Grimsby Town were formed from within the Worsley Cricket Club, following a meeting held at the Wellington Arms public house in Freeman Street in September 1878. The name of Grimsby Pelham was initially adopted, Pelham being the family name of major landowners in the area, the Earls of Yarborough. Just one year later this suffix was altered to the more mundane “Town”.
Their first home was at Clee Park in Cleethorpes, within a large field that lay between the sea and Grimsby Road. Facilities were almost non-existent and Grimsby Town soon moved on to an adjacent field which is now crossed by Lovett Street. The stay at this venue was also only shortlived, for in 1880 the Town moved back to their former field, which became known as Clee Park Gardens. In 1882/83 dressing rooms for the team were provided, consisting of two bathing vans borrowed from the nearby beach. It was also at this ground that Grimsby Town experimented with floodlit matches, using eight pylons spaced around the ground. At the foot of each pylon, tar was pumped from a barrel and under pressure converted to a gas light. In the 1888/89 season the visit of Preston North End in the FA Cup provided the Clee Park Gardens enclosure with a crowd of 8,000, a record that still stands today…Not surprisingly because the end of that season saw the expiry of the ground’s lease, so a further move was made to a venue that became known as Abbey Park, now in Grimsby rather than Cleethorpes!!
This ground, so named due to its situation near the site of a former Abbey, was located adjacent to People’s Park, which still exists to this very day. Its owner was the Right Honourable E Heneage, MP who was to play a pivotal role in the club’s final ground move, this time to Blundell Park, just a few hundreds yards east of the original Clee Park Gardens Ground. Mr Heneage complained of the bad behaviour of some of the players and used it as a convenient excuse for not allowing Grimsby Town further time on his site and forced the move out of town again to Cleethorpes.
It was the family colours of the Pelham family that gave Grimsby Town their initial outfit of blue and white hoops. A strip of carmine and light blue halves followed, inspired by the clerical colours of the aforementioned Abbey, to be replaced by salmon pink shirts in their desire for an improvement in fortune, if not in sartorial judgement. Before changing to black and white stripes in 1910 Grimsby Town tried their luck in white shirts with a red-yoked collar. The beginning of the 1960’s saw the introduction of white shirts trimmed with black, and unusually for the time red shorts, a permutation of the old colours. Gladly, the black and white stripes eventually returned to Blundell Park, with red trim being an oft-recurring feature.
As representatives of one of the chief fishing ports in the country, Grimsby Town were originally nicknamed The Fishermen. The more recent nickname of the Mariners is of course a variation on the same theme, alluding to the main trade of the town.
The club’s emblem is another reference to Grimsby’s location. The original badge contains a shield with three trawlers denoting Grimsby’s connection with fishing, set against the club colours of black and white stripes. A modernised version, with two trawlers dropped and the inclusion of three fish, was designed in the mid-70’s. Rumour has it that the three fish are linked with England’s three lions. Or maybe someone’s just codding us?