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FOLLOW THE LEADER Skipper can’t wait to walk Mariners out against his former club... pages 2/3

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How Town are shaping up ahead of the Conference Play-Off Final... (last three results) May 3: Won 3-0 v Eastleigh (H) (Play-Offs) April 30: Won 2-1 v Eastleigh (A) (Play-Offs) April 25: Won 3-1 Aldershot (H)

McKeown Gowling Pearson Nsiala Magnay

Mackreth John-Lewis


Sports Writer Twitter: @liamwoodGT

THERE will be no split loyalties when Craig Disley pulls on the armband and leads Grimsby Town out at Wembley.

Predicted line-up



Brown Arnold Palmer

On the bench Parslow, Clay, Chapell, Hannah, Pittman.

Team news DOUBT: Gregor Robertson (knee)

Betting guide

Standing between the Mariners and a dream Football League return are Bristol Rovers – one of the skipper’s former clubs. Disley made over 200 appearances for the Pirates between 2004 and 2009, scoring 28 goals. But now a fully-fledged Mariner, the 33-year-old is ready and raring to go as his side target Wembley glory. And he’s even more focused given that Town were beaten – by Wrexham – at the home of football in 2013.

We know it’s all about winning now – there’s no point in going to Wembley and getting beat Mariners skipper Craig Disley Disley told the Telegraph: “I’ve had the privilege of playing at Wembley a couple of times before. “I led the boys out in the FA Trophy against Wrexham – but this a different kettle of fish, and a much bigger game. “Hopefully I get picked, because leading the boys out when we have a chance of returning to the Football League would be amazing. “I can’t put into words how it would feel, especially against my old club. “We know it’s all about winning now – there’s no point in going to Wembley and getting beat. “It’s going to be a great final, and both teams deserve to be there. “In terms of fan base – and the history of both clubs – I think it’s the right final. “And I’ve obviously got strong connections

with both clubs, but I’ll be doing everything I can to make sure we go there and win.” On the road to Wembley, Paul Hurst’s side were 5-1 aggregate winners against Eastleigh in the semi-finals. Nathan Arnold was the star of the show in the first leg, scoring two world class goals as Town won 2-1 at the Silverlake Stadium. And at Blundell Park, the strikers took over as Ollie Palmer (2) and Lenell John-Lewis clinched a resounding 3-0 victory. Disley added: “We had a little celebration for getting to Wembley, but now our focus is on Sunday. “I think the squad is better than I’ve ever known it here. “Without performing to our best over the two games against Eastleigh, we still saw it out pretty comfortably. “When we finally click one day – hopefully that will be in the final – we can beat anyone.

“Fingers crossed we can put in that performance at Wembley.” After a mid-table finish in his first year at Blundell Park, Disley has captained the Mariners in two – unsuccessful – Play-Off attempts since then. But there is a different feeling this time around. Disley continued: “It just doesn’t compare to the past two years. “We have fallen short and not performed, but against Eastleigh we got the job done – even if we weren’t at our best. “I think we more than deserved to go through. “In the first 30 minutes we struggled to be fair, there’s no doubt about that, and we thought it was going to be a long afternoon. “But Ollie (Palmer) produced that little bit of magic to put us ahead, and we went on to complete the job.”

CAPTAIN’S LOG: Grimsby Town skipper Craig Disley is preparing to lead the Mariners out at Wembley on Sunday (2pm). Above right, Disley celebrates with England striker Ricky Lambert during his Rovers days. Right, from left to right; the captain nets against Lincoln this season, and John Fenty consoles Disley after the heartbreaking FA Trophy Final loss to Wrexham – at Wembley – in 2013.


How the Pirates are shaping up ahead of the Wembley showdown... (last three results) May 3: Won 2-0 v Forest Green (H) (Play-Offs) April 29: Won 1-0 v Forest Green (A) (Play-Offs) April 25: Won 7-0 Alfreton (H)

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GRIMSBY TELEGRAPH Wednesday, May 13, 2015


ROY OF THE ROVERS: Tom Parkes (left) faces Grimsby Town during the Conference’s regular season. Scott Brown and Chris Doig look on.

Parkes has eyes on Play-Off prize

BRISTOL Rovers defender Tom Parkes is hoping to complete a season of reformation on a high by adding another medal to his burgeoning personal trophy cabinet. Parkes recently swept the boards in the Player of the Season awards as Rovers pushed Barnet all the way to the final day of a long season in the chase for the Conference title. Missing out by a single point, Parkes, who has bounced back from being stripped of the captaincy by newly-installed manager Darrell Clarke towards the end of last season, will be a certain starter when Rovers attempt to clinch promotion in the Play-Off Final at Wembley on Sunday (2pm). “I knew at the start of the season that I had to prove myself to a lot of people, Parkes said. “The gaffer made it clear what he wanted me to do to remain part of things here and I took that on board and worked hard over the summer. “I wanted to show people that I was worthy of wearing a Bristol Rovers shirt and was determined to earn my respect back as a footballer. I think I have gone some way to doing that winning the player of the year award is a sign that all the hard work has been recognised.” Standing between Rovers an

immediate return to the Football League are a Grimsby Town side who managed to claim just one point from the meetings between the two sides during the regular season. Rovers produced one of their performances of the season to sneak a 1-0 win at Blundell Park in February, six months on from a goalless draw that was played out in front of the BT Sport cameras at the Memorial Stadium on the opening day.

