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Cod Head of the Week: Steve Plowes,

By: Rob Sedgwick
Date: 07/01/2007

THE latest Cod Head of the Week is Steve Plowes, who has been supporting Town for nearly 50 years.

Home > Features > Cod Heads > Steve Plowes

We regularly need new Cod Heads, so would appreciate contributions from lifelong supporters of the Mariners. This week's Cod Head is Steve Plowes.

Tell us a bit about yourself.

The nature of my support has been spasmodic, the two principal eras being the early sixties and the early nineties, with an interval in the Lawrie Mac years; it was in the latter that I began my teaching "career" at Clee Humberstone Foundation School. A glowing memory is of taking Under-11s to Brigg Grammar School. Lawrie's son Chris was in the team, and the big man took the trouble to watch his lad's side dominate the opposition about 10-0, stroking it about all over the park.
I also have the distinction of managing arguably the greatest ever player to emerge from Grimsby, be an avid Mariners' fan, yet never play for the team. The player concerned was Duncan Mackenzie, who was in my Wintringham School Whitgift Year 9 footie team when I was in the Lower 6th (Year 12) and "managing" them; Mackenzie was a nightmare to cope with, even at 13, and I took serious advice from members of staff about the ethics of playing an errant genius who never turned up to practise with the rest of the team.
Following the advice of experienced teachers, I dropped Mackenzie and the team lost 2-1, as opposed to winning 14-0, which they did on the occasions he was there. Everyone who advised me denied knowledge of having done so, and I was roundly booed in House assembly for having lost us the House competition. Thus I credit Duncan Mackenzie with being the principal agency of my induction into the treachery of human nature!

When did you first start supporting the Mariners, and what was your first game?

I started following the Mariners in 1959, when my old school friend Dave Needham took me in the Boys' pen to watch Town play Mansfield. I had always though it was a draw, but evidently Town won and the great Ron Rafferty scored both goals. That was on 17th October 1959 - my first Town game; it cost me 6d - about 2.5p - to get into the ground. The gate was 11,207, and we had just been relegated from Div 2 after Allenby Chilton's team had failed to secure their status after the heroic efforts of season 1955-56 - can you believe it???

Who is the best player you ever saw wearing a Grimsby Town shirt?

Well, I am divided here. The finest footballer we ever had was Paul Futcher, whom I actually once saw applauded for tying his bootlaces stylishly, but my earliest hero was Ron Rafferty, a fearless centre-forward who in later life endured a double hip-replacement. He scored 26 goals in 57-58, 19 when we got relegated in 58-59, 33 in 59-60, 24 in 60-61, and 34 in the sensational promotion season of 1961-62. Many of these goals were down to the creative powers of another Town great, Allenby Chilton's ex-Man U signing Johnny Scott, but Rafferty's fearlessness was a sight to behold and a memory to cherish. So despite the Great Futch's sheer aplomb and skill, it has to be Ron Rafferty.

If there is one game you were allowed to go back in time and watch what would it be and why?

The game to go back and see? I didn't actually see it, but my colour-blind Dad told the story so evocatively I am convinced I WAS there. The date - Sept 3rd 1958. The venue was Sincil Bank and the gate an incredible 19,759. The old man, there with an Engineers' Association "do" and no football fan, was told Town were "The team in stripes". He cheered lustily for "the team in stripes" throughout, and afterwards expressed his admiration for the Lincoln centre-forward, who had scored 4 goals on his own after half-time, to create a dramatic 4-4 draw.
The truth was that Town, wearing white shirts because of the Imps' red-and-white stripes, were 4-0 down at half-time, and the incredible Rafferty scored 4 in the second half. Now THAT would have been worth seeing! The old feller had spent 90 minutes cheering for the wrong team!!!

What are your favourite and least favourite away grounds?

Valley Parade, that memorable day in January 1991; or Millmoor, in March of the same year - a victory on both occasions in an old-fashioned roofed stand behind the goal. The latter saw a future Town great put in a performance that convinced AB he was special and sparked a move that resulted in a near £700k profit for the club. Least favourite? Filbert Street, down a mass of alleyways and on the end of a 2-0 beating, to cries of "You're so shit you're unbelievable!" (Sept. 1991), and in constant fear of mayhem at the hands of "the Baby Squad"; arriving back exhausted in Lancs at 3 a.m.

