Chris Waddle backs Grimsby Town to bounce back once again
FORMER England international Chris Waddle has some vivid memories of playing against Grimsby Town.
After appearing at Blundell Park for Newcastle and as player/manager of Burnley in the 90s, Waddle was back at Blundell Park to watch his son Jack turn out for Chesterfield Reserves against the Mariners' second-string this week.
And speaking after an entertaining 2-2 draw, the Tottenham, and Newcastle legend recalled the last time his playing career brought him to the east coast.
"I played at Grimsby many, many years ago – it was always a hard game up here," the 51-year-old told the Telegraph.
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"We had some tight games against Grimsby over the years and, as a player you never looked forward to coming to Blundell Park."
"Looking round, the ground hasn't changed much since I was last here – I think the Findus Stand had just been opened.
"It was a difficult ground to come to," he added, "It's obviously right on the coast and Grimsby were always a well-organised and very well-drilled side.
"I came here at the time when Kevin Drinkell, inset, was playing for them. He scored a lot of goals for them and so they always gave us a good game."
Having enjoyed playing against them in the past, Waddle was disappointed to see the Mariners' slide down leagues.
But, as someone who keeps a keen eye on non-league football, he believes that Town are well placed to seal a return to the Football League this season.
"It's always sad to see clubs drop through the leagues like Grimsby have, a lot of club's have done it and it's a shame," he continued.
"But looking forward, Grimsby are in a good position now; they're second in the league and looking strong.
"They've just got to stick at it, stay strong and try to keep everyone fit.
"This is a hard league, but so far, they're doing very well and have got a good squad.
"They could have gone top if they'd have beaten Hyde the other week, which was obviously a massive disappointment for them that they didn't, but it's about picking yourselves up from that.
"This is a tough league to get out of and it's a marathon and not a sprint, but, so far, they're in a good position and looking strong – I hope they can do it."
After watching the Reserve game, Waddle said that the future looks bright for the Mariners, and was impressed with some of the players on show.
He said: "After watching the Reserve game, it's clear they've got some good young players here.
"The were very, very good for the first half of the game – they passed it well and were very bright.
"With games like that, there is a lot of young talent on display and it is good to see.
"With some teams that you watch, there are even a couple of players which you think it would be worth keeping an eye on for the future.
"Reserve team football can be a good learning curve for both sets of players," he concluded.