Grimsby Town in books

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A list of books about Grimsby Town, or with possible Grimsby Town interest. Updated with thanks to Dave Wherry for providing details of many books previously unknown to us.

Biographies of Grimsby Town players and managers

Books are listed in alphabetical order by the family name of the subject in biographies, or author otherwise.

There or thereabouts: the Keith Alexander story by Rob Bradley

Published by Vertical Editions: Skipton, 2012, Hardback, 205 pages; ISBN 9781904091660

Not so much a biography, more a tribute to Keith Alexander, written by the former chair of Lincoln City Supporters Trust. A chapter is devoted to Alexander's playing career at Blundell Park and another to his period as assistant manager to Alan Buckley at Sincil Bank. Inevitably, the book provides most insight into Alexander's managerial career but it is a warm and enjoyable read throughout.

*Tales of the unexpected: the Dave Beasant story with Dave Smith

Published by Mainstream Publishing, Edinburgh, 1989, Hardback and Paperback, 206 pages; ISBN 9781851582204

We haven't seen this book: it may or may not include his 1992 loan spell with Grimsby.

Terrace heroes: the life and times of the 1930s professional footballer by Graham Kelly

Published by Routledge: London, 2005, Paperback, 174 pages; ISBN 0714682942

An academic study of 1930s football, Kelly's book includes a chapter on Harry Betmead, with some quotes from contemporary newspapers illustrating both Betmead's and the club's style of play and the foundations of their success in the 1930s.

My magic carpet ride by Garry Birtles

Published by Reid: Loughborough, 2010, Hardback, 182 pages; ISBN 0955880742

Birtles covers the last few seasons of his career, at Grimsby, in a few pages, dwelling more on end-of-season escapades than events on the pitch. Read it for the account of playing under Brian Clough and the anguish of his scoring drought at Manchester United. If your interest is purely parochial, stay away.

*Tommy Briggs: a footballer and a gentleman by Jim Bibby

Published by Paul Mould Publishing, Boston, 2006, Paperback, 140 pages; ISBN 1904959407

Briggs was a prolific goalscorer for Town between 1947-50 and returned to the club in 1958-59.

Alan Buckley: pass and move - my story by Alan Buckley with Paul Thundercliffe

Published by Troubador Publishing: Kibworth, 2013, Hardback, 217 pages; ISBN 9781783061402

Alan Buckley's life in football, starting as a player at Nottingham Forest and ending with his third spell in charge of Grimsby, with stops in between at Walsall, Birmingham, Walsall, Kettering, Grimsby, West Brom, Grimsby, Lincoln and Rochdale. Essential reading for Grimsby (and Walsall) fans, Buckley enjoys his successes and is disarmingly honest about any shortcomings.

Herbert Chapman

Chapman is most famous as the ground-breaking manager of Huddersfield and Arsenal, but his playing career included 12 games for Grimsby in 1898-99. There are several books about him:

*Herbert Chapman on football: a facsimile by Robert Blatchford (Published by Robert Blatchford Publishing, York, 2007, Paperback, 204 pages)

*Herbert Chapman, football emperor: a study in the origins of modern soccer by Stephen Studd (Published by Peter Owen Publishers, London, 1981 and 1998, Paperback, 160 pages; ISBN 9780720605815 (1981) and 9780285634169 (1998))

*Herbert Chapman: the first great manager by Simon Page (Published by Heroes Publishing, Birmingham, 2006, Paperback, 240 pages; ISBN 9780954388454)

*Herbert Chapman on football: the reflections of Arsenal’s greatest manager by Herbert Chapman, (Originally published in 1934. Reproduced GCR Books, Downham Market, 2010, Paperback, 206 pages; ISBN 9780955921131)

*The life & times of Herbert Chapman by Patrick Barclay (Published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 2014, Paperback, 305 pages; ISBN 9781474600798)

The only one of these we have read is the Patrick Barclay book: the few pages about his time at Town suggests that it developed in him a strong dislike for crowd barracking. We don't know how much Town-related material (if any) there is in the other books.

*Regrets of a football maverick: the Terry Curran autobiography with John Brindley

Published by Vertical Editions, Skipton, 2012, Hardback, 222 pages; ISBN 9781904091691

Towards the end of a long professional career, Terry Curran played 12 games for Grimsby in 1987.

