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Talking To Chris Kirk
Talking To Chris Kirk

Exclusive Interview: John Cockerill (Part Four)

By: Chris Kirk
Date: 04/01/2008 (Last updated: 03/03/2008)

THE fourth and final part of Chris Kirk's exclusive chat with arguably one of the greatest footballers Grimsby has produced - John Cockerill. This interview first appeared in BAWC Issue Nine.

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Would you ever go back to football, and possibly management?

The only club I would ever want to manage is Grimsby Town, and I never really thought about managing anyone else. I had a few offers in recent years, and Lennie asked me to work with him at Cardiff, but I didn't want to uproot the family and take them to Wales. Keith Alexander asked me to take the youth team at Lincoln, but that wasn't enough for me, and when Alan Buckley went to Rochdale, he asked me to go, but it was only on a short-term contract, and it didn't feel right to get up and go there for just a few months.

What are you doing now?

I drive a petrol tanker. I never thought I would go back to using my HGV licence after all these years, but I did some driving in the RAF. I have done it for two years and it's great. You're basically your own boss, and there's no stress. It works well with the family as I don't work weekends, which is nice while the kids are so young.

If Town asked you to go back, would you?

Perhaps five or six years ago I would, but I really couldn't see it happening now, and certainly not while certain people are in charge. I would be gobsmacked if that happened.

What do you make of the state of affairs at Grimsby?

Last season, I really believed there was a horrible possibility they could go down, after Russell Slade left. He did a decent job when you look at it. He was reasonably successful and the team was unlucky against Cheltenham. The club messed him about a bit so quite rightly, he looked elsewhere. No disrespect to Graham Rodger, but friends who went to those early games said it was terrible, and some left after half an hour into the game against MK Dons - they said it was just shocking. I thought if they are not careful, they could go down.

I was driving and heard on the radio that Alan was coming back. I spoke to Alan on the day he was appointed. I was surprised in a way, but then again he was the best man to stop the rot. He turned it around, and thankfully he did enough to keep them up.

What's the problem so far this season?

They are not scoring the goals. They are playing the football but they need to stop conceding sloppy goals also. Above all, they need to improve the home form. How well they do will be dictated by their home form. If they don't improve that, they will always be around the bottom of the table, and I am sure Alan sees it that way. In the past we always had a good home record but one home win in six is not good enough. If the supporters see you winning at home they are happy, but the crowds will drop off if you're not. When they see a few wins the crowds will come back. Alan won't change his style and he'll keep playing the same way.

I was surprised he went with the 4-5-1, especially at home at the start of the season. It makes sense away because you are a bit more solid defensively. He's in charge, but it's a bit negative at home, and especially when he's been so rigid with 4-4-2 over the years.

I've not seen them play since I got the sack. I'm sure I will go and watch one day, but I'll pay to get in. No free tickets. (Ed: We can confirm since this interview was undertaken in November John Cockerill has, paid, to see a game at Blundell Park.)

What was your favourite period at Town?

Probably in those two years, when we got successive promotions. Particularly in the second season, we just took the football to a different level, and we did it regularly. It was good to play in that team, and I bet it was very good to watch.

Well, it certainly was. A wise, moustachioed man once uttered that one of Cockers' two goals in a 4-0 demolition of Huddersfield in that 1990-91 promotion season, was not just a great goal, but a greater goal you were not likely to see any time, on any pitch, anywhere in the world..... ever!

At the time, we perhaps laughed off this ridiculous claim, but if you get the chance to see the goal on YouTube, or on a grainy old VHS tape, have a look. Me and my Dad used to scoff at this claim, but you know what? Old Roly Godfrey was probably right, and who are we to argue.

This interview first appeared in BAWC issue nineā€¦for more information on the only current Mariners paper based fanzine email

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