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Question of the Week

Should Russell Slade be sacked?

Yes immediately
Give him one more game


The "Groves In" Brigade

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 04/01/2004

AS promised, we present here some of the views expressed by people who support Paul Groves and feel that the call for his sacking is either unfair or premature. These were not all the comments made but they represent what most of his supporters said.

Home > Features > 2004 Features > The "Groves In" Brigade

The first view expressed is by David Wilkinson, a lifetime supporter of the Mariners who goes to both the home and away games.

"The Fishy needs to avoid becoming the instigator of undermining Paul Grove's management as it periodically raises it's concerns.

As someone who attends nearly every game - home and away - I sense very little criticism from those that matter, the fans who go to the matches. Indeed his rapport with the fans at games is better than I have witnessed since the heady fourth division promotion campaign under Lawrie Mac. However, I have no difficulty at all in separating his career as a player from his stint in management. Having said that - if the choice were between him and Simon Ford for Centre Back during Crane's suspension then I would go with Grovesie.

The two most successful managers in recent years were McMenemy and Buckley and they had one huge advantage over Groves - they started at the bottom and worked their way up. For Groves, he took over at the top (for Town) in the first division which is a place where small town teams on small gates and with little money will always struggle. It was little short of a miracle that he kept us in the first division at his first attempt but it was a tired team, ageing and broken by lack of resources, not enough players and the difficulty we always have in attracting new one's that was inevitably relegated. It would have taken a miracle to have kept us up and they rarely happen once, let alone twice.

The second division is a more equal level for us to compete in and I am genuinely impressed by the team Groves has put together - on a limited budget and it is a testament to the way the Club is run at both Board and management level that we have it. I share the frustration at its current under achievement but I know there is only one person who can turn it round. That's Groves and because he knows the two underlying reasons it hasn't taken off yet.

  • Almost the entire team is new to each other and they are taking time to gel - perhaps too much time - but it will come. We need patience and, in reality, more clubs go on a downward spiral after a relegation than bounce straight back. Witness Huddersfield's problems. But it will come and I am confident we will be running for a play off place this year.

    ".… Groves deserves the support of us all!…."

  • We have a fundamental structural weakness in the team and that is a strong front man who can hold the ball up. It's essential to get the best out of either Boulding or Jevons. Onuora is probably not up to it and we have no one else on the books. Groves fully understands this and has gone to the limit to try and get one. But - as we all know - they are reluctant to come to Grimsby and we don't have the money to tempt them. Such a player would open up scoring opportunities and prevent the ball constantly being returned and putting pressure on the defence. I believe that things would have been very different if we had managed to sign Clive Platt in the summer.

    Groves deserves the support of us all. Failure to get promotion this season would not worry me if the team can be kept together because - with a good start - we would be strong favourites for next season. If that doesn't happen then that would be the time to judge Groves's success or lack of it."

    Foodtown says:

    "I knew that they would be back (the "Groves Out" Brigade). If you get rid of him who do you employ? I can see people jumping at the chance of coming to Grimsby, with no money to spend and no chance of shaping their own team. Even if we do get someone mug enough to take it who's to say that they would do any better?

    People speak about Ian Dowie being a great young manager. Hang on Oldham were below us in the table, with slightly worse finances at the time than us. He's doing a good job and Groves is crap? How does that work?"

    BlackandWhiteBarmy agrees saying:

    "I agree. When we were in Div. 1 everyone said we were punching above our weight. Yet we descend to our 'true weight division' we hold a mid table place and all of a sudden everyone wants to sack the manager, their reason, wait for it, not performing aswell as we should be. How do you work that one out. The first divisions too good for us but mid table second division at Christmas isn't good enough."

    giles01 said:

    I like to be different to everyone else so I have been thinking why Groves should stay, here are 3 reasons, feel free to disagree, that is the fun of supporting town:

  • Even if we get a new manager the odds on us going up are slim, let groves stay until the end of the season, finish mid-table then step aside in May.

  • any manager worth his salt would want to bring in new players, and we have no money, at the end of the season we still wont have any money, but there will be players available for free as always.