*Dan Doyle: the life and death of a wild rover by Marie Rowan

Published by Black & White Publishing, Edinburgh, 2007, Paperback, 170 pages; ISBN 9781845021467

Dan Doyle played for Grimsby in 1888-89

Drinks all round by Kevin Drinkell with Scott Burns

Published by Black&White: Edinburgh, 2010, Hardback, 262 pages; ISBN 1845023277

Read our review

The Tony Ford story by Tony Ford with Keith Haynes and Phil Sumbler

Published by Tempus Publishing: Stroud, 2005, Paperback, 159 pages; ISBN 0752424181

Tony Ford covers his life up to 2005 when he was, for the second time, assistant to Steve Parkin at Rochdale. Unusually for a footballer's autobiography (and once you have got used to Ford's circumlocutionary style), the account of his Grimsby childhood is not just something to whip through on the way to his first team debut. The most enjoyable chapters though are the accounts of life at Blundell Park as Ford made his debut under Tom Casey, and as Grimsby rose through the divisions under John Newman and George Kerr and stabilised in the second division under Dave Booth. The arrival of Mike Lyons comes as a jolt, nor does Ford get on too well with Lawrie McMenemy during a loan period at Sunderland. He recovers his enjoyment of playing at Stoke City but is more jaundiced about his time at West Brom and his second spell at Grimsby under Alan Buckley. Ford brings home the precarious nature of employment as an assistant manager in lower League football at Mansfield, Rochdale (including a period assisting Buckley) and Barnsley.

Where's your caravan: life on football's B-roads by Chris Hargreaves

Published by Friday Project: London, 2011, Paperback, 344 pages; ISBN 0007364148

Hargreaves has written the longest Town-interest biography, but unfortunately it suffers from diminishing returns; there comes a point when you feel you have read enough anecdotes of footballers on the lash. The book would have benefited from a very thorough edit; the 'As I prepare to write this, I am ... ' interludes occasionally get across the sense of dislocation of a newly-retired footballer, but often they just feel self-indulgent. The season-by-season structure, extended over 20 years, also becomes repetitive. Hargreaves paints an affectionate picture of Arthur Mann, Alan Buckley's assistant during his first spell at Grimsby and at West Brom. Buckley himself though comes across as a petty-tyrant who wrecked Hargreaves's confidence. He never quite addresses the extent to which his party-going lifestyle in Cleethorpes in the early 90s (the "skeletons" from which he gives as his reason for refusing the chance to return to Blundell Park under Russell Slade) rather than Buckley's discipline might have been the key factors in scuppering a more high-profile career.

Hargreaves has also written *Captain's blog: football, fatherhood and the fight for promotion (Published by Torbay Books: Paignton, 2009, Paperback, 176 pages; ISBN 9780955185748)

*Bill Harvey recounts sixty soccer years with Melvyn Beck

Published by Nene Lithographic: Peterborough, 1993, Paperback, 119 pages

Bill Harvey was a Grimsby Town squad member between 1937 and 1939. After the war, he moved into coaching and managed Town from January 1968 to January 1969.

*Ollie: the autobiography of Ian Holloway with David Clayton

Published by Green Umbrella Publishing: Swindon, 2007 (Hardback) and 2009 (Paperback), 273 pages; ISBN 97781906229696 (Paperback)

*The little book of Ollie’isms by David Clayton

Published by Green Umbrell: Swindon, 2008, Hardback, 127 pages; ISBN 9781906229788

Note that both these books were published before Holloway joined Grimsby.

*From prison to the Premiership: the amazing true story of Britain’s hardest footballer with Ron Shillingford

Published by John Blake Publishing: London, 2006, Hardback, 291 pages; ISBN 184454205X

The subject is Jamie Lawrence, who played five games for Town in 2004.

*Lennie: the autobiography of Lennie Lawrence with Kevin Brennan

Published by Green Umbrella Publishing: Swindon, 2009, Hardback, 198 pages; ISBN 8791906635909

Laws of the jungle: surviving football's monkey business by Brian Laws with Alan Biggs

Published by Vertical Editions: Skipton, 2012, Hardback, 223 pages; ISBN 1904091679

Read our review

It's not all black and white by John McDermott with Simon Ashberry

Published by History Press: Stroud, 2013, Paperback, 192 pages, ISBN 0752492640

Read our review

My autobiography Lawrie McMenemy: a lifetime's obsession with Alex Montgomery

Published by Trinity Mirror Sport Media: Liverpool, 2016, Hardback and Paperback, 416 pages; ISBN 9781910335284 (hardback)

