The Black Pig!
Whilst Town were still wearing the hoops in various shades and depths of blue and white, football was beginning to progress, and in among the large number of friendlies, there were cup games arranged. Town's very first sojourn remarkably gave them an absolutely plum home draw against the Scottish side Queen's Park, of Glasgow (and Hampden) fame! Queen's Park had won the Scottish version of the cup for the two previous years, and like teams from all over the British Isles had entered the English FA Cup. Once they discovered their opponents, and the difficulty of reaching such a far flung outpost on the east coast, the Scots decided that they wouldn't bother, and declined to come to Clee Park. It would have been interesting to have played the Scottish giants, would have resulted in a bumper crowd, and perhaps have caused great confusion as the Glasgow side played in black and white hoops.
But at least Town had safely navigated their first FA Cup (non) match, and were next drawn at home to a Rotherham works side, unknown at the time, but about to go down in GTFC history! Large numbers paid 6d entrance money - equivalent these days to about £2.10 - hoping to see Town record their very first win in a national competition. Sadly, they were to be disappointed ….. extremely disappointed, for Bessemer ran in 9 goals, with just a Harry Monument goal in reply. So the very first FA Cup game turned out to be Town's heaviest defeat in the competition in the 140 years of existence.
There were big changes afoot, and the "unlucky" blue and white stripes were ditched in favour of a very smart chocolate and blue halved shirt, with white shorts. These were almost certainly "proper" football shirts, not ones bought at random from shops, tailors or knitted by the local women folk. Bukta had already started manufacturing football shirts over in Lancashire, and though we can't be sure that these were from that source, from now on, the home-made aspect of kits was almost a forgotten trend. Almost, but perhaps not quite, for the Grimsby players now sported the (civic) town's crest of a chevron and three boar's heads that can be traced back all the way to 1592, and perhaps relate to the right of the Mayor and Alderman to hunt wild boar in Bradley Woods! From photos of the time, it appears that some kits had the coat of arms, whilst others didn't. Doubtless, the lucky bearers of the arms were able have their's sown on.
Shirts from the past from our modern "eye" now seem somewhat bare of any adornments. It would be half a century before numbers were applied to the backs of shirts, and close on a century before they were applied to shorts. There were no sponsors names for almost 100 years, and no players names on the back for almost as long. And the shirt-makers had to wait decades before they could show us which of them had made the gear. The very idea of any fan wearing a replica was also long, long, long into the future.
Along with the new shirts the price of a season ticket to Clee Park rose to 5 shillings (the equivalent of about £21.70 at today's prices) and for another 2/6 (an extra £10.80) season ticket holders could view matches from the shelter of the newly erected stand! The opening was celebrated in traditional style by a friendly against a top team - Blackburn Olympic the first northern club to win the FA Cup. And in traditional style, Town managed to get walloped 9-0! But better things were definitely on the way!