1-0 The scoreline when Bristol Rovers played at Blundell Park during the Conference’s regular season “I think we have massively improved as a team since we played them on the first day of the season,” said Parkes. “We really found our momentum towards Christmas and were really disappointed not to win the league in the end. “We also played well up at their place and taking four points off them during the season are massive positives for us to take to Wembley. “This will be a different game, though, and in one-off situations like

this it might simply come down to which side manages to raise their game on the day.” Parkes will return to Wembley today for the first time since receiving a heavy fine from an FA disciplinary panel after getting sent off and subsequently getting involved in a verbal altercation with a linesman in a game against AFC Wimbledon in October 2012. Rovers will engage in a walkabout of the iconic venue, and Parkes said: “It will be good to have a walk around and get used to the pitch and the surroundings on Monday so that we won’t be fazed when we come out of the tunnel on the day of the final. “It’s a good day out for everybody, but, for us, the most important thing is to win the game rather than to get caught up in the other stuff. “I’ve got about 15 people coming to watch, but some of the boys have got more than that. It has been important to get all of the stuff like organising tickets out of the way early. “It really is down to business this week where all of our focus is on the game and working on what we need to do to win it. It is a slightly different game to many of the others we have had this season, but when we are on the coach to Wembley we have to see it just like any other.”

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ON OUR WAY: Grimsby Town boss Paul Hurst (left) is preparing to take his troops to Wembley on Sunday (2pm). With a place in the Football League awaiting the winner, the Mariners face Bristol Rovers at the national stadium in the Conference Play-Off Final. Below, some great memories of this season’s away trips, as Town fans show their support at Eastleigh (above) and on the final day of the regular campaign at Alfreton. Main picture: Rick Byrne

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Hurst expects Mariners’ fans to rise and cheer side on to victory “OUR fans may be outnumbered at Wembley, but we expect them to rise to that, respond and hopefully cheer us on to victory.”

That’s the view of Grimsby Town boss Paul Hurst ahead of Sunday’s crunch encounter with Bristol Rovers (2pm). With a place in the Football League awaiting the winner, the Mariners are preparing to take on Darrell Clarke’s side at the national stadium. But while the Pirates are expected to outnumber those travelling from Lincolnshire, Hurst insists fan-power is Town’s advantage. He told the Telegraph: “The crowd is going to be ridiculous for a Conference game. “Of course that may come into it – because you can’t really prepare the lads for that. “Surprisingly for us, from what you hear, they are going to outnumber our fans.

It’s the biggest game I’ve been involved in – I know how much it means to the fans Mariners boss Paul Hurst “But I think our supporters will enjoy that, rise to it and respond. “Some teams have advantage over us in some areas, but then we have plenty in our favour as well – such as the fan-base. “I expect them to really get behind the boys, and hopefully they can cheer us on to victory.” On the Wembley experience, Hurst added: “I was 21 when I played at Wembley in the Football League Trophy. “It was a big deal – and at that time in my career I’d not been involved in too many games of that magnitude. “But overall I would say this is the biggest game I’ve been involved in. “I know how much it means to the fans, and to the football club. “We have been desperate to do it ever since we walked into this football club – and it’s always been our main aim.” Finishing third in the league table, Town continued their regular season form with a

by Liam Wood

Sports Writer Twitter: @liamwoodGT

routine victory over Eastleigh in the Play-Off semi-finals. Nathan Arnold inspired the Mariners to a 2-1 win at the Silverlake Stadium, netting stunning volleys in each half. And then in the return at Blundell Park, Ollie Palmer (2) and Lenell John-Lewis took over as Town completed a 5-1 aggregate verdict. Meanwhile, it was an equally problem-free passage for Rovers. Clarke’s men – who finished the campaign just a point behind champions Barnet – were largely untroubled in a 3-0 result. Hurst continued: “It’s not easy when you consider how many other clubs in the Conference had the same aim as us. “Everything we have done has been geared to try and get back into the Football League, and this group of players have worked extremely hard all season. “They have put in good performances, and achieved good results. “But now we have got one more big ask of them, and each other – that they do everything they can to get over the line.” In the bookies’ eyes, Rovers head into the showpiece as favourites. But while Town finished five points behind the Pirates – and failed to win either of the regular season games – Hurst believes there is nothing to pick between the teams. He said: “We had a slightly better aggregate scoreline in the Play-Offs, but Bristol Rovers were very comfortable in seeing off Forest Green. “We have been in good form, but they have been on a great run – their form is as good as anyone’s in the country. “For me, though, it’s about who can turn up on the day and handle the occasion the best. “It’s okay looking at pictures of Wembley, or seeing it on the TV, but for me you have to visualise it all and take that in. “On the day, when that crowd starts to roar – then you warm-up and kick-off – you have to make sure you handle it.”

