Books about Grimsby Town

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Shocked by how hard our readers found our quiz based on books about the Mariners, Cod Almighty thought we'd better provide you with a reading list.


Books are listed in alphabetical order by the family name of the subject.

There or thereabouts: the Keith Alexander story by Rob Bradley

Published by Vertical Editions: Skipton, 2012, Hardback, 205 pages; ISBN 9781904091660

Not so much a biography, more a tribute to Keith Alexander, written by the former chair of Lincoln City Supporters Trust. A chapter is devoted to Alexander's playing career at Blundell Park and another to his period as assistant manager to Alan Buckley at Sincil Bank. Inevitably, the book provides most insight into Alexander's managerial career but it is a warm and enjoyable read throughout.

Terrace heroes: the life and times of the 1930s professional footballer by Graham Kelly

Published by Routledge: London, 2005, Paperback, 174 pages; ISBN 0714682942

An academic study of 1930s football, Kelly's book includes a chapter on Harry Betmead, with some quotes from contemporary newspapers illustrating both Betmead's and the club's style of play and the foundations of their success in the 1930s.

My magic carpet ride by Garry Birtles

Published by Reid: Loughborough, 2010, Hardback, 182 pages; ISBN 0955880742

Birtles covers the last few seasons of his career, at Grimsby, in a few pages, dwelling more on end-of-season escapades than events on the pitch. Read it for the account of playing under Brian Clough and the anguish of his scoring drought at Manchester United. If your interest is purely parochial, stay away.

Alan Buckley: pass and move - my story by Alan Buckley with Paul Thundercliffe

Published by Troubador Publishing: Kibworth, 2013, Hardback, 217 pages; ISBN 9781783061402

Alan Buckley's life in football, starting as a player at Nottingham Forest and ending with his third spell in charge of Grimsby, with stops in between at Walsall, Birmingham, Walsall, Kettering, Grimsby, West Brom, Grimsby, Lincoln and Rochdale. Essential reading for Grimsby (and Walsall) fans, Buckley enjoys his successes and is disarmingly honest about any shortcomings.

Drinks all round by Kevin Drinkell with Scott Burns

Published by Black&White: Edinburgh, 2010, Hardback, 262 pages; ISBN 1845023277

Read our review

The Tony Ford story by Tony Ford with Keith Haynes and Phil Sumbler

Published by Tempus Publishing: Stroud, 2005, Paperback, 159 pages; ISBN 0752424181

Tony Ford covers his life up to 2005 when he was, for the second time, assistant to Steve Parkin at Rochdale. Unusually for a footballer's autobiography (and once you have got used to Ford's circumlocutionary style), the account of his Grimsby childhood is not just something to whip through on the way to his first team debut. The most enjoyable chapters though are the accounts of life at Blundell Park as Ford made his debut under Tom Casey, and as Grimsby rose through the divisions under John Newman and George Kerr and stabilised in the second division under Dave Booth. The arrival of Mike Lyons comes as a jolt, nor does Ford get on too well with Lawrie McMenemy during a loan period at Sunderland. He recovers his enjoyment of playing at Stoke City but is more jaundiced about his time at West Brom and his second spell at Grimsby under Alan Buckley. Ford brings home the precarious nature of employment as an assistant manager in lower League football at Mansfield, Rochdale (including a period assisting Buckley) and Barnsley.

Where's your caravan: life on football's B-roads by Chris Hargreaves

Published by Friday Project: London, 2011, Paperback, 344 pages; ISBN 0007364148

Hargreaves has written the longest Town-interest biography, but unfortunately it suffers from diminishing returns; there comes a point when you feel you have read enough anecdotes of footballers on the lash. The book would have benefited from a very thorough edit; the 'As I prepare to write this, I am ... ' interludes occasionally get across the sense of dislocation of a newly-retired footballer, but often they just feel self-indulgent. The season-by-season structure, extended over 20 years, also becomes repetitive. Hargreaves paints an affectionate picture of Arthur Mann, Alan Buckley's assistant during his first spell at Grimsby and at West Brom. Buckley himself though comes across as a petty-tyrant who wrecked Hargreaves's confidence. He never quite addresses the extent to which his party-going lifestyle in Cleethorpes in the early 90s (the "skeletons" from which he gives as his reason for refusing the chance to return to Blundell Park under Russell Slade) rather than Buckley's discipline might have been the key factors in scuppering a more high-profile career.

Laws of the jungle: surviving football's monkey business by Brian Laws with Alan Biggs

Published by Vertical Editions: Skipton, 2012, Hardback, 223 pages; ISBN 1904091679

Read our review

It's not all black and white by John McDermott with Simon Ashberry

Published by History Press: Stroud, 2013, Paperback, 192 pages, ISBN 0752492640

Read our review

Matt Tees on football by Matt Tees

Published by Jim Wright: Cleethorpes, c2008, Paperback, 28 pages; ISBN 9781902871141

The life and career of Matt Tees, interspersed with his views on the game, rich (for a short booklet) in anecdotes and opinions. He covers his entire career, with a few pages devoted to his two spells at Grimsby, including his apparently difficult relationship with Lawrie McMenemy.

Club histories

1997/98: a season to remember by Matthew Rake

Published on behalf of Grimsby Town Football Club by Gowers Elmes Publishing: London, 1999, Hardback, 96 pages; ISBN 0953643107

A detailed and well illustrated account of the 1997-98 season, including exclusive interviews and comments from the players and supporters, and comment panels by Alan Buckley.

