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THE LOWDOWN: Swindon Town vs Grimsby Town

We preview this weekend’s League Two encounter with The Mariners…

13 January 2023

Club News

THE LOWDOWN: Swindon Town vs Grimsby Town

We preview this weekend’s League Two encounter with The Mariners…

13 January 2023

Swindon Town, under the guidance of Interim First-Team Head Coach duo Gavin Gunning and Steve Mildenhall, welcome Grimsby Town to the County Ground this weekend.

The match has a little bit of extra spice with the return of Charlie Austin, with a packed SN1 expected tomorrow afternoon.

In the meantime, we take a look at The Mariners in more detail ahead of the clash.

A brief history…

Grimsby are the most successful team of the three professional clubs in Lincolnshire, being the only one to play top-flight English football.

The Mariners are also the only one of the three to reach an FA Cup semi-final, doing so on two occasions during the 1930s.

They’ve also spent more time in the English game’s first and second tiers than any other club from the county.

Notable former managers include Bill Shankly, who went on to guide Liverpool to three league titles, two FA Cups and a UEFA Cup triumph, and Lawrie McMenemy, who, after securing promotion to the then Third Division in 1972, moved to Southampton where he won the FA Cup in 1976.

Alan Buckley is the club’s most successful manager with three spells at Blundell Park between 1988 and 2008, guiding them to three promotions and two Wembley appearances during the 1997/98 season, winning both the Football League Trophy and the Second Division Play-off Final.

In 2008, Buckley took Grimsby to the capital again, but lost out to MK Dons in the final of the Football League Trophy. The Mariners had also reached the League Two Play-off Final in 2006 at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium, but lost the match 1-0 to Cheltenham Town.

Later trips to Wembley in 2013 and 2016 saw them defeated in the FA Trophy by Wrexham and FC Halifax Town respectively, having also lost at the venue in the 2015 National League Play-off Final to Bristol Rovers before finally gaining promotion by winning the 2016 final against Forest Green Rovers.

In 2022, The Mariners were promoted back to the Football League for a second time with victory over Solihull Moors at the London Stadium.

The clubs relegation in 2010 made them the sixth club to compete in all top five divisions of English football, after Wimbledon, Wigan Athletic, Carlisle United, Oxford United and Luton Town, and before Leyton Orient, Notts County and Oldham Athletic.

Grimsby’s 1939 FA Cup semi-final attendance of 76,962 versus Wolverhampton Wanderers is still a record at Old Trafford.

In 1954 they became the first English club to appoint a foreign manager in Hungarian Elemer Berkessy.

The club’s record appearance holder is John McDermott, who played 754 games between 1987 and 2007, while their leading goal scorer is Pat Glover, with 180 goals between 1930 and 1939.

The Stadium…

The Stadium was built in 1899, but only one of the original stands remains.

The current capacity of the ground in 9,052, after converting to an all-seater in the summer of 1995, reducing the number from around 27,000.

Several relegations in previous years has meant the expansion seating was also taken away, which minimised the capacity further from 12,000 to what it is now.

The stadium is Grimsby Town’s fourth ground in their history, having previously played at Clee Park, Lovett Street and Abbey Park in the club’s first twenty years of existence.

The record attendance at Blundell Park stands at 31,651 in an FA Cup tie against Wolverhampton Wanderers back in February 1937.

The two clubs also hold the record attendance at Manchester United’s Old Trafford Stadium when 76,962 people saw the two sides meet again in the 1939 FA Cup semi-final.

Previous meetings…

It’s pretty even between the two sides delving back to previous match-ups.

The pair have already locked horns this season, with Town holding on with ten men to snatch all three points at Blundell Park back in September last year, following the dismissal of Saidou Khan.

Luke Jephcott and Ronan Darcy were on target that day.

Previous to that, the last five meetings have all come in League two, stretching back to April 2018.

Town boast two straight wins in the most recent clashes, claiming a 3-1 victory at home back in February 2020 thanks to goals from Jerry Yates, Diallang Jaiyesimi and a Luke Hendrie own goal.

Earlier that campaign in December 2019, Town emerged victorious at Blundell Park recording a comfortable 3-0 win, courtesy of Eoin Doyle and a Jerry Yates brace.

In February the season before there was nothing to chose between the two sides as it finished 1-1, before Town were beaten earlier that campaign in the reverse, going down 2-1 in Lincolnshire.

Before that, Grimsby boasted bragging rights with two wins during the campaign before, winning twice in 2018, 2-1 at home and 1-0 away.

Grimsby Town this season…

The Mariners currently sit sixteenth in the table after twenty-three games, with eight League Two wins so far.

They head into tomorrow’s clash on the back of two good one-nil wins, coming over Burton Albion in the FA Cup last weekend and Stockport County in the league the game before.