GRIMSBY TELEGRAPH Wednesday, May 13, 2015


G owling ccan an Gowling nnow ow ddream re a m

46 The number of league appearances made by James McKeown – who was an ever-present

7,136 Blundell Park’s highest attendance of 2014/2015 came when neighbours Lincoln headed to town in December

16 Grimsby Town’s top-scorer Lenell John-Lewis netted 16 goals during the regular Conference season by Liam Wood

Sports Writer Twitter: @liamwoodGT

MARINERS defender Josh Gowling has been through the wars in his short time at the club – but getting to Wembley was worth the pain.

IN THE WARS: Josh Gowling broke his nose twice during Grimsby Town’s victory over Eastleigh. But now, the Mariners’ loanee is preparing to go to Wembley for the first time as a player. Picture: Duncan Young

Since joining on loan from Kidderminster, the 31-year-old has started five games alongside Shaun Pearson at the heart of Grimsby Town’s back four. Marking his debut – at Alfreton – with a goal, Gowling has since gone from strength-to-strength, shining in both Play-Off legs against Eastleigh. Town eased through to Conference showpiece with a 5-1 victory on aggregate, setting up a crunch encounter with Bristol Rovers. Gowling suffered a broken nose on the road to Wembley, but that won’t stop him from striding out at the home of football for the first time in his career – if selected. He told the Telegraph: “It was a brilliant feeling to get through. “We were resilient and strong, and we really wanted to do it for the fans. “There has been talk we have maybe let them down at times, but the game with Eastleigh showed what we can do ahead of Wembley. “I broke my nose twice, and that hurt a little bit to be honest! “But it’s worth it at the end of the day, because we got what we wanted. “The lads have been magnificent with me since the day I came here – they have brought me into the team and made me feel really welcome,” he continued. “We had to dig deep, and my nose is proof we went through the pain barrier. “If anyone tells you anything about me, it will be that I put myself on the line for the team. “Hopefully we can do the same again on Sunday. “I’ve played in the Football League before, so I know what that’s all about. “I also know how tough it is to get out of the Conference – but we have got a great opportunity now at Wembley. “We want to go there and finish the job.” As things stand, Sunday’s Play-Off Final with Rovers (2pm) could be Gowling’s last outing in the black and white shirt. But even if he doesn’t remain at Blundell Park this summer, his reputation will be high among the Town faithful – especially if Paul Hurst’s men complete the job. Gowling added: “People don’t realise how big this football club is – and the fans have just been unbelievable. “They deserve to support a Football League club. “I’ve never been to Wembley to play, I’ve only been there to watch a few games. “But we have to play the game and not the occasion. “We have got to go there with our heads on, forget what it is and where it is – we just have to concentrate on getting the win.” On the Eastleigh performance, Gowling continued: “We went into the second leg wanting to win the game, even though we only needed a draw. “We wanted to play like it was 0-0, and that’s exactly what we did. “Eastleigh are a difficult team – they play a lot of percentage balls and have big men up front. “And they have got willing runners off that. “They do work hard and they are good at what they do, and that’s why they finished where they did in the league. “But we showed what we are all about, and we’re off to Wembley.”

Six Paul Hurst’s side finished just six points behind champions Barnet after an exciting title race

5-1 The aggregate score as Grimsby Town beat Eastleigh in the Play-Off semi-finals

42 Shaun Pearson and Carl Magnay were Town’s most used outfield players – starting 42 games

25 Paul Hurst’s side recorded the equal second most wins – alongside Bristol Rovers – during the regular term

34 Boosted by heavy victories against Gateshead and Alfreton, Town ended up with a +34 goal difference

1-million Victory at Wembley could be worth over £1-million, in terms of funding an TV revenue

13 Mariners defender Toto Nsiala picked up the most bookings at the club, but he avoided any red cards




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THE 1997/1998 season will live forever in the memory of Grimsby Town fans, with Alan Buckley’s heroes achieving promotion and two stunning Wembley victories. Here, lifelong Mariners’ fan Graham Precious takes a look at when the black and white army beat Northampton in the Division Two Play-Off Final, on May 24, 1998...

I CAN hardly believe it’s 17 years since our last promotion!

