THERE was one interested spectator in Blundell Park for the important Vanarama Conference clash with Gateshead that had a foot in both camps.
Striker Jack Lester took in the game on a rare day off from his role as Youth Team Coach at Championship outfit Nottingham Forest.
And the 39-year-old felt that the 2-2 draw was a good advert for non-league football, whilst tipping first club Grimsby to win promotion, either automatically or through the Play Offs.
He said: “I’ve come along today as a fan because it is two of my former clubs.
“I obviously had a long affiliation with Grimsby and I ended my career at Gateshead last season.
“It was an exciting game with some well-taken goals and there was certainly plenty of action at the end.
“It just goes to show that there is plenty of talent in the lower leagues.”
Lester, who scored 25 times in 169 outings for the Mariners, singled out the four goals for special praise, comparing Craig Disley’s injury-time equaliser to ones scored by a former Town skipper.
“The two Gateshead goals were extremely well taken,” he said.
“He (Kevin Saint Luce) has picked the ball up in midfield for the first and has just been really positive, going past a couple of challenges and then firing into the top corner.
“His second is a good finish as well because it’s a quick snapshot that makes it difficult for the goalkeeper to get down to, although I do think there may have been a foul on Nathan Arnold in the run-up to it.
“But the two Grimsby goals were excellent as well.
“Jack Mackreth has done what all good wingers do when they are given the chance, cut in from the touchline and fired one in with his other foot – it has gone like an arrow to be fair.
“And I think everyone knows what a good player Craig Disley is.
“He has been doing that for a number of years, it was very reminiscent of my old Grimsby captain Paul Groves in the way he made the late run and planted a firm header in the corner.”
Despite the draw, Jack feels that the Mariners have what it takes to win promotion to the Football League.
He said: “I haven’t seen much of Grimsby this season but today’s game shows the desire, grit and determination that they have in the squad.
“And that is exactly what they need to get promotion, to never give up and keep going until the very end.”
With four games of the Conference season left, Jack still believes the Tynesiders are in with a shout of the Play Offs, despite being six points behind fifth-placed Woking.
He continued: “I don’t think Gateshead can give up and they’ve also shown today that they can dig in when it counts.
“They came very close last season when I was part of the squad that lost in the Play Off Final to Cambridge.
“And with Forest Green and Woking who are ahead of them in the table still to play, they can’t give up hope of the top five yet.”
The visit to Blundell Park also gave Jack the opportunity to catch up with two of his former team-mates in the Mariners’ ranks.
“It was nice to see Doigy (Chris Doig) and Gregor (Robertson) again,” he stated.
“I played with them both at Nottingham Forest and then again with Gregor at Chesterfield.
“I thought Gregor had a good game; he is a very solid, dependable player.
“Chris was a strong, vocal centre half when I played with him and you could see that he would make a smooth transition into coaching and I think he is an excellent addition to the backroom staff at Blundell Park.”
Jack left Cleethorpes with a special message for the near 6,000 Mariners’ fans that crammed into Blundell Park.
He said: “They can make all the difference for the side.
“It was great to see the home ends full again.
“They have had some difficult times over the years but they’ve always stuck by their team and the players are rewarding them with the way they have responded on the field.
“You could hear the atmosphere when you were walking up to the ground and it really took me back and I hope that these are the squad of players who get the club back where I believe they belong.”