When the Stags played their first EFL fixture in 2019, it was at Grimsby. And that was to be the Stags’ seventeenth consecutive League Two fixture without defeat as the Stags left Blundell Park as 1-0 winners thanks to a Neal Bishop strike, which then cemented the Stags’ promotion credentials. In the end, the Stags should have gone up to a higher grade, but things conspired against the Stags in the final weeks and months of last season, i.e. the injury to Hayden White a few weeks after the Grimsby game, and some, to print the most appropriate, the horrendous refereeing in the first leg of the playoff semifinals.
And when the Stags play their first EFL home fixture in 2020, it will be against Grimsby. A Grimsby side who have just appointed the PL experienced Ian Holloway as their new manager. Holloway did manage Blackpool and Crystal Palace at PL level during the last decade but had not been managing since leaving QPR for the second time in 2018. Grimsby will now be the second side he manages against the Stags as he was QPR manager by the time they faced the Stags way back in the 2002-03 campaign.
Before the away game at Grimsby earlier this season, the previewer wrote:
“Currently, the Stags haven’t got the breaks so far this season, mainly due to too many injuries and suspensions, also far too much added time in a couple of fixtures, which have cost the Stags at least three points, i.e. in the latest away fixture at Port Vale, when the Valiants equalized in the fourth minute of second-half added time, which IMO should have been only two as there were only two substitutions in the second half at Vale Park.
Yet, two wins from the first eleven league games is below par and the worst Stags start since the FL return in 2013. Even in the 2014-15 campaign, the Stags had won five out of their first eleven League Two fixtures. Last time, the Stags had just two wins from their first eleven fixtures, it was in 2002-03. And currently, the Stags have just six points less after eleven fixtures compared to last campaign.
Our Saturday opponents Grimsby Town may have surprised a few so far and sit currently in the final playoff spot following an impressive 3-1 victory at Exeter last weekend”.
At Blundell Park, the Stags won in dramatic fashion. Playing the last half hour with ten men after a red card to Hayden White, the Stags with virtually the last kick of the game in the sixth minute of injury-time, Krystian Pearce bundled home the only goal of the game. This was also our second consecutive 1-0 victory there.
Before last season’s away game at Grimsby, the previewer wrote:
“But the Stags have travelled to Blundell Park before on a New Year’s Day in preview history. That was in 2011 midway through the Stags’ spell outside League Two while it was Grimsby’s first National League season out of six following relegation in 2010.
That game at Grimsby in 2011 belongs to the ones which have to be forgotten very quickly due to the fact that the Stags were routed to a 7-2 scoreline, the first time the Stags had had seven goals put against them since 1999, when Cambridge won at their headquarters to that scoreline. But just a few days before the disaster at Grimsby, the Stags travelled to Cambridge and by a 5-1 scoreline. These results summed up much of a Stags campaign which ended in a FA Trophy final defeat against Darlington at Wembley. The 7-2 defeat at Grimsby in 2011 is also the Stags’ heaviest-ever against the Mariners”
Incredibly enough, the Stags again played at Cambridge before a game against Grimsby. On New Year’s Day, a Nicky Maynard brace sealed a dramatic and much-needed 3-2 victory at Cambridge. Meanwhile at Blundell Park, Ian Holloway oversaw the Mariners’ 1-0 victory against Salford, their first one since last September prior to this season’s home fixture against the Stags.
And Grimsby are now in their fourth season back in the FL following promotion from the National League via the playoffs in 2016.
One Stags victory against the Mariners is a record-breaking one. Before the game at Mansfield on March 12, 2013, the Stags had recorded seven straight league (at that time BSP) victories. That record was broken thanks to a 2-0 scoreline.
And by the time of the Stags home fixture against Grimsby six years ago, the BSP was the tightest one at the top for several seasons. The reason then: no runaway leaders like Crawley and Stevenage in previous years, but five sides challenging for promotion and playoff places, three of them level on points. And one of those were the Stags after a tremendous run with eleven wins out of thirteen after the magnificent FA Cup third round display against Liverpool.
