It is with great sadness that Grimsby Town FC have to announce that former great, Paul Futcher has passed away after a battle with illness.
Born in Chester in 1956, the youngest of nine children (his twin Ron was 20 minutes older), Paul started off with his home town club, before a series of big money transfers to Luton, Manchester City, Oldham, Derby, Barnsley and Halifax, before arriving at Town on loan in January 1991, aged 35, apparently past his best. Yet what we Town fans saw was one of the greatest footballers ever to grace Blundell Park. Far from being past his best, at Grimsby he achieved the very first promotion of his career!
What was so magnificent about his play was that he seemed slow, yet his footballing brain was so fast that he didn't need physical speed, he could beat opponents by speed of thought. We town fans would stand on the terraces, watching the opponents strikers in the warm up, clearly fit and very speedy, and wondering how Futch would fare against this week's striker-with-electric-pace. And yet EVERY time, we need not have worried. He simply mesmerised them with his footballing ability, and somehow they could not get past him. Futch would come away with the ball, and amble away upfield before putting in an inch-perfect pass. It is impossible to describe the complete admiration we had for him, or the feeling inside as his wonderful abilities dominated matches. He was a complete one off. Even though you had watched him come away with the ball in the most desperate of circumstances, you could never quite work out how he had done it! He was nothing short of a genius!
We all wanted him to put the icing on the cake by scoring a goal, but he seemed destined never to do so for Town. Then one night, Lincs Cup, Blundell Park versus Boston, Futcher had the ball on the Findus Stand touchline, and struck a forty-yarder into the Pontoon goal! Even his goals were special!
For all those fortunate enough to see Futch in action, there never was a player like him. Personally, he's my favourite GTFC player of all time. A player that out-footballed anyone else we ever saw. An absolute giant in GTFC history, no, THE absolute giant in GTFC history! We will never see his like again. But he will live on in all our memories as he once more faces the fastest striker football can throw at him, simply takes the ball off his opponent's toes, and ambles off up the field once more time.
Our thoughts are with Paul's family at this sad time.