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GTFC 140: Grimsby Town 1898 - 1889

With Grimsby Town's 140th anniversary looming on Thursday (September 20, 2018), we take a look back at the club's key events in each decade back to 1878.

19 September 2018

Grimsby Town 1895

In the 12th, and penultimate, of our countdown series celebrating Grimsby Town's 140th anniversary as a club, we focus on the major talking points in 1898 - 1889.

Grimsby joined the new, and extremely short-lived, Combination for the 1888-89 season. It lacked success to such an extent that many fixtures went unfulfilled, and it folded by May of 1889.

In fact Town played almost as many games in the FA Cup as they did in the Combination, including three against Lincoln City, and taking another two to get past Newark, and then just one against Cleethorpes Town to dispatch them 5-0.

With the demise of the Combination, the Mariners joined the Alliance. Meeting reasonable success – fourth, third… and then third-bottom, but better news was on the way.

The Football League more or less accepted the Alliance as its new Division Two. Promotion and relegation between the divisions were to be decided by test matches between the bottom two of Division One and the top two of Division Two.

Town came within one place of making those test matches on two occasions. To put their quality into perspective, the first of those near-miss occasions saw just Liverpool and Manchester City above the Mariners, and on the second occasion Notts County and Newton Heath (now Manchester United).

Town signed centre-forward Tommy McCairns from Whitby for the second season in the Football League, and he became probably the most famous player of the 19th century for Town. That season he scored 20 goals in 11 consecutive games - still a record, and nine in the FA cup - again a record!

McCairns topped even these records by scoring a double-hat-trick against Leicester Fosse in the final match of the 1895-96 season. Not just a club-record that still stands, but a Division Two record that lasted more than 60 years. He was sold to Bristol City for £40 at the end of the 1897-98 season, as almost the entire team departed!

Hope springs eternal, and the next few years, with a new squad, was to see Town achieve heights that wouldn't be repeated for 30 years…

The next, and final, article in our series will look at the club between 1888 and 1878. 

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