My First Match Had Exeter City as the Opposition. The Thoughts of Grimsby Les

We introduce a new contributor to these front pages. He popped in in 2008 to discuss an upcoming game between Grimsby and Exeter and hasn’t left! Here he talks about his first football match, and the opposition was our very own Exeter City.

Tuesday 2nd of May 1972 was the date of my first ever Grimsby Town game. It was the last game of the season and we were playing Exeter City. The game had originally started in March, but abandoned due to fog, (ref here).

My Dad had died back in 1967 when I was 3 and until Mum remarried when I was 12 I had no Dad to do the usual stuff that Dads and Lads do like going to football matches. It was actually my sister who took me to the game. As Mum was struggling to raise my and my elder sister and brother, she had taken 3 jobs to raise the money to feed and clothe us. I was 7 and three quarters at the time (the three quarters is important when you’re that age, my sister was 15 and my brother 18. Pete wasn’t really interested in football by my sister was seeing a lad who was a keen Grimsby fan and she was going to the game. With my brother out and Mum working at the local chippy, Mum said that Julie would have to take me if she wanted to go. Obviously not impressed in having to drag her 7 (and three-quarter) year-old brother with her she reluctantly agreed. The funny thing now is that my sister hates football but it gave me a bug that would last a lifetime.

Over 22000 packed into Blundell Park that night as we swept to a comfortable 3-0 win. All I can remember about the game is stand at the back of The Pontoon behind the goal, unable to see a bloody thing, and every time there was any cheering or applause from the crowd I’d ask my sister “have we scored” I suppose I should really have gone down to the front but the stand was that packed you could hardly move. The next day I saw my sister in tear. Her boyfriend had dumped her and she still blames me to this day.  Ha ha.

My sister only used to go to the games because of her boyfriend so for the next 6 or 7 years I was only an occasional visitor to Blundell Park as my brother moved to London when I was only 9 and when Mum re-married when I was 12, my stepdad had no interest in football whatsoever. The only time I went was when the bloke who lived next door offered to take me ever now and then.

By the time I reached 14-15 I was allowed to go to matches on my own and me and my best mate became regulars at BP. We had just been promoted from the Old 4th Division at the end of the 1978/79 season so expectation were not really that high going into the 79/80 campaign in the 3rd Division. We played Exeter at home on the first day of the season and we ran out comfortable 4-1 winners thanks to 2 goals from Gary Liddell, one from Bobby Cumming and another from my favourite Grimsby Town player of all time, the diminutive Joe Waters. We ended up having one of the most successful seasons in our history, which included a 2-1 win at St James’ Park, and we clinched the league title on the last day of the season, thumping Sheffield United 4-0 at home and reached the quarter-finals of The League Cup, eventually losing in a 2nd replay (remember them) at Derby’s Baseball Ground after we had drawn with eventual winners both home and away. We also drew the then Mighty Liverpool in the FA Cup and although we were drubbed 5-0 in was a memorable day in front of a sold out Anfield crowd. In fact several thousand Grimsby fans couldn’t get in that day and went to watch Everton v Aldershot. You couldn’t imagine both Merseyside teams playing at home on the same day now.

A match report from that day in May 1972, here.

More from Les in the coming days.

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