Graham Rodger: FA Trophy clash with Luton 'good for Grimsby Town'
HE was part of the Grimsby Town side that hammered Luton 7-1, but Graham Rodger would settle for a routine 1-0 win when the sides meet in the FA Trophy.
The Mariners’ biggest ever victory over the Hatters came in an FA Cup Third Round tie at Blundell Park in January 1996.
On that day, Steve Livingstone and Jamie Forrester both grabbed braces, with Ivano Bonetti, Nicky Southall and Neil Woods rounding off a rout for Brian Laws’ men.
Rodger, himself a former Hatter, was called into the team as a replacement for the injured Mark Lever, and it’s a match he remembers with fondness.
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Yesterday, the two sides were drawn together again – this time in the Quarter-Finals of the FA Trophy at Blundell Park on Tuesday, January 29.
And while Rodger, pictured, would be more than happy to see a repeat of that emphatic scoreline, he’d settle for a straight-forward win.
“It was a really impressive result for us and it is one that sticks in the memory,” recalled Rodger, now the community manager of the clubs’ Sports and Education Trust.
“I don’t think Luton did themselves justice that day because they were a pretty decent side at that time. If you look at the personnel that they had on the pitch that day, I’m pretty sure that they would have been shocked by the scoreline.
“We were particularly clinical and finished nearly every chance we created; that’s just the way it went for us – it was a good game.
“I remember coming up against David Oldfield on that day,” he added. “I knew that he was going to be a real handful and that proved to be the case.
“I knew him quite well and he was a good player, so I felt that if I could nullify him, we were in with a good chance.
“With the players we had around the pitch in that era, we always knew that we could create chances and so it was just a case of taking them – on that day we did!”
Rodger believes the draw is a good one for Town, pointing to Luton’s potentially distracting FA Cup tie with Premier League side Norwich City just three days before their trip to Cleethorpes.
“I think that Luton will have a focus on their FA Cup game on the Saturday before and I think it’s a good chance for us.
“We do well against the better teams at home and there’s a bit of added spice, given the recent history between the two sides and I’m sure it’s going to be another good game.
“You look at where the clubs are now and they were higher in the leagues in 1996, therefore the gates were bigger back then.
“But at the moment, even though we aren’t in the Football League, the gates are steadily increasing and rightly so.
“Luton are a well-supported team and I would expect there to be a great atmosphere for the game.
“I think, when you meet an in-form Grimsby Town team at home – whether it’s this season or 15 years ago – the kind of results that we had in ‘96 are always possible.
“While you’d have to say those sort of scorelines are one in a million, they do happen.
“But, if you asked me now, I’d take a 1-0 home win straight away.
“It will be a tight game featuring two in-form sides but in my opinion, I think we have enough to win it.”