The Opposition View: Grimsby Town

Last updated : 11 December 2016 By Jim Bonner

It has been over fourteen years since Pompey last went to Blundell Park. Summarise what has happened to your club since then.

Unfortunately the ITV Digital collapse crippled us, players had to be offloaded as we could not afford to pay them and the inevitable relegation to League One followed, followed twelve months later by relegation to League Two in the 88th minute of the final game of the season.

Then, in 2005, we were in the top three all season and going into the 90th minute on the final day we were promoted until we conceded an injury time equaliser coupled with Orient's injury time winner at Oxford which meant it was the play-offs instead, and we lost in the final and to be honest we didn't turn up.

Then we narrowly avoided relegation to the Conference in 2009 but didn't learn our lesson and were relegated in 2010.

Six painful years followed including three successive play-off defeats, the 2015 one on penalties to Bristol Rovers after dominating the game being the hardest one to swallow. Then in 2016 finally we did it the hard way, we lost the play-off semi first leg at home to Braintree before overturning that to get to the final against Forest Green Rovers, which we fully deserved to win.

What's your assessment of Grimsby's season so far?

Very good. One thing with being non-league is it makes you appreciate league football so I would have been happy finishing 22nd and slowly growing each season, so to be two points outside the play-offs means I'm delighted.

What do you make of Marcus Bignot replacing Paul Hurst as the manager of your club?

I was sad to see Paul Hurst leave, however, Bignot is like a breath of fresh air because he's hugely respected by everyone and he loves interacting with the fans, something that Hurst was terrible at.
I'm very happy with Marcus and I think we will really go places with him.

Ben Davies was a very popular figure at Pompey last season. What do Grimsby fans think of him?

Ben showed his quality from the very first game when he scored a superb free kick in the win over Morecambe. He then carried on with consistent performances most weeks with our away win at Mansfield being by far his best game when he was just everywhere.

Unfortunately, he picked up a calf injury in early October and hasn't played for nearly two months, so he will definitely not be playing against his former club but he is very well thought of by everybody at GTFC.

Who are the key players in this current Grimsby squad?

The obvious one is Omar Bogle; the difference in him from this time last season is extraordinary. He's full of confidence, scores goals out of nothing all the time and his all-round game is just fantastic. I expect the vultures to be circling in January!

Another key player is Ashley Chambers. When we signed him I didn't rate him at all but I couldn't have been more wrong as he has been superb so far. Also, since Ben Davies' injury, Zac Mills has taken his place and has been our best defender since he made the team.

What are the biggest strengths and weaknesses of your team?

Our biggest strength would be our speed. Bogle, Jackson, Chambers and Bolarinwa are all lightning quick so we often get in behind defences quite easily.

The main weakness would have to be overconfidence in defence. We always try to play out from the back which is commendable but when it goes wrong (which it has quite a few times) we seem to get punished every time.

McKeown has made bad mistakes in the last two games which both led to goals and Gowling has started to look sloppy recently as well.

What places of interest are there around Grimsby and Cleethorpes? Is Grimsby really as bad as Sacha Baron Cohen's film made it out to be?

There is not a lot to do in Grimsby to be honest, the Fishing Heritage Centre is really good but it is well out of the way of Blundell Park although if any of you did end up in Grimsby Town centre then it is well worth a visit.

Most of the good stuff is in Cleethorpes. If you arrive by train it drops you out on the seafront then there ar all the usual type of attractions up there.

For somewhere to eat before the game it has to be either Steels or Ernie Becketts both in Cleethorpes Market Place, exceptional fish and chips at both with Becketts being slightly cheaper. Grimsby is not as bad as the Grimsby film although it certainly does have its really bad areas but nowhere near as bad as Cohen's film though!

Predict the outcome of the game.

The optimist in me thinks we will win but then this is Portsmouth we are playing so I'll sit on the fence and go for a 2 - 2 draw.