Ian Holloway: a gust of fresh air

Cod Almighty | Article

by Jase Ives

14 January 2020

However it came about, the appointment of Ian Holloway offers Grimsby Town the chance to make a new era.

I am one of the biggest detractors of the John Fenty years. My position hasn't changed, and, after the much-publicised, confrontational fans' forum in 2017, I decided to not attend games. Which isn't to say I was no longer a supporter: that is deeply ingrained in my heart and soul since first attending in the late 1970s. So it wasn't easy to not attend, but I'm a staunch one for having beliefs, morals, doing the right thing for the right reasons (which very often doesn't work.) And I'm stubborn.

When Michael Jolley left, it was yet another episode shrouded in controversy. Recordings in which innocent parties were hung out to dry made public: yet another in the long, long line of mistakes coupled with disdain from the board. It reinforced my disillusion. It appeared no lessons had been learned at all over the last 15 years: the egotistical, 'I know better than you', 'your opinion isn't welcomed' tenure was set to go on, and on, and on...

There was little prospect that a coach would be able to string a result or two together. The squad was devoid of confidence, shattered not only by results but by tactics and an atmosphere becoming toxic as the loyal crowd realised that their much-loved club was once again heading into the abyss. Only this time with next to no hope for the future.

Then. We know it happened in a chip restaurant on the pier. The face to face meeting with Ian Holloway, after phone calls, and a time passed after that meeting in which not a lot happened. Were the board still hoping for a result over Christmas to carry on for the season, knowing that relegation would be avoided, once again, because of the misfortune of other clubs, or were they actively looking to get Holloway in all along?

It was my initial opinion that both parties were playing the game: the board to suppress the growing disenchantment from the support, and Holloway to promote himself to the attention of other clubs after a period out of the game. However, two weeks on, the reasons - the how and the why - don't seem to matter anymore.

Ian Holloway has always been an endearing character, full of energy, different to others, both in approach and character. That's why the media love him: he doesn't folllow suit. What he says, he wants to say, and bugger the rights and wrongs. I lived down south in the 1990. My mate is a staunch QPR fan and I went to a few games with him. Holloway was, even then, a fans' favourite. I've followed his career ever since.

After the Mansfield game Holloway's voice was cracking with emotion. He was buzzing. But the element that got me was the family side. This is no gimmick. It is a massive undertaking to move to Grimsby, away from family, to a club on a long downward spiral. But he knows what can be achieved.

But I've been slightly surprised in these two weeks. We've seen a different side to the one the media play on. From the day he agreed to come to Grimsby, every little interview or quote you can take something from. What struck me about his will to succeed is the underlying motive: to prove others wrong, those that let him go previously. His purchase of shares took most by surprise, but it was also a show of his aims.

Ian Holloway didn't have to come to Grimsby. Many others wouldn't. It's been proven by the names applying over the years. They've seen the goings on, the media play on "Grim" and all the oh so hilarious jokes after. But Holloway has done his research: look at the references to Bill Shankly and Lawrie McMenemy, and meeting Alan Buckley. He's well aware of the following the club can get, and he's made a point of saying he wants to get the club back deserving of the fans support.

The interview after the Mansfield game nearly had me in tears. Holloway's voice was cracking with emotion after he'd seen a young side, with ten men absolutely run themselves ragged for a win. He was buzzing. But the element that got me was the family side: the importance of his wife being happy, taking her input, the children, grandchildren, dogs. This is no gimmick. It is a massive undertaking to move to Grimsby, away from family, particularly at this time of year: to an area that he won't know well, to a club on a long downward spiral. But he knows what can be achieved.

His PR, approach, charisma, drive, passion, his wanting to help both players and supporters, his aims to take the club forward, his gestures to fans acknowledging support, his obvious pride in seeing the reception he's getting... It is not for the cameras - it is from the heart. He has already given so much to the game, but still has so much left to give. Forget the cliches you hear from everyone else, the mundane routine answers. With Ian Holloway you get honesty.

For years, the PR from the club has been appalling. The attitude to the fans, the press, everything - awful. Right now we have a man who has already given the club national attention in a positive way. He's given us all a a boost: the club, the players, the town.

If, like me, you aren't or haven't been supportive of John Fenty, for whatever reason, and you have stopped going: fair do's. Everyone makes their own decisions and shouldn't be questioned by others. But here is another line of thinking to consider. Holloway is a breath of fresh air. We are lucky to have him. He gives us the opportunity not of a fresh start - you can't ignore all the mistakes of the last 15 years - but a new dawn, a new era. Even if the board has forgotten it, Holloway knows what the fans give and can do for the club. By going back to Blundell Park, boosting the team, taking your children along, you can speed change and help the club realise the dreams you have for it.

To Ian and family - sincere best wishes and thank you for making the decision to come to Grimsby. We all wish you well. UTM