Fish Tales Man: Up the Mariners

  • Working the Coulbeck pontoon - a rush to get to the game by 3.15pm

24 Jun 2016

The Mariners. Not only one of the names given to seamen, but the nickname of the local football club – Grimsby Town F.C.

If Grimsby has one of the oldest Royal Charters, it also has one of the oldest football teams in the country. Like all good ideas, the club was formed as the result of a meeting in a public house, the Wellington Arms on Freeman Street, just along from the Dogger Bank Inn. On 20th September, it was agreed to form a town football team, taking the name of the Earl of Yarborough’s family – Pelham. The name Grimsby Pelham lasted for only a year or so, when because of its growing success, it was decided to rename it Grimsby Town F.C.

The first games were played on an area of land on the town border called Clee Park. In 1884/85, a season ticket for the ground cost - wait for it - FIVE SHILLINGS! In 1889/90, the team moved from Clee Park to Abbey Park, the area where People’s Park now stands, taking their old stands with them. Football was the working man’s game, and thousands flocked there from the Docks and Fish Docks. I’ve no doubt that a strong smell of fish hung in the air because the lads wouldn’t have had time to wash and change.

In 1899, just as now, controversy arose when it was proposed to move to a third new home – Blundell Park. Many objected, but for the Fish Dock workers it would have been a boon, the ground being less than a mile from Riby Square, the main dock entrance/exit, where home times resembled the Tour de France! Picture the scene on match days. Hundreds of fish workers and trawler lads, amongst them lads from Coulbecks and Bannisters, knocking off work on Saturday afternoon, climbing on their bikes and pedalling like billy-o down to Blundell Park. Bikes would be parked in people’s front gardens for a small fee (it was tuppence in the 1950s!)

The bulk of the lads headed for the “Grimsby End” where there stood a small covered stand, which became known as the “Pontoon Stand" because the bulk of its inhabitants worked on the pontoon – and no doubt because it ‘stank’ like the pontoon as well. And there was another oddity about the Mariners. Because the fish dock lads worked well into Saturday afternoon, kick off time at Blundell Park was always 3.15 pm, whilst the rest of the league kicked off at 3 pm.

We’ve always enjoyed being a little bit different around here.

Up the Mariners!

Fish Tales Man

  • “To superstitious fishermen, the colour green was always deemed a ‘bad omen.' As a result, Grimsby Town goalkeepers always wore a different colour jumper. Back in the 50s it was red or blue. Nowadays of course, they’re all the colours of the rainbow – except the green stripe!”

    Fish Tales Man