A Mini Journeyman Series - UK & Ireland

April 2020


April 2020

Saturday 4th April 2020 (15:00)
Vanarama National League
Grimsby vs Maidenhead
Formation: 4-4-2
Lineup: Killip, Sibbick, Brewitt, Alese, Gilbert, Dembele, Bird, Rose, Penney (Miller 53), Nimely (McEneff 75), Hooper

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We did a professional job on the bottom side. It was really important that we bounced back immediately from the Gateshead defeat here, so I'm glad we got back on track and can hopefully push on to secure our playoff place in the next couple of games.

****!! I already have Sam Smith out for the rest of the season, and now I lose my first choice left winger for up to 9 months!!! Gutted!!!

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Friday 10th April 2020 (15:00)
Vanarama National League
Dag & Red vs Grimsby
Formation: 4-4-2
Lineup: Killip, Sibbick, Brewitt, Alese, Gilbert (Wood 65), Dembele, Bird, Rose, Miller (Marsh-Brown 65), McEneff, Hooper

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The FA Trophy final warm up didn't exactly go as planned!

Monday 13th April 2020 (15:00)
Vanarama National League
Grimsby vs Sutton
Formation: 4-4-2
Lineup: Killip, Mills, Brewitt, Alese, Gilbert, Marsh-Brown, Kuhl, Berrett, Miller, Nimely, McEneff

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Straight back to winning ways against relegation battlers, Sutton! I made some changes to the lineup and the team produced a much better performance here, with Jordan McEneff bagging his 3rd and 4th goals in the last 3 games! We're going to need him to keep this form up with the absence of Sam Smith!

Three of my players make the shortlist for Vanarama National League player of the year! Unable to vote for any of them though, I went for Mikael Ndjoli of Ebbsfleet!

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Saturday 18th April 2020 (15:00)
Vanarama National League
Grimsby vs Chippenham
Formation: 4-4-2
Lineup: Killip, Mills, Brewitt, Alese, Gilbert, Dembele, Kuhl, Berrett, Miller, Nimely, McEneff

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We're not doing any favours for the teams struggling in the bottom 6 and Chippenham were the latest to feel our might as we trounced them here in an easy win! McEneff kept up that good form....please can we just wrap him in cotton wool until the playoffs now!

The Chippenham result secures our place in the playoffs with a game to go!

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With 1 game remaining in the league, we could still finish anywhere between 4th and 7th. Stockport are in the best position to land one of the last two playoff spots, but there are a total of 5 teams vying for those last 2 places! Down at the bottom, although Sutton and Chippenham's relegation is not yet confirmed, they are all but down with their awful goal differences. Boreham Wood (who play us), are safe, providing we don't beat them 10-0!

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Player of the Month
Jordan McEneff

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The 19 year old striker has been in unbelievable form this month, scoring 6 goals in his 4 games! Is he going to be the player to step up and see us through the playoffs next month?!

Next month currently only has 2 fixtures on the list with our final league match and then the FA Trophy Final. However, in between that, we will be playing the National League playoffs....hopefully more than just the 1 game!

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May 2020


May 2020

Saturday 2nd May 2020 (15:00)
Vanarama National League
Boreham Wood vs Grimsby
Formation: 4-4-2
Lineup: Killip, Mills, Brewitt, Alese, Gilbert, Marsh-Brown, Kuhl, Rose (Sent off 41), Miller, Nimely, McEneff (Berrett 41)

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Well that was an eventful last game of the season....red cards, six goals, hat tricks....It literally had it all, and in the end it's us who come out on top finishing the league campaign with a win to keep the confidence levels up going into the playoffs!

So there's the final league table and we finish 5th! Stockport and Dag & Red take the last two playoff spots and it looks like a very competitive playoffs ahead of all of us! Ebbsfleet reached the 100 point mark and will play in the football league for the first time in their history next season! Sutton and Chippenham's relegation was confirmed on the final day as expected, with Boreham Wood surviving on goal difference!

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We'll take on Stockport in the first round of the playoffs and they will come into it in great form! They have won 6 of their last 7 games in the league and drew the other!