Three relegations, heartbreak in Cardiff and two runners-up spots at Wembley since that great day – let’s relive it again and get in the winning mood. Don’t forget we could have been playing Bristol Rovers that great day, but they weren’t good enough to face Grimsby Town back then! Wembley winners five weeks earlier, the Mariners returned to the Twin Towers to decide whether they or Northampton Town would achieve promotion to Division One (now the Championship). Town had finished the season third, 13 points behind runners-up Bristol City and 16 points behind champions Watford. Northampton had finished a point behind in fourth place, and had beaten Bristol Rovers over two legs to book their place in the final. Town, meanwhile, had played Fulham in the semi-finals – the Cottagers having dropped from fourth to sixth after losing their final league game. On May 9, the Mariners had travelled to Craven Cottage to face Fulham, managed by non other than Kevin Keegan, just appointed as head coach after owner Al Fayed had sacked Ray Wilkins just before the game! Fulham led at half-time through a Peter Beardsley penalty, but Dave Smith pulled one back to level the tie. In the second leg at Blundell Park, over 8,500 saw Town progress to the final thanks to a late Kevin Donovan goal, after Paul Peschisolido – recently manager of Burton Albion – was sent-off. So on another sunny Wembley day, manager Alan Buckley and skipper Paul Groves led the Mariners out on to the hallowed Wembley turf. This time it all seemed so much more important as so much more was at stake. The XI was almost the same as the successful Auto Windscreens Shield side: Aidan Davison in goal, John McDermott, Tony Gallimore, Peter Handyside and Mark Lever in defence, Donovan, Smith and Wayne Burnett supporting Groves in midfield, with Jack Lester and Lee Nogan up front. These were two teams of differing styles – Town, renowned as pass masters, faced the long, direct play of the Cobblers. The first half was really no contest. Buckley’s flowing football, orchestrated by the marvellous Burnett, weaved patterns around the Wembley turf as the Mariners probed for an opener. Groves fired over, Burnett had a shot blocked, a brilliant backheel let in Dave Smith, while Handyside fired just over. The enormous Gayle bulldozed his way through the Town defence on several

QUE SERA SERA: A flashback to when Kevin Donovan’s winner gave Grimsby Town a 1-0 victory over Northampton in the 1997/1998 Division Two Play-Off Final at Wembley. Above, the winger lifts the trophy with his team-mates looking on. Right, top to bottom, Donovan slots home the winner; the Mariners celebrate with their fans. Pick up Saturday’s paper for a special edition of Sport Bygones – featuring some of the great Mariners’ memories. occasions, trying to get on to the end of one of the balls which seemed to return from orbit. Freestone fired narrowly wide but the Mariners, albeit uncomfortably at times, were in control. Town dominated in midfield, with Burnett looking every inch a Premier League player as he teased Northampton with his mastery. He was the craftsman of the opening goal after 17 minutes 24 seconds – he slid an inch perfect ball into the stride of Lester, who dummied and fed the ball to Donovan. And the leading scorer feinted to beat keeper Woodman, and took the ball painfully wide before squeezing it inside

the post for his 21st goal of the season! Northampton responded by pumping long ball after long ball forward. Town conceded numerous free-kicks which allowed the aerial bombardment to continue, but Davison was on top form to claim time and again. Freestone had an overhead kick which flew wide, another shot which also missed the target and Burnett was then flattened by Gayle, who was rightfully booked for his challenge. After the break, the Cobblers realised they had been playing into Town’s hands and tightened up considerably – it was a war of attrition! However, the Mariners still created – Smith and Lester both had shots blocked,

and Lester put through the ball of the game to Donovan but his shot was blocked too. Steve Livingstone came on for Nogan on 61 minutes and came close after a nice turn and volley, while Lester continued to put in a man-of-the-match performance – winning balls, holding off the opposition and relieving the pressure on the defence. Kingsley Black came on for Smith in the 67th minute, and Davison made himself big to thwart Freestone wide after the striker latched on to a rare defensive slip. But in the 78th minute came a truly pivotal moment. The irrepressible Lester weaved into the

GRIMSBY TELEGRAPH Wednesday, May 13, 2015



Cobblers’ box from the right, and was caught late by the outstretched leg of Ray Warburton – penalty! Donovan placed his spot-kick hard to the keeper’s left, but Woodman pulled off a fine save to deny Town a second. Lester continued to work hard to secure the victory, firing in a dangerous cross from the right after a great run – Black fed across the goal to Groves, who hit a screamer against the underside of the bar only for it to bounce back into play. But the Mariners ultimately held out as Northampton piled everyone up into the penalty box. After 90 minutes, to the almost disbelief of every person clad in black and white that day, the fourth official indicated an

extra six minutes of added time – six more minutes of aerial bombardment to endure! Outnumbered two to one, the Town fans were in jubilant mood as their heroes once again climbed the famous steps to the Royal Box to collect the trophy and their medals. Players and staff prolonged their celebrations to show their appreciation long after the Northampton fans had cobbled off home. Yet another victory open-top bus ride to the Town Hall – for a Civic reception – was to follow with the fans lining the streets and Town Hall Square as the Mariners’ most remarkable season was long celebrated!

