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Grimsby Town FC 2009 Review
By: Sam Kinnaird
THE year 2009 will not be one looked back fondly upon by Grimsby fans: it was a year in which Town endured the agony of defeat after defeat alongside the ecstasy of securing League football for another season at Bournemouth. It’s a tough year to write about, there have been so many changes within the club, yet at the conclusion of the year we find ourselves in the same position. Anyway, here goes...
Town had to wait until 17th January to kick off their 2009 calendar year due to postponed games against Barnet and Morecambe. The time off gave boss Mike Newell the chance to scour the country looking to improve his squad, early in the month he moved for West Ham left back Joe Widdowson, midfielder Dean Sinclair from Charlton and winger Stuart Elliott from Doncaster. The trio waited patiently for their debuts, which came at leaders Wycombe. A much fancied Wycombe side who were unbeaten at home all season came out all guns blazing, but Town held their ground and scored a well deserved opener through Nathan Jarman. Against the odds the Mariners held on for a priceless 1-0 win, the travelling fans could scarcely believe the result. Newell downplayed the result, suggesting that the hard work was to come, but the win was celebrated up and down the land by Town’s loyal supporters. Another tough game at home to play-off chasing Rotherham was next, a rampant Mariners side won 3-0 thanks to goals from Widdowson, Adam Proudlock and Dean Sinclair. A third game on the spin against promotion hopefuls saw Town entertain Dagenham. An early Stuart Elliott goal was cancelled out by a Jon Nurse equaliser. The end of the month saw Town travel to Bradford City, an early red card for Rob Atkinson made life difficult and Bradford scored two late goals to earn the three points for the home side.
Town opened February with a well earned 2-2 draw at home to Exeter thanks to a Nathan Jarman double, and that was followed by a 3-3 draw at Barnet in which new signing Adrian Forbes scored a superb overhead kick. Town were six unbeaten and looking good in the league, but things soon turned sour when goals from Andy Morrell and Andy Bishop earned Bury a 2-1 win at Blundell Park. Darlington were the next opponents, and a valiant Town rearguard performance looked to be earning a goalless draw until young striker Curtis Main bagged a late goal to earn all three points for the home side. Again Town started well in their next game against Morecambe, and found themselves 2-0 up at half time. But two goals followed by a brilliant dipping volley at the death for Morecambe capped a superb comeback for the Shrimpers; it really was a case of déjà vu for the Mariners. The month was ended with a poor 2-0 defeat at Rochdale, and Town found themselves in 22nd place, just two points above Bournemouth who were chasing rapidly. Before the Rochdale game, Town announced the signing of 'keeper Wayne Henderson from Preston; the young 'keeper would go on to be a major player in the successful survival bid.
March began with a 1-0 home defeat to leaders Brentford, a freezing night brought little for the Mariners fans to cheer and things were again looking bleak as Town had gone nine games without a win. But Town’s season again took a sharp turn as local rivals Lincoln were hammered 5-1 at Blundell Park thanks to an Adam Proudlock hat-trick. A poor performance at Chesterfield then brought a 2-1 defeat as a late Ryan Bennett goal proved to be simply a consolation for Grimsby. Over 1,200 Mariners fans took advantage of free coaches to Chester City, the team just one place and a single point above Town in the table. An early Nick Hegarty goal was cancelled out by Ryan Lowe before Chester missed a guilt edged chance in the final minute, in the end most agreed it was a point gained for the away side. Next up was a trip to bottom side Luton Town, Mike Newell’s old club and a team rocked by a 30 point deduction at the beginning of the season. Ryan Bennett gave Town the lead before goals in injury time of either half gave Luton the points, Town had hit rock bottom. But once again the Mariners bounced back against the odds, and promotion chasing Gillingham were beaten 3-0 at Blundell Park to finally move Town back out of the drop zone. The final game of the month saw the visit of Aldershot to Blundell Park, and a dire game looked to be heading for 0-0 before a late Barry Conlon penalty secured a vital three points for Grimsby.
Town travelled to 7th placed Shrewsbury for the first game of the month of April, and looked to be heading for an unlikely three points when Barry Conlon nipped in at the far post to stroke home a Nick Hegarty cross. But they had to settle for a point after Shrews’ midfielder Ben Davies scored a deserved equaliser. Nearly 6,500 fans flocked to Blundell Park for the visit of Accrington Stanley, but a flat Town performance ended in a 1-0 win for the away side and it left the Mariners just a point above Chester with four games remaining. As Town kicked off at Notts County news filtered through of a 1-0 Chester win against Accrington, this seemed to rally the Mariners players as they produced a comfortable 2-0 win in front of over 2,000 travelling fans. A 3-0 win at home to Port Vale left Town four points clear of Chester and all but safe, but were made to sweat after losing 2-1 at Bournemouth. But the news eventually came through shortly before 5pm of Chester’s loss at Aldershot, Town were safe!
The final game of the season saw a dire 0-0 draw at home to Macclesfield, but no one cared. As Mariners fans invaded the pitch at the end, Mike Newell and his players were heroes. In the weeks after the end of the season Town waved goodbye to the likes of Paul Bolland, James Hunt, Peter Till and Chris Llewellyn as Newell looked to re-build his squad over the summer months.
A busy June saw a number of players linked with the club including Wayne Henderson, Adebayo Akinfenwa, Michael Boulding and Scott Kerr. None came to fruition, and as the fixtures were released Town fans were eagerly anticipating Mike Newell’s new signings.
July came and the friendlies were announced, Town fans could look forward to games against Leeds United and Doncaster Rovers as well as a trip to Devon for the Errea Cup. The signs were good as Town reached the final of the tournament, seeing off Yeovil Town and Rushden in the early stages. But strangely Grimsby pulled out of the final against Luton citing ‘safety reasons’ and the congested friendly schedule which saw seven games in as many games. A 1-1 draw at home to League One giants Leeds United brought much optimism, but defeats against Doncaster and Stockport seemed to level things. Town’s new signings included Peter Sweeney, Barry Conlon, Nick Colgan, Paul Linwood, Chris Jones and Michael Leary. A 12-1 win at local side Winterton Rangers saw Nathan Jarman break his foot, meaning around three months on the treatment table. And the final friendly saw a poor 3-0 home defeat to Scunthorpe. Despite this, Town fans were optimistic of a top-half finish in the coming season, with perennial Grimsby pessimist David Burns even tipping the club for a promotion push.
To be continued....
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