The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

Imperial Corner forever

14 February 2018

Your original/regular Diary, to my great regret, never had the honour of meeting Steve Plowes. It was during his term as editor, though, that I became a contributor to Sing When We're Fishing, and for a time it felt like I got to know him a little as he published my work and we chatted occasionally on the phone. So while tributes will be paid to him by others who are far better positioned than me to do so, there are a couple of things I'd like to chip in.

One is that there'd have been no Cod Almighty without Steve Plowes. I don't mean to suggest that this is very important in the grand scheme of things, of course, and I'm sure Steve's family and friends will be thinking right now of all the things he did and achieved that will matter much more. It was through Sing When We're Fishing, though, that many of us who have worked on CA down the years took our first steps into writing about the football and were given our first glimpse into fanzine publishing.

Steve oversaw probably the best years of Town's first zine – after becoming editor, I seem to remember, at a point when nobody else was able or willing to take on the role. Not only did he make the zine bigger and better, then: he kept it running when it would otherwise have ceased publication. So it seems fitting to acknowledge here that the very existence of this humble website, too, was made possible by the dedicated and widely respected work Steve put in on Sing When We're Fishing.

(And personally I can't put a value on the encouragement and validation I received from Steve when I sent him stuff for the fanzine. I've never been terribly confident about anything I do, including my writing, but when he praised my work I wanted to do more. Twenty-five years later writing is the only thing that consistently makes me want to get out of bed in the morning.)

Most of all, though, I think the fact that Steve edited SWWF – and the way he did it – helped Grimsby Town supporters to realise the sense of our identity and community that has sustained us ever since. Fans who might otherwise have drifted away from the club, I believe, have remained engaged with it because of that. What I'm saying is that some of us quite possibly wouldn't even be Town supporters today if it weren't for Steve.

Under him the fanzine not only reminded us that we were Town, but explored and defined what it meant to be Town. Our club was the one that had few fans and no money but with a fluent, fearless team which faced the game's fallen giants and ran rings round them. Somehow this expressed the underdog mentality of the Grimbarian in the wider world. It gave us a narrative, and a way of negotiating our way around and beyond our browbeaten hometown. It gave us a sense of self and it gave us pride.

When I moved away from Grimsby, I didn't forget where I was from, but for a while it would take a copy of Sing When We're Fishing dropping through the door to remind me who I was. Somewhere along the line, without that reminder, I might have found an excuse to stop going to the football, to leave that part of my Grimbarian identity to a musty box in my parents' attic and slowly relinquish it altogether. And I bet I'm not the only one.

Watching Grimsby Town might not be much fun right now but I'd never want to not be a Grimsby Town fan. Thanks, Steve Plowes, for helping to keep that fire aglow.