Mariners Memories




Wednesday, May 13, 2015

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WE COULD BE HEROES: The Grimsby Town squad that will head to Wembley for the Conference Play-Off Final with B are, back row, from left; Ellis Humble, Shaun Pearson, Hamish Watson, Jack Mackreth, Paul Bignot, Josh Gowling, Chri Robertson, Nathan Arnold, Paddy McLaughlin, Carl Magnay, Danny Parslow, Jordan Chapell, Ollie Palmer. Front; Nick D Jon-Paul Pittman, Lenell John-Lewis, Craig Clay, Ross Hannah, Craig Disley, James McKeown, and Scott Brown.

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th Bristol Rovers. Pictured Christian Jolley, Gregor ck Draper, Paul Walker, Picture: Abby Ruston




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ROVERS SCRIBE SAYS IT’S Bristol Post journalist reckons it will be tough to call again at Wembley AS a man who has followed – and written by Matt Dannatt about – Bristol Rovers’ trials and tribulations Deputy Sports Editor this season, James McNamara is better placed than most to give his assessment of Twitter: @mattdannatt their chances at Wembley on Sunday. And the Rovers writer for the Bristol Post believes it’s almost impossible to split them and Grimsby Town – despite the Mariners not tasting victory over Darrell Clarke’s side this season. Fresh from relegation from League Two, the Gas held Town to a 0-0 draw at the Memorial Stadium on the opening game of the season before snatching a 1-0 win at Blundell Park in the second half of the campaign. And while the bookies have the West Country side as favourites to lift the trophy and bounce straight back in the Football League, McNamara doesn’t think it’s so clear cut. He told the Telegraph: “I personally don’t think Rovers are favourites – I think it’s a pick’em 50/50. I know the two games in the league won’t count for anything on Sunday, but they’ve been close games – there has only been one goal scored across the two games. “I’m sure everyone will say Rovers are favourites and that’s fair enough. They’re always under pressure in every game they play at this level because of who they are – they’ve had it all season and I don’t think that will affect them on the day. “Darrell will say Grimsby are favourites, much like I’d expect Grimsby’s manager will be saying Rovers are favourites! It’s just the way it goes, but it’ll just be who handles it best on the day.” Although they were only just pipped by Barnet to the title on the penultimate weekend of the season, McNamara says that it hasn’t always been

plain sailing for the Pirates in their first ever season in the Conference. “It hasn’t been always easy for Rovers this season,” he added, “They had a dodgy start and lost a couple of games that they were expected to win, so that caused a bit of a stir. When they lost to Altrincham, for example, at the start of the season there was a bit of furore.

Darrell will say Grimsby are favourites, much like I’d expect Grimsby’s manager will be saying Rovers are favourites! It’s just the way it goes, but it’ll just be who handles it best on the day James McNamara “There was even talk that if Darrell didn’t win the next game, he may well have gone. But they won the game against Wrexham and they went on from there. “Darrell has got some experience of the league

and he knew what to expect. He had that in mind when he brought in the players that he did in the summer. That’s certainly helped. “The team he has built has a strong mentality, which is something that had been lacking in the teams of the last few seasons and that’s shown itself over the campaign. “Obviously the big disappointment was the game at Dover on the second-to-last weekend when they conceded an equaliser three-minutes from time, because if they’d had held on, they would have been champions. “They were all gutted after that and Darrell had to lift them back up pretty quickly after that, which he did and they went on to win 7-0 the next week at Alfreton on the final day. “They’ve put together runs of form at good times of the season, but they drew 16 games this season and that’s the reason why they didn’t take the title. He continued: “I fancied them against Forest Green over the two legs and they were quite convincing in those two games. “It worked out for the best that they suffered that disappointment of losing the title earlier than they could have done, rather than having the title snatched away from them right before a play-off semi-final. “It didn’t work out too bad for them in the end, it just remains to be seen how they perform on the big stage at Wembley – but everyone knows that Grimsby won’t be making it easy for them. “It’s going to be a cracking game in front of a huge crowd for this level of football, I just can’t wait for it to come around now.”

OPPOSITION VIEW: James McNamara, who is the Bristol Rovers writer for the Bristol Post newspaper. He believes it will be too close to call at Wembley on Sunday. Picture: Jon Kent

GRIMSBY TELEGRAPH Wednesday, May 13, 2015



TIGHT TUSSLES: Left, Bristol Rovers’ Tom Lockyer celebrates his winning goal against Grimsby Town at back in February. Right, Town’s Craig Clay challenges Rovers’ Matty Taylor during the Blundell Park clash. Pictures: Neil Brookman/JMP

Dawson will be cheering on his team-mates from the stands





“Matty Taylor is the top-scorer, so obviously he’s one of the ones-to-watch. Anyone who scores over 20 goals in a season is going to be a threat. “He was criticised a bit at the start of the season, by people who said he should be out of the team because he didn’t score a lot of goals immediately. “But his contribution, other than the goals, is what’s kept him in the team.”