And before the introduction of the Premier League in 1992-93, Grimsby Town along with Coventry held the distinction of playing in all SIX divisions of the Football league (Division 1 (first time as early as in 1901-02) best position 5th in 1934-35, Division 2, Division 3 (S) (in 1920-21), Division 3 (N), Division 3 and Division 4). The Mariners, which indeed were one of the original members of the old division 2 when founded in 1892, are also one of the clubs which have swapped divisions most times during their league career, nearly thirty times in all, and it is also no wonder why Grimsby have faced more league clubs than any other team, more than 120 in fact, and in their final FL fixture before relegation in 2010 travelled to Burton Albion. Three seasons ago the Mariners played Stevenage for the first time, and the Mariners have already played against the League Two debutants Salford City this season. And all the previous league fixtures between the Mariners and the Stags have taken place after World War II, but the away fixture in August 2004 was the first outside the old Division 3 (N) and the old Division 3, spanning over a period of nearly 40 years from 1951-52 to 1990-91.
Add to that, playing some 50 sides in the National League during Grimsby’s six-season stint outside the FL.
Fact is also, that Grimsby were relegated to the old fourth in the 1976-77 season, and were also so in the 1967-68 one when Peterborough were demoted. But that one was by the narrowest of margins. The Stags just about stayed up then due to a slighty superior goal-average than the Mariners. Had the Stags conceded ONE more goal at Bournemouth and Grimsby scored ONE more in the final game at home to Swindon that season, the roles had been reversed. They had been so if the three-point ruling had been in force then, as the Mariners won fourteen games then compared to twelve for the Stags. And in two of the Mariners’ latest promotion seasons to the old division 2 (in 1979-80 and 1990-91), the Stags were relegated. And the latter season, Grimsby were involved in a unique treble, as three teams were promoted together for the second season running, the other two being Cambridge and Southend, the trio being promoted from the old fourth to the old second in consecutive seasons, being the only time in league history this has happened!
And since the Playoff promotion final defeat against Cheltenham by the only goal of the game in 2005-06, Grimsby suffered some kind of a hang-over, finally ending with their FL exit four years later. Incidentally enough, Cheltenham returned to the FL (along with Grimsby) as National League Champions after an absence of one campaign.
The biggest Stags wins at Field Mill are two with a four-goal margin. The first one was on February 6, 1954 when Kenneth Murray netted three times, Fox and Darwin one apiece in front of 6513 to complete a 5-1 rout. Thirteen years later, on March 28, 1967, 11735 pilgered to Field Mill. One of the players appearing for both sides, Stuart Brace, represented the Stags then and netted twice. Mitchinson hit the net once, and to add to Grimsby’s misery, they put through an own goal. At that time, the Stags still were in the second promotion place hunt for the current championship behind runaway winners QPR, while the Mariners were mid-table material. And on September 4, 1976, Terry Eccles hit a hat-trick, including one from the spot, in a 3-0 full-pointer at Field Mill. And every time the Stags have ever won at Grimsby, they did manage a double over the Mariners (see stats below).
The teams have also met once in the FA Cup. It was early on in Colin Treharne’s Stags career in goal. On November 4, 1961, a good crowd of 10127 watched the Stags go through to the second round thanks to a 3-2 victory at Field Mill courtesy of two Brian Hall strikes and one from Ken Wagstaff, latter later for many years representing a club on the other side of the Humber.
During the 2005-06 season, both sides were involved in famous League Cup giant-killings. While the Stags disposed of Southampton in the second round, Grimsby notched an even better achievement, this kayoeing a full-strength Tottenham side by the only goal of the game, the same result as at Field Mill against Southampton. John McDermott’s 700th game for the Mariners deservedly hit the headlines on September 20, 2005, with the Stags’ scalp as second best that night. The reward for Grimsby’s giant-killing was a bumper home game against Newcastle, a side that only just, thanks to Alan Shearer (who else?) managed to dump a brave Stags side out of the FA Cup at home on January 7, 2006, just a week before the Stags travelled to Grimsby that campaign and unluckily lost to a 1-2 scoreline thanks to a late Parkinson goal.
Last season’s away victory at Grimsby was the Stags’ first one since a 3-2 victory early on in the 1987-88 Division Three campaign.
Some famous names have managed Grimsby over the years. To name but two: Bill Shankly and Lawrie McMenemy. And the one outfield player with the most league appearances, including some for the Stags, started his league career at Grimsby and played for them in the 0-3 defeat at Field Mill on September 4, 1976, when a Terry Eccles hat-trick including a penalty sealed the tie, is among the players appearing for both sides. The name: Tony Ford.
As a Grimsby player, Michael Boulding scored three goals in a 6-2 Division One demolition of Wimbledon on March 23, 2002, but as a Barnsley player, Boulding was on the losing side when the Mariners last hit six in a Football League home game, a 6-1 rout of the Tykes in a Division Two game on February 28, 2004. The late Keith Alexander as well as one recent Scunthorpe boss, Ian Baraclough, are the managers which as players represented both sides.
