Origins & Formation

Back in the annals of time, two arrivals in the promised land, at Nth Thoresby and Grainthorpe, unfortunately missed the reign of Mr Shankly. However their formative years ensured his spirit shone on. The eventual manifestation of their early promise began to emerge at a faraway place called Histon.

Birthplace and Local HQ of The Histon Mariners
Birthplace and Local HQ of The Histon Mariners.

Inspiration to us all, the President Maurice (Nth Thoresby) and the Chairman Neville (Grainthorpe) began to gather acolytes who were inspired to take up the cause. At an early stage the innkeeper of Histon’s premier night-spot, the Red Lion, saw the light, responded to the cause and accepted the post of Logistics Director.

Trips to Wembley against Bournemouth and Northampton in a previous century led to significant tilling of soil and seeds being sown. The need for a well drilled coherent fighting force in support of Grimsby Town Football Club based in Histon was readily taken up. The Red Lion Histon was to be the epicentre of the new movement and many hours were spent discussing policy, potential recruits and drinking ‘grapefruit juice’.

But more than simply Grimsby Town F.C., the ethos and spirit inspired by and represented by Mr. Shankly would underpin all future campaigning.

In Liverpool itself, The Spirit Of Shankly Group’, was formed to maintain a connection with the past and in do doing try to retain the soul of the club as an integral part of a community. The group has proved instrumental in decision making on a number of occasions when disconnected ‘Premier’ custodians attempted to veer off course. Perhaps a nation wide affiliation of Real Football People of Real Football Clubs should emerge to help steer a damaged ship through troubled waters.

A Campaign For Real Football by Real Football People was a clear vision of the North Thoresby and Grainthorpe emigrants. The Campaign would help maintain in our consciousness a reason for being. Only with an understanding and appreciation of what some erroneously consider to be past values from a different era, could the future be embraced in a realistic and positive manner’.

The principals were established, the logistics were to be determined.

The inspirational ‘Lovely Dereck’ an early recruit ‘under
      the Hewitts sign’, toasts the future with a ‘grapefruit juice’.
The inspirational ‘Lovely Dereck’ an early recruit ‘under the Hewitts sign’, toasts the future with a ‘grapefruit juice’.
An embarrassed ‘Lovely’, associating with an unprincipled ‘Turncoat’.
Depending on who purchased refreshment, Turncoat could declare support for Tottenham, Cambridge Utd., Soham Town, The Mighty Mariners or anyone else as required.

The Early Years

04.03.2008 GTFC (1)0 v 0(0) MORECAMBE

Semi-final 2nd leg - Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

Now in official capacities, North Thoresby Maurice as President and Grainthorpe Neville as Chairman decided on the need to venture north and along with the invited Innkeeper an adventure was imminent. Local Cleethorpes intelligence was provided by Ray The Fish. His weekly trawl of Histon and its surrounds necessitated he be made an immediate and valuable full member of The Histon Mariners.
The Johnston’s Paint Trophy 2nd leg semi-final against Morecambe was chosen as the inaugural match.

The conversation during the journey north reiterated the motivation that inspired the springs to action. In such circumstances tangible memories of former players, matches and incidents are the bedrock of football talk but for Real Football People the unspoken conversation is the motivation. Real Football People are quite distinguishable because when they articulate that unspoken conversation they become quite animated. Quite quickly the tangible ascends into a more esoteric interchange delivered staccato style. Interjections increase as memories invoke memories embedded deep in the recesses of aged brains.
Rosettes and rattles; being part of a herd in back jiggers (alleyways) anticipating the ice-cold magic of the approaching Victorian Palace of worship; waggon-wheels and bovril; the alphabet spread out and displayed along each touch-line and of course the teleprinter from14.40 and The Pink (or Green depending on geography) at approximately 18.08.
Also, the lost magic of the FA Cup when we sat in front of the television (black & white) switching between the only 2 channels trying to catch (if available) any recorded highlights of previous rounds, to see the hotel that the teams were staying at and automatically turning over to the the other channel when ‘FA Cup It’s A Knockout’ began.
How sad that FA Cup giant-killers today receive less attention than in former years when a win was significant. No place in the memory-bank nowadays for the modern day equivalent of Colchester (v Leeds), Sutton Utd (v Cup-holders Coventry), Hereford (v Newcastle) or the Leatherhead Lip inspired Tanner’s (v Colchester and Brighton). In today’s FA Cup the defeat of a Premier Squad XI containing a couple of recovering ‘stars’ given a ‘runout’ or even an U21 XI, raises only passing interest.

Throughout the journey north, certain geographical milestones evoked further memories for the Chairman and consequently brought forth a multitude of incoherent mumblings from him about his youthful years, the 1940’s! His evident difficulty in disentangling those youthful years from the present was a price almost worth paying and was unlikely to be a unique experience in the coming annals.

After a poor start to the season AB appeared to have waved a magic wand since the turn of the year - 9 wins, 4 draws and 1 defeat. And in the week prior to The Histon Mariner debut, 2 away wins without conceding against....Morecambe, one of which was the first leg 1 v 0 victory, courtesy of Paul Bolland.