“Tom Parkes at the back has been pretty consistent all season. “He was dropped from the team when Darrell first came in and was told that he had to change the way he lived his life off the pitch. “But he’s done that and he’s been a really consistent performer all season. “His displays this season saw him named as the club’s Player of the Year at the end of season awards night.”

“Chris Lines has come back from Port Vale because of his connection with the club. “He’s a Bristol lad and has done well since coming back – has been an important player in the run-in. “As well as these three, there’s also the likes of Ellis Harrison, should he play. “He’s another one who’s scored double figures from the subs bench and has played an important part this season.”

ADAM Dawson is gutted to be missing out on an opportunity to play at Wembley on Sunday, but will still be in the stands to watch Bristol Rovers try to successfully complete their promotion bid. Dawson, who made 12 appearances after joining on loan from Leicester City in January, is unable to make any further contribution for Rovers after the 93-day emergency loan limit was reached in the penultimate game of the season at Dover. After becoming a popular member of the changing room and a favourite among Memorial Stadium supporters, however, Dawson will be at Wembley on Sunday as Rovers attempt to overcome Grimsby Town in the play-off final. “I’ll be driving down to Wembley on Sunday morning to get behind the boys,” said Dawson, above. “I’m disappointed I can’t play because everyone wants to play at Wembley in their career. “You never know if and when you might get another chance. The rules are the rules, though, and there is nothing I can do about that.

I’m disappointed I can’t play because everyone wants to play at Wembley in their career Adam Dawson “The way the loan was structured meant I was always aware I would miss the last game of the season or any other after that. “It’s killed me a bit, but that’s just the way it goes sometimes and the next best thing I can do is go down and support the boys.” Rovers have been forced to endure a nail-biting play-off campaign after watching their hopes of snatching the title away from Barnet slip through their fingers when they conceded a late goal at Dover in the penultimate game of the regular season. Dawson completed his loan spell as an unused substitute at The Crabble that day, and he said: “There is no getting away from how disappointed everyone was on the coach home. “The boys have shown great resilience to bounce back in the three games since and nobody will be worried about what happened at Dover if they can win the game on Sunday. You have to try to take some positives away from any setback you have. The way I see it now is that winning promotion at Wembley would be an even better way to go up. “What better way to win promotion than it in front of all the Gasheads in one of the best stadiums in the country?” Dawson, who will see out the remainder of this season as part of Leicester City’s development squad, added: “There will be nobody happier than me if Rovers get promoted on Sunday. “I loved every minute of my time at the club and the support I received from everyone was amazing. “Playing in front of bigger crowds and learning more about what is expected of you when you are playing senior football on a regular basis has developed my game massively. “It was a pleasure to be in and around the dressing room and I haven’t got a bad word to say about anyone I met during my time there because they all made me feel very much a part of a massive club.”



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LOOKING SHARP: Pictured left are members of the Grimsby Town squad. Ahead of the visit to Wembley, the Mariners were given a generous donation from Grimsby‘s Euromillions winners Lee Mullen (centre), and some of the funds have been used to purchased matchday suits. Below, Mariners director John Fenty with proposed plans for the new stadium at Peaks Parkway. Pictures: Jon Corken/Abby Ruston

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Mariners primed for the benefits of dream Football League return by Jack Longstaff

News Reporter Twitter: @GTJackLongstaff

PROMOTION to the Football League for any club can mean a dramatic shift in financial fortunes both on and off the pitch, and Grimsby Town are no different.

The Mariners take on Bristol Rovers in the Conference Play-Off Final at Wembley on Sunday as they bid to end a five-year stay in the Vanarama Conference, with promotion promising to bring much needed “financial respite”, with the Football League providing a bigger contribution to the club’s finances. Preparation for the big day is in full swing; with the club receiving a helping hand from Grimsby-based Euromillons winners Lee and Sue Mullen, who donated £10,000 to support the club’s lead up to Wembley. The generous gesture from 2011 jackpot winners will fund new matchday suits for the players, an extra day’s rest in London before the match and also a team bonding day. John Fenty, the club’s long-serving director, said securing promotion would help the club towards achieving the long-term goal of moving from Blundell Park to a new stadium. “Naturally, promotion brings increased sponsorship and attendances, and would mean that the team we’ve got would be affordable to sustain,” he said. “It would also reinforce and support our need to relocate which will assist the club in assuring survival and sustainability to play at the highest level possible. “We’ve won a lot of public support for the stadium move but we need political support and getting to Wembley will help with getting that support. “Promotion would provide between £700,000 to £800,000 of additional income, which would be used for increased wages for player retention and recruitment to sustain the level that we’re playing at.” While achieving promotion to League Two via the Play-Offs at the third time of asking would see Town reap the financial benefits, the club director for 13 years believes the match on Sunday is the “biggest in the club’s history.” “We’ve got a great chance, the best we’ve had in three seasons to win promotion,” he said.

