Sunday, March 30, 2008


People from Brigg and district will be among the thousands cheering on Grimsby Town FC in the cup final at the world-famous Wembley ground this afternoon. And many more will be glued to the TV coverage.
In his recently published book about growing up in Central Square, Brigg, between the early 1930s and late 1940s, John Rhodes makes reference to trips made to watch The Mariners in action at Blundell Park.
In those days you could catch a train at Brigg and get off at New Clee (a small station near Grimsby's ground). Getting back to Brigg after the match, on a Saturday night, was also no problem.
Today, of course, there's no direct train service - you need to get over to Barnetby - and there are many, many more family cars about than there were when John Rhodes was a youngster.
The Brigg Branch of the Grimsby Town Supporters' Club ran a bus to all home matches until the early 1980s when vandals' attacks on the coach caused the service, operated by the Daisy company from Broughton, to be withdrawn.
The bus picked up in Cary Lane and opposite the cemetery, on Wrawby Road, before collecting further supporters in Wrawby, Barnetby, Bigby, Searby, Grasby and Keelby.
A slow and roundabout route but a necessary one to make the bus economic to run.
In good seasons, like the 1971/2 Division Four championship-winning season under Lawrie McMenemy, there was no problem balancing the books. But when Grimsby were not doing so well it was a struggle and the branch organised fundraising events, like discos, to bring in a bit more money.
Back in the 1930s and immediately after the Second World War, Grimsby were in the old First Division (what we now call the Premiership). That was why people were happy to travel more than 20 miles from Brigg to watch them. Scunthorpe United were not then a Football League team, only gaining that status in the early 1950s.
Going back many years I remember watching a Brigg Amateurs football match at Brigg Rec on a Saturday afternoon when someone had a radio with them, listening to coverage of Grimsby's away game at Wimbledon. I think Town won 6-2, and Wimbledon, of course, became MK Dons, whom the Mariners meet this afternoon.
Don't hold your breath for a repeat of that score!

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