The club is saddened to learn of the death of Keith Jobling, a true Town legend, former holder of the appearances record, captain, and leader in the 1962 promotion campaign.
Keith was born in New Waltham in 1934, initially playing in the village team before signing as an amateur for the Mariners, turning full-time professional in the summer of 1953, having been named as a reserve for England youth in February of that year.
His debut came against Barrow in a Division 3N game on February 13th as Town won at Blundell Park by the only goal. Among his team-mates that day were Clarrie Williams, Bill Freeburn, Reg Scotson, Chris Johnson, Jimmy Bloomer and Jimmy Maddison. His debut coincided with the first game for new manager Billy Walsh.
After a handful of games that season and the next, his call-up to National Service intervened, and it wasn't until January 1958 that Keith could resume his Mariners career under Allenby Chilton with Town by this time having been promoted to Division 2 (now called the championship). His playing companions now included many more Town stalwarts – still Clarrie Williams in goal, Bill Brown, Dick Conner, Jeff Whitefoot, Johnny Scott, Ron Rafferty, Billy Evans and Jimmy Fell. From this time onwards for the next ten years, Keith's name was always the first on the team sheet, and in the summer of 1959 he was appointed captain.
The team was still playing in the traditional 2-3-5 formation, with Jobling usually the “pivot” at number 5, though in a nod to a defensive pairing in the middle, “Cannonball” Ron Cockerill frequently played at number 6 alongside him.
Keith had to rely on his ability at reading the game, and his skill on the ground and in the air as he stood just 5' 11” and weighed in at 11½ stone. Although Town were relegated to division 3 in the same summer that he was given the captaincy, he led the team back into Division 2 in May 1962 when the Mariners flew from 12th place in January to runners-up spot, winning promotion in the final game of the season by beating Brentford 2-0 at their place. As well as the celebration photo of the team drinking milk and tea in the dressing room after the game, another famous Grimsby Telegraph photo shows the team's arrival at Grimsby Town railway station with Jobling sitting on the shoulders of his celebrating colleagues!
In November 1968 he broke Jackie Bestall's long-standing appearance record – he'd have done it earlier but for the enforced absence of National Service – and that record was only bettered by John McDermott many years later.
Among his list of famous games, perhaps the one that stands out was the one against a West Ham team in the fifth round of the League Cup in November 1965 whose team included Geoff Hurst, Martin Peters, and Bobby Moore – all involved in England's world cup victory just 9 months later – a 2-2 draw at Blundell Park, and a 1-0 defeat at Upton Park.
In summer 1969 he moved on to become player-manager at Boston United, a team that achieved great success in its non-league days, with a number of Town players joining him there. He also set up his own upholstery business at the same time, having been featured in the Telegraph some years earlier in his “second job.”
For Mariners Legends, they don't come bigger or better than Keith Jobling!
Keith Jobling, Master Mariner, 1934-2020.