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Wednesday 6th May 2020 (19:45)
Vanarama National League Playoffs 1st Round
Grimsby vs Stockport
Formation: 4-4-2
Lineup: Killip, Mills, Brewitt, Sibbick, Gilbert, Dembele (Marsh-Brown 90), Kuhl, Bird (Berrett 66), Miller, Nimely (Hooper 66), McEneff

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Despite completely dominating this game from start to finish, we still only managed to win by the 1 goal. With our attacking players having a bit of an off day in front of goal, the key to winning this game was the solid defensive display which saw us limit Stockport to only 4 shots at goal....none of which were on target!

Port Vale now await us in the semi finals of the playoffs. We'll be up against it with them having home advantage and a fresher squad!

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Saturday 9th May 2020 (15:00)
Vanarama National League Playoffs Semi Final
Port Vale vs Grimsby
Formation: 4-4-2
Lineup: Killip, Mills, Alese (Brewitt 45), Sibbick, Gilbert, Marsh-Brown (Dembele 45), Kuhl, Bird, Miller, Nimely (Hooper 45), McEneff

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Port Vale were in complete control for 80 minutes of this game and showed just why there is a huge benefit to finishing 2nd or 3rd in the table and avoiding the extra playoff game. They looked fresher than us and we struggled to get any sort of foothold on the game at all. In the final 10 minutes, I think a combination of them sitting back and us throwing everything at it, allowed us to boost the match stats (I think 7 of our shots came in the final 5 minutes), and a consolation goal in the final minutes gave us a glimmer of hope but it wasn't to be!

I reckon Lippi is just a closet Mariners fan really!

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I don't make the shortlist for Manager of the Year, which is hardly surprising as I missed more than half of the season! My vote goes to Ebbsfleet manager, Alan Rogers, as it's an outstanding achievement to reach 100 points in any division!

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Saturday 23rd May 2020 (15:00)
FA Trophy Final
Dag & Red vs Grimsby
Formation: 4-4-2
Lineup: Killip, Mills, Brewitt, Sibbick, Gilbert (Wood 67), Dembele, Kuhl, Bird, Miller, Hooper, McEneff (Nimely 81)

KO: There's 19,000 fans in attendance at Wembley for the FA Trophy Final here. Both these sides have experienced recent disappointment with them both being knocked out of the National League Playoffs at the semi final stage, and both will be looking to give their fans a day to remember here!
22' (D&R) After a nervey start from both sides, it's Dagenham who have the first meaningful shot on goal. Striker, Benny Ashley-Seal hitting an effort from 20 yards which skims past the post.
25' (F&R) Charlee Adams hits a speculative effort from 25 yards. Nowhere near!
29' (Grimsby) Miller crosses in from deep on the left wing and JJ Hooper picks up the ball on the edge of the box. He moves the ball onto his right foot and fires a low powerufl effort which rattles into the bottom corner of the net. 1-0 Grimsby!
39' (Grimsby) The ball comes in high down the right wing and Dembele heads it down for Hooper to run onto. He picks it up inside the box, and from a narrow angle shoots at goal but the angle is too tight and the shot doesn't trouble the keeper.
HT: Grimsby lead 1-0 at half time in what has been a tight game with not many chances. Both sides look nervous as though the occasion might be getting to them and it'll be interesting to see how the 2nd half pans out.
49' (D&R) Dagenham work the ball well down the left and eventually a cross comes in. It seems to have beaten everyone in the box and Whiteley comes in at the back post and volleys at goal. But the ball goes over, to the relief of the Grimsby players, fans and bench!
53' (D&R) Adams loops a through ball through the centre of the pitch which has the Grimsby defence beat. Ashley-Seal picks it up, on touch, he shoots, he scores!! But wait, it's been disallowed by the linesman for offside. Replays confirm it was the correct decision!
70' (D&R) It's all Dagenham in this 2nd half and Whiteley has another chance. A good passing move and he picks up the ball inside the box, he's all alone and has plenty of time to pick his spot. He shoots low towards the bottom corner but Killip pulls off a fantastic save to tip it wide!
81' (D&R) Ashley-Seal receives the ball at his feet on the edge of the box. He turns his man nicely and hits a powerful effort which goes over....by inches! Close!
FT: Grimsby have done it. And by done it, I mean held on for dear lives! They weren't in the game 2nd half, but were resolute in defence and held on to win their first ever FA Trophy! It's also manager, Ernie Allan's first trophy as a professional manager!

