Thursday, 29 January 2015


DON'T mention John Burridge - the much-travelled goalkeeper of yesteryear when World Cup winner Ossie Ardiles is booked  to be one of the guest speakers at a dinner in McMenemy's Bar at Grimsby Town's Blundell Park ground on March 6.

The pair famously fell out in the last minute of a First Division match on Boxing Day, 1987,   between Ardiles' side, Spurs, and Burridge's Southampton at the Dell.

According to Burridge, who was briefly on The Mariners' books in the 1995-96 season, Ardiles tried to tread on his feet at a Spurs corner - but the goalkeeper managed to get his stamp in first.

In his 2011 autobiography, Budgie, he writes: " I gave him the old two studs combination on the metatarsal and he went down in absolute agony."

Ardiles (and other opponents) were doubtless unaware that Burridge had a habit of filing  down the back studs on his boots so they were sharp as bullets.

He says: "When people came up to me at a corner and tried to bully and intimidate me, I'd seize the moment.

"I'd bring my left or right boot down on the striker's metatarsal - BANG!

"It sounds sounds cruel and dirty but it was kick or be kicked."

Did the officials not  inspect  the players studs before the match?  Apparently, it tended only to be a cursory check in which they ran their fingers over the front studs.

Burridge claims that, following the match, which Saints won 2-1, Ardiles shouted at him:

"You animal!" then tried to push him  down the 10 steps that led to the dressing rooms  - to which he  responded by "smacking" him

Alas for Burridge, the incident came back  to haunt him later when he was first-team choice for  Newcastle United.

Out of the blue, Ossie Ardiles was appointed Toon manager - and Burridge was soon shown the door. The following season, he was plying his trade with Hibernian in the Scottish Premier League.

Budgie - The Autobiography of Goalkeeping Legend John Burridge 
is published at £16.99
by John Blake.

It also available, on loan at North East Lincolnshire  libraries.

Tuesday, 20 January 2015


A RARE  programme featuring a match between Grimsby Town and Manchester United has sold for £120 at auction.

The season in which the match was played began at the tailend of war when the country was still getting back on its feet. For that reason  it was a Football League (North) Championship match rather than a First Division Match.

The sale was conducted online by Graham Budd Auctions which specialises in sports memorabilia.

No details have been released on either the vendor or the purchaser. 

The auction house is staging its next sale on May 18/19.

For more information about valuations or consigning items , it can be contacted at 020 8366 2525 (email:

The firm is also holding valuation   roadshows at Sunderland (March 3), Blackpool (March 4), Lichfield (March 5) and Eastbourne (March 6).

Monday, 19 January 2015


The legendary striker (photo: AceKindred, Wikipedia Commons)

LEGENDARY Liverpool and Juventus goalscorer Ian Rush has a hatful of memories about his time at the top - but he also recalls playing against The Mariners in his early days as a Chester player.

It was in the 1978-79 season, and, though not a regular first-teamer,  he came on as a substitute for the last 20 minutes in a Division Three match against Grimsby Town.

In his autobiography,  he describes the pitch at Blundell Park as "a  lovely surface to play on".

He continues: "Grimsby were managed by George Kerr and, though mid-table, I sensed they would do well.

"Their players were  snapping at our lads all the time, never giving us time on the ball.

"Every time I received it, one of their men would be breathing down my neck, putting a foot in, stopping me playing.

"When you have an entire team constantly doing that, it tends to prevent the skilful players in the opposition doing their stuff.

 "The more it goes on in a game, the more those skilful players get fed up.

"In an attempt to find some space they wander, and the next thing you know the whole shape and form of your side has gone to pot."

Despite this, it was Chester who had the last laugh - winning 2-0 to complete a double over The Mariners.

Rush - The Autobiography (Ebury Press, £6.99) is available from bookshops, online retaailers  and also, on loan, from Cleethorpes Library

Friday, 16 January 2015


Grahame Lloyd - his painstaking and courageous  investigations uncovered the truth and embarrassed a leading international auction house
 INVESTIGATIVE  sports journalist Grahame Lloyd  fascinated an audience at Cleethorpes Cricket Club on Thursday with a talk about his intriguing  book - Howzat? The Six Sixes Ball Mystery.