Those wins will certainly give Paul Hurts’ side some confidence, coming off the back of two straight league defeats, where they suffered a 3-2 loss away at Harrogate and 1-4 humbling on home turf to Salford City.

Incredibly, despite their current league position, they remain just eight points off the play-off places, boasting two games in hand over many of the sides above them.

The manager…

Paul Hurst is in his third spell at Blundell Park, having been appointed as joint boss in 2011 alongside Rob Scott, before taking on the role solely for three years between 2013 and 2016.

Spells in charge of Shrewsbury, Ipswich and Scunthorpe followed, before taking the Town reigns again in December 2020.

He took Grimsby up last term from the Conference and has made an impressive start to life back in the Football League.

As a player, he only ever played for two clubs during his fifteen year career, making 438 league appearances for Rotherham United and seventeen while on loan at Burton Albion in 2008.

Players to watch…

1. Max Crocombe

The Kiwi has two New Zealand international caps to his name.

The stoppers first taste of English football came at the age of sixteen at Buckingham Town.

His performances earned him a transfer to Oxford United where he’d remain for the next six years.

Despite receiving limited game time, Crocombe developed his game with an array of loan spells. After a season at Carlisle, his next move took him to Salford, and it was while with The Ammies the 29-year-old was sent off for urinating at the side of a stand.

Moves to the Australian A-League followed before a return to England with Grimsby in 2021.

2. Michee Efete

The 25-year-old started life in the Norwich academy, and while with The Canaries, he enjoyed several loan spells.

The first took him to the Icelandic Premier League where he featured eight times for Breiðablik.

Next, a move closer to home followed as Efete lined up 27 times for Torquay United.

Upon his release from Norwich, the full back spent time with Maidstone, Bath and Billericay before finding a home at Wealdstone.

The defender played a key role in The Stones’ promotion to the National League and found himself in the divisions team of the season at the campaigns conclusion.

6. Luke Waterfall

The Mariners captain has been at Blundell Park since 2019 and has since gone on to record over a century of appearances.

The central defender played a pivotal role in their promotion last season.

In the play-off semi-final, Waterfall scored a brace, including a last minute winner, before skippering his side to success in the showdown.

Prior to his time with Grimsby, the 32-year-old captained Lincoln to the National League title, FA Trophy, EFL Trophy and the FA Cup quarter-finals.

15. Harry Clifton

The talented 24-year-old tops the clubs goal scoring charts this season.

He’s represented Grimsby since joining as an under-10, and the local lad signed his first professional contract in the summer of 2015.

His first taste of men’s football came on loan at Grantham Town where he appeared 47 times scoring on six occasions.

In 2018, Clifton marked his professional debut, first professional goal and an FA Cup strike.

Last season, his seven league goals helped the Lincolnshire outfit return to the Football League.

11. Otis Khan

The Ashton-under-Lyne-born attacking midfielder is no stranger to the West Country having enjoyed a fruitful two season spell with Yeovil Town from 2016 to 2018.

While plying his trade for The Glovers, Khan made 87 outings, netting on 17 occasions.

Despite developing his game in the Manchester United academy, Khan’s career has seen him operate predominantly in League Two.

After leaving Yeovil for an undisclosed fee in 2018, Khan joined Mansfield Town. Here, the 27-year-old made over a half century of appearances recording four goals.

Similar baron spells at Newport, Tranmere and Leyton Orient have since followed.

After penning a contract extension at Blundell Park last summer, Khan has since gone on to match his combined goal tally at his previous three clubs, scoring five goals this season.

Interestingly, in 2016, Khan appeared on the ITV game show Ninja Warrior UK.

10. John McAtee

The exciting 23-year-old is currently on loan from Championship side Luton Town having joined The Hatters in the summer from Grimsby.

The striker began life in Shropshire with Shrewsbury Town but would find game time limited, going on to enjoy several loan moves.

In 2019, the forward joined Grimsby’s rivals Scunthorpe United following his release from Shrewsbury. He would later make the move across the Humber to The Mariners in 2021, where he would be reunited with manager Paul Hurst for the third time.

The Salford-born forward quickly won over the fan base scoring 16 times and winning both the player and young player of the season awards.

19. Lewis Richardson

The Burnley loanee scored the all-important winner in The Mariners last match against Burton Albion.

His strike ensured that Grimsby progressed to the Fourth Round, where they’ll face either Luton or Wigan.

The talented 19-year-old has been with Burnley since 2011, and in 2018, scored five goals on his debut for their under-18s at the age of just 15.

He’d soon go on to make his first professional appearance in a clash against Tottenham, becoming Burnley’s youngest Premier League debutant.

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