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Well if I achieve nothing else during my time with Grimsby, I'll always be the man that secured their first trophy in 22 years (last won the Checkatrade Trophy in 1998).

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Mickel Miller finished up as the top goalscorer in the competition as well!

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The board set the initial budgets for next season and they've been pretty generous with the wage budget in all fairness. It's been bumped up to £36k, with us only currently spending £29k!

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Finally, it's Wrexham that are going up with Ebbsfleet after they beat our conquerors, Port Vale, in the Playoff final.

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Player of the Month
Aaron Kuhl

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The central midfielder was our most consistent player throughout May. When I first joined the club, he wasn't even one of my first choice picks in the middle, but he has really come through and worked his way into my side over the past few months and is now seen as a valuable member of my team!

End of Season


End of 2019/20 Season

The Grimsby overall best eleven doesn't mean much to me at the moment, having only been here for a short time. But there were a few in the current crop of players that were inducted in this season.

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It's winger, Siriki Dembele who takes the fan's player of the season on our awards night and it's no surprise really! He is the stand out player at this club and is going to be a huge loss if we can't convince him to stay this Summer!

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The man who got my vote, wins National League Player of the Year. Ebbsfleet's winger, Mikael Ndjoli, who has clearly been a big part of their title winning success this season contributing with double figures on goals and assists!

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Sure enough, the man who got my vote for Manager of the Year, takes it as well.

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The media give their review of our season and (thanks to me rejuvenating) the squad, we achieved the playoff place that was expected of us!

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Looking over the squad, a few players played a massive amount of games for us this season with Killip, Mills and Dembele all making over 50 appearances! There were a few players coming up just behind them too! Sam Smith finished as top goalscorer with 18 and if he hadn't of missed the last couple of months of the season, would surely have been pushing for 20-25 goals! Jordan McEneff did step up in his absence though, finishing the season well on a total of 15 goals. As expected, majority of the assists came from the midfield with Dembele and Kuhl both leading the way with 12 a piece. A number of the first team regulars also managed to finish the season with an average rating above 7.00 which shows a decent level of consistency!

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Manager Summary: Year Three

Well, season 3, saw another job change for Ernie Allan and a a step up the ladder on the English football structure. After more than 2 years with Dartford, I took the journey back up north to join Grimsby when an opportunity arose to progress personally as a manager. Sitting just outside the playoffs as I took over, the board set me no real expectations, but after managing to lead them to a 5th placed finish, it was more playoff heartache for Ernie Allan for the 3rd year in a row. Again, I think we suffered some bad luck, losing a couple of key players for the playoff games through injury - for once it would be nice to go into that latter stage of the competition with a full strength side, with no sending offs, or goalkeeper injuries in finals, or long term injuries to players beforehand! Will I ever win a playoff competition? Dartford also went on to make the playoffs in the National League South, and were also knocked out at the semi final stage, by Hereford. So there will be no game against my old club next season! Tamworth have also come a long way since I left the club and also made the playoffs in the National League North, only to fall at the first hurdle as they were knocked out by AFC Telford.

However, we did finish the season on a massive high as I lift my first trophy as a manager on my first ever visit to Wembley! We rode our luck in the final, but winning the FA Trophy is without a doubt the highlight of my career so far and it's nice to put a trophy in the cabinet! It gives us something to defend next season and I'm sure everyone will be looking at us as the team to beat!

Talking of next season, with the form we've been in since I arrived, we really should be looking to push on and challenge for the league title next season and that is the aim! Obviously, we'll look to go as far as we can in the cups to bring in as much revenue to the club as possible!