Read our review

*Sorte svin [Black pig] by David Nielsen

Published by Turbulenz: Copenhagen, 2008, 268 pages – Danish language only; ISBN 13 978879919181888

Bill Shankly

There are several books about the great Liverpool (and Grimsby) manager:

*Shankly by Bill Shankly with John Roberts (Published by Mayflower, London, 1976, Hardback and Paperback, 320 pages (first edition); ISBN 9780213166038. Reprinted as Shankly: my story: the autobiography by John Roberts, Published by Trinity Mirror Sport Media, Liverpool, 2011 and 2013, Hardback, 320 pages; ISBN 9781906802066)

*Bill Shankly: it's much more important than that: the biography by Stephen F. Kelly (Published by Virgin Books, London, 1996 and 1997, Paperback (2011, e-book), 320 pages; ISBN 9781852275471)

*Shanks: the autobiography of Bill Shankly by David Bowler (Published by Orion, London, 1996 (2013, e-book), Hardback and Paperback, 288 pages; ISBN 9780752804361 (hardback), 9780752802466 (paperback))

*Shanks for the memory: wit and wisdom of Bill Shankly by John Keith (Published by Robson Books Ltd., London, 1998, Paperback, 260 pages; ISBN 9781861051745)

*Shankly: from Glenbuck to Wembley by Phil Thompson and Steve Hale (Published by Tempus, Stroud, 2004, Paperback, 144 pages; ISBN 9780752429434)

*It's not your leg son: the book of Shankly by Alex Murphy (Published by Naked Guides Ltd., Bristol, 2005, Paperback, 100 pages; ISBN 9780954417741)

*The real Bill Shankly by Karen Gill and Ken Rogers (Published by Trinity Mirror Sport Media, Liverpool, 2007, Paperback, 208 pages; ISBN 9781905266500)

*Red or dead by David Peace (1st edition Published by Faber & Faber, London, 2013, Hardback and Paperback, 736 pages; ISBN: 9780571280667; 2nd edition Published by Melville House Publishing, London, 2014, Hardback and Paperback, 736 pages (2nd edition); ISBN: 9781612194387). Read a review of this novel.

*Shankly’s village by Adam Powley and Robert Gillan (Published by Pitch Publishing, Worthing, 2015, Hardback and Paperback, 256 pages; ISBN 9781785310706) Also featuring ex-Mariners Alex and John McConnell

*A game of three halves: the official Kenny Swain autobiography with Brian Beard

Published by Pitch Publishing: Worthing, 2013, Hardback, 189 pages; ISBN 9781908051400

*In his own words by Graham Taylor

Published by Peloton Publishing: Hemel Hempstead, 2017, Hardback, 328 pages; ISBN 9780993289927

Matt Tees on football by Matt Tees

Published by Jim Wright: Cleethorpes, c2008, Paperback, 28 pages; ISBN 9781902871141

The life and career of Matt Tees, interspersed with his views on the game, rich (for a short booklet) in anecdotes and opinions. He covers his entire career, with a few pages devoted to his two spells at Grimsby, including his apparently difficult relationship with Lawrie McMenemy.

*Armed with a football: a memoir of Tim Ward, footballer and father by Andrew Ward

Published by Crowberry: Oxford, 1994, Paperback and Hardback, 151 pages; ISBN 0950756814 (paperback)

*Box to box: from the Premier League to British boxing champion with Ben Dirs

Published by Simon & Schuster: London, 2016, Hardback, 281 pages; ISBN 9781471147722

An autobiography of Curtis Woodhouse.

United people: Boston United players’ stories by Doug Lowe and James Lowe

Published by Short Run Press: Exeter, 2018, Large Paperback, 247 pages; ISBN 9781527221673

Interviews by pupils of St Thomas CE Primary School with 45 ex-Boston players, including ex-Mariners Keith Alexander, Brian Clifton, Mike Czuczman, Don Donovan, Brian Dunn, Jimmy Fell, Bill Harvey, Billy Howells, Phil Hubbard, Keith Jobling, John Lakin, Jim Lumby, Arthur Mann, George Simmonds, Matt Tees and Malcolm White. The focus is natually on their Boston career but there is still a lot of interesting Town material as well.

