Grimsby Town FC: when football can still make us dream
From the highest seats in Blundell Park, 10’000 rows up, one can see the North Sea and even smell its saltiness, but when the ‘Mariners’ take to the pitch, fans of Grimsby Town Football Club only have eyes for them. A deep-rooted love for their club, an intense passion that never fades, which this year has become a healthy collective frenzy. The club from Cleethorpes, guided from the bench by Paul Hurst and playing in League Two, were a revelation in the 2023 edition of the FA Cup, the oldest and most fascinating football competition in the world.
Grimsby Town FC were able to eliminate five teams, one after the other, all from higher categories than their own: Plymouth, Cambridge United, Burton Albion, Luton, and the Premier League club Southampton. A thrilling and exciting ride that came to an end in the quarterfinals against Brighton, another successful team from the English top division, coached by Italian Roberto De Zerbi.
Entering the legend of the FA Cup
The FA Cup is the oldest and most fascinating football competition, so much so that it is considered a true icon in England. To write one’s name between the pages of a tale that began in 1871, the year the Football Association Challenge Cup was established, is to enter the legend, and Grimsby Town FC have done just that. The team, who had been missing from the quarterfinals of this event since 1939, became the first club in the history of the FA Cup to eliminate five teams from a division higher than their own. Until recently, the ‘FA Cup Giant Killing Award’ was awarded to the club that achieved the most incredible result of the season in the cup, i.e. metaphorically ‘killing’ a giant. If this trophy were still around, Grimsby Town would certainly have deserved it.
145 years of history
The birth date of Grimsby Town Football Club is 1878, when at the Wellington Arms Pub on Freeman Street, some members of the local Worsley Cricket Club decided to form a football team to occupy the empty winter evenings after the cricket season was over. Two years later, the club bought their first playing ground in Clee Park. In 1899, they moved to Abbey Park and then, ten years later, to their current home, Blundell Park. Since that pub meeting, Grimsby Town FC have become the most successful team in Lincolnshire, the only one to have reached an FA Cup semi-final twice.
It is a team closely linked to its home territory, Cleethorpes, a town overlooking the North Sea and considered the fishing capital of England. It is no coincidence that the club’s crest features a stylised fishing boat and three fish. A team and a community closely linked to each other, a passionate fan base with a great sense of belonging to the ‘Mariners’ colours.
Become Your Own Hero
Never before has the spirit of the Macron Hero, emblazoned on Grimsby Town FC shirts, conveyed its message like in this beautiful football story. Spirit of sacrifice, passion, commitment, and determination to achieve a goal. No one is born a hero, but they can become one, just as the boys of the English club and their fans did. An entire community has accompanied the ‘Mariners’ in this incredible winning dream.
A dream that has kept them awake at night, so much so that coach Paul Hurst, during the victorious post-match against Southampton, jokingly said: “A lot of teachers will forgive me if the boys go to school tomorrow wearing the Grimsby jersey or if they are a bit distracted”. In Brighton, there were over four thousand fans following the ‘Mariners’. Grimsby Town’s ride stopped there, but history was written, and the tale of this incredible season will never fade.
The magic of football
This is how football is experienced, from the top league to the ‘furthest’ away field of an amateur tournament. In the 1950s, while still learning the ropes of coaching, on the Grimsby Town bench sat a young Bill Shankly. He later became a true icon at Anfield, where he wrote Liverpool FC’s history. Shankly, who lived and breathed football with great passion, used to say: “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death. I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that”. This is football, even today. Ask the people you meet on the streets of Cleethorpes as you inhale the saltiness of the North Sea wind.