The Diary

Cod Almighty | Diary

Fingers crossed

22 June 2019

Last night your original/regular Diary got off the bus on a largely derelict Freeman Street and walked to the cash machines at Asda's where, many years ago, I did a brief stint on the checkouts for £1.82 an hour. I paddled through litter and crossed the footbridge over the railway, looking out over the smashed-up cars piled in the scrapyard below. There wasn't a soul to be seen.

I carried on to King Edward Street for a first visit to Docks Beers, and there, in the unlikeliest of locations, abutting a hotchpotch of quiet, boxy retail units, with everything else closed, I found music, excellent locally brewed beer, street food, and a large number of Grimbarians and Meggies with a strong sense of style and smiles on their faces. You basically had to wee in a shed, but apart from that it was ace.

Within a couple of hundred metres, here were the Grimsby that has languished in neglect for four or five decades, and the potential new Grimsby that finally lies within grasp, should the right people make the right call, and all the other people shake off the mindset that neglect and dereliction are what they deserve.

Tom Shutes, when he succeeds John Fenty in the seat of power at Blundell Park, is not going immediately to hand Michael Jolley a vastly increased transfer budget. He is not a Russian fossil fuel oligarch or a Saudi prince. He has not made hundreds of millions of pounds in online gambling, or fashion retail, or scrap metal. His accession to the throne does not mean Town will become the next Brighton, or Hull, or even Mansfield. We are still not bringing Omar Bogle back to Cleethorpes. And the sooner everyone realises this, and calibrates their expectations accordingly, the better for us all.

There is no short cut back to the good times for Grimsby Town FC. If we are to return to the middle two tiers of the game, where many of us stepped onto this crazy ride, it will not be as an artificially enriched football club in an enduringly impoverished town. It will be as a regenerated club in a regenerated community.

And this is why GTFC might have found exactly the right dude for the gig.

We don't yet know very much about Shutes, and we're all too scarred and aching to want to get carried away. But we do know that he's already been involved in the Greater Grimsby Town Deal. We've had a look at his Twitter account and he seems to get a lot of things right. And if I had to guess, I'd guess he understands that the rebirth of the football club must come as one component within a wider resurgence of fortune for the area.

As fans, we'll have a part to play in this. The first part of that will be to recognise that there's no quick fix. Like Tom Shutes, we'll need to commit for the long haul.

That long haul back to the land of the living has to start somewhere. Maybe, just maybe, it starts here.