Grimsby is actually known as Great Grimsby, because people can be cruelly sarcastic. Contrary to the collective belief of the wider country and beyond, Grimsby is not, nor has it ever been, in Yorkshire. They should be so lucky.
No, instead it makes do with a place on the Lincolnshire coast, at the end of the A180, positioned so as to stop motorists driving into the North Sea. Not considered as Yorkshire folk, collectively the people of Grimsby are grim, bar Ian. Sorry, the people of Grimsby are Grimbarians.
Originally settled by the Danes, Grimsby has a long connection to Scandinavia, and is even referenced by the Norwegian earl of Orkney, Rögnvald Kali Kolsson, in the late 12th century text, the Orkneyinga Saga. Kolsson wrote ‘We have waded in the mire for five terrible weeks; there was no lack of mud where we were, in the middle of Grimsby. But now away we let our [ship] resound merrily on the waves over the [sea] to Bergen’. In short, ‘Grimsby’s a shithole, I wanna go home’.
A port since the 12th century, it took the renovation of the docks in the 19th century for Grimsby to really thrive and grow as a town. Apparently ‘the first two legitimate steam trawlers built in Britain were based in Grimsby’, which raises the much more exciting prospect of there being such a thing as illegitimate steam trawlers; puffing their way down back streets and gliding slowly down dark canals so as not to be spotted. At its peak Grimsby was claimed to be the largest fish port in the world, which is a whale shark, isn’t it? And I thought they primarily went in for haddock.
Much of Grimsby’s industry is connected to the port, including the Grimsby Ice Factory which opened in 1901. At one time it was celebrated as the largest ice factory in the world, a real kick in the teeth for Antarctica. Though fishing in Grimsby may have declined since the Cod Wars (yes, that’s right, a near full-on war over fish) food has remained a staple industry in Grimsby, and at one point more pizzas were produced here than anywhere else in Europe, including Italy. A real triumph for quantity over quality.
Founded in 1878 Grimsby Town’s most successful period coincided with the town’s most prosperous years. The Mariners spent most of the 1930s in the First Division, finishing as high as fifth in 1935, and reaching two FA Cup semi-finals. It’s not for us to say things have dropped off for the club, but in the decades since the only times they’ve really hit the headlines are when their fans took a load of inflatable fish to an FA Cup tie at Wimbledon, and when Brian Laws chucked a plate of chicken at Ivano Bonetti.
What’s it famous for?
Fish, obviously. Among the better known companies still based in Grimsby are Young’s Seafoods and Findus, the latter being famous not just for frozen fish, but also crispy pancakes – the scourge of the roofs of our 1980s mouths – and for being arguably the most easily located company on Facebook.
There is a remarkable number and variety of famous Grimbarians, including a pair of dancers on Strictly… (like any of us know their actual names), This Is England actor Thomas Turgoose, and motorbike racer and celebrity engine tinkler Guy Martin. Comedian Lloyd Griffith, who you might recognise from Soccer AM – which apparently is still a thing – is from Grimsby and is a big Mariners fan, as too, somewhat more remarkably, is the former Chancellor and five-time Parliamentary Eyebrows of the Year Champion, Norman Lamont.
How to blend in
Proudly retain your local accent, let your eyebrows grow out, and bang on about fish. Talk about how there’s nowt quite like a Grimsby fish, even though the said Grimsby fish you’re tucking into was imported from Iceland, making it much like all the other fish you’ve ever eaten in the UK.
What’s the stadium like?
For years I’d presumed Grismby’s ground was called ‘Actually in Cleethorpes’ as that’s all anyone seemed to say whenever you mentioned the place. Turns out it’s actually Blundell Park, the professional football ground in England which is closest to the sea, that is until the combination of Climate Change and the flat lands of Lincolnshire hands this honour to our own Eco-Power Stadium. The oldest part of the ground is the central section of the Main Stand, which having been built in 1901 is often claimed to be the oldest stand in the Football League. That it’s still in black and white would certainly add merit to this claim
The biggest stand at Blundell Park is the Young’s Stand which was opened in 1982. According to Wikipedia ‘the upper tier offers a scenic view of the Humber Estuary, Spurn Point and the North Sea.’ That such an objective source didn’t include the pitch in that list is a particularly cutting indictment of The Mariners’ play.
Away fans are housed in the Osmond Stand, which holds around 2,000 seats, with 1,000 or so of those seats reported as having a disappointing view. That’s due to the roof supports, and the height of the roof, in this 80 year old stand obstructing some of the pitch for half of its inhabitants. Sources are somewhat noncommittal when it comes to making clear whether it’s the obstructed or unobstructed thousands who have the disappointing view.