Currently, two ex-Stags are playing for Grimsby: Matt Green and Luke Waterfall, while Andy Cook played for the Mariners in their National League days sandwiched in-between two stints at Barrow, the first of those at the Bluebirds including a Stags’ 7-0 home rout on March 17, 2012. Incidentally enough, Cook played against the Stags when Grimsby fell victim to the Stags’ record-breaking winning victory one year later. Cook’s first Barrow stint also included a 1-1 draw at Mansfield in front of a paltry 1253 crowd weeks before FA Trophy final in 2011.
Played for both sides: James Alabi, Keith Alexander, Calvin Andrew, Craig Armstrong, Nathan Arnold, Ian Baraclough, Paul Bolland, Michael Boulding, Stuart Brace, Daryl Clare, Jamie Clarke, Chris Clements, Barry Conlon, Andy Cook, Clifford Coupland, Craig Disley, Rob Duffy, Tony Ford, Ben Futcher, Scott Garner, Simon Grand, Matt Green, Martin Gritton, Edgar Hardy, Liam Hearn, Simon Heslop, Pat Hoban, Samuel Hodgson, Maxey Holmes, Ernest Jackson, Jake Kean, Mark Lever, Jim Lumby, Junior Mendes, Eddie Munnings, Tom Naylor, Don O’Riordan, Iffy Onoura, Ollie Palmer, Malcolm Partridge, Lee Peacock, Jason Pearcey, Jack Prior, Ricky Ravenhill, Ken Reeve, Mitch Rose, Mick Saxby, Gary Silk, Tyrone Thompson, John Walker, Luke Waterfall, William Watkin, Albert Wilson, Curtis Woodhouse, Neil Woods, Adi Yussuf.
Played for Stags, later managed Grimsby: Bobby Roberts.
Played for Stags, managed both sides: Stuart Watkiss
Home games: P 25, W 14, D 6, L 5, GF 45, GA 24
Away games: P 26, W 7, D 6, L 13, GF 25, GA 46
Season Home Date Away Date
1951-52 2-2 1952-01-05 1-1 1951-09-08 Div 3 (N)
1952-53 1-1 1952-09-13 1-5 1953-01-24 Div 3 (N)
1953-54 5-1 1954-02-06 2-0 1953-09-19 Div 3 (N)
1954-55 3-0 1955-03-12 2-3 1954-10-23 Div 3 (N)
1955-56 0-2 1956-04-07 0-2 1955-11-26 Div 3 (N)
1959-60 3-2 1960-03-05 1-2 1959-10-17 Div 3
1964-65 2-2 1964-09-26 1-1 1965-02-06 Div 3
1965-66 2-1 1966-04-30 1-0 1966-04-09 Div 3
1966-67 4-0 1967-03-28 2-1 1967-03-24 Div 3
1967-68 1-1 1968-04-20 0-0 1967-11-25 Div 3
1975-76 1-0 1976-02-21 1-4 1975-11-15 Div 3
1976-77 3-0 1976-09-04 1-0 1977-02-12 Div 3
1979-80 0-0 1980-04-26 1-2 1979-12-08 Div 3
1987-88 1-0 1988-01-02 3-2 1987-09-12 Div 3
1990-91 1-1 1991-03-02 0-2 1990-12-01 Div 3
2004-05 2-0 2005-04-02 0-2 2004-08-28 League Two
2005-06 2-1 2006-02-14 1-2 2006-01-14 League Two
2006-07 1-2 2007-02-17 1-1 2006-08-18 League Two
2007-08 1-2 2008-03-22 0-1 2007-12-15 League Two
2010-11 0-2 2011-04-19 2-7 2011-01-01 BSP
2011-12 2-1 2011-10-08 0-0 2011-12-06 BSP
2012-13 2-0 2013-03-12 1-4 2012-08-27 BSP
2016-17 0-1 2016-09-24 0-3 2017-02-18 League Two
2017-18 4-1 2017-09-09 1-1 2017-12-26 League Two
2018-19 2-1 2018-11-06 1-0 2019-01-01 League Two
2019-20 (at Blundell Park) 1-0 2019-10-05 League Two
1961-62 3-2 1961-11-04 (FA Cup 1st round at Field Mill)
2006-07 3-0 2006-10-31 (Johnstone's Paint Trophy, Northern Section, round 2 at Field Mill)
Come on Mansfield!
Details from various sources, mainly the history book, Rothmans Football yearbook and players who’s who on the history CD