After completing our trip to West Ham’s new London Stadium midweek against NK Domzale in the Europa League, it meant that Adrian had in fact completed his 92 for the season. For myself (Ross), I still had a visit to Grimsby Town’s Blundell Park to complete my 92 once again.
With tickets booked in advance, we took the opportunity to take our partners along to visit the seafront in Cleethorpes before heading off to the match in the afternoon.
We left at 7:30am in order to make the most of our day by the sea. We travelled on the A50 to Leicester before joining the A46 taking us all the way to Cleethorpes.
We arrived in Cleethorpes at 9:30am parking on Grimsby Road and walked to the seafront. When we reached the front, all four of us decided to go for a cup of tea and a toasted teacake (Adrian being different and opting for a Bakewell Tart) at the café. We sat in the summer sunshine for a while before heading towards the beach for half an hour. We later went for some lunch choosing to visit Willy’s Brewery which is just off the seafront where they served their own brewed bitter and a selection of lunchtime offerings.
After lunch, Adrian and I left our partners to enjoy the seafront while we headed towards the ground. Just after 2pm, we arrived at Blundell Park where there was a buzz around the ground now Grimsby Town were back in the Football League. We went to the ticket office to collect our tickets and programme before going inside.
Blundell Park was built in 1899, but only one of the original stands remains. The current capacity of the ground is 9,052, after being made all-seater in summer 1995. Several relegations in previous years meant the temporary seating was also taken away; that reduced the capacity further from around 12,000 to what it is now.
Pontoon Stand was built by funds raised by the club’s supporters. The stand is situated behind the goal to the right of the tunnel and was converted to an all-seater facility in 1995 in response to the Taylor Report following the Hillsborough disaster of 1989 and the seats were laid out in black and white stripes to reflect the club’s colours. The Pontoon mainly houses the more vocal supporters of the club, and often houses a drummer; however, in the mid-1980s the stand became the away stand with the Osmond Stand reserved for home fans, the thought being that the Pontoon’s more open design would make the Grimsby Town supporters’ presence more noticeable in the remainder of the stadium. This was extremely unpopular with club supporters and reversed.
The Young’s Stand is the third to be built on the opposite side of the ground to the tunnel and changing rooms. The original Barrett’s Stand itself was eventually demolished in 1980 and was replaced with a two tier stand paid for by the fish processing firm Findus. The stand therefore was named the “Findus Stand”. The stand was opened in 1982 and is the largest inside the stadium with the upper tier offering a scenic view of the Humber Estuary, Spurn Point and the North Sea, from this point you can clearly view the shipping going down the estuary. Between the two tiers are a row of corporate boxes. Housed within the stand is the boardroom, ticket office, club shop, bars and the “McMenemy’s” function suite and restaurant which is named after former manager Lawrie McMenemy. In 1990s Findus ceased production in the town, so the stand went through several other sponsored names. Firstly, the stand was renamed the Stones Bitter stand before later becoming the John Smiths stand in 1997 and then the Carlsberg stand in 2004. Findus returned to the Town in 2009 and the stand then reverted to its original name. For the 2016/2017 season, a new sponsorship deal with Young’s Seafood was announced with the tiers being renamed to the Upper Young’s and Lower Young’s stands.
Opposite the Young’s stand, on the north side of the ground, is the Main Stand which dates from 1901 and is often claimed to be the oldest stand in the Football League until the club’s relegation to Non-league football in 2010. Only the central part of the stand dates from 1901, the rest having been modified in some guise or other. This stand houses the changing rooms and disabled supporters’ areas. The players’ tunnel runs from the centre of this stand onto the pitch between the two dugouts.
To the left of the Main Stand, is the Osmond Stand. The Osmond was built in 1939 and is also a two tier stand, but unlike the Young’s Stand, the Osmond only has steps separating the two parts. The stand also houses the away supporters, with home fans occasionally sitting in the half closest to the Main Stand when the club are playing a club with a low number of travelling fans. The stand holds around 2,000 seats, 1,000 or so of those seats have a restricted view due to the roof supports and height of the roof. The corner between the Main Stand and the Osmond Stand is the only enclosed corner in the whole ground, the corner is shut off and this section is the only standing part of the stadium however with it being shut off from the fans the ground is still classed as an all seated stadium.
