Former Grimsby Town boss Lawrie McMenemy looking forward to his Blundell Park return
LAWRIE McMenemy can't wait to relive some of the happiest memories of his football career when he returns to Blundell Park tomorrow evening.
The manager of Grimsby Town's 1971-72 Division Four title-winners is back to celebrate the 40th anniversary of that success – and help raise vital funds for the club's Youth set-up.
And the man affectionately known as 'Big Mac' will be joined by some of his players from that momentous season.
Speaking to the Telegraph, the former England assistant boss said: "It's a double-edged event because when the club goes out of the league the youth system loses funding, so they're putting events on to help with that.
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"And, I could hardly believe it, but it also coincides with the 40th anniversary of the team I managed winning the Fourth Division championship.
"Some of those lads from that team are going to be there, so I'm really looking forward to seeing them, as well as the supporters of course.
"We've only caught up with each other a couple of times over the last 40 years and the time has really flown by."
Reflecting on his spell in the Mariners' hot seat, the 76-year-old continued: "Of all the places I've been during my football career, my happiest memories are from my time with Grimsby – it was terrific.
"Within a week of leaving Doncaster I got the job and I was really determined to do well.
"The crowds were down at the time and I inherited a squad of just 12 players, although I was allowed to get a couple more in on free transfers.
"The first game was a derby against Scunthorpe, which always brings a slightly better crowd, but there was still only about 7,000.
"But as the season went on, we got stuck in, and the crowd for the last game was around 22,500.
"It was a wonderful season for all of us – the players, myself, the people behind the scenes at the club, but particularly the supporters.
"I can remember the scenes when we were down at the Town Hall celebrating with the fans, it was lovely."
He added: "It's all about the players, the team on the pitch, and there were some real Town legends in that side.
"Dave Boylen spent his whole career in Grimsby, stayed on there and has done lots of good work for charities off his own back. He really is a legend in his own lifetime.
"Matt Tees was a real star. Everybody loves a goalscorer and Matt was exactly that.
"There was a good blend of players, with the likes of keeper Harry Wainman and Dave Worthington, my captain, who was a great professional."
McMenemy, who went on to guide Southampton to FA Cup glory, insists it was the efforts of the Town players that makes them so revered by Mariners fans.
"A football club is an integral part of the community and the players should realise that," he said.
"So one of the first things I did was take the Grimsby team down to the docks and we mucked in with the dockers.
"Afterwards I said to the lads 'that's how hard they've got to work every day of their lives to make enough money to come and watch you play on a Saturday.'
"So the least the players should give is 100 per cent, and that team did. That's why the team was popular.
"It wasn't just because we won a lot, it was the effort they showed, and that's why more supporters came in through the turnstiles and made it such a wonderful period.
"It will be great to talk about the old times and I think we can be forgiven for reminiscing a bit after 40 years."