Grimsby Town: a complete record 1878-1989 by Les Triggs with David Hepton and Sid Woodhead

Published by Breedon Books: Derby, 1989, Hardback, 416 pages; ISBN 0907969461

A season-by-season statistical history of the club, covering all competitions including the Lincolnshire Cup, with narrative accounts of the history of the club, its grounds, managers, major players and the club programme. While other books provide more up-to-date statistics, the narrative sections have a good eye for interesting detail. 

Grimsby Town centenary brochure edited and compiled by Charles Ekberg

Produced by Grimsby Town FC in conjuncton with Hewitt Brothers Ltd, 1978, Paperback, 48 pages

Articles by John Newman, Lawrie McMenemy, Charles Ekberg, Roy Line and Sid Woodhead covering the history of the club, with particular emphasis on the 1930s. There is a lot of repetition in the content. You are probably better off looking for Ekberg's The Mariners (qv)

Grimsby Town Football Club: a pictorial history by Geoff Ford

Published by Archive Publications: Runcorn, 1989, Paperback, ca130 pages; ISBN 0948946628

As the title implies, the emphasis of the book is on the 209 illustrations, but there is also a narrative history. The availability of pictures, no doubt, and Geoff Ford's personal experience means that the 1970s and 1980s are covered in more detail than earlier periods in the club's history.

Grimsby Town Football Club: an A-Z by Robert Briggs

Printed by Stylaprint, Elton, Paperback, c1996, 100 pages

A readable, if outdated, collection of Grimsby facts, from abandoned matches to the Zenith Data Systems Cup, picking up snippets you might not find elsewhere, such as our 1957 friendly (won 3-0) against the Copenhagen side Akademisk Boldclub, who required all players to hold a university degree, or the occasion when the team found themselves stuck in a snowbound train in Louth in February 1947.  

The Grimsby Town story: 130 years, 1878-2008 by Dave Wherry

Published by Yore: Harefield, 2008, Hardback, 336 pages; ISBN 0955788935

This is an update of We only sing when we're fishing (qv)

Grimsby Town: through the trapdoor: the road to hell 2001-2010 by Rob Hadgraft

Published by Desert Island Books: Essex, 2010, Paperback, 160 pages; ISBN 9781905328819

Read our review

Mariner men: Grimsby Town who's who 1892-2007 by Rob Briggs and Dave Wherry

Published by Yore Publications: Harefield, 2007, Hardback, 256 pages; ISBN 9780955294983

This books provides impressively detailed short biographies of every player to have appeared for Grimsby up to the time of publication, often providing quotes that illustrate their playing style, notable incidents and their career before and after football.

The Mariners by Charles Ekberg and Sid Woodhead

Sporting and Leisure Press: Buckingham, 1983, Hardback, 148 pages; ISBN 0860231763

Charles Ekberg covered Grimsby for over a quarter of a century, and is thoroughly immersed in its culture. Although he quite often gets bogged down in reciting statistical details that you will find more clearly conveyed in A complete record (qv) or the Dave Wherry books, and occasionally repeats himself, his book nevertheless conveys, through snippets and anecdotes, a good sense of the part played by the Mariners in the life of the town.

My favourite game: a collection of memories from Grimsby Town supporters edited by Jack Johnson and Richard Lord

The Mariner Books: Cleethorpes, 2014, Paperback, 98 pages

Contributors to The Mariner matchday programme from 2013-14 share their reminiscences of memorable matches, starting with a 1-0 victory over the English champions Arsenal in 1935 and continuing through to a 3-2 win at Accrington the season Town were relegated out of the Football League. Most of the obvious games are here: the Wembley wins and the cup wins over Everton, Livepool and Tottenham. But many selections are more idiosyncratic, and My favourite game is all the better for it.

Reminiscences of Grimsby Town football club 1879-1912 by Bob Lincoln

Published by Soccer Books: Cleethorpes, 2003, Paperback, 150 pages; ISBN 186223082X

An extract from Reminiscences of sport in Grimsby, published shortly before Lincoln's death in 1912, this an often irreverent, jocular history of the early years of the club. It mixes anecdotes with stray snippets of factual information, like lists of elected officials, team line-ups for particular matches, season records and league tables.  

We are Town: writing by Grimsby fans 1970-2002 edited by Pat Bell and Pete Green

Published by the Mariners Trust: Cleethorpes, 2015, Hardback, 224 pages; ISBN 9780993411502

Read our preview

We only sing when we're fishing: Grimsby Town FC the official history 1878-2000 by Dave Wherry

Published by Yore Publications: Harefield, 2000, Hardback, 320 pages; ISBN 187442778X

The books is divided into three sections. First, there is a season-by-season narrative history, outlining the main comings and goings at the club and the story of the season. The middle section provides miscellaneous records, including details of all coaching staff and winners of the player of the year awards. The main statistical section lists all Town players, and details of results and line-ups for each season. This book was updated by The Grimsby Town story (qv).

A who's who of Grimsby Town AFC 1890-1985 by Douglas Lamming

Published by Hutton Press: Beverley, 1985, Paperback, 202 pages; ISBN: 0907033342

Short profiles of all Grimsby players, and a statistical section covering Grimsby's record in different competitions, including the Football Alliance and Midland League, and the first and second world wars. It is both less detailed and less current than Mariner men (qv).


Obtaining these books

Unfortunately, Cod Almighty does not have a bookshop, so please do not contact us for copies of the books listed here. Instead we suggest:

  • The Grimsby Town club shop, for recently published books
  • Soccer Books, based in Cleethorpes, for second-hand copies of older books
  • The book publishers
  • Other second-hand and online bookshops (Preferably ones that pay their taxes.)
  • Your local library (some will get books on inter-library loan for you, if they don't hold copies themselves)

To suggest other books for this listing, or to provide other additonal information, please use our feedback form.