After booking in to the most welcoming Kingsway Hotel, it was wholeheartedly agreed that The Presidents choice was a resounding choice. Pre-match preparations were initially conducted at Willy’s - a further success, this time accredited to The Innkeeper. Even The Chairman was complimentary (fleetingly) and without doubt Willy’s would prove to be a most agreeable Operational Base. Had regulars known, they too would have been staggered to have heard Neville’s exceptionally rare praise re. the quality of his ‘grapefruit juice’.

The Imperial, next to Blundell Park, a proper old-school hostelry and obviously HQ for many Grimsby fans on match day may well prove to be rooted in a football experience no longer required by Premier League tourists. Nothing can afford to stand still. Evolutionary change is the order of the day but on this day The Imperial served to consolidate the Histon Mariners notion of retaining a connection with Real Football People via a Campaign For Real Football.

The Imperial

Having overcome Huddersfield, Rotherham, Doncaster and Stockport en route and holding a 1 v 0 lead, the task in hand was simple - to qualify for Wembley. The task was successfully completed.
BUT if ever a game was designed to test the long-term objectives of The Histon Mariners, the President and Chairman’s choice was exemplary.

Parked at the back of The Upper Carlsberg Stand the view of the North Sea was somewhat blurred by persistent waves of sleet blown directly into faces by ice-cold winds. As the final whistle approached and The Shrimpers laid siege to Towns goal, a universal chorus of audible mutterings along the lines of, “Don’t score and force extra time. I’d rather concede two and go home” was prevalent - even if not wholeheartedly meant.
With the final whistle, Wembley was now on the horizon.

The rather inclement weather curtailed extensive exploration fo future base camps but the Crows Nest, with its historic period-interior, accommodation and excellent refreshment was clearly on the radar.

The Crows Nest

Unable to get a taxi back, a most invigorating trek in a blizzard, to The Kingsway was certainly the test that would prove The Histon Mariners resolve. En-route, The Chairman became animated by the proximity of The Smugglers to both Willy’s and The Kingsway - perhaps fate loomed? Arriving back as if members of the 1910-13 Terra Nova Expedition, huddled around heat sources with warming ‘cups of Horlicks’, raised the question, Why?…… probably not for the last time!!!
Tomorrow would be another day!

Breakfast, with views of the beach and the Humber, drenched in glorious sunshine was certainly another day. An excellent breakfast - where the very ‘experienced’ staff asked Maurice “Are you ready to order YOUNG MAN!!!”. With stunning views in such glorious weather and spirits rejuvenated , talk soon turned to Wembley. The Histon Mariners had survived a difficult birth.

Back at Histon HQ, The Red Lion, plans were made to recruit suitable candidates for The Campaign - both Real Football People and invited guests. Wembley was envisaged as the obvious focus of attention

Mr. Les Dean, with expertise as a master of restoration projects, was to prove an inspirational addition to the squad by The Chairman. The Turncoat a.k.a Reginald Stanley Gilbert Scott was bought a drink and accordingly declared himself a committed Mariner(!) and was invited as a guest assuming he would provide a novel dimension to proceedings.

(Search, ‘Reg The Hedge, Red Lion, Cutting Edge , Channel 4)

30.03.2008 GTFC 0 v 2 MK DONS

(Johnston Paint Trophy Final at Wembley)

A first visit to the new Wembley Stadium by all the squad members.
The old Wembley was demolished in 2002. The new Wembley was opened in 2007. Perhaps through rise-tinted glasses, but Wembley appeared a more sanitised experience than past visits. Over stewarded by health and safety gestapo - “deflate the haddock, it could be a dangerous weapon!” - and extortionate refreshment prices for particularly poor products, all for a high priced ticket in the first plaice.

A missed penalty at 0 v 0 by Danny Boshell and an outstanding performance in goal from Phil Barnes hinted at extra-time but with 15 minutes to go a converted penalty and a second goal 5 minutes from time ended all hope.

The Innkeeper had arranged for debriefing at T.J. Duffys in Northfields, Ealing. Logistical difficulties were surprisingly exaggerated as the taxi took the tourist route around West London.
Members of the squad questioned the suitability of The Innkeeper in his acquired logistical role.
As London associates welcomed The Histon Mariners with the offer of refreshment, Turncoat announced his satisfaction with the chosen venue and The Innkeepers performance.

T J Duffys

Further trawling around Chiswick revealed the extent of the early impact of The Histon Mariners.
The local population appeared to embrace the potential of The Campaign, even renaming streets to invoke Mariner connections. A well lubricated Turncoat perhaps a little fantastically was the sole voice to carp on about establishing a trawler fleet at the Chiswick Eyot.
Despite the match result, the seal was set. A whale of a time was had. The result was viewed in the context of the wider picture. A format looked to be evolving.

The Innkeeper at Fishers Lane, Chiswick
The Innkeeper at Fishers Lane, Chiswick.

A full report was presented to Lovely Dereck. Whilst declaring himself fully satisfied with developments, he did hint at some concern with the commitment of The Turncoat, who was best suited to guest status. In the meantime he would continue to facilitate quenching The Turncoats thirst.

Lovely Dereck risks association with a ‘dangerous Harry Haddock’.
Lovely Dereck risks association with a ‘dangerous Harry Haddock’.

Up The Mariners! 

Thanks to css zen garden for the layout.