His starting point  was the match in which Gary Sobers hit six sixes in a single over in a  county match at Swansea between the side he was captaining, Nottinghamshire, and Glamorgan on August 31, 1968. 

It was the first time the feat had been achieved in first-class cricket, and the ball believed to have been bowled by hapless spinner Malcolm Nash  was famously sold for £26,400 some 38 years later at an auction in London.

But after 18 months' probing, Lloyd (61) conclusively proved that the ball that went under the hammer at Christie's was not the one bowled on that momentous afternoon in South Wales.

The buyer, an enthusiast in India, had effectively bought an artefact that was worthless.

In his talk, Lloyds attributed what happened to  misunderstandings, naivety and inadequate checking of the ball's provenance rather than deliberate deception, but he believes those involved should have acknowledged their mistakes.

In particular, he believes the auction house,  which no longer holds sales of sports memorabila, should own up to "selling a wrong 'un".

During  his exhaustive research, Lloyd, who lives in Lincoln, tracked down and interviewed Sobers himself. The famous cricketer did not himself benefit financially from what happened, but he signed the  certificate of authenticity which persuaded Christie's to accept the ball.

"The investigation has been an obsession,"said the author who has published the 232-page book at his own expense. "It took over 18 months my life, but I was determined to  establish the truth. 

"Doing the research seemed like a cross between Watergate and the TV detective series, Colombo!"

What happened to the actual ball bowled by Nash? No one knows. Perhaps, no one ever will know.

The author was accompanied at Cleethorpes by his friend, John Parkin (70), the former Nottinghamshire batsman who was the other end of the wicket from Sobers during the "six sixes" over.

By contributing amusing anecdotes from his own career, the ex-cricketer, who lives in Kimberley, Notts, helped make for a thoroughly enjoyable first evening of the year for Lincolnshire Cricket Lovers' Society.

For more information about the book(which retails at £14.99), see Amazon or contact  the author direct at

Sir Garfield Sobers in 2012. (Photo: By the Madras / Wikipedia Commons)

John Parkin - in his heyday, a sparkling stroke-player, especially off the front foot. He accompanied Lloyd at the Cleethorpes talk

Tuesday, 13 January 2015


John Fenty (right) - seen with Cleethopes MP Martin Vickers (left) and the deputy leader of North East Lincolnshire Council, Mick Burnett

 ALTHOUGH he is a highly successful businessman and a member of North East Lincolnshire, John Fenty's profile is probably highest as shareholder-in-chief/ main board member  of Grimsby Town FC.

It is probably fair to say that his 13 years or so at the helm have been marked by more disappointment than joy, notably when the unthinkable happened and The Mariners tumbled out of the Football League, never to have returned - at least as yet.

But the darkest hour is just before dawn, and ultimately, possibly this season, the good times will return.

Footballing highlights for John - who endeavours to attend all matches, home and away - have included  thrilling cup wins against Liverpool and Spurs and visits both  to Wembley and Cardiff's Millenium Stadium.

At one time, when Town were still in the Football League, he was linked with what, for inexplicable reasons came affectionately to be dubbed by the media as the "South London Mafia "  - its other members being Karren Brady (then Birmingham chairman), Theo Paphitis (then Millwall chairman), Paul Scalley (Gillingham)  and the flamboyant Simon Jordan (then Crystal Palace chairman), the last of whom he decribes as "crackers but a great bloke and a lot of fun".

When the striker Steve Kabba surprisingly came on loan from Palace to Blundell Park in 2002, it was apparently because Jordan wanted to nettle the club's manager, Trevor Francis, with whom he had lost confidence.

Scoring six goals in 14 matches, Kabba was much more of a success in Grimsby than in his native South London, and he could have become part of a player-plus cash transfer arrangement in exchange for Town goalkeeper Danny Coyne, but the latter decided against the move, so the deal fell through.

