5 March ~ Ten days ago Grimsby Town parted company with manager Neil Woods after a 1-1 draw at home to Forest Green, bringing to an end an emotional 15-month reign that saw the club relegated from the Football League after nearly 100 years of membership. This afternoon Woods’s former assistant Dave Moore will become Grimsby Town’s tenth manager in ten years when he takes charge for the match against Conference leaders AFC Wimbledon at Blundell Park. If I were Dave Moore, I don’t think I’d allow myself to get too comfy in the dugout.
Since Alan Buckley was shown the door back in September 2000, the Mariners have gone through managers almost as quickly as they have slipped through the leagues: Lennie Lawrence, Paul Groves, Nicky Law, Russell Slade, Graham Rodger, Buckley (again), Mike Newell and Woods – they’ve all tried and ultimately failed. Collectively they are accountable for Grimsby’s capitulation. Ten years ago Grimsby were playing second-tier football, defying the odds with cup victories against Liverpool and Tottenham among others. This season humiliating defeats to the likes of Hayes & Yeading and Chasetown have become all too commonplace.
Our floppy-fringed chairman John Fenty, who made his millions, quite predictably, from the frozen fish industry, sees himself as the gallant protector of the football club despite having to fire all five of his permanent appointments since becoming chairman in 2004. It wouldn’t surprise me to hear that he employed Newell in 2008 solely because he once saw him score a quite good goal for Blackburn on telly.
For the first time in his seven-year tenure, Fenty’s position as commander-in-chief was called into question at a lengthy board meeting on Monday evening. Until then the chairman had emerged through the mire relatively unscathed. Although the board of directors voted “unanimously” in favour of his chairmanship, at least now his aura of invulnerability appears to have burst. Also on the agenda that night was a proposal from vice-chairman Mike Parker for club's three elderly directors to invest a bit of cash. But naturally they didn’t want to and so Parker resigned with immediate effect.
Now with 14 games to go before the end of the season, Fenty is charged with finding a successor to Woods capable of keeping alive Grimsby's play-off aspirations. Taking into account the number of sackings there’s been at Blundell Park recently, the new man will have to make an immediate impact or risk being the sixth managerial casualty in nearly as many years. Rob Andrews