Wake up Grimsby Town

Cod Almighty | Article

by Jase Ives

5 August 2016

To go forward, the Grimsby Town board needs to embrace its community's heritage, Jase argues.

This question was asked on social media, apparently from Grimsby Town's official account:

"Do we want the Iceland 'clap/chant' before Grimsby home games?"

What the actual fuck?

Why has that solitary question annoyed me so much that I feel compelled to address it? The answer is simple.

My father, no longer with us, spent a lifetime doing one of the most arduous, dangerous professions, along with many, many others from this town. Those brave men spent time away from their families, providing for them. The town itself was the centre of the fishing industry, nationally and internationally renowned - before the fishing industry was killed off and the town along with it. Many families, and the area, have struggled to survive. Those men, once the centrepoint of all things Grimsby, have largely been forgotten.

The football club once prided itself on the town's heritage. The Dock Tower was an enduring image on the matchday programme cover. Boxes of fish used to be given to away teams.

The club wants its fans to adopt an Icelandic chant. It's bad enough they jump on the bandwagon of doing something everyone else now does. But to be so out of touch to the town's past?

Nowadays? The club wants its fans to adopt an Icelandic chant. A chant from the very place associated with the loss of our industry. What message does that send to those who contributed so much to the town's history? It's bad enough they jump on the bandwagon of doing something everyone else now does- like the mind-numbing, pathetic Touré chant heard all over. But to be so out of touch to the town's past and insult the memory of those no longer here, and those who gave so much?

It's another of a long, long line of errors from the club. This pre-season should have been the start of something good. It was all in place after the return to the League on that Wembley day 16 May. The fans were as one, many of them new ones, young and old. We had not just players but a squad that was firmly as one, working for a manager who'd been through the mill, stuck at it and got his reward, and ours. Years in the wilderness - finally over.

But how did we build on it? It was Mariners Trust members who once again banged the drum to encourage people to purchase season tickets. The club: silent. Like last season, it was the efforts of the trust - themselves merely supporters and proudly so - voluntarily giving their time and doing a job which in all honesty they shouldn't have been required to. For years the Town support has been treated with disdain by the club hierarchy. I could go on for hours with instances of the club's spokesperson putting his foot in it, treating its lifeline with contempt. It's all been said numerous times, but it is an example of how the club is now being run. It is losing its identity.

The only thing they are interested in is flogging corporate packages. Its one of the reasons for chasing the new ground, to grow the corporate side. That's fine, but don't forget where you've come from, don't forget the town's history. Don't forget the football club's lifeline, those who pay and watch, week in, week out.

It was highlighted this week that Tickets for Troops is being introduced - great. But what are the club doing for those whose industry kept the town thriving for years? What are the plans, if any, for them to be remembered, to be a focal point at the new ground, should it ever happen? Or are they lost in the fantasies of restaurants, meeting rooms and corporate facilities?

Its the day before we return to the Football League, a day we have all yearned for. It's a day in which we will get some media attention nationally. We should be embracing it. The fans are. But the club is losing its sense of identity.

The club needs to build on its heritage. The away bar for instance is an amazing place, a place where away fans are welcomed. It builds on our tradition of hospitality. But yet again that is down to the work of trust members.

Grimsby Town needs to improve the way it engages with fans, both face-to-face and on social media. Start with small things like appearances. If I turned up for work in the same state as the club's office manager I wouldn't last long. You are the image of the club, be it as ticket office staff, stewards or those on the gates. The silly thing is it doesn't require a lot of effort, but you have to give something back.

Just remember who you are. Who we are.

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