball match featuring American airmen based at Binbrook or somewhere. My Dad was no footie fan. He used to go on the odd trip with the engineers, but they involved a meal and a few sherbets, and he had no real interest in or knowledge of the game.

His real interest lay in watching the crowd, and he came home from one trip fascinated by the conduct of a dapper little bloke near him in the posh seats at Lincoln, who spent the entire game pouring out vile abuse onto the Imps and the world in general.

The old feller reckoned he was a henpecked husband and an oppressed bank clerk, who took out his frustrations on match days. Apparently, the final whistle saw him gather himself together and go home perfectly respectable.

Prior to dealing with events that night, I should like to give the relevant figures for the first three matches of that particular season in Division 2, just to remind the despairing bloke on the website calling for Russell Slade's testicles to be marinated, what once was:

August 23rd (a) - Liverpool 3 - TOWN 3 - Attendance 47,502
August 26th (h) - TOWN 4- Lincoln C 2 - 22,261
August 30th (h) - TOWN 3 - Middlesborough 2 - 21,004

The following match, the one in question took place on September 3rd, 1958, in front of 19,759 people at Sincil Bank, and my Dad was full of it when he got home late that night. God knows who drove that night, but it was pre-breathalyser in those days and the old man was in a state of what P.G. Wodehouse would have called "cerebral excitement".

He had actually enjoyed the game, but for quite the wrong reason. You see, he was completely colour-blind, a fact which Rich and I exploited in later years by sending him out in luridly clashing ties and socks, assuring him that they were a perfect match.

On this occasion, his colour-blindness and his complete lack of knowledge of the Mariners conspired together to get him to cheer for the wrong team. Informed beforehand that Town "play in black and white stripes"; he was unprepared for their white away strip, worn to avoid a clash with the Imps' red and white. At the sight of stripes, probably tight into the bargain and in that hothouse atmosphere in a time when opposing fans mixed freely, he spent the entire game cheering for Lincoln.

Embarrassingly, he only discovered his error in the bar afterwards. Wanting to contribute to the discussion, he gave it as his opinion that we should sign the opposition centre-forward, who had ruined our night by scoring four times in the second half. What had actually happened was as follows. Lincoln went in at half-time 4-0 up, only for the great Ron Rafferty, fed by wingers Johnny Scott and Jimmy Fell, to score four second half goals and send the away fans back across Lincolnshire delirious.

His subsequent interest in the game was limited to watching out for a fight on the pitch or a riot on the terrace during televised games. Both forms of disturbance were greeted with an excited cry of "Punch-up! Punch-up!"

My own first game was not until the next season, which saw us back in Division 3 after a spectacular plummet from those heady days of the '58-'59 campaign, and was in the company of school friend and neighbour Dave Needham. We beat Mansfield 2-1 in front of 11,207 at Blundell Park, and finished the season 4th. The scorer of both goals was again the god-like Rafferty, whose exploits in the memorable 61-62 season elevated him to the status of deity in my little firmament.

The player I most regret not seeing is Billy Cairns, and my favourite player since those heady days of Rafferty has been Paul Futcher. Another memorable sighting was of an unknown opponent giving a swift turn, hopelessly wrong-footing our defenders and belting it into our net one night at Millmoor in March 1991. The player? Clive Mendonca, who obviously impressed Alan Buckley as well…….

Incidentally, has there ever been a better wheeler-dealer in the transfer market than Alan Buckley? Just three examples should suffice:

Purchase Price
Sell-On Price
Clive Mendonca £85,000 £700,000
Andy Tillson Nowt! £350,000
Shaun Cunnington 55,000 £650,000

Grimsby Town: A Complete Record - Les Triggs et al
Grimsby Town: The 10 Seasons Series - Rob Briggs and Mike Ross
GTFC: A Pictorial History Geoff Ford

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