We are Town: creating the future we deserve

Cod Almighty | Article

by Jason Stockwood

6 May 2021

As the new chair of Grimsby Town, Jason is coming home in the most meaningful way. He makes a request and a commitment to his fellow fans

"The reason that football is important to so many of us is precisely the experience of association at its heart and the vivid sense of community it provides."
Simon Critchley - What we think about when we think about football

You don't have to live in a place to call it home. Although I've spent most of my life in exile, growing up in Grimsby is what shaped me. It's where my roots were planted and will always remain: swimming in Scafferbaffs, drinking snakebite in Gullies and the Dolly, my Nana calling me "buggerlugs" (Not as bad as it sounds to someone not from Grimsby.)

Through a career working in technology companies, watching people around me parade their cosmopolitan upbringings and middle-class certainty, I've worn my Grimsby heritage with pride: the council estate, absent father, time spent working down dock. It's not everyone's experience around here but it was mine.

"I was a ballboy at this game. I'm behind the Wolves goal at 43 seconds, jumping up and down as the own goal goes in."

Across the years, if one thing (apart from family) has kept me connected to home, it's the association with Town. So many memories of being a kid here come back to Blundell Park. Attending my first game in 1979 with my mate Rich and his dad, scared and mesmerised by the Sheff Wed fans marching down Clee Road "singing the blues". Two games on the touchline as a ballboy: in 1983 versus Newcastle United, in a tracksuit two sizes too big for me, handing the ball to my hero Joe Waters, and everyone's hero Kevin Keegan. Then in 1984, being spat at and having coins thrown at me by Wolves fans in the Osmond stand: I made 13p that day.

More recently, I've sat in the Findus/John Smith's/Young's stand wishing I had a second coat. And had those days when time seems to expand and contract at a different pace as you watch the container boats in the estuary instead of the game.

Wherever I am in the world, at 3pm on a Saturday there's only one place my mind travels. It's why I'm so proud to be coming home in the most meaningful way possible for me, with Andrew Pettit putting something back into a town and club that I love.

For both Andrew and me, it is a personal investment in Town and the town; in a proud history we all care so much about, but also in the future. Because we have to be honest. The world is changing, football is changing and so is Grimsby. We might piss on your fish, but the closest most get to the fishing industry these days is in the frozen food section at Tesco. And you might fill up my senses like a good pinch of snuff (anyone?), but try explaining that to the Vape generation.

I'm as nostalgic as anyone for the past. And we can't forget it. But we also have to work together to create the future that the club and town deserve. And we want to do it side-by-side with the fans, redefining the relationship with you so that your voices are heard, and your knowledge helps us to get it right.

To that end, I want to finish with a request and a commitment.

We won't always get it right, and we want to hear from you when that happens. But we'd like to have those discussions from a place of respect, and that respect has to go both ways

The request is for your understanding. We know we won't always get it right, and we want to hear from you when that happens. But we'd like to have those discussions from a place of respect (and definitely not one shouted anonymously online) recognising that we are all fans who want the best for this club, even if we might disagree about how to deliver that.

We want a dialogue, and for that the respect has to go both ways. We'll commit today to putting out an initial survey to get your input and over the coming weeks we'll set up a number of forums and initiatives to ensure this is a conversation we can all get involved with and own.

Hopefully that is backed up by the commitment we have made that we want to see progress on and off the pitch. To rebuild the stature of the club in the hearts and minds of everyone associated with our community.

So here's to the future, the good days and the bad (there will be both) and here's to seeing you in the frozen food aisle at Tesco in Scunthorpe*.

All Town Are We. UTM.


*This is a joke, not a call to action