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Dave Boylen
Dave Boylen

Boylen on Town Managers

By: Dave Boylen
Date: 05/04/2006

IN my thirteen years at the club I came across as you can imagine quite a number of managers, and I was actually privileged along with Dave Worthington to pick the team when Bobby Kennedy was sacked at the end of the 1970/71 season.

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It was a Lincolnshire county cup final game against Gainsborough Trinity at Blundell Park. And I think Town won 3-0.

Then the big man Laurie McMenemy came and everything turned round for the better, the club suddenly came alive. We all went out to meet the supporters, went down to the docks at six in the morning (that was hard work) but more than anything we started to win on the football pitch, and eventually won the old Fourth Division in front of 22,000 mad Grimsby Town supporters.

After two years at Blundell Park which were very successful Laurie moved on to Southampton where the rest is now history, but unfortunately in my view Town gave the job to the manager of our local football rivals Scunthorpe United, Ron Ashman, who was a really lovely person, but in my opinion too trustworthy in the dressing room, and I can assure you we had some characters in that dressing room who I knew would take advantage with Uncle Ron.

At the start of Ron’s reign I was suspended for the first fortnight of the 1973 season, so it took me a number of weeks to force my way back in the side, due to the Mariners gaining a large number of draws and the occasional win which put Town in a comfortable halfway position in the league. The coach at the club was one of the best I have ever been under, his name Colin Appleton - what a coach he was. He spent every afternoon training young potential players, it was always a joy to take part in his training sessions.

That season Town finished in a very good position and I got voted Player of the Year and was presented with the trophy by no other than Geoffrey Archer who went on to be involved in all different scandals when he was a MP for the then Conservative town Of Louth.

Some of the managers I have played for I dare not mention their names they were that bad; some were unlucky the guy who replaced my first manager Jimmy McGuiagan just lasted three months, but he was so unlucky with the results going against him and at that time the directors did not give him the time to turn the club round.

I will name the next manager who followed because he stopped me going to Derby County at the age of eighteen years of age. Brian Clough offered £25,000 which in them days was a lot of money, but Bill Harvey the then manager wanted along with the greedy Town directors of the time £50,000 which in the sixties was a incredible amount of money for eighteen year old, so what did Cloughie do: went and signed Archie Gemmell from Preston, and just look at the career he had at Derby County. I will never forget the words that Bill Harvey said to me when he called me into the office to tell me that Town had turned down the offer of Cloughie. He said "you don't want to play for Brian Clough, he is not a very nice person!". Just look at what he achieved at Derby and Notts Forest!

I am sure that relationships are far better between players and directors of Grimsby Town than they were in my days; you were tended to be looked down on and the directors always thought they were doing you a favour by just talking to you. They were bad memories of the Football Club in my view. To play for Town out in front of the Pontoon was always a great experience for a Mancunian like myself, who idolised Man City and when I stepped out on Blundell Park I always thought I was playing at my beloved Maine Road in Manchester!

Dave Boylen

Thanks to Dave Boylen for taking the time to answer these questions, and to Jake Olley for organising this article.

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