Books about the club

The list below does not include season yearbooks.

1997/98: a season to remember by Matthew Rake

Published on behalf of Grimsby Town Football Club by Gowers Elmes Publishing: London, 1999, Hardback, 96 pages; ISBN 0953643107

A detailed and well illustrated account of the 1997-98 season, including exclusive interviews and comments from the players and supporters, and comment panels by Alan Buckley.

Champions! 1979-80 season by Rob McIlveen

Published by the Mariners Trust: Cleethorpes, 2020, Hardback, 240 pages.

Read our review

The first champions: the story of Grimsby Town 1900-01 by Rob McIlveen

Published by the Mariners Trust, 2020, Paperback, 174 pages. This book had a limited print run and is not currently available from the trust.

A match-by-match account of Grimsby Town's Division Two championship season of 1900-01, full of period detail, with additional chapters on Town's previous second flight seasons, and the two they spent in Division One.

Grimsby Town, 1983-84 to 1992-93 (Ten seasons series) by Rob Briggs and Mike Ross

Published by Soccer Book Publishing: Cleethorpes, 1993, Paperback, 52 pages; ISBN 0947808299

Grimsby Town: a complete record 1878-1989 by Les Triggs with David Hepton and Sid Woodhead

Published by Breedon Books: Derby, 1989, Hardback, 416 pages; ISBN 0907969461

A season-by-season statistical history of the club, covering all competitions including the Lincolnshire Cup, with narrative accounts of the history of the club, its grounds, managers, major players and the club programme. While other books provide more up-to-date statistics, the narrative sections have a good eye for interesting detail. 

Grimsby Town centenary brochure edited and compiled by Charles Ekberg

Produced by Grimsby Town FC in conjuncton with Hewitt Brothers Ltd, 1978, Paperback, 48 pages

Articles by John Newman, Lawrie McMenemy, Charles Ekberg, Roy Line and Sid Woodhead covering the history of the club, with particular emphasis on the 1930s. There is a lot of repetition in the content. You are probably better off looking for Ekberg's The Mariners (qv)

Grimsby Town Football Club: a pictorial history by Geoff Ford

Published by Archive Publications: Runcorn, 1989, Paperback, ca130 pages; ISBN 0948946628

As the title implies, the emphasis of the book is on the 209 illustrations, but there is also a narrative history. The availability of pictures, no doubt, and Geoff Ford's personal experience means that the 1970s and 1980s are covered in more detail than earlier periods in the club's history.

Grimsby Town Football Club: an A-Z by Robert Briggs

Printed by Stylaprint, Elton, Paperback, c1996, 100 pages

A readable, if outdated, collection of Grimsby facts, from abandoned matches to the Zenith Data Systems Cup, picking up snippets you might not find elsewhere, such as our 1957 friendly (won 3-0) against the Copenhagen side Akademisk Boldclub, who required all players to hold a university degree, or the occasion when the team found themselves stuck in a snowbound train in Louth in February 1947.  

Grimsby Town promoted 1971-1972: players’ souvenir brochure by Grimsby Town FC

Published by Allinson & Wilcox: Louth, 1972, Paperback, 56 pages

Grimsby Town promotion 1978-79: official yearbook by Alec King and Patrick Conway

Published by Graphic Press: Grimsby, 1979, Large Paperback, 56 pages

The Grimsby Town story: 130 years, 1878-2008 by Dave Wherry

Published by Yore: Harefield, 2008, Hardback, 336 pages; ISBN 0955788935

This is an update of We only sing when we're fishing (qv)

Grimsby Town: through the trapdoor: the road to hell 2001-2010 by Rob Hadgraft

Published by Desert Island Books: Essex, 2010, Paperback, 160 pages; ISBN 9781905328819

Read our review

Mariner men: Grimsby Town who's who 1892-2007 by Rob Briggs and Dave Wherry

Published by Yore Publications: Harefield, 2007, Hardback, 256 pages; ISBN 9780955294983

This books provides impressively detailed short biographies of every player to have appeared for Grimsby up to the time of publication, often providing quotes that illustrate their playing style, notable incidents and their career before and after football.