What, in your opinion, are GTFC's best and worst seasons since you have been supporting them?

1961-62 - Tim Ward's team promoted to Div 2, with unlimited possibilities. Worst season? re-election and 23rd in Division 4 (1968-69); top scorer was a winger, Stuart Brace, with 10 goals, and we were in the throes of yet another player-manager fiasco - the victim this time was Bobby Kennedy, proving that Man Utd's Allenby Chilton (1955-59) was indeed a flash in the pan. Pathetic faith in the Chilton reign resulted in the later appointment of the hated Brian "Thrusting Young Executive" Laws.

What is the most eventful day you have ever had in the course of following the Mariners?

when Cockers beat Exeter (May 11, 1991). I couldn't get there, the excitement was ferocious, and I ended the day in a state of emotional collapse; after the euphoria, it slowly dawned on me that we were in for strife and more strife.The excitement was all in the struggle; the success bore no relief.

What is the strangest thing you have ever done at a game?

I am no midget, and the strangest thing was to be lifted bodily off my feet by a maniac who spent the winter freezing in a black-and-white striped Aussie rules footie shirt. He was the first person to introduce me to SWWF at Rochdale in 1989-90; what was his name? Or was it rushing around in Manchester trying to get Pete Conboy's bald tyre changed before we could get to Gy?? The strangest thing at a game was agreeing with the superstitious fans who chased the guy from the Tranmere game (23/2/91) for causing our defeat by announcing that Tranmere had never defeated us at Blundell Park - I thought he had actually tempted fate and deserved a pasting!

What is the worst game you've ever been to?

Barnsley v Town, December 14th 1991; as Reds' fans chanted "You're so shit, it's unbelievable!", we replied with "We're so ...." Allowed out of Oakwell by stewards as an act of mercy, we heard the ironic cheers as Mark "Headless" Smith scored our consolation in a 4-1 defeat.

What's the most amusing chant you've heard at a game?

Simple but effective: "You're just a bald-headed bastard!" when disgraced legend Alan Buckley brought his West Brom team to Blundell Park. The poignancy was increased when his keeper that day, former Town favourite Paul Reece, got the "Dodgy Keeper!" treatment. Both chants ironically stressed how much Town fans really thought of the two people in question. Town won that day, courtesy of a classic goal by Ivano Bonetti, who milked the crowd's applause and was feted by the Mascot.

Who is the greatest ever GTFC manager?

Alan Buckley, without a shadow of a doubt. Let us just examine a few of his transfer deals.
1) Bought Clive Mendonca from Rotherham for £85,000; sold to Charlton for £700,000;
2) Bought Shaun Cunnington from Wrexham for £55,000; sold to Sunderland for £650,000;
3) Bought Paul Groves from Blackpool for £150,000; sold to West Brom (himself!) for £750,000 - bought him back for £300,000;
4) Got Andy Tilson for nothing and sold him to QPR for £350,000 - replaced him with the Great Futch for £10,000 from Halifax;
5) Gary Croft brought through Town youth set-up - sold for £1.2 mill!!!

The record above, and Buckley's ability to get Town to punch over their weight on a year-in-year-out basis, surely make him our greatest ever manager.

How many games a season do you get to now, and what do you do while Town are playing games that you can't get to?

Only one or two games a season; I work at weekends and suffer intolerably every Saturday as I follow Ceefax powerlessly. It seems a long time since I stood selling SWWF on Imperial Corner and doing the anti-Rhys Wilmot song-sheet.

Name your all-time starting eleven since you have been watching Town?


Charlie Wright
Don DonovanPaul FutcherKeith JoblingBrian Keeble
Johnny ScottRon CockerillJohn CockerillDougie Collins
Ron RaffertyClive Mendonca

Steve Plowes

If you would like to be a Cod Head please send an e-mail at once to Rob Sedgwick.

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