Already there is a fantastic vibe around the town, which can only grow with promotion Mariners director John Fenty

“We’ve got a together team, Paul (Hurst) knows exactly what he wants and the preparation is in place to give ourselves the best opportunity. “Promotion would be a fantastic lift for the town by putting Grimsby back on the map. We are a good-sized club and a very important part of the community. “Already there is a fantastic vibe around the town, which can only grow with promotion. “At times like this it really brings people together and shows what fantastic support the football club and plans for relocation have.” Support is something that Grimsby Town have always had in abundance.

As of yesterday, over 10,000 tickets had been sold for this year’s trip to the capital, with the club hoping to double that before the final. Mr Fenty added: “We’re hoping that we can surpass 20,000 fans given the magnitude of the game. Football League status is so important. “We’ll be confronted by 35,000 Bristol Rovers fans, so we need to be in good numbers and in fine voice, backing the boys all the way. “We’ve got terrific fans; I take my hat off to the away supporters, who have without a doubt impacted away results. “Throughout our stay in the Conference the fans have stuck with us through thick and thin

and I can’t thank them enough. I hope our reward will come on Sunday afternoon.” The former Town chairman has also urged fans to be patient as many become frustrated with purchasing tickets for the final. He said: “I’d like to express my disappointment in the way in which the Conference have organised the issuing of tickets, there’s been a lot of frustration with additional costs when buying online. “We ask fans to please be patient; we do need the backing of fans at Wembley.” ● ON THE WEB: Read more build-up at

GRIMSBY TELEGRAPH Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Young’s back the boys ahead of Wembley shot by Matt Scrafton News Reporter Twitter: @GTMattScrafton

ONE of the most recognisable names in the town and the football club’s leading sponsor has pledged its support to the promotion campaign.

Fantastic flag offer for fans on way to Wembley

Grimsby-based giants Young’s Seafood is sponsoring the Mariners for a 12th year after first getting involved with the club in 2004. After the club renewed its deal with Young’s in February, Town director John Fenty hailed the agreement – which is for an undisclosed figure – as a “great deal” for the club, saying no other sponsor would come “anywhere near” the level of support offered by the firm – the town’s largest private employer. Pete Ward, chief executive of Young’s Seafood Limited, sent his best wishes to everyone involved at the club ahead of the Bristol Rovers clash.

WAVE your flags at Wembley and roar the Mariners back to into the Football League. Grimsby Town have taken delivery of 1,000 specially-made flags for Sunday’s Play-Off Final with Bristol Rovers. From 9am this morning – with the special voucher printed below – fans can get their hands on one (worth £5.99) for free with any purchase exclusively from the Blundell Park club shop. The shop will be open from 9am to 7pm today and tomorrow and from 9am to 2pm on Saturday, to allow fans to snap up their Wembley merchandise. There is also a good supply of Town scarves, wigs, hats and shirts. For more information, log on to

We want to wish them all the very best at Wembley Young’s chief executive Pete Ward “Young’s Seafood Limited is extremely proud of our long-standing relationship with Grimsby Town Football Club,” he said. “We’ve been their sponsor for over a decade and everyone at Young’s – whether they are a Mariner or not – are delighted with the success that they’ve enjoyed so far this season and what it has done for our town. “We want to wish them all the very best at Wembley this weekend as they continue on their journey back to the Football League.” The partnership between the two famous Grimsby names has proved productive in recent seasons and Mr Ward said everyone at the firm had their fingers crossed for promotion this season. He added: “Their success is great news for local businesses and for Grimsby as a whole. “We all recognise the important role the club plays in our community and we thank them for it. “Over the past decade, together, Young’s and Grimsby Town have built strong relationships and networks to support our town and it’s brilliant and inspiring to see both the club and Young’s Seafood enjoying the success that this has brought. “As part of our Fish for Life Corporate Responsibility programme we are committed to building strong relationships in our local communities. “We work hard to play a positive role in the areas where we are based and our relationship with our local team in Grimsby is a vital component of that. “On behalf of everyone at Young’s Seafood Limited, I’d like to wish the players, backroom staff and everyone involved in the club, the best of luck for the Play-Off Final. “We’ll all be watching and supporting this weekend.” ● ON THE WEB: Do you think the Mariners will make it to the Football League? Have your say at




BACKING THE BOYS: From left to right at Blundell Park; Dave Roberts of the Mariners’ Trust, Young’s Seafood chief executive Pete Ward and Grimsby Town director John Fenty. Young’s announced plans to extend their 12-year association with the Mariners earlier in the season. Below, the new Young’s kit – which will be worn at Wembley and beyond – as modelled by Jon-Paul Pittman, Shaun Pearson and Craig Disley. Picture: Jon Corken

Get a FREE Grimsby Town flag (normal price £5.99) with any purchase from the Grimsby Town club shop at Blundell Park. Simply present this voucher when making your purchase.

