Saturday. Derby day as Danny Cowley’s men make the short trip to Blundell Park to face off against Michael Jolley’s Grimsby Town
It’s one of the first fixtures you jot down on your calendar upon the fixture release, and the time as come for the first instalment of a fierce Lincolnshire showdown.
Our opposition verdict segment continues and will do throughout the entirety of the season.
This week, we have been speaking to Mariner’s fan Tom Drant.
Here is what he had to say:
Saturday marks the first big derby game between Lincoln and Grimsby. Just how much do these games matter to the Grimsby faithful?
“It’s a bit of a mix to be honest. Think there’s a generation split, the older and more cynical amongst us still see you as a club much lower in stature than ourselves given our history and that we were in the old Division One for a few years.
They see Hull or the Sheffield clubs as bigger rivals and don’t like to admit that we are both on the same level currently.
The Under 30s though have grown up playing you regularly, most notably in 2006 in the Play-Off’s.
But whatever our personal stance on it, we all badly want to beat you”.
Michael Jolley seems to have given the club a real boost since his arrival last season. He guided Grimsby away from relegation and some punters have the Mariners to have a much improved season. How big of an impact has he made both on and off the field?
“Michael Jolley’s Impact can’t be understated. To stop the rot last season and take 13 points from the last 15 available, beating play off chasing Swindon away and promotion chasing Notts County at home, with that squad was nothing short of a minor miracle.
He exudes confidence and class. A breath of fresh air to us all.
He’s moved to the area and wants all players to live within an hour of the town, to try and get the locals and players to feel more connected. He’s always available to meet and talk with fans, and has even showed up to a few BBQs and Birthdays! He really is a class above”.
It’s something that maybe isn’t talked about enough, but locality is really important. In Lincoln’s case, when Steve Tilson was in-charge he commuted from his home down south. How can you gain the respect and team harmony if the manager is hardly at the club? Jolley seems to understand the importance of this hence his re-location.
Fair to say that it’s been a bit of an indifferent start for you. The Forest Green game wasn’t exactly the opening day result you had in mind and a first-round exit in the Caraboa cup. However, victory against Macclesfield last time out. What’s the current mood in the camp?
“Our fans are currently fluctuating between ‘We’re getting relegated’ and ‘We’re going up!’
The FGR game was hopefully a freak result, and Rochdale are a league above. The performance was much improved against Macclesfield and we showed great character to hold out with 10 men and go on to get a second.
Most fans accept we are in a transition period and it will take time. Mid table is most people’s prediction, including mine” – He told WeAreTheImps.
Mitch Rose was shown red in your win over Macclesfield. How big of a miss will he be?
“Mitch seems an important player to Michael.
He’s played most, if not all games under him so far and has chipped in with some very important penalties. The new ‘John Akinde (pen)’ some like to say.
If we had Whitehouse fit I’d say it’s not a huge miss but I can’t see who we can replace him with right now. It’s certainly a chance for other players to stake their claim for a spot in the starting XI”.
Obviously Elliot Whitehouse made the switch to Blundell Park in the summer window and an injury he picked up in pre-season looks to have ended what could have been a successful season for the 24-year old.
Could we potentially see some tactical changes from Michael Jolley?
“MJ is very clear that he applies tactics according to the opposition.
During his spell in Sweden with a team destined for relegation, he changed tactics for one game and beat Champions Malmo 3-0.
We played 3-5-2 against FGR but played 4-3-3 against The Silkmen and Rochdale. He’s a very intelligent manager and sets up each game according to his research into the opposition”.
Lincoln have made an impressive start with wins over Northampton, Swindon and most recently Port Vale. What do you make of the squad Danny Cowley’s put together?
“I’ve always admired the Cowley brothers. They are very capable managers.
Your squad seems, from the outside, very balanced and deep. Quality throughout and I hate to say I’m very jealous of your last two seasons! Andrade, Akinde, Luque and Shackell are all excellent signings”.
There was a rumour circulating that Joan Luque had interest from Grimsby. I don’t know how true these rumours were, but Imps fans did seem more pleased with the capture of the Spaniard.
Is there any signing in particular that we have made stands out for you?
“I’d have to say Jason Shackell. To sign an ex-premier league player is a real sign of intent and his quality will show through in this league”.
Jason Shackell has oozed quality for the few times he’s performed for Lincoln. You can see his experience, maturity and no doubt Scott Wharton in particular will learn a lot from Shackell’s defensive prowess.
Got to ask it, score prediction for the game?
“My head is saying 4-0 or 4-1 to you. But my heart is willing us on to a scrappy one nil win. I suppose it depends on which Grimsby Town turns up!”
I’m going for a 2-1 win. I think that Grimsby might take the lead but we will fight back and come away with three points. McCarten and Frecklington to score.
As always, big thank you to Tom Drant for answering our questions.
Bring on Saturday! 🔴⚪️