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GTFC 140: Grimsby Town 1888 - 1878

On Grimsby Town's 140th anniversary, we take a look back at the club's key events between 1888 and the year the Mariners were formed - 1878.

20 September 2018

Grimsby Pelham 1878

In the 13th, and final, of our countdown series celebrating Grimsby Town's 140th anniversary as a club, we focus on the major talking points in 1888 - 1878.

By the mid-19th century, cricket was flourishing in every town and village, and W. G. Grace was the most famous sportsman in the English-speaking world. But what could cricketers do to keep themselves fit, and to continue their camaraderie through the long, gas-lit evenings of winter?

And that was the very reason for the creation of our own beloved football club, from the team members of the Worsley Cricket Club.

It is well-documented that the first meeting to form, what became, Grimsby Town took place in an upstairs room at the Wellington Arms – and it is that meeting that marks the very start of Town's 140th celebrations.

Things were different in those days. Town played according to the Yorkshire rules, which meant that they could play 12 players – if they could find 12… And they couldn't for their first game when a spectator really was called upon to make up the numbers!

Starting off in blue and white hooped shirts bought or knitted in varying degrees of blue, and varying depths of hoop, the club progressed rapidly, and after just four years entered the English (FA) Cup, and hit the jackpot with their first opponents – Scottish giants and holders of the Scottish Cup – Queens Park, at home!

Unfortunately, the Scots refused to come because of the distance and difficulty of reaching Grimsby by train, so Town gained a walkover! But reality struck in the next round when Town lost 9-1 to Phoenix Bessemer of Rotherham – still the record Town defeat.

Despite matches being mostly friendlies including famous teams from far-flung places, as well as the FA Cup, and the Lincolnshire Cup, which Town had already won, the club had also signed Scottish international players, and "ringers" from the north-east!

This seemed so bizarre to some of our local rivals (who shall remain nameless) that it was drawn to the attention of the FA, who found Town totally innocent, perhaps aided by some judicious editing of the financial records by the Town committee!

As the first decade of existence drew to a close, the club had made enormous strides following that first meeting in the Wellington Arms. But things were about to get even better…

If you missed any of our previous GTFC 140 articles, you can read them all exclusively on our website.

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