    I have run out of reasons now! On an unrelated link i once met Mr Groves just before he left us for WBA, and he did seem a really nice guy, but not as nice as Rodger who i sold a fridge/ freezer too around the same time!


    says put yourself in his shoes:

    "I have to stand in defence of Mr Groves. This is not as a testament to his 'adequacy' as a manager as such, but as an acknowledgement of his continued determination in the face of considerable adversity and inadequate resources.

    The 'Groves Out' faction have been very vocal recently and I fully accept, understand and empathise with their frustration at the performance of the team.... but let's just take a deep breath and put this in perspective shall we?

    Groves was placed as an interim player/manager. Those who have the longer term recall of Groves contribution to the club will cite him as a dedicated GTFC stalwart - through and through. In the face of considerable adversity (and success), he was a trooper who had the best interests of our beloved team at heart.

    Comes the time that a replacement manager is required... Groves is chosen. Why? For the very same reasons that he was valued as a player.

    Now, let's be realistic about this... Imagine you are working in a factory. You have been promoted to shift foreperson above your colleagues but are still expected to work the production line. You are now in a position of (potentially) not only being frustrated that you are not a regular team player and are alienated from your close colleagues, but that production is not what you hoped for, or what the Board requires, but that you have to keep an eye on performance, step in when necessary and make 'play or rest' decisions whilst still a part of the team. I know... I've been there and found it difficult to sleep at night worrying about whose sensitivities I was going to upset in order to make the team work to maximum ability.

    As an interim measure, this might be tenable and your credibility and respect remains intact. As a long-term measure, it is not.

    I'd be interested to know who has been the longest serving player/manager in any of the leagues. I'd be more interested still to hear how difficult it was for them.

    Player/managerial roles should be a purely temporary measure until a more permanent and satisfactory solution has been reached. To make Groves effectively wear 'two heads' is unfair, unjust and unworkable. After all this time, a decision should be made... he is either a player or a manager. The cheap 'inbetweeny' option is unfair and scapegoats a man who has clearly demonstrated that the interests of the club are important to him. Many a man would have jumped ship a long time ago given the inherent and subsequent pressures.

    ".… Give the man a break!…."

    I make no apologies for sitting on the fence and not clarifying my position as to the 'he should/shouldn't go' argument. I feel that clear decisions should be made as to the 'concreteness' and specification of his role within the club. The cheap 'two for one option' will not do in the long term and scapegoats Groves for being a manager whose role wasn't prepared adequately and which has been spilt in two as the financially more viable and accessible option.

    Give the man a break... as much as he'd love to provide us with a divine solution, he isn't God. He has, (inadvertently?), been set up to fail. We shouldn't seek to condemn him. We should, instead, seek an immediate solution that suits Groves and takes our longer-term aims and objectives into account. Again, I accept the frustrations of all who post on this board (including myself) about the lack of the results we have been praying for.

    Let him be a manager, or let him be a player. Don't expect him to do both, on a (semi?) permanent basis as a result of financial pressures or apathy. It's easy to kick a man when he's down. That's not an attitude I've come to expect from the hardcore fans. Put pressure forward for an agenda for change (and that includes contributing to GTSC if you can)

    No man is an island and the 'whole' is the sum part of the individuals. Remember this man for what he's done for us... and not for the position he is in now. I wonder, in fact, if you sat in a pub and had a pint with Paul, if he'd tell you 'I thought I could do it... but the reality was less achievable than the concept'

    My views won't sit well with everyone (nothing new there then!) but... remember... 'The Hairdryer' was within one game of getting his cards. The Supporters Club got behind him (with their shares)... pushed through a change agenda by bringing 'floating' shareholders' into their camp... The rest is (Championship and European) history.

    Make a difference - stop whinging - start shouting and making the cheapskates and those who lack foresight to listen!

    Happy New Year, Thanks for your hard work Paul, and UTM ad infinitum..."

    This is not the end of this series of articles. If we get more sent in we will publish them. - Ed.

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