Standard Local World promotion rules apply. See Only 1,000 flags available, served on a first-come first-served basis. Subject to availability. A purchase is necessary in order to redeem this offer. Offer cannot be changed or extended. Photocopies not accepted. Offer only available at the Blundell park club shop until 2pm on Saturday, May 16, 2015.




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Wednesday, May 13, 2015


Teacher and author of Mariners book says it’s finally ‘our time’ by Alex Thorp Twitter: @GTAlexThorp

A HEAD teacher who co-wrote a book after becoming inspired by Grimsby Town’s previous success at Wembley has told fans: “it’s our time.”

Paul Thundercliffe, head at The Academy Grimsby, contributed to the acclaimed book Pass And Move – an autobiography of Town’s most successful ever manager, Alan Buckley, who had spells at Walsall, West Bromwich Albion and three at Blundell Park. Paul said he would be heading to Wembley yet again, but this time with eight-year-old son George in tow. And the head teacher, who has been supporting the Mariners for the best part of 35 years, is dreaming big ahead of the big clash with Bristol Rovers on Sunday (2pm).

Pupils troop the Town colours

Hopefully I’ll be writing another book in 20 years’ time! Paul Thundercliffe (right) “I have been supporting town all of my life and I’ve seen all the highs and lows with games at Wembley and matches where promotion was at stake – but this time I feel like it is our time,” he said. “We have done our time in the non-league and I want us to be back in the Football League. “If we do that then we have every chance of pushing on in the future and it will be a real boost for the local community. “This is our third year of play off despair and we’ve got so close before that is feels like now we are ready.” He added: “I’ll be taking George along with me to Wembley this time. He started following Grimsby Town last year – and I don’t know who got him into that!” Paul believes that improvements to the squad and the togetherness amongst the players will be enough to see Town overcome the challenge posed by Bristol Rovers. “We’ve got a good manager in Paul Hurst and a good squad together,” he continued. “There’s a good team spirit and it seems like we have every chance this time.

“We’ve got better players who work hard to learn from their mistakes, which is something we try and do here at the Academy. That’s certainly what Paul has done with his team.” He added: “I was inspired to write my part in Pass and Move after we went to Wembley in 1988, so writing it brought back all of those memories. “If we can do the same on Sunday then maybe I’ll be writing another book in 20 years’ time. “It’s a shame there aren’t more fans going down but I think it’s the price that has put some people off. We’ve all been through more downs than ups so we really deserve this promotion. “If we don’t get promoted, I think a new stadium in the non-league will be a bit of a white elephant. As long as the new place has a soul I’ll be happy – but we need to get promoted first for it to work.” ● ON THE WEB: Do you agree with what Paul has to say? Let us know by commenting on our website,

“EVERYONE at St James’ School sends their best wishes to Grimsby Town.” That was the message from head teacher Dr John Price from the Bargate school, where students took part in a ‘Black and White Day’ this week to get behind the Mariners’ promotion bid. The day was the brainchild of 14-year-old student Alvaro Tshering, who came up with the intuitive idea to coincide with fundraising for aid relief to be sent to Nepal in the wake of the devastating earthquake. Children paid a minimum of £1 to wear their Town kit, hats and scarves. Alvaro was born in Nepal but moved to Spain at the age of two to live with his adopted parents. He approached Dr Price and asked if he could give a speech to children in assembly about the importance of raising money for the cause. “I proposed helping a charity to Dr Price who do a lot of good work in Nepal,” Alvaro said. “I come from Nepal and I know there are a lot of children that are in need. “Although I don’t know anyone affected, I was worried to begin with because there are a lot of people I used to know who still live there. When I heard the news I wanted to see if they were okay. “It’s also a great way for us to support Grimsby Town. I will be cheering them on.” Dr Price, who will be attending Sunday’s


crunch match, said it was great to combine the two events. “Alvaro spoke brilliantly in assembly and it was actually quite emotional listening to his story,” he said. “I think it’s a great thing to do on the back of Grimsby Town’s success. We have a good uptake and a lot of the children turned out in their football kits. “It’s a great cause to donate to and it’s a good opportunity for us to combine the two. We’re more than happy to support our local club and we already have some huge supporters among our pupils.” He added: “I think it will be a tough game as Bristol Rovers are a very good side. But I am hoping this is their year. “It would be great for the town, they desperately need a club back in the Football League. “I’m even hoping to take some of the pupils down to Wembley, which would be a great experience for them.” St James pupil Daniel Maasdam, 17, is a season ticket holder and will be spending the weekend in London for the big game. “I’m nervous but excited,” he said. “Play-Offs are always scary but I would love it if we went back to League Two. “I was born in 1998 so I have yet to see a promotion, so I’m hoping this is the lucky year.”



GRIMSBY TELEGRAPH Wednesday, May 13, 2015



Grimsby Town Wembley Supplement  

The Grimsby Telegraph's 16-page Wembley supplement to mark Grimsby Town reaching the Conference Play-Off Final against Bristol Rovers.