One of the low points of John's spell in the hot seat was the  much publicised bust-up which resulted in the dismissal of manager Mike Newell following a match with Rochdale.

There was massive embarrassment to both parties with the  publication in the Grimsby Telegraph of  High Court documents which suggested that, following verbal fireworks,  the pair may even have come close to blows in the car park.

Newell sought £53,000, plus costs, for wrongful dismissal, but, in the end, he had to settle for just £5,000 - reflecting a technical breach of Employment law  by the club. His application for costs was rejected.  

Looking back, John reckons the post-Rochdale row came about because both men were simultaneously  so passionate that the club should do well and so disappointed that the results on the pitch remained steadfastly poor.

"I haven't seen Mike since he left,"says John. "We were good friends, and I certainly harbour no grudge.

"I don' think we could be faulted for appointing him - as a  manager, he had achieved success at both his previous clubs Hartlepool and Luton."

Was John himself any great shakes as  footballer? Up until about 10 years ago when he resumed playing at local league level, he had never pulled in a pair of boots since he was 12.

Since being elected to North East Lincolnshire Council as a Conservative representative for the Humberston and New Waltham ward, John has also been actively engaged across a broad spectrum of community life.

He had always been interested in politics and needed little encouragement when Keith Brookes, NELC's then  Conservative Group leader, encouraged him to throw his hat into the ring.

Much of his council work he has founded rewarding, though he admits to frequent frustrations at how slowly the wheels of local government  turn - for instance, when  it comes to economic renewal and regeneration.

He believes there needs to be much more drive, determination, imagination and tenacity - and much less procrastination - if  Grimsby is again to enjoy the prosperity of its fishing heyday.

Assuming he retains his appetite for politics, does he aspire to higher things - perhaps even a seat in parliament?

"It's not something I've thought of,"comes back the father-of-six’s coy response. "Since his election, Martin Vickers has been doing a good job for Cleethorpes."

But what if vacancy came up for a candidate in another seat? "Never say never," he replies.


Favourite food: Indian.

Favourite book: I have only read two in my life - one on tropical fish, the other on DIY. The bulk of my reading matter today consists of council agendas.

Favourite film: Spartacus.

Favourite pop singer: Debbie Harry, vocalist with the pop group, Blondie.

Family pets: Dogs, chinchillas, ornamental ducks, tortoises, koi carp and a blue-and-gold macaw called Molly. 

Person you would most like to meet over dinner: Margaret Thatcher in her prime.

NOTE: This feature is an adaptation of one that  originally appeared in the Cleethorpes Chronicle in Agust 2010

Monday, 5 January 2015


Cllr Fenty
John Fenty - strength of purpose

FEW individuals in Grimsby hold as high a profile as John Fenty. Not only is he a successful, self-made businessman but he is also a forthright member of North East Lincolnshire Council - one who is never afraid of courting controversy on subjects about which he feels strongly. Most notably, the 52-year-old is also the major shareholder of Grimsby Town FC and at the forefront of initiatives to build a new stadium for the club in readiness for the day, hopefully not too far off, when The Mariners return to the Football League. The feature below is the first part of an updated version of one that originally appeared  in the Cleethorpes Chronicle in August 2010.
WHEN he was a schoolboy first at St Peter's Primary, then at Matthew Humberstone, the future  prospects did not look particularly bright for John Fenty.

He was affected by dyslexia which affected his academic performance and undermined his confidence.

"My biggest dread was having to stand in front of class to read out a poem or piece of prose,"he recalls. "It was a nightmare.

"Nowadays, teachers are alert for signs of dyslexia and it is usually soon detected, but no so when I was at school. 

"My response to classroom difficulties was to play truant, but at least I can say put my time to positive use. I liked cars and spent as much time as I could   spraying old bangers or tinkering under their bonnets.”

John was the middle one of five brothers -  the others being Mark, Paul, Steve and Pete, the last of whom was an Army officer who, very sadly, died some years ago.