The Mariners by Charles Ekberg and Sid Woodhead

Sporting and Leisure Press: Buckingham, 1983, Hardback, 148 pages; ISBN 0860231763

Charles Ekberg covered Grimsby for over a quarter of a century, and is thoroughly immersed in its culture. Although he quite often gets bogged down in reciting statistical details that you will find more clearly conveyed in A complete record (qv) or the Dave Wherry books, and occasionally repeats himself, his book nevertheless conveys, through snippets and anecdotes, a good sense of the part played by the Mariners in the life of the town.

My favourite game: a collection of memories from Grimsby Town supporters edited by Jack Johnson and Richard Lord

The Mariner Books: Cleethorpes, 2014, Paperback, 98 pages

Contributors to The Mariner matchday programme from 2013-14 share their reminiscences of memorable matches, starting with a 1-0 victory over the English champions Arsenal in 1935 and continuing through to a 3-2 win at Accrington the season Town were relegated out of the Football League. Most of the obvious games are here: the Wembley wins and the cup wins over Everton, Liverpool and Tottenham. But many selections are more idiosyncratic, and My favourite game is all the better for it.

Reminiscences of Grimsby Town football club 1879-1912 by Bob Lincoln

Published by Soccer Books: Cleethorpes, 2003, Paperback, 150 pages; ISBN 186223082X

An extract from Reminiscences of sport in Grimsby, published shortly before Lincoln's death in 1912, this an often irreverent, jocular history of the early years of the club. It mixes anecdotes with stray snippets of factual information, like lists of elected officials, team line-ups for particular matches, season records and league tables.

Sailing on international waters by Dan Barker Gray

Printed by Amazon Fulfillment, 2020, Paperback, 28 pages; ISBN 9798646607882. Also available on Kindle

Concise career details of all the players who have played for their country (including age group and B internationals) while at Grimsby. The book doesn't add too much information to other published histories, but it helps celebrate a relatively small group of players with that special claim. 

Tales from the park- a cartoon look at the life and times of Grimsby Town football club by Jim Connor

Printed by Pelham Print: Grimsby, 2005, 70 pages

This book was a collection of cartoons from the matchday programme and the fanzine 'Sing when we're fishing'.It was a fundraiser for the Grimsby Town supporters trust the forerunner of the Mariners trust. There were only 250 printed and they all sold out.They do turn up at charity shops and on eBay from time to time. (Thanks to Jim himself for providing the details)

To hell and back: the story of Grimsby Town's 2017-18 football season by Rob Sedgwick

Publisher unknown, 2018, Paperback, 174 pages; ISBN 9781983165764 (also available on Kindle)

Two great years of the Mariners 1989-91: limited edition souvenir brochure by Neville J. Sullivan

Published by Partners Press: Newark, 1991, Large Paperback, 32 pages

We are Town: writing by Grimsby fans 1970-2002 edited by Pat Bell and Pete Green

Published by the Mariners Trust: Cleethorpes, 2015, Hardback, 224 pages; ISBN 9780993411502

Read our preview

We only sing when we're fishing: Grimsby Town FC the official history 1878-2000 by Dave Wherry

Published by Yore Publications: Harefield, 2000, Hardback, 320 pages; ISBN 187442778X

The books is divided into three sections. First, there is a season-by-season narrative history, outlining the main comings and goings at the club and the story of the season. The middle section provides miscellaneous records, including details of all coaching staff and winners of the player of the year awards. The main statistical section lists all Town players, and details of results and line-ups for each season. This book was updated by The Grimsby Town story (qv).

A who's who of Grimsby Town AFC 1890-1985 by Douglas Lamming

Published by Hutton Press: Beverley, 1985, Paperback, 202 pages; ISBN: 0907033342

Short profiles of all Grimsby players, and a statistical section covering Grimsby's record in different competitions, including the Football Alliance and Midland League, and the first and second world wars. It is both less detailed and less current than Mariner men (qv).

Obtaining these books

Unfortunately, Cod Almighty does not have a bookshop, so please do not contact us for copies of the books listed here. Instead we suggest:

  • The Grimsby Town club shop, for recently published books
  • Soccer Books, based in Cleethorpes, for second-hand copies of older books
  • The book publishers
  • Other second-hand and online bookshops (Preferably ones that pay their taxes.)
  • Your local library (some will get books on inter-library loan for you, if they don't hold copies themselves)

*Books marked with an asterisk we haven't seen copies of, so we cannot review them or advise on how much about Grimsby they contain.

We are very grateful to Dave Wherry for compiling much of this list. 

Please use our feedback form if you can provide more detail on any of these books, or suggest others.