Grimsby Town: 'Lawrie McMenemy event shows why club is so special'
IT may have been an event to raise money for the future, but the recent evening with Lawrie McMenemy was rooted firmly in Grimsby Town's past.
'Big Mac' himself said that, after 40 years, he and his league winning side of 1972 could be forgiven for allowing themselves to indulge in some reminiscence.
The Mariners Trust gave them the opportunity to do just that by bringing them back to Blundell Park for a night that few will forget.
From the moment that the players gathered in the boardroom before the fundraiser, it was clear that this was going to be a very special event.
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The ex-players greeted one another – some for the first time in nearly 40 years – and were instantly team-mates once again, with the same dressing room banter being thrown around, just as it had all those years ago.
Then, the door opened, and in walked the imposing figure of Mr McMenemy – "it's the boss," cheered one of his former charges and they all rushed to greet him – this was a night as enjoyable for the players as it was for the fans.
One by one, each of the former players were warmly welcomed into the bar with the man of the hour receiving a standing ovation as he walked into the suite named after him. It was a poignant moment and one that clearly struck a chord with the former boss.
Chris Parker, chairman of the Mariners Trust gave a rousing speech that would have convinced even the most ardent of sceptics to think about joining the Trust's growing membership.
The event further underlined the credibility and professionalism of the Trust and, I'm told, encouraged a number of fans to sign up, something which can only be a good thing for the club, and its fan-base, going forward.
The real treat for fans came when, on the weekend that saw the current crop of Town players climb to the top of their league, they were regaled with stories of how the boys of '72, under McMenemy's tenure, stormed the Fourth Division.
It had been an evening of highlights, but there was one moment that struck me in particular – and it came from an unexpected source.
Mike Osman, a comedian and good friend of McMenemy who had traveled up with him from the south coast, ended his entertaining set with a tribute to the Mariners fans in attendance.
He admitted he was taken back by the welcome they had given to their former manager and players, saying that they and the club had shown how things 'should be done'. He was right.
Grimsby fans are often criticised for dwelling too much on past successes, but for me, the measure of a club is how well it respects and values its heroes, achievements and history.
The event was not only a testament to the organisers, but also to the fans who dug deep to buy a ticket and support it.
There were many in the audience that night who would have been far too young to remember the heady successes of 1972.
That they still came out in force says much about the value this club places on its proud history and those who played a part in building it – and rightly so.
With the current Town side performing so well, let's hope, that in 40 years' time, we're still talking about the class of 2013 in the same way that fans worship the players of 1972.