During much of his boyhood, John saw relatively little of his father, also called John, whose job as a fisherman kept him at sea, but plenty of his mother, Marjorie, whom he describes as a "phenomenal inspiration" and “a perpetual ray of sunshine”.

"She was a real whirlwind,"he says. "As well as bringing up family, she was always helping and encouraging other people - even to the extent of wallpapering their homes.

"She accepted that I was not academically gifted but saw that I had an aptitude at mechanics and building things. She gave me loads of encouragement.

"It paid off because I developed all sorts of building skills and was able to carry out house and garage extensions to our own home."

As well as leaving school with no qualifications, John had other disadvantages - for instance, he is colour-blind and has a liver disorder which, though under control, can cause tiredness. It is thought the latter may have been caused by a bacterial infection during a time spent in Africa.

However, after he left school, his enthusiasm for all things mechanical earned him an apprenticeship at Hartfords Motors which was followed by eight months stint at John T Howard Transport.

"I enjoyed both jobs, but especially the latter because I was repairing components instead of just fitting them," he recalls

John was also an admirer of his boss, Mr Howard, but he decided to hand in his notice when an opportunity arose to become self-employed.

He bought a refrigerated van with which he transported pallets of frozen products, mostly fish, to outlets all over the UK on behalf of Grimsby merchants such as Blue Crest and others.

Business flourished to the extent that he was able to acquire premises on the fish docks from where he set up a small fleet of vehicles, some of which he made available for hire to his increasing roster of food firm clients.

When one of these, Horizon Foods, went belly-up, John saw a new opportunity and, with his accumulated know-how of the business, moved into fish processing and trading on his own account.

Still only in his  20s, this was the first move on a roller coaster ride which lead to the emergence and prodigious success of a company called Five Star Fish which, at its peak, not only provided employment for the best part of 300 staff but also earned a national reputation for excellence.

As it continued to prosper, John received more and more overtures from larger competitors, finally accepting one from a Stock Exchange-listed company, the Really Good Food Group.

"It was my baby, and it was a wrench to let it go," he recalls "But the offer was too good to refuse."

As part of the deal, he agreed to stay on as chairman for two years but left when the business was sold on to another enterprise, British Seafood.

When in 2008, the new owners went into administration, it was bought out by Ranjit Boparan, owner of the 36-strong Harry Ramsdens fish and chip shop restaurant chain and the Scunthorpe-based Buxted chicken-processing plant.

However, before the deal went through, John seriously considered making a bid himself.

If successful, it would have put him back at the heart of an incredibly vibrant and dynamic industry - one pretty well unique to this corner of the UK and one where he retains a huge number of friends.

"It was hard work including long days but they were great times,"he enthuses. "It was a big adventure – one which constantly demonstrated to me the  resilient, ingenious, energetic and logical nature of the Grimsby-area workforce.”

John pays tribute to the cast of colourful and often larger than life characters - competitors as well as associates - with whom he came into contact.

He reserves particular plaudits for the acumen - and sometimes madcap humour - of colleague Roy Matthews for his instrumental role in multiplying Five Star’s turnover many times over into a £10- million-a-year business.

Looking back, John says that, at the start of the “adventure”, he had no clear personal blueprint about what he might be seeking to achieve. Nor, he suspects do many other entrepreneurs.

He lists the building block for his own success as a readiness to grasp opportunities, a capacity to adapt to changing circumstances and a commitment to technological innovation.

To these, he adds the strength of mind to resist the temptations of living a life of indulgence in favour of ploughing profits back into the business.

He and Roy did not always agree - for instance, on the decision to relocate from the fish docks to purpose-built new premises – but, by this stage, John had come to trust his own judgement.

“Lets get on the train,” was one of his favourite sayings.

Now, a couple of decades later could it all be done again by some like minded individual willing to roll up his or her sleeves, take a risk and have a go?

“Where’s there’s a will, there’s always a way,” he replies. “But it would take longer. Business today faces far more red tape - employment law, health and safety and the like.”

* Part Two to follow later this month.