Ernie Allan's Career To Date

Grimsby Town; 19/02/20 - Present
Played 19: Won 13; Drawn 3; Lost 3; Win Ratio 68%

2019/20 Season;
National League; Finished 5th (Playoffs); Lost in Playoff Semi Final
FA Trophy; Winners!
FA Cup; Knocked out before I arrived

Dartford; 13/01/18 - 19/02/20
Played 113: Won 60; Drawn 24; Lost 29; Win Ratio 53%

2019/20 Season;
National League South; Was 5th when left for Grimsby
FA Trophy; Knocked out in 2nd Qualifying Round by Sutton
FA Cup; Knocked out in 3rd Round by Derby

2018/19 Season;
National League South; Finished 4th (Playoffs); Lost in Playoff Semi Final
FA Trophy; Knocked out in 4th Round
FA Cup; Knocked out in 2nd Round

2017/18 Season;
National League South; Finished 7th (Playoffs); Lost in Playoff Final
FA Trophy; Knocked out before I arrived
FA Cup; Knocked out before I arrived

Tamworth; 16/06/17 - 23/12/17; Sacked
Played 24: Won 6; Drawn 4; Lost 14

2017/18 Season;
National League North; Was 18th when sacked after 21 games
FA Trophy; Knocked out in 1st Round by Weston-super-Mare
FA Cup; Knocked out in 2nd Qualifying Round by Welling

Manager's All Time Best Eleven

One change to my best ever eleven sees Durojaiye come in for Simpson! He was a huge part of my side at Dartford and really came through as one of the first names on the team sheet this year, actually replacing Simpson in most games!

GK - Deren Ibrahim (Dartford) - 60 games
DR - Ben Nunn (Dartford) - 69 games
DC - Kyle Clinton (Dartford) - 102 games
DC - Tom Bonner (Dartford) - 106 games
DL - Callum Pritchatt (Dartford) - 83 games
MR - Lyle Della Verde (Dartford) - 64 games
MC - Olumide Durojaiye (Dartford) - 48 games
MC - Elliott Bradbrook (Dartford) - 74 games
ML - Tariq Issa (Dartford) - 101 games
ST - Danny Mills (Dartford) - 19 games
ST - Bradley Reid (Tamworth/Dartford) - 104 games

UK Comp Winners

UK Competition Winners
2019/20 Season


Premier League Top 4 (in order): Arsenal, Man City, Man Utd, Tottenham
Championship: Middlesbrough (winners), Fulham (promoted), Bristol City (playoffs)
League One: Southend (winners), Portsmouth (promoted), Peterborough (playoffs)
League Two: AFC Wimbledon (winners), Exeter/Crewe (promoted), Crawley (playoffs)
National League: Ebbsfleet (winners), Wrexham (playoffs)
National League North: Guiseley (winners), Boston Utd (playoffs)
National League South: Whitehawk (winners), Woking (playoffs)
FA Cup: Tottenham (winners), Man City (runners up)
Carabao Cup: Man Utd (winners), Chelsea (runners up)
Community Shield: Liverpool (winners), Man Utd (runners up)
Checkatrade Trophy: Southend (winners), Rochdale (runners up)
FA Trophy: Grimsby (winners), Dag & Red (runners up)


Premiership Top 4 (in order): Celtic, Aberdeen, Rangers, Hearts
Championship: Dundee Utd (winners)
League 1: Livingston (winners)
League 2: Stirling (winners)
Scottish Cup: Celtic (winners), Hibernian (runners up)
Betfred Cup: Celtic (winners), Hearts (runners up)
IRN-BRU Cup: Inverness CT (winners), Shamrock Rovers (runners up)


Premier League: TNS (winners), Bangor City/Barry (European qualification)
Welsh Cup: Bangor City (winners), Barry (runners up)
Nathaniel MG Cup: Cardiff Met Uni (winners), TNS (runners up)

Northern Ireland

Premiership: Coleraine (winners), Glenavon/Glentoran/Crusaders (European qualification)
Championship: Carrick (winners)
Bluefin Sport PIL: Hanover(winners)
Northern Irish Cup: Coleraine (winners), Carrick (runners up)
Bet McLean League Cup: Coleraine (winners), Dungannon (runners up)
Northern Irish County Intrim Shield: Glentoran (winners), Carrick (runners up)
Northern Irish Steel & Sons Cup: Distillery (winners), Crumlin Star (runners up)
Northern Irish Intermediate Cup: Distillery (winners), Hanover (runners up)
Northern Irish Mid Ulster Cup: Glenavon (winners), Dungannon (runners up)
NIFL Charity Shield: Glenavon (winners), Crusaders (runners up)


Premier Division: Shamrock Rovers (winners)
First Division: Shelbourne (winners)
Irish Senior Challenge Cup: Shamrock Rovers (winners), Bohemians (runners up)
Irish League Cup: Shamrock Rovers (winners), Bray Wanderers (runners up)
June 2020


June 2020

The commercial summary is sent over and it makes for mixed reading. Some things are down, some things are up! Competition prize money saw a significant rise after winning the FA Trophy.