When Blundell Park became an all seated stadium in 1995, the overall capacity of the ground decreased accordingly. The club erected temporary seating in the north-west and south-east corners, colloquially known as “the green seats”. These consisted of four blocks of makeshift scaffold seating approximately 10 rows back. The temporary seating was intended to provide additional capacity when needed, but were in regular use on a weekly basis while the club enjoyed a lengthy spell playing in the Championship. Relegation from the Championship led to reduced match attendance and temporary seating became largely redundant. In special cup fixtures, for instance the 2005 League Cup games with Tottenham Hotspur and Newcastle United the temporary seating is reinstalled for one-off use. Due to the changes in seating, the ground’s overall capacity dropped from just under 12,000 while in the Championship to just under 10,000 in League Two.
So the 2016/17 season is under away and two games in three days (soon to be three in four) gets us moving but what a contrasting start.
From the crowd of 54,000 in the London stadium making a ripple of noise to the crowd of 6,000 on the Lincolnshire coast creating a great atmosphere as we welcome back an old Football League friend.
The old style stadium of Blundell Park will not rank in anyone’s top 10 stadiums but after 6 years away, Grimsby Town are back in the Football League following a play off final victory in the National League last season.
The fans really got behind their team, but after all we were in a compact football stadium and not a converted athletics stadium.
From a neutral point of view, an early goal from the home side would be good as the atmosphere generated would continue and that was just what we got.
A throw in by Davies found Berrett via a deflection and his through ball found the on loan striker Kayden Jackson who shot home for 1-0.
Grimsby really should have increased their lead immediately. Summer signing Scott Vernon had a shot cleared off the line by McGowan and then Jackson was denied a second by the outside of a post.
Morecambe created only a few chances but just before half time, they could have equalised but Tom Barkaisen’s shot was pushed away by Grimsby keeper James McKeown.
In the second half the visitors improved slightly, Ellison always a danger but created very little.
At the other end a brilliant free kick by another summer recruit Ben Davies had made it 2-0, Boyce was then unlucky when his header was scrambled off the line and James Berrett shot over.
The Mariners were asking most of the questions but they failed to get the perfect day being forced to play the last quarter of an hour with 10 men following a straight red card for Josh Gowling.
His shirt tug on Kevin Ellison just outside the box meant an early bath for the central defender.
However, despite the man advantage Morecambe failed with any sustained pressure and Grimsby comfortably hung on for a 2-0 home win, indeed with a bit more luck they could have scored more, as for the Shrimps from the Lancashire coast, on that display, a tough season beckons they have a lot of work to do.
After the match, we walked back towards Cleethorpes via the car to drop off the programme and also witnessed a bizarre fight in the middle of the busy Grimsby Road where a mini bus deliberately tried to run over a drunk man after giving the passengers rude gestures before a mellay of people started to join in bringing traffic to a standstill.
After the excitement of the fight, we continued our walk back to Cleethorpes meeting up with our partners at the Ocean Fish Bar & Restaurant for our fish and chip dinner. Afterwards we walked back to the car and made our journey back down the A46 getting home for around 9pm.
Overall, a really good day out by the sea and a great start to the Football League season where both Adrian and I had completed our 92 within the first week of the new season.
Overall Ground Quality : 6/10
Ease of getting there : 8/10
Atmosphere : 9/10
Programme : 8/10
View of Action : 8/10
Quality of the game : 8/10
The “football” feeling : 9/10
Chances of coming here for a random game : 2/10
Legroom : 10/10
Surrounding area : 8/10
Overall : 76/100
Aerial shot of Blundell Park (Bing Maps)
Programme – £3.00
The Young’s Stand
The Young’s Stand
The Young’s Stand