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Along with the commercial summary, the chairman sends me a financial update and it's good to see the club sitting in a pretty healthy position.

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My first signing of the Summer is 18 year old midfielder, Ritchie Wilkinson, who joins from Penrhyncoch. He'll come in as a backup player initially, but has some really decent stats for such a young lad and could quickly improve and work his way into the starting lineup I feel! We'll monitor his progress closely!

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The next signing quickly follows as we confirm the arrival (in July) of left winger, Aaron Burns! He'll join us from Coleraine where he made 34 appearances in the Danske Bank Premiership this season! He's got some good stats and it's almost certain he'll be our main penalty taker next year!

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I raid Coleraine again for another of their best players, this time in the form of centre back Jimmy Callacher. A brave defender, with strong leadership skills and some good defensive attributes, he's a good addition to the squad!

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I'm working hard to get most of my transfer business done early this Summer, to give the players maximum time to gel before the competitive season begins. And I've added another winger to the squad in the form of the experienced Shaun Whalley. He's a bit of a coup for us as he's played his football at League One level for Shrewsbury and Peterborough over the past 5 seasons and on paper, will be one of our best players!

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Another centre back joining the club is Peterborough's Alex Penny. The 23 year old Welshman looks to be another good addition to the back line with some consistent stats across pretty much every attribute.

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Jordan McEneff has impressed me during my short time at the club so far, so I decided to keep the 19 year old striker here on loan for another season!

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Wayne Gilbert is another player that was brilliant for us last year, so I will be keeping the 18 year old here for another season on loan from Blackburn!

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Finally, another loan I'll be extending for the next year is that of defender Toby Sibbick! He's been a big part of my big 4 so far and even with the new arrivals coming in, he's still got a big part to play for us!

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The fixture list for the upcoming season is released and we will go away to Bromley on the opening day!

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Our pre season schedule will get into full swing next month and the games at home to Chelsea, Yeovil and West Brom should generate some good income for the club!

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July 2020


July 2020

Another qualification completed for Ernie Allan! That reputation just keeps on increasing! Will this be the year that sees Allan reach the football league either through a promotion with Grimsby or a potential job offer?!

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Sam Smith had just recovered from his long term injury picked up last season and I was going to use pre season to introduce him back into the team slowly. However, he lasted only a few minutes of his first game back and will now miss another 2-3 months!!

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The transfer of Kyle Wooton to the club was agreed back in April, but we had to wait until the transfer window re-opened to get him in....although he has been training with the club since Easter. He's a tall lad with decent heading ability and should offer us another target man option up front, especially with the injury problems that Smith has been having.

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And guess what...Wootton has also joined Smith on the list of players currently in the medical centre and will be out for 5-6 weeks!

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Well that's going to mount the pressure on! For the first time in my career, my team are pre season favourites to win the title! And our FA Trophy rivals, Dag & Red are expected to be our biggest challengers!

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How the bookies are making Sam Smith one of the top 6 favourites to finish top goalscorer I don't know....with his injuries he'll probably only play about half the games at best!

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Siriki Dembele is the favourite to win the player of the year award in the National League this season. However, we are literally hanging on to him by the skin of our teeth. His contract expired in the Summer and after failing to convince him to sign a new deal, he is currently here on a rolling contract. I'm shocked to be honest that nobody else has come in for him yet!

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Pre season has gone as well as I could have hoped. We didn't embaress ourselves against Chelsea, especially with them playing a particularly strong side, and followed that up with 5 wins, keeping 4 clean sheets in the process! The standout result surely has to be the 4-0 thrashing we handed to League Two Yeovil - what a confidence booster that was!

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The start of the season down at this level is always so busy, and August offers up our first 6 league games of the season, after we get our final friendly against West Brom out the way!

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August 2020


August 2020

Our final pre season game ended in an expected defeat to Premier League side, West Brom! However, the scoreline was nowhere near as big as most expected it to be and again we gave a good account of ourselves and can hold our heads high after this game.

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The pre season campaign has done exactly what it was designed to do....bring money into the club! The bank balance now stands at over £300k, with the Chelsea and West Brom games generating more than £40k per game in gate receipts alone.

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With my strikers seeming pretty susceptable to injury, I was keen to add another one to the squad before the league campaign began! I have done so, as 30 year old Joe Gormley signs for the club on a free! Gormley increases the growing Northern Irish presence in our team and is a good all round striker who could definitely make a name for himself here. His goal return rate isn't bad to be fair, with 126 goals in 254 competitive appearances.

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Saturday 8th August 2020 (15:00)
Vanarama National League
Bromley vs Grimsby
Formation: 4-4-2
Lineup: Killip, Mills, Penny, Sibbick, Gilbert, Whalley (Burns 73), Kuhl, Rose, Miller, Hooper, McEneff

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FA Trophy final hero JJ Hooper, kicks off the season in perfect style with a hat trick against a poor Bromley side! A nice big away win on the opening day of the season cements our credential as title favourites!

BBC Sport are giving me some coverage, praising my work in my opening 20 games as Grimsby boss. Bigger clubs take note!

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2500 season tickets ain't too shabby for a non league side!

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Saturday 15th August 2020 (15:00)
Vanarama National League
Grimsby vs Eastleigh
Formation: 4-4-2
Lineup: Killip, Mills, Penny, Sibbick, Gilbert, Whalley, Kuhl (Wilkinson 70), Rose, Miller, Hooper (Gormley 70), McEneff

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Our first home game of the season also ends in a convincing win! The fact they had 2 players sent off definitely helped, but that's their problem, not ours!

Tuesday 18th August 2020 (19:45)
Vanarama National League
Torquay vs Grimsby
Formation: 4-4-2
Lineup: Killip, Mills, Penny, Sibbick, Gilbert, Whalley, Kuhl (Wilkinson 67), Rose, Miller (Burns 67), Hooper (Gormley 67), McEneff

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First dropped points of the season, first defeat! I was hoping to start the season with a decent unbeaten run but Torquay have robbed us of it here....but they probably just edged this game and if any team deserved to win it was them...as painful as it is to admit!

Saturday 22nd August 2020 (15:00)
Vanarama National League
Hartlepool vs Grimsby
Formation: 4-4-2
Lineup: Killip, Mills, Penny, Callacher, Gilbert, Whalley (Dembele 79), Wilkinson, Kuhl (Rose 64), Miller, Hooper, McEneff (Gormley 64)

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Just as it looked like Hartlepool had snatched a draw, JJ Hooper nets a winner with virtually the last kick of the game! Get in there son! That's a great away win at one of the best teams in the league.

Saturday 29th August 2020 (15:00)
Vanarama National League
Grimsby vs Macclesfield
Formation: 4-4-2
Lineup: Killip, Mills, Penny, Sibbick, Gilbert (Wood 73), Whalley (Dembele 64), Kuhl, Rose, Miller, Hooper (Callacher 88), McEneff

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It was all about the front men today as Hooper and McEneff combined beautifully up top! This was another good win beating another of the better teams in the league!

Monday 31st August 2020 (15:00)
Vanarama National League
Grimsby vs Whitehawk
Formation: 4-4-2
Lineup: Killip, Mills (Penny 70), Callacher, Alese, Gilbert (Wood 57), Dembele, Kuhl, Rose, Burns, Gormley, McEneff (Hooper 57)

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Welcome back to the National League Whitehawk! I had to make a number of changes for this one due to there only being a 2 day gap since our last game, but it didn't effect the lads in the slightest and the players that came in made the most of their opportunity, particularly Joe Gormley who banged in 2 goals on his first competitive start for the club!

With only the defeat to Torquay the only blotch on an otherwise perfect start to the season, we sit top of the league at the end of August. Dag & Red have also made a good start to their campaign and I can see us building a bit of a rivalry with them as the season goes on! Boreham Wood are the only side in the league still looking for their first victory!

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Player of the Month
Mickel Miller

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The winger has fought hard to keep his place in the team after the arrival of some classy looking wide men over the Summer and is fully deserved of this award this month!

Five more games coming up in September, with the highlight likely to be the match against Port Vale. Although games against the likes of Notts County and Tranmere are